For me, and for many of us, our first waking thought of the day is “I didn’t get enough sleep.” The next one is “I don’t have enough time.” Whether true or not, that thought of not enough occurs to us automatically before we even think to question or examine it. We spend most of the hours and the days of our lives hearing, explaining, complaining, or worrying about what we don’t have enough of. … Before we even sit up in bed, before our feet touch the floor, we’re already inadequate, already behind, already losing, already lacking something. And by the time we go to bed at night, our minds are racing with a litany of what we didn’t get, or didn’t get done, that day. We go to sleep burdened by those thoughts and wake up to that reverie of lack. … This internal condition of scarcity, this mind-set of scarcity, lives at the very heart of our jealousies, our greed, our prejudice, and our arguments with life. … (43–45).Lynne Twist. In her book The Soul of Money quoted in Daring Greatly by Brene Brown
This quote so clearly articulates what the scarcity mentality in the mundane day to day sense is and how it affects us unconsciously. Whether we call it by its name or not, we (myself included), sometimes slip into it without even realising it. In so doing, we live under the massive strain of feeling like we do not have enough.
I love Youtube and I watch an eclectic selection of channels. My choices are based on a simple selection process: do I enjoy your content? I remember one particular Youtuber I followed for style tips. She was (and probably still is) very stylish. She and a few other Youtubers reached 100k followers at about the same time. Thereafter, the others grew their following exponentially and hers stagnated. When a number of them blew past a million followers, she was still in the lower hundred thousands. I still enjoyed her content but then her dialogue started to change. Her videos almost always included the line “if you knew what these other youtubers you guys like so much are really like, you wouldn’t follow them the way you do” and/or “I just don’t understand why my channel is not growing when I am just as good if not better than…” I followed her for a few months hoping it was a passing funk before realising it wasn’t and quietly unfollowing.
Our culture’s more easily recognisable form of scarcity is to base our self-worth on comparisons and competition. We think about succeeding in terms of someone else failing–that is, if I win, you lose; or if you win, I lose. Life becomes a zero-sum game. There is only so much pie to go around, and if you get a big piece, there is less for me; it’s not fair, and I’m going to make sure you don’t get any more. We get trapped in playing on a level of the game where our level of success will forever be limited.
The opposite of the scarcity mentality is a mentality of abundance. It’s realising that the game is artificial and you can actually just stop playing. The fact that so many people are thriving in the social media space doesn’t mean that you can’t. You can still create room for yourself and your niche. Because the Youtuber I spoke of was so focused on what she wasn’t getting that she felt she deserved, she missed out on the things the others were doing to grow. Synergising to grow following (partnering with other youtubers to produce fun content and encouraging cross following), consistent authentic work not driven by followers, creating content that felt relatable and encouraged people to return, investing in improving the quality of their content with quality camera work and professional editing. A chip on the shoulder is not the most attractive accessory. Moreso when it is so large that it blinds you to what you could be doing better or different.
The abundance mentality is not to be confused with toxic positivity.
I am not an advocate of toxic positivity. Truth be told, I abhor it. “Toxic positivity is the culture of portraying yourself as being happy [and strong] no matter what. You’re basically switched off to anything which might be viewed as negative. It’s also the idea of encouraging people to always see the bright side, and not open up about anything bad.” Life hurts sometimes. It hurts a lot and sometimes we need to stop, feel the pain and steady ourselves again. It’s ok to not be ok in the way that you are most comfortable with.
Abundance mentality is not about being happy all the time or touting positivity cliches. It is about cultivating the idea that there is enough to go around. That another person’s win is not your loss. That your authentic self is a unique offering that is worthy of sitting at the table with others. That you can put yourself out there on your own merits, learn from others, adjust, adapt and grow.
Where a scarcity mentality says jobs are difficult to get, don’t even bother trying, an abundance mentality says which industries are booming in these times and how can I get in there. It doesn’t make the task easier, it opens your eyes to opportunities.
“There is a lie that acts like a virus within the mind of humanity. And that lie is, ‘There’s not enough good to go around. There’s lack, limitation and there’s just not enough. The truth is that there’s more than enough good to go around. There is more than enough creative ideas. There is more than enough power. There is more than enough love. There’s more than enough joy. All of this begins to come through a mind that is aware of its own infinite nature.There is enough for everyone. If you believe it, if you can see it, if you act from it, it will show up for you. That’s the truth.”Michael Beckwith