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Competition is the Root of a Scarcity Mindset

From the time we are children, we are taught to compete with each other for resources. Competitiveness teaches us that we need to strive to be 'better' than others. It teaches us that we are unworthy, that we are not enough, and that we need to push others out of the way to get what we want.

Do you ever think about why, in a world where there are billionaires, there are also people starving? It's because of this same competitive, scarcity mindset. People who have more often like the acclaim that comes from being the best. They feel like they have earned what they have fairly, and so they don't need to reach down to pull others up.

We are taught to rank ourselves. To believe that some people are better than others. That the ones who win the race are more valuable than those who fall behind. We believe that some people are more worthy and deserving than others, and in truth, this sets everyone up for failure. The winners and the losers both.

Children learn to only value themselves when they are 'successful' instead of seeing themselves as unique and valuable individuals. Everyone is good at something. Instead of steering people the way that they could succeed, we cause them to doubt themselves from a young age.

They tried to 'fix' this in schools by giving out participation medals and good citizenship awards. But that didn't work either.

According to Elle,

If women are told that there aren’t enough jobs or relationships, success or happiness for everyone, then it creates a dynamic of scarcity that thrives on fear. Everything becomes a competition, and women end up encouraged to pit themselves against one another. So, instead of working together to create a new, more egalitarian society, they are kept busy bitching behind each other’s backs.

We are in constant competition with one another, instead of being helpful and kind. We are jealous of the success of others, because we think that takes away our own chances of being successful.

The medal, the job, the house, the promotion, the partner. All of these are things we want to have the 'best' of. We want to come in first place at all costs, and become willing to step over other people in order to do it. When we believe that only a few people can be successful, we are less likely to want to help others. It makes us behave in unkind ways.

What is a scarcity mindset?

If you have studied the Law of Attraction at all, you have likely heard of a scarcity (or lack) mindset contrasted to an abundance mindset. Either you believe that there are enough resources for everyone, or that resources are scarce and that we have to compete over them.

Perhaps this was true 100's of years ago when there wasn't enough food, water or shelter to go around. Once upon a time, humans were in competition with each other for survival. However, our world has come to a point now where there are enough resources for everyone, if we were willing to divide them equally. Yet still, we compete.

According to Choosing Therapy,

A scarcity mindset is an outlook on life that focuses on a lack of resources which must be conserved and used strategically. Thus, they are likely to become extremely possessive of their belongings and experience signs of money anxiety. In contrast, an abundance mindset is an attitude of optimism that concludes there is enough of everything to go around.

To put it simply, a scarcity mindset is a fear of not having enough. It is the reason we hoard things for tomorrow, not believing that tomorrow will provide for itself. Remember everyone going and buying up all the toilet paper at the beginning of COVID? It's like that.

Do you want to know if you may be struggling with a scarcity mindset yourself? Here are some signs of a scarcity mindset, according to Choosing Therapy:

  • Waiting to pay bills until the last minute: People with a scarcity mindset often wait to pay their bills until the last minute because they are afraid of running out of money. They may have a general belief that there is not enough money to go around and if they spend their money now, they won’t have enough to cover their needs later.

  • Overscheduling yourself: Those with a scarcity mindset may feel as though there are not enough hours in the day to take advantage of all the chances that come their way, so they try to squeeze as much as possible into their schedule. This can lead to overscheduling, overwhelm, and stress.

  • Fear of loss: People with a scarcity mindset often have a fear of losing what they have, whether it’s money, resources, relationships, or opportunities. This fear can lead to a lack of trust in others and an unwillingness to take risks to achieve success.

  • Overly self-reliant: Individuals with a scarcity mentality are often overly self-reliant, believing that they can only depend on themselves to get what they need. This can lead to feelings of loneliness and isolation.

  • Fear of failure: People with a scarcity mindset are often overly concerned about failure, believing that if they fail, they won’t have enough resources to try again. This can become a self-fulfilling prophecy as they take self-defeating actions such as no longer making an effort because of the fear of failure.

  • Perfectionism: Those with a scarcity mindset are often perfectionists, believing that anything less than perfect isn’t good enough. This can lead to procrastination and a fear of taking risks, as well as an inability to see the bigger picture.

  • Rushing to make decisions: A scarcity mentality can result in one making decisions without considering the long-term implications of their choices. Impulsivity can prevent them from making the most of their opportunities.

When I was married to my ex-husband, he suffered from a scarcity mindset. He always had to have a certain amount of money in his pocket to avoid feeling anxious. Even if he didn't need to spend it for anything. He wanted to have it in case he might need it for something.

That's not to say saving money is bad. But when money becomes an obsession, it comes from a place of lack and fear. We save as much as possible in case something may happen in the future and we may need all that money. This is reasonable up to a point, but at what point does it move beyond reasonable into hoarding what we will never need?

What creates the sense of scarcity?

For the most part, we have a scarcity mindset in society as a whole because we live with capitalism. We don't have a strong social safety net. There aren't resources provided to everyone at a societal level to ensure that you aren't going to end up homeless, hungry and on the street. These are very real fears.

Many people live just a paycheck away from losing everything. And yet, time and again, we throw around the words 'communism' and 'socialism' like they are the f-bomb. We don't vote for social programs to help the poor. We look down on them like they have the plague. Instead of voting for something like Universal Basic Income to keep anyone from falling behind, we blame the poor for being poor. It's easier.

We think that to succeed, it means someone else needs to fail. The 'haves' have more than they need at the expense of the 'have-not's' who have little to nothing at all.

The dichotomy of the very rich and the very poor is only growing wider. In America, the richest country in the world, people have to start Go Fund Me pages every day to pay for life saving medical care. They are crowdfunding their very survival.

In order to overcome a scarcity mindset at a personal level, we need to eliminate competition for life itself. We need to act with kindness and compassion instead of with fear. We need to stop blaming the poor for being poor while we try to keep up with the Jones's and try to buy the latest thing.

Would you go without a new TV or a vacation to save someone else from dying? Unfortunately, on the wider societal level, the answer is a resounding NO.

Doesn't everyone deserve the right to live without being afraid of being hungry or homeless? Isn't it our responsibility to help them? Couldn't we create some kind of baseline standard of living that we don't let people fall below?

If we could ensure that everyone had their basic needs for food, water, shelter, safety, medical care, etc. met, then none of us would have to live with the constant fear of not having enough. If you knew that your basic needs would always be met, would you act differently?

Moving to an abundance mindset

There are plenty of Law of Attraction videos telling you how to personally move into an abundance mindset. It talks about shifting your focus, and developing a sense of trust in the universe to provide for you.

Yes, there are plenty of ways to personally develop an abundance mindset for yourself. But that is only half the problem. In order to have a better society where we don't have to grow up with children living in fear of lack, we need to reduce the idea of competition for resources, and provide a fair living to everyone.

First, work on yourself. Work on creating a life that you can be proud of. Make sure that you have enough. Then, find ways that you can give back to others.

Know that with the Law of Attraction, you are focusing on finding your highest good, your highest purpose, and stepping into your highest timeline. All this is true. But remember, your highest good is aligned to the highest good of everyone else. It is a part of building a better world. When you are living in alignment with your true purpose, a part of that is helping others.

Cultivating Altruism

Here in the Western world, we live in a highly individualistic society. For most of civilization, this hasn't been the norm. In the past, when we lived in smaller communities, we were more of the fact that we need others in order to survive. Since we all need each other, it follows that we would naturally all help each other.

According to Greater Good Berkley,

Altruism is when we act to promote someone else’s welfare, even at a risk or cost to ourselves. Though some believe that humans are fundamentally self-interested, recent research suggests otherwise: Studies have found that people’s first impulse is to cooperate rather than compete; that toddlers spontaneously help people in need out of a genuine concern for their welfare; and that even non-human primates display altruism.

This means, at the core of our behavior, we help others because it is the right thing to do. Not because we want something back. Not because we are paid to do so. Simply, because it is what we should be doing.

In order to create a more kind, loving, peaceful and just world, we all need to cultivate a greater level of altruism in our own lives. We need to make it a practice to be kind, helpful and compassionate as a part of our nature. Altruism is spiritually and socially valuable. It contributes to forming a better type of society in which we don't stand idly by and watch others suffering.

According to Very Well Mind, we can become more altruistic in our daily lives in the following ways:

  • Find inspiration: Look to inspirational people who engage in altruistic acts. Seeing others work to actively improve the lives of individuals and communities can inspire you to act altruistically in your own life.

  • Practice empathy: Rather than distancing yourself from others, practice empathy by building connections and putting a human face on the problems you see. Consider how you would feel in that situation, and think about things that you can do to help make a difference.

  • Set a goal: Find ways that you can regularly perform random acts of kindness for others. Look around you for people who may need help, or look for ways that you can volunteer in your community. Fix a meal for someone in need, help a friend with a chore, donate during a blood drive, or spend some time volunteering for a local organization.

  • Make it a habit: Try to keep kindness in the forefront of your thoughts. For example, think about the altruistic acts you've performed, how they might have helped someone, and how you might repeat them going forward. Or, consider performing at least one act of kindness a day, and take some time to reflect on it.

In your daily life, begin to replace fear with kindness. You don't have to give away your last dollar, or the coat off of your back to be an altruistic person. Give what you have. And remember, not everything you give has to be in terms of money. There are plenty of other ways to help people.

There are plenty of ways that you can help people in your life every day. If you have knowledge or skills, you can put them to work by helping or teaching others. Think about something you are really good at. Now, think about who in your life would benefit from those skills.

For example, if you were a web designer, you could help your friend who is a small business owner with their website, or build a website for a non-profit.

If you are a teacher, you could stay late in the after school program and help kids who are struggling with reading or math.

You could make how-to videos (about just about anything!) and post them on YouTube.

Every day, there are innumerable ways that we can help other people in our daily lives, whether we have money or not. Teaching people useful skills and information can help them just as much, if not more, because it helps them to become more self-sufficient in the long run.

Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.

Who, in your own life, can you teach how to fish? You can teach children, friends, family members, coworkers and almost anyone else you come in contact with. When you do this, you help someone to be able to care for themselves better. Then, that person can pay it forward as well. We all have a place in creating a better world.

When we look at other people with kindness and compassion, instead of as competition, we are making a powerful change in our own worldview. This can make a huge difference not just in our own lives, but in the lives of anyone with whom we come in contact.


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