The power of scarcity

Not Enough TimeDo you ever try to relax but your brain won’t let you? Thoughts keep firing in a dozen different directions, none of them helpful? One of the reasons my clients feel so calm and focused after a coaching session is they learn the process of controlling their mind. Instead of being a passenger in an out of control vehicle, they learn how to step into the drivers seat and CHOOSE the direction they want to steer their brain. While driving your brain along this road of life, there is a huge and very powerful force you need to be aware of. Like gravity, this invisible force can be a huge pain if you don’t respect it. Learning to use scarcity to work for you instead of against you, can give you power & strength and increase your appreciation of the little things in life.

Scarcity simply means, inadequate supply. Although normally an economic term, I discovered the power of scarcity when I eliminated sugar from my house. Sugar does terrible things to my son’s brain and body so when he developed a strong addiction to it, we chose to remove all sugar from the home. Suddenly, I’m like the cookie monster. I’d get so excited when a parent would bring cookies to my Time for The Talk class, I’d eat one and store one for later. At the grocery store, I’d head straight to the bakery for the day old freebies. I’m eating treats I don’t even like out of fear that this is my only chance. My sugar intake probably doubled when I eliminated it from my house, just because I believed in “inadequate supply”.

This is the same reason why diets don’t work. You start pigging out because you know, “starting tomorrow”, you will only allow salads and fish. As soon as you get tired, stressed, sick, or any perceived weakness, scarcity jumps in and takes over and pigs out on all the forbidden food.

I’ve seen clients unable to enjoy this time with their young kids because they are imagining being sad with their future empty nest. “How can I be happy today when someday they’ll be gone and I’ll be sad?” (Scarcity Mindset)

Parents worry about their teens getting good grades and getting into a good college but there are TONS of great Universities out there. “Everyone else is taking AP classes so you should, too!” “A 4.0 isn’t good enough anymore!” (Scarcity Mindset)

With sports, we spend thousands of dollars and years of our lives driving our kids all over the state so they can make the high school team, only to have them burned out or injured by the time they get there. “There are only a few spots available!” “Everyone else is getting private coaching!” “They only take the best of the best!” (Scarcity Mindset)

Scarcity makes people buy houses in hot markets, sit outside Best Buy all night before Black Friday, spend more at school auctions than they normally would and jump on investment bandwagons. Scarcity makes toddlers fight over toys, siblings fight over everything and teens hang with forbidden friends. With such a powerful force, using it to work with you instead of against you is very smart.

My son was nervous about performing well at his track meet. I suggested he change his focus from doing well, to scarcity: “Imagine today is the last day you will ever be able to run. Tomorrow, the icebergs melt, the streets are flooded and you can only swim or float down the streets. Instead of thinking about results, think about running with all the joy & enthusiasm of your last race ever.”

I have a friend who uses scarcity every time she is annoyed with her husband. She imagines he’s being shipped overseas for a year and this is the last time she’s going to spend the night with him. She savors every interaction with full attention and fully enjoys herself and his company.

Not in the mood to exercise? Imagine tomorrow you go in for surgery that will leave you bedridden for 6 months. How can you use that thought to enjoy freely moving your body in the world today?

I had a client with three kids under five and the constant mess was wearing her down. As soon as she realized this was temporary, her outlook changed. She realized that very soon, her kids will be gone six hours out of the day which will significantly reduce the mess. This scarcity mindset helped her relax and enjoy this stage of her life, mess and all.

My kids are at the ages where I’m doing A LOT of driving. As I was complaining about it one day, it dawned on me this is my last year I will ever drive both kids around. My teen is in drivers ed and by this time next year, he won’t need me. Suddenly my complaining stopped and I’m soaking up every precious car ride with him.

Be careful not to use scarcity to make you sad. Use it to savor the moment, appreciate where you are now. Use it to help you take action towards your goals. If you get stuck in sadness, call me. Joy is a vulnerable emotion for many people and it’s worth taking the time to increase your tolerance for it.

Notice where in your life you have that restless feeling because “there isn’t going to be enough”. Make sure you are using scarcity to your advantage, rather than letting it use you. Let it help you save water during a drought, sign up for my next Time for The Talk class with your 9-12 year old and sing and dance with your kids for as long as they will let you.

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