The Root Cause of Scarcity (and the Solution)
As I shared in the Deep Abundance Integration video a few days ago, the root cause of scarcity is a lack of trust.
Let’s do a mini deep dive into this topic right here. Let’s see how a lack of trust actually creates stuckness in scarcity situations.
Resisting This Reality
A common pattern among people who feel stuck in scarcity is a resistance to accepting what they’re currently getting from life. They resist financial pressure, debt, and the scarcity experience in general. They resist their own feelings (like the feeling that it’s time to quit doing soulless work) and lean too much on external authorities. They resist following a unique path, mistakenly believe that they need to validate their heart-based paths with money, success, or fame to justify pursuing what they enjoy, as if they have something to prove. This last one can be especially challenging for creative types like artists and musicians, whereby the need for validation leads to stuckness, and releasing this need restores the flow.
When life is resisted, the shields go up, and so much energy that could be used for creativity and growth gets diverted into resisting some aspect of one’s present reality.
Regarding financial scarcity alone, here are some of the words and phrases my readers use to describe this mindset:
- in a hole
- in a pit
- an abyss
- in debt up to my eyeballs
- sick of it
- burnt out
- bogged down
- trapped in a scarcity bubble
- saps my energy
- not enough
These frames imply a threatening situation, and the natural response to a threat is to resist.
I used similar frames when I experienced some tough financial scarcity for much of my 20s… right up to being $150K in debt. As I approached bankruptcy in 1999, my mindset shifted, and I’ve had a different relationship with financial scarcity ever since. I no longer perceive scarcity as a threat.
Resisting Your Feelings
Others perceive scarcity a bit differently, using frames like this:
- feeling torn
- not sure what to do
- need a roadmap
- need a better plan
- hard to advance
- not worth it
- know what I need to do but not doing it
- hard to maintain
- going through the motions
- barely trying
- something greater is possible
- need a different direction
- alternatives seem risky
- other people think I’m doing fine
- something is missing
- need more discipline
What’s the pattern here? In this case scarcity isn’t perceived so much as a direct threat. It’s more of a low level annoying hum in the background that keeps nagging at you.
The people who get stuck in this type of scarcity are often those you might describe as being “stuck in their heads.” They’re often very practical and grounded people, but what’s missing is the fire and passion that adds depth and sparkle to their days. This group is heavily weighted with software developers, lawyers, accountants, and other people who do lots of very objective work. They’re often well-paid, and therein lies the trap. They get attached to maintaining their income streams even as their work feels increasingly soulless over time. This isn’t to say that all people in these career paths feel stuck; many enjoy their work just fine. But when you are stuck in this type of scarcity, a high income can be worse than a low one, making it harder for many people to transition to something more heart aligned. They think they’ve built something that needs to be defended, even though their current castle isn’t making them happy. They’re overweighting the objective value when the subjective value isn’t very strong.
A path out of this form of stuckness is actually through play and agenda-free exploration, learning, and growth. It’s a way to bypass the shields of this group.
Resisting Your Uniqueness
A third form of scarcity stuckness shows up in people who are often very love aligned. There are lots of artists, musicians, and lightworkers in this group, especially those stuck in lightworker syndrome. These are often people who are sensitive, kind, caring, artistic, creative, and typically introverted, but they have a hard time paying their bills. They love and trust many parts of life but have a tendency to retreat towards the spiritual and emotional side. They resist the character sculpting ability of the more grounded and authority-driven side of life. They resist being too different from everyone else, and this is the primary source of their stuckness.
Here’s how these people often frame their scarcity challenges:
- The world doesn’t align with my values.
- I hate borders.
- How can I have abundance when others don’t?
- I feel guilty making money.
- Who am I to teach, sing, write, etc?
- I’m too sensitive.
- I can only handle so much of the world before I have to withdraw and be alone.
- I feel safest in my own private space.
- I love making music/art, but I can’t make enough from it to live on.
- I get glimpses of abundance, but they’re inconsistent.
- The world doesn’t value what I’m good at.
- People don’t care.
- I feel sad for the world.
- How do you deal with judgment/criticism?
- Everyone should be vegan.
- I feel so alone sometimes.
- I feel like an alien on this planet.
- Why am I even here?
- Nobody wants to hear what I have to say… and I’m not even sure I do either.
- I’m not good enough.
- I don’t have enough money to do that.
- Can you make it cheaper? I’m a musician.
- I’ll donate to charity when I have more money.
- I have no idea where to find my tribe. Maybe they don’t exist.
- Life can be pretty depressing sometimes.
The general nature of this form of stuckness is a resistance to one’s own uniqueness, especially to one’s unique values. A common pattern among the people in this group is that they’re very sensitive to staying aligned with their values, but they feel the world is constantly violating their values too. They may try to engage with the world, but they always end up retreating.
These people value love, peace, and harmony, and they often feel saddened by the way the world is today. This is a form of resistance. They don’t trust the world.
Many have dealt with past abuses of some sort. They wouldn’t want to hurt anyone, often because they’ve been hurt badly themselves, and they may still feel a bit wounded inside. It’s hard for them to trust life. So they keep their shields up to some degree or another. Other people sense their shields and usually leave them alone. But deep down they still want to have a better relationship with the world or at least some subset of the people within it. They just don’t know how.
What they’re missing is a full embrace of their own uniqueness. The values that make them feel different are actually an incredible power source, but they don’t see it that way. They mistakenly think the world is more powerful than they are, when their path to abundance is actually to push back against the world and powerfully inject their values into this reality. They need to learn how to step up and lead. They need to accept life’s invitation to boldly go and be truly themselves.
The interesting thing is that when they finally get this, they basically say, “Fuck it! I’m just going to be 100% shamelessly myself, and if the world doesn’t like it, tough!” And much to their surprise, they discover that when they finally do this, the world not only retreats from its former stance – it actually backs them up with an avalanche of love and support. The world says, “Finally you’re being true to yourself. Finally you’re stepping up and leading and creating the way you always wanted too. Finally you’re seeing me as a teacher and not a bully!”
What these people don’t see is just how much genuine appreciation life will lavish upon them when they begin to cultivate a more trusting and positive relationship with life.
Your empathy, compassion, and artist’s soul will be some of your greatest gifts when you can finally assume your rightful leadership role in the world. Bend the world to your values because your values are good, and the world needs them. Trust that life didn’t put you in this situation to slink away and hide. Trust that life put you in this situation to open your heart nice and wide. Now you just have to see through the illusion of fear, so you can take the next step.
Powerful Reframes for Deeper Trust
What creates stuckness is mostly your framing. What creates flow and abundance is also mostly your framing.
Here are some reframes I use to keep myself in the flow of abundance:
- This challenge is an invitation to be more creative.
- This challenge is an invitation to surrender and trust life.
- This challenge is an opportunity to sculpt my character.
- The correct solution is never to overwork myself.
- If I’m stressing about this, I’m not trusting life enough.
- Life always lets me take a break when I really need one.
- This challenge is a loving gift.
- This life is the greatest adventure I could ever wish for.
- This is a reminder to appreciate the little things in life.
- Remember to be happy, to connect, and to love this life no matter what happens financially.
- Let me appreciate this next step.
- Let me go for a walk and appreciate the beauty in everything I see.
- The challenge is real, but resisting it and stressing over it is optional and unnecessary.
- How could this challenge actually be fun?
- How can I be more playful about this?
- If I had to go through another financial collapse, could I still trust life?
- If I lost everything financially, could I still live an amazing life and be happy each day?
- What’s more important to me than money? Ah yes… so many things… relationships, caring, being of service, writing, speaking, meditating, running, kissing, cuddling, intimacy, deep conversations, vegan food, good friends, long walks in the moonlight, traveling, reading, learning, growing, doing weird experiments, massages, and a bazillion other things.
- This is a powerful reminder not to waste another year of my life resisting what is.
- Resistance is futile.
- Life never threatens me; it only invites me to grow.
- Life is trying to steer me away from the false path, which includes helping me avoid the mistake of treating money as a power source.
- Money is not a power source, but my creativity is.
- I need to spend some time doing the simple things I love.
- If I felt totally abundant right now, what would I do in this next moment?
- This is a test to see if I can keep my vibe up no matter what.
- Debt has no power over me.
- Debt is just an entry in an accounting ledger.
- Debt is just an entry in a computer database.
- Debt is just the minus sign in front of a number… nothing but a few pixels.
- Debt is imaginary.
- Paying back any debt is a choice, not an obligation.
- If the lender treats me fairly, I’ll do my best to honor the debt because that will sculpt my character in a good way. If the lender is a jerk or treats me as less than human, they don’t deserve to be paid back a dime.
- If I believe I’m doing my best and still fail, I have nothing to regret about it since I couldn’t have done any better, knowing what I knew at the time. All I can do is learn and grow from it.
- Am I approaching this from the right heartset (appreciation, gratitude, compassion, unconditional love)?
- Do I need to express some self-compassion right now?
- Could this be an invitation to ask for help?
- Which path through this challenge do I expect life to reward? Which path do I expect life to punish?
- Money is just a tool for my growth.
- Trying to make more money is always a dead end and never works out, but money seems to flow into my life with tremendous grace, ease, and lightness when I’m doing something more interesting than chasing or clinging to money.
- How would my best self approach this?
- Which choice would my future self be proud of? Which choice would disappoint my future self?
- Where’s the trap in this decision that I need to avoid?
- Where’s the tempting partial match that I’m smart enough to dodge?
- Money flees from neediness and clinginess, but it loves playfulness.
- My only real option here is to trust life.
- Resisting this experience is a waste of energy and cannot possibly help, so how can I accept this challenge instead? How can I embrace it? How can I appreciate it? How can I love it?
- Thank you, universe… for everything… seriously. Sorry I doubted you.
- Where’s the path through this that makes me cry?
- Which door am I most afraid to open next?
- Where am I playing this game too small? How can I stretch a bit more?
- If I knew this was a dream world, what would I do differently?
- If I knew this was a simulation, what would I do differently?
- How am I creating this?
- How did my own thoughts and beliefs get me here?
- Instead of worrying about what people might do, can I trust humans to behave like humans?
- I can never hide my true intentions; everyone sees right through me.
- Can I simply pause, lower my shields, and ask life for some guidance here?
- Where are the synchronicities directing me now?
- If the synchronicities have dried up, how do I bring them back? Ah yes… find and follow the path with a heart.
- Does this path have a heart?
- The universe is always and forever 100% on my side.
- Which path would I follow if I knew the universe would back me up 100%?
- What path do I keep thinking about and resisting?
- What would I rather focus on than money?
- If I lived in the Star Trek universe and money was obsolete, how would I live my life? How can I step closer to that today?
- How can I make someone else’s life better today?
- What could I create or share that may brighten someone’s day?
- How can I turn one of my toughest challenges into an insightful gift for someone else?
- Remember that if all I do is blog for the rest of my life, I’ll likely be pretty happy doing just that since I love writing. So don’t make it complicated if it doesn’t need to be.
- Food grows on trees.
- What’s the true nature of this reality? I know it’s not an objective place… that’s for sure.
- What bigger challenge am I avoiding by wallowing in this boring scarcity one?
- I’m way more powerful than fear.
- I’m way more powerful than anyone’s judgment and criticism.
- I eat judgment for breakfast.
- Let me pause and tune into the signal of inspiration. Where does it want to go next?
- What’s my best intention here?
- Where is the path with a heart?
Okay, I could go on like this for days, but hopefully you get the idea. I’m sure Courage Wolf has some good ones too.
When you frame scarcity and scarcity-based challenges as threats, you’ll likely waste about half of your energy resisting those imaginary threats. When you waste energy like that, every other problem and challenge seems twice as hard.
Have you noticed how draining and demotivating even little tasks seem when you’re in scarcity mode? Even tasks that take very little time like paying a bill or handling the dishes seem like big deals when you’re resisting scarcity. When you release that resistance and replace it with trust, everything else gets easier because you’re no longer wasting so much energy on your shields.
Abundance Is Trust
What’s the big picture here? The big picture is that the perception of scarcity as a threat stems from a lack of trust in life. Trust is the solution.
Do you really think scarcity is a threat? Of course it isn’t. Scarcity is an invitation to wake yourself up and grow in the ways that truly matter. Scarcity is one of life’s most powerful focusing mechanisms – it gets your attention.
When I focused on money as the answer to my problems or as the solution to the perceived threats, I only sank deeper into my own pit and abyss… up to my eyeballs in debt. That approach didn’t work. I kept getting the opposite of what I wanted.
What turned things around was when I finally decided to work on improving in a more fundamental area – more basic than money. I noticed that I had a certain type of relationship with reality. And that relationship was weak. I didn’t really trust this reality. I saw it in very objective terms. Reality was just a collection of objects, and I was an object within it. Sure I’m conscious too, but my relationship with reality was still a heartless one. Reality didn’t want to hurt me, but it didn’t care about me either. There was no evidence that it cared about me or loved me… or so I thought.
I realized those were all assumptions and that I could be wrong about them, so I tested a different way of thinking. I wondered if I might be self-creating my problems by the way I framed my relationship with reality. So I began to explore an alternative path of presupposing that reality was 100% on my side, that it had its own consciousness in a way, and that it actually cared about me and wanted to help me grow. I began thinking of this life as a training school for consciousness. Maybe we start with an unsculpted baby consciousness, and through our interactions and lessons in this plane of existence, our consciousness gets sculpted into something more structured.
So this began as a thought experiment, mainly by asking some interesting “what if” questions and leaning into a fresh possibility space. That changed everything – much faster than I expected.
The interesting thing is that by focusing on this relationship with life and learning to trust it more, that’s what helped me pull out of scarcity stuckness. Scarcity-based challenges aren’t bad per se. They may show up multiple times throughout your life. They lead to stuckness when you resist them. They lead to growth experiences and some amazing character sculpting when you trust them and get yourself aligned with what they’re trying to teach you.
If I try to do things for the primary purpose of making money, they don’t work out. This reality tends to punish me for that kind of thinking because it’s out of alignment with the purpose of this life. It’s like a parent guiding a small child away from something self-destructive. In such situations it’s best if the child learns to trust the parent if the parent has the child’s best interests at heart. I’ve learned that when I maintain the perspective that this reality has my best interests at heart, I feel centered within a delightful (yet still often challenging) path of growth. The types of challenges that show up are good ones, like mastering a fun video game with a cool group of friends, not the kinds of challenges that beat me down.
When I do things for the love of doing them, and when I understand that the role of money is to help facilitate interesting growth experiences and I treat money as such, then I usually have plenty of money flowing through my life. In fact, it’s generally pretty easy to earn money from this perspective.
The Rules Change as You Learn and Grow
I’ve also noticed that the rules of the game of life seem to shift as I continue to learn and grow. They don’t remain static and fixed. The game continues to evolve in terms of what behaviors it will reward and punish.
I’ve often gotten stuck in loops when I’ve tried to revisit what once worked for me in the past. I review past successes, look for patterns, and then try to repeat those patterns. This seldom works and usually results in inconsistency and stuckness. If the world were truly objective, then this should work, but it doesn’t.
Have you noticed a similar pattern in your life – that what used to work no longer works for you, even though it seems like your old success patterns should still be applicable today?
I think the reason is that life wants us to keep growing in different ways. Once we’ve learned what we needed from one level of experience, it’s time to move on. We have more and different character sculpting to do.
I can’t keep repeating past patterns and expect them to work. I know that life will eventually start punishing previous success patterns with some form of decline if I don’t continue to follow my path with a heart.
One pattern I’ve seen is that life seems to be nudging me down a progression towards being more creative with my income sources, trusting myself more, and aligning these sources with who I am today and what my strengths are.
In past years all of my income sources were someone else’s idea or suggestion. That’s been true of income from ads, affiliate sales, JV deals, book royalties, paid speaking, 3-day workshops, personal coaching, and more.
My latest creative project is very different though. This one wasn’t based on someone else’s idea. I’m stretching myself to be more creative with how I deliver value and play to my strengths. It’s possible that someone has used a similar format before, but I’m not aware of anyone doing anything like this, so it’s fresh and new for me. And that makes it more fun and exciting.
And it’s no surprise to me that life is rewarding this behavior, as it so often does when I follow a path with a heart. Just in pure financial terms, you can see the sales for yourself because I’m sharing the real-time signup count at the top of the Deep Abundance Integration web page. You can calculate the revenue by multiplying the number at the top of the page (right below the header) by $97. At the time of sharing this, there have been 378 signups in less than 2 days. Do the math. The point is that when you get the subjective side right, the objective side (i.e. earning plenty of actual money) tends to take care of itself.
The irony is that if I tried to make money directly – and especially if I resisted scarcity – I wouldn’t have learned how to generate tens of thousands of dollars in a relatively short period of time through creativity and playfulness and helping people grow. I had to embrace scarcity as a wise teacher in order to allow reality to sculpt my character, mindset, heartset, and skills in this direction. I had to trust my feelings. I had to trust my own uniqueness. It wasn’t an easy solution space to wrap my head around. In fact, one reason for doing the 30-day deep dive that starts tomorrow is to challenge myself to explain how I think all of this works, so I can better understand it myself.
That’s the odd thing about abundance. It can be pretty elusive at times. When you frame scarcity challenges as threats and resist them, or when you try to cling to money with a sense of neediness, or when you treat money as a power source, you’ll probably find as I do that reality punishes that mindset and those behaviors. So the deeper challenge is to come up with the right framing and the right approach so that you aren’t scaring money away all the time and getting yourself stuck. Same goes for other forms of abundance like social abundance and lifestyle abundance.
Fortunately this is possible, but the solution paths tend to be counter-intuitive. It takes a while to wrap our heads around them, and largely that’s because the solution space for many people involves working on one’s heartset more than one’s mindset. Locking into an abundance heartset is a lot more powerful than an abundance mindset.
So that’s my mini deep dive into what causes scarcity (lack of trust) and what the pathway to abundance looks like (restoring and healing trust). I hope you gained some worthwhile insights from this that will help you on your own abundance journey.
I’d also like to directly invite you to join us in our 30-day group abundance deep dive if you’d like to work on this with a group of very growth-oriented people. As you can see for yourself, hundreds of people are already signed up. We start tomorrow, August 1st, at 11:11am sharp, but you can still join anytime after that. We’ll be connecting every day for 30 days in a row on live video. This is priced for high accessibility – just $97 all-in, and you get the recordings too.
So come join the abundance party… and let’s work on upgrading our abundance alignment together as well as deepening our understanding of this mysterious aspect of reality.
One last thing… if we reach 500 sign-ups by midnight tonight (update: we did!), I’ll also include nicely edited written transcripts of every video call since I know many of my readers love to read… bit of a tautology there I suppose. It will give me more opportunity to practice my delegation skills too. 🙂
Regardless of your interest in the abundance deep dive, I encourage you to watch the video on that page if you want to get a clearer sense of how an abundance vibe looks and feels. I think I did a very good job of maintaining that vibe throughout the video (and even increasing it as I went along). Notice that it’s an open, trusting, and flowing vibe. Text is good for sharing intellectual ideas, but video is better for expressing something with an emotional element.