What are you most afraid you’ll run out of?
Money? Time? Milk?
Ever notice how when you focus on what you lack, how much worse the situation seems to feel?
How did you feel before you had the thought, “I don’t have enough money?” or “I don’t have enough time?” or “I don’t have enough intelligence?”
Did you feel as anxious as you feel now?
What does that say about the reality of scarcity? Is it, in fact, real?
Scarcity and economics
Think of nature and how abundant it is. Most animals seem to have enough of what they need to survive.
Then think about how we humans live.
We hoard because of our deep seated fear that there just won’t be enough for us if we don’t.
Have you ever wondered where this dread of scarcity comes from?
It’s not from the world of nature.
It’s largely manufactured by us. In fact, it’s the primary building block of the man-made discipline we call economics.
I remember learning in economics 101 about the fundamental reality of scarcity.
We as human beings have more wants and needs than can be supplied by our limited resources.
Hence, we rely on economic systems to price these limited resources appropriately so that they can be allocated based on a person’s willingness and ability to pay.
The more scarce something is, the higher the price. So, the more you will need to give up to get the scarce resource you desire or need.
When it comes to rare minerals, fancy cars, designer clothing, or exotic vacations, it’s self-evident that scarcity is real.
But think about what you are attempting to buy when you seek out rare items:
A sense of significance? Importance? Self-worth? Peace of mind?
Do you need any of these rare goods or services to give you what you truly desire?
Scarcity is an illusion
There can be no market without scarcity.
And without markets, there can be no economics. If we abolished economics, people wouldn’t be able to amass large fortunes for themselves.
Marketers cannot create markets out of commodities that are limitless in supply.
So you won’t find them trying to sell you bags of air.
Have you thought about the things you truly desire when you buy goods and services?
You may not realize it, but most of the things we buy come from our desire for love, joy, peace, and well-being.
These “commodities” are also limitless.
While marketers cannot market our deepest desires to us directly, they can convince us that we need to buy their scarce products in order to access these states.
In other words, in order for companies to sell products, they need to create a sense of scarcity for us to buy.
Study any marketing ad and you’ll see that the most effective ones are masterful in creating a sense of scarcity within us.
This concept, literally manufactured out of thin air, becomes so real to us that they compel us to buy to try to fill the void. But it never does.
How to get out of the scarcity trap
If you’re tired of being stuck in the mode of scarcity thinking, if you’re tired of the empty promises of the scarcity mindset, here are some helpful things to keep in mind:
1. You don’t have to play the game.
That’s right. You can choose to opt out.
If you see something that triggers your scarcity lever and sends you into the pit of despair, you can stop yourself before pulling the lever.
Say to yourself, “I don’t have to buy this. I don’t have to play this game because I already have all I need.”
2. The things that truly matter to you are not scarce
If you strip all your desires down to the bare minimum, you’ll see that your most basic needs are to love and be loved.
That’s it. All the things you want—the views, the cars, the clothes, the houses—it’s all about loving and being loved.
Love is the most abundant resource there is in the universe.
3. Examine your pride
Even if you fully accept the first two points, you may still struggle to escape the grip of scarcity thinking.
The problem is that we humans tend to not value things that are plentiful, that’s why the illusion of scarcity is such a powerful force.
What’s the point of having an Aston Martin if everybody could get their hands on one?
We think that in order to truly feel loved, we somehow need to be better than others.
It means having things others don’t have, getting more likes on social media, getting more recognition, awards, accolades, etc.
But this is a lie.
Actually, the most successful people seek to build others up rather than tear them down.
The truth is that the fastest way to feel special is to help others feel special.
If you learn to do this routinely, you’ll eventually squash your pride that fuels your scarcity thinking.
Don’t let scarcity control your life
It seems so simple, but if you remember the truth that you already have everything you need, you can virtually eliminate the pain that comes with scarcity thinking.
You don’t need to suffer needlessly for another second.
Get out of the scarcity trap.
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Because if that’s what you really want, it’s already there for the taking.