It has become apparent to me that my scarcity consciousness runs very deep. Here are some examples:
A couple of years ago the television set that I’d had since I was in college finally gave up the ghost. As it was breathing its last I wandered through Best Buy and B&H Photo looking at TV’s to buy. I was not in the market for some 60″ plasma, a 19″ flat screen would do me just fine. But I couldn’t get myself to do it. Eventually I happened to mention my TV’s imminent demise to my cousin who told me she had a spare- great, I thought, I get a TV for free and I defer its arrival on the trash/recycle heap. And so I manifested a used TV, almost as old as the one that was dying. Now, two years later, this TV is starting to show signs of tube failure.
When I’m cooking I will sometimes go to great lengths to avoid using an extra bowl or utensil, even if it means struggling with something that is just wrong for the job.
Though I really enjoy cooking and trying things out, I only do it when I am cooking for others. For myself I go the simplest, least effort-ful route – after all, it’s just for me.
When I buy new clothes, particularly pretty or slightly fancy pieces, I am loathe to wear them because if I do, I will wear them out sooner.
I neglect repairs around my apartment because fixing them would entail both money and effort. I tell myself it doesn’t matter, I’m mostly the only one who sees the place. When I do have people over, I have discomfort about this but not enough to act.
I could go on, but you get the idea. It’s not just about financial resources, it’s also about time and effort and what I think I am worth. This feeling of scarcity is not directly related to my actual resources. In times when I earn a good bit more than I spend I still feel this way. Two years ago when the TV died I could easily have afforded a new set in the size I wanted but it didn’t feel that way.
The reasons for my feeling this way are numerous and originate in my childhood. But the reasons only matter in so far as they can help me release these thoughts and the feelings that go with them. This is the opposite side of the coin from needing stuff to feel good, and it is just as harmful.
This also seems to be of a piece with opening up more in general, of allowing rather than trying to control of seeing life as play rather than struggle.
What to do?
- Practice mindfulness (its so good for so many things); notice when I am thinking this way and stop. Ask myself, why are you making this choice? Is it really necessary? What would happen if you made a different choice?
- Practice self-compassion. If I can’t quite get myself to spend (money, time, effort) know that that is okay, as long as I make the choice deliberately rather than on auto-pilot.
- Concentrate on how I feel both emotionally and in the body. Does a choice make me feel small? Does it make me curl up or open out?
- Accept help from others without shame. Know that my worth as a human being is not dependent on material resources or the success of any venture.
Isn’t it interesting that we can feel very confident about one aspect of ourselves and yet undervalue ourselves in others? I say to myself, and to you: Life is supposed to be enjoyable. There are no REAL rules about how life should be lived so do it your own way. You are enough. There is no way for you to be anything else.