Scarcity mindset can trap you in your present conditions

The Scarcity Mindset and How It Holds You Back

Reading Time: 7 minutes

What mindset do I have? Simple question, yet it is one of the most important questions a leader can ask themselves. The mindset of a person dictates the success they are going to have. Leaders who have the proper mindset going into a project will have a vastly higher probability of achieving their objective when they have a particular mindset.

A Mindset

The mindset or some people call it a belief system is very important. I have talked about mindsets often on this blog. I have covered the whys and needs and none of that has changed. What I do want to cover here is a particular type of belief system. It can go hand in hand with the Growth mindset but it is a bit more than you always being able to learn. This mindset is often associated with people who are or are not able to hold on to money. Do you have a mindset of abundance or of scarcity?

The biggest clue is in the news these days you hear people talking about the haves and the have-nots. These are the people who have an abundance mentality and then there are the people who have the Scarcity mentality. Jim Rhone said it best you are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with. Ray Edwards made it even better by saying “You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most intentional time with.”

Scarcity Mindset Keeps You Broke

Broke people stay broke because they share the same mentality about money. They believe that there isn’t enough around. When in all reality there are new millionaires being made every day? That can’t happen if there is a finite amount of money in the world. If the top 1% controls the money like so many ignorantly like to spew, then there is no way, there could be 1700 new millionaires created each day. Yet, here they are. How did they do it? With an abundance mentality.

A good way to look at abundance versus scarcity mentality is to think of a tidal pool. When the tide is out, the aquatic animals are trapped in their own little pool. They are not able to just go to another area because there is no water. When the tide comes in, the animals there have to hurry to eat or they will be trapped out of the water. That can spell complete disaster. Then they have to wait until the tide comes back until they can go eat again. They are in fear of the tide going out.

While a fish that is caught in a tidal pool just has to wait until the tide come in then they have the whole ocean at their hands. They can go to another tidal pool or go to deeper waters. Their choice. The world is theirs.

So let’s look and see what a scarcity mindset is.

scarcity mindset can keep you bound to the life you don't want.
Image by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay



Dictionary.com gives the definition like this

  1. Insufficiency or shortness of supply; dearth.
  2. Rarity; infrequency.

To think that items at hand are in short supply. That interesting definition fits with what we are saying. If you think that you don’t have the ability to then you won’t. You will believe that thoughts and ideas are in limited supply. Often when a leader has a scarcity mindset they worry about not getting the credit, he believes he is due. A leader with a scarcity mindset doesn’t realize that he looks good when he lets his team shine.

A good example of someone with a scarcity mindset in today’s pop culture is Debbie Downer.

Why is scarcity bad?

Besides poor leadership skills, scarcity mindset also keeps you in your comfort zone. It is nice to be comfortable from time to time. However, if you aren’t getting out. If you are not facing a bit of adversity then you aren’t growing. Discomfort is the currency of your dream life. If you don’t experience some stress you will not grow.

You handcuff yourself with a scarcity mindset
Image by Arek Socha from Pixabay

Perhaps, you live a life of fear. You are afraid that someone is after your job. Jealousy is an emotion that comes from a scarcity mindset. Your girl chose you but you are afraid that she will leave you for another man. That line of thinking blinds you to the fact that if she doesn’t want to be with you that is probably a good thing because she would have ended up cheating on you with someone else. Therefore, instead of being the adult and telling her by you come from a place of fear and you attack the possible threat instead of thanking the guy to taking someone who isn’t emotionally mature enough for a steady relationship off your hands.

It limits your resource too. Like the relationship. You are blinded by what you don’t have instead of seeing all the good and abundance you have in your life. Take someone who acts like a poor person. They complain that they don’t have a brand new car. Their television isn’t UHD. The house they live in is ratty and no good. Instead of seeing the fact, that they are part of the top 1% of the world. They have a car that runs. The vast majority of the world can’t afford a car. That person doesn’t see that at least still have a television. Then they also don’t realize that 80% of the world lives life off less than $10 a day. Therefore, even if you are on government assistance you are making bank in regards to the rest of the world.

Setting yourself up to be a victim.

People with scarcity mindsets often are victims or bullies. They are often intimidated by others who are successful and so they lash out at others who have what they want. Scarcity mindsets don’t see that they can get what they desire because they are limited in their belief system.

Scarcity often shows up in physical forms

Scarcity mindset causes other problems to manifest in peoples life
Image by Laura M from Pixabay

You ever see someone who just screams tense. You see their jaw often clenched. They are impatient and quick to anger. You know someone like this at work maybe it is even you. Your shoulders are hunched over. Your back is killing you. You get headaches when something doesn’t go according to your plan. That is a sign that you have a scarcity mentality at work.

Many people who have anxiety have anxiety because they are facing a scarcity mindset. They are worried about what they don’t have. The anxiety stricken person can’t see that they have what will make them happy because they are blind to the other resources that can help them out.

Look at the news and you will be surprised to see how much of a disservice the colleges do to the future scholars. There are YouTube videos of college kids throwing tantrums because there is someone around who they don’t agree with. You see these kids descend into groupthink almost instantly. All because they don’t want to hear that there is another side of the coin. A different line of thinking threatens them. Now I’m not bashing on liberals. Conservatives often have the same reaction to opposing viewpoints. One side isn’t better than the other. I’m just saying that colleges are teaching a scarcity mindset over an abundance mindset. The results are showing. Students at colleges are quick to anger often show signs of frustration.

Scarcity mindsets also manifest itself as someone acting childish. They can and often throw a temper tantrum. They appear immature and can be seen as aloof and not caring about others.

Think Small

Because people with a scarcity mindset have limited resources and are blind to other opportunities, they also often think small. This is because leaders with scarcity mindsets aren’t able to believe that they are able to do more. They personally limit their opportunities. These leaders are not able to grow because of the mindset they have prevents them from growing and seeing the bigger picture.


When all you have available is limited in your mindset. You won’t have the foresight to plan as far in advance so when something happens it is a reaction and not a response. Often that reaction also comes from a place of scarcity so it shrinks the possibilities down even more.

Fears Change

If you are reacting to everything a leader with a scarcity, mindset fears change. How are you supposed to support change when it is unwanted? A scarcity mentality can’t appreciate the changes that come along they will see shifts as the closing of doors instead of opening of possibilities.

Believes situations are permanent

A scarcity mindset locks you into a fear of change that fear of change also locks you into a lack of change. So the leader won’t prepare for what is coming down the pipe they become content. They don’t grow. If something good happens, they don’t keep perusing that good they just accept the little change that happened. Then if a bad change happens then they also accept that change and increase the misery. Not realizing that they are able to shift their situation.

Can’t give freely

If you are of limited and believe that you don’t have enough then you won’t be able to give to charities. Think about that you can’t give freely you are worried about where your next dollar is coming from then ho ware you suppose to give a dollar to help the Children’s Miracle network? You can’t. In addition, people who are afflicted with this mindset are also stingy. Which makes sense. Someone asks for something they react in a disgusting way.

Over indulge

Finally, people who have a scarcity mindset also have the drawback of self-sabotage. They do this by overindulging. I will admit that I am guilty of this. I have a scarcity mindset around food. My day job often takes me out of the house for days at a time. So when I get a call saying that I am about to go out, I will eat until I am miserable. Because even though I do have food in the truck I overeat because I fear that, I will have to go without.  Many people do this overindulgence. Look at what a person who is on food stamps buys. Often they will have things for lunch supper and the like. Then there are tons of chips, cookies, and other snacks with Gallons of cokes and other unhealthy foods. Also, I see that there are plenty of overweight people on nutritional assistance. That doesn’t come from somebody who has an abundant mindset.

Over indulging in an area of their life is more than just buffering from a problem. It is to make sure people keep their frame of mind in a scarcity mindset.
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

This overindulgence shows up in many different ways for different circumstances. Lottery winners and inheritance receivers who have a scarcity mindset will blow their money in a year or two. People who fear that there isn’t someone for them will try to have as many people on the side as they can.

Words of scarcity

You can hear a person with a scarcity mindset by listening to the words they use.

  • I can’t
  • I don’t have enough money
  • I will need to go without
  • I can’t do this
  • I’m not smart enough

They also say words in anger. For instance, “don’t tell me how to drive my truck”. Is often heard in the trucking industry. When one person with a scarcity mindset feels threatened by a person who is trying to help them back their truck in a difficult spot. The scarcity mindset would rather struggle and fight with getting the truck into the tight spot instead of having an easy quick solution.

Broke and poor people most often have this limiting belief
Image by Leroy Skalstad from Pixabay

As you can see there is a lot of problems with approaching life with a scarcity mindset. You can see how if you are trying to get out of that frame of mind how you feel trapped and without options that is the way that mindset holds you into an area of comfort and familiarity.

Many people who are financially broke often have this mindset and then they wonder why they can’t get ahead. Poor people often blame others for their shortcoming and lack of success. when the problem is actually in their head and the mindset of their friends. If you want to change your mindset then the toughest part is deciding you are willing to get uncomfortable and will be talking about that in the next couple of weeks. So till then know there is hope for you to be a great and inspiring leader.

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About Bryan Goodwin

I like being able to help people find their "why" and achieve the personal freedom they desire. Besides writing for Relaxed Male I also am a life coach. By helping men find the leader that is found in each and every one of us. I do this by encouraging men to get outdoors and find the balance they are missing. Realize that they need to be in contact with the outside as often as they can. It is not only good for them but for their families and relationships.

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