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The Very Real Dangers of a Scarcity Mindset

Many people who suffer from an eating disorder – particularly binge eating – claim that they can’t control themselves around food. They can’t just have one cookie, but instead eat the entire package. One spoon of peanut butter simply won’t do, it’s the whole jar or bust. The reason behind this behavior, and a topic that underlies so much of the disordered eating experience, is scarcity.

Scarcity mindset is when you live your life from a place of lack. You believe that there will never be enough to go around and apply this mode of thinking to various things – food, money, love, emotions, the list can go on and on. Scarcity mindset can become pervasive and bleed into all of your actions and thoughts. I see this with many of my clients. Although we live in such an abundant world, our society is rooted in and committed to scarcity.

The Origin of Scarcity Mindset

Scarcity mindset comes from a common belief or conditioning that we don’t deserve abundance. This belief spans everything from food and money to love and freedom.

We limit ourselves and make excuses as to why we don’t need or can’t obtain something. You may hate your current job and dream of something more creative and fulfilling, but you never take the steps to actually make your dream come true. Why? Because thanks to a scarcity mindset, you fool yourself into thinking that you can’t or you’re not worthy.

This is a learned behavior. Throughout your life, this was the only programming you were exposed to, especially when you were young. You didn’t have the wisdom or life experience to believe anything different. This is why most people are completely unaware of their own scarcity programs – because these beliefs have been ingrained in them from a young age. This scarcity programming can result in an obsession with “getting your share,” which leads to the compulsion to want things that you fear may be taken away or that you won’t have access to in the future. To make matters worse, more often than not, these things that you want so desperately are usually bad for you.

Scarcity and Binge Eating

When it comes to your relationship with food, scarcity mindset is what keeps you stuck in the binge/restrict cycle. I’m sure you’re all too familiar with the “Last Supper” concept. You buckle down and swear you’re going to flip the switch and be healthy…starting Monday. Then you spend the weekend gorging on your favorite foods that you’ve convinced yourself that you’ll never eat again. This is a classic example of living and thinking from a place of lack.

Although you may not realize it at first, your desire goes far deeper than food. Desire, at its core, stems from emotional hunger. When you seek an external quick fix for emotional fulfillment, you’re left in a state of searching. Pair this state of searching with a pre-existing scarcity mindset, and it’s a recipe for disaster and binge eating. The truth is: no amount of food can fill an emotional void.

To overcome scarcity mindset and how it affects your relationship with food, you need to adopt a mindset of abundance. Here’s how: 

  • Awareness is key. Recognizing scarcity mindset and bringing clarity to your pre-conditioned programs will help you shift them. It’s important to remember that scarcity affects many areas of your life, so a broader focus is needed here instead of narrowing it to just food or just money.
  • Resistance to the aforementioned programs will help you achieve abundance. You need to frequently remind yourself that like everyone, you deserve abundance and happiness.
  • Transcend these scarcity programs and patterns. You should aim for a higher state of consciousness on your road to an abundance mindset.
  • Affirmations will help you reinforce the abundance mindset and challenge current, flawed belief systems. Here are some sample affirmations: 1) I will always have everything I need. 2) I attract wealth in unlimited quantities. 3) I will always have enough food to fuel my body. 4)The universe always provides for me.


Images Courtesy of iStock

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