Do any of these sound familiar?
“I’ll never make enough money.”
“I don’t practice enough.”
“I’m not pretty enough.”
“I’ll never be thin enough.”
“I’m too much for him to handle.”
“What if they find out I don’t know enough?”
Or do you have your own special flavor of scarcity?
These are all scarcity. Different perspectives, different targets, but all scarcity.
The word ‘scarcity’ gets thrown around like a hot potato in circles from personal development to manifestation, from certified financial planners to non-profit execs, from psychological marketers to yoga teachers.
Merriam-Webster has this to say:
Scarcity, noun — the quality or state of being scarce; especially : want of provisions for the support of life
Scarce, adj — deficient in quantity or number compared with the demand : not plentiful or abundant
This ooze of deficiency seeps into the edges of our brain: that creeping fear we won’t have or know or be enough. We won’t be successful enough when we start a new project; won’t be cute or charming or clever enough on a first date; we won’t be compelling or persuasive enough to present a new idea to the team.
After years of a subtle, yet pervasive blanket of scarcity — trying to prove that I really belonged in this board room, tracking every calorie to stay a size 8, practicing yoga EVERY DAMN MORNING at 7:30 a.m. and always taking the deepest pose — I am finally coming around.
The opposite of scarcity is not abundance.
Scarcity says “Never enough.” Scarcity is the seed of addiction, craving, insecurity, overwhelm, and distraction.
To me, abundance has always meant “More than enough,” — but somewhere in my bones I knew it just wasn’t true. My experience says “it’s impossible to keep growing.” Nature has an upper limit.
But that just proved that I wasn’t “spiritual enough.” Because if I were really spiritual, I would believe in the abundance of the universe. I would believe there’s no limit to the resources available.
What a trap.
The real balm to scarcity is “enoughness,” or what Lynne Twist calls “sufficiency.”
In The Soul of Money, Twist uses this magical phrase: “Just enough.”
There is just enough water. There is just enough oxygen. There is just enough money.
There is just enough for us all to have what we need.
But that germ of scarcity in my gut got activated when I first read “just enough,” — I registered a tiny moment of panic.
A silly fear whispered: “But what if just enough isn’t actually enough?” (If you don’t see how absurd that is, you’re just as crazy as I am.)
But then I breathed through it: There is just enough.
There is Just. Enough.
Just Enough asks us to rise to the occasion. It demands maturity. It requires compassion.
Because Just Enough means: we must make choices.
We must make hard decisions about what’s actually important to us.
We must be brave enough to say “No,” even if we know it might sting our partner. We must be brave enough to say “Not now,” to our three-year old, even though we know the meltdown that’s coming. We must be brave enough to say “No” to the wrong job offer — even when we don’t know what will happen next.
Just Enough means there’s nothing to waste — and just enough is where value is born. Despite what every internet marketing bro will tell you, value is NOT born from scarcity, but out of stewardship for what is already here.
If you’re willing to believe you have just enough time in your day to get the important things done, you have to decide what’s not important. And then drop it.
If you have just enough money, you have to set priorities around your spending. And honor them.
If you have just enough energy, you can no longer fritter it away people pleasing, worrying, or binge watching. But then you can savor free moments without always overworking.
And if life is just long enough for you to do EXACTLY what you were put here to do — that means you’d better stop wasting your energy on anything that isn’t it, and roll up your damn sleeves.
Let’s get to work.