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How do you overcome the fear of not having enough?

Fear of not having enough is incredibly common. Persistent fear of not having enough, also called scarcity, is worth examining.

The fear of not having enough; be it time, resources, money, health, or opportunities can be an overwhelming force that stunts personal growth and inhibits the pursuit of one's full potential. In this article, I will briefly present some insights from researchers, theorists, and world religions to see what me might improve. Together, these frameworks offer a holistic approach to overcoming the paralyzing fear of scarcity.

Interestingly, psychologists have managed to develop interventions that address most of humanity's tendencies for worry. But no one theoretical model is sufficient to address scarcity in my opinion. Scarcity appears to be one of the issues that is deep seated, primal (survival instinct driven), and in need of a multi-tiered approach to combat. Because, the truth is, that it is probably going to arise again and again as life circumstances change. We all experience recurring phases of flow or abundance and periods of scarcity and worry. Learning how to shift out of a scarcity or worry phase, and not stay stuck is the key.

American Researcher Dr. Brene Brown explores how the perception of inadequacy and the belief of never having enough can deeply impact our emotions, relationships, and self-worth. Brown's work emphasizes the importance of admitting vulnerability and then making human connections in breaking free from the shackles of scarcity.

Locus of control theory, introduced by psychologist Julian B. Rotter, is a concept that gauges an individual's perception of control over their life. Those with an internal locus of control believe they can influence their destinies through their actions, while those with an external locus of control feel that external forces dictate their lives.

The interplay between the fear of scarcity and locus of control is evident. Individuals with an external locus of control may succumb more readily to the fear of not having enough, perceiving their circumstances as beyond their control. On the contrary, individuals with an internal locus of control are more inclined to take proactive steps, viewing challenges as opportunities for growth.

But what if you have wrongly attributed internal locus of control to a particular circumstance believing that you can control something you cannot? That's when the fear monster bites. The more emotional fear we feel, the more physiologically worked up we are, and then it becomes more difficult to access rational thought and make correct attributions. So also calming the physiology is key.

Adding another layer to our understanding is attribution theory, which investigates how individuals attribute causes to events in their lives. It explores the ways in which we interpret success and failure, and how these interpretations shape our beliefs and behaviors. It is critical to take responsibility in life for our actions, but for good mental health, one must not attribute things beyond our control to ourselves. It's important to attribute some outcomes on external causes as appropriate.

Particularly when faced with feelings of scarcity, attribution theory helps us understand whether we attribute it to external factors or internal ones. Recognizing that our interpretations influence our mindset is crucial in breaking free from the grips of scarcity. The good news is that this is something we can control. Our thoughts are within our capacity to direct, and a therapist/consultant can really help with learning how to direct our thoughts to access problem solving capabilities and neutrality, instead of emotionally-charged unhelpful patterns based on fear.

World religions also can offer perspective on the challenge of overcoming scarcity. The solutions tend to fall into 2 camps. Elements of some of the ideas presented below might further enhance your journey for feeling more abundance and letting go of fear. Interestingly, research shows that actions such as meditation and prayer practices can also reduce physiological stress, and in turn by calming our minds and bodies, help us access more rational thinking.

  1. Accept that fear is normal, should be examined, and can be overcome with practice. Some religions emphasize working towards emotional release via neutrality with detachment. Using meditative practices to reflect on the impermanence of all things and practicing mindfulness to stay in the present is encouraged. Compassion and non-attachment can help overcome fear. (Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism).

  2. Turn over the worries to a higher power and have faith that the higher power will remove or lighten the fear. Multiple religions state that prayer is the pathway to knowing that a benevolent higher power will lessen anxiety and respond with divine love and an ever-present supportive force for it's creation. (Christianity, Islam, Sikhism, Judaism).

In summary, a combination of tools is likely to be most helpful.

1. Cultivate an Appropriately Attributed Sense of Control

Reflect on your belief system about control and identify areas where you can take charge. Empower yourself to make decisions that positively impact your circumstances. Let go of those you can't!

2. Challenge Scarcity Mindset and Calm Your Physiology

Recognize and challenge thoughts rooted in scarcity. Utilize positive affirmations to reframe your mindset towards abundance. Use mindfulness to re-gain control over your breath and heart rate if you are too activated by fear to access your logic.

3. Practice Vulnerability

Embrace vulnerability, as suggested by Dr. Brene Brown. Acknowledge your fears and insecurities, fostering a deeper connection with yourself and others. Be compassionate towards yourself and your efforts. Have compassion for others and about situations beyond your/their control.

4. Understand Attribution Patterns

Reflect on your attribution patterns. Are any of them stemming from childhood or attachment traumas? If yes, explore them in therapy. Are you attributing scarcity to external forces beyond your control? Challenge these attributions and take responsibility for your beliefs.

Build a Support System:

Surround yourself with a supportive community that encourages and uplifts you. Sharing your fears and aspirations with others fosters connection and resilience.

Overcoming the fear of not having enough is a multifaceted journey that involves understanding attribution patterns, changing unhelpful thoughts, exploring underlying dynamics, and embracing vulnerability. Faith or mindfulness practices can also help.

By combining the insights of various theories and ancient wisdom, we gain a comprehensive understanding of the origins of our fears and the tools needed to transcend them. As we navigate this transformative journey, we open ourselves to a life marked by abundance, resilience, and the unwavering belief that we possess the agency to shape our destinies.


Dr. Marie C. Dumas, EI
Cybertherapy Consulting

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