Posted by: coachingparents | November 20, 2008


By Lloyd J. Thomas, Ph.D.
There is never enough time to do what we want.  There is never
enough money to feel free to live as we desire.  No matter what, when
there is never enough of something we want, we perceive ourselves to
be a victim of scarcity.  Always viewing yourself, or your lifestyle,
through the lens of scarcity results in your feeling unfulfilled. 
When we are unfulfilled, poverty becomes a permanent state of mind.
Our perceptions of abundance or scarcity began in our childhood.  If
we were raised in a family where care was insufficient, we learned to
believe the world lacked enough caring to adequately meet our needs. 
Regardless of how loving or caring our parents intended to be, there
were times we felt as if there was not “enough to go around.”  Not
enough attention, not enough food, not enough safety or protection,
not enough playfulness, not enough love, not enough __________.  You
fill in the blank.
If we’ve concluded that there is never enough for us, we begin to
gauge our expectations according to what we believe we can’t have.  We
stop asking for the care, love, food, protection, etc. based upon the
assumption that it’s simply not available.  We don’t ask because we
think it just isn’t there.
As children, the dilemma of scarcity becomes: If there is not enough
to go around, I must choose who gets what amount of what there is.  If
there is so little food, who gets to have it?  When everything is
scarce, who decides how to ration whatever is there?
In his book, “Legacy Of The Heart,” Wayne Muller writes: “When love
is scarce, it feels impossible for everyone…to be cared for.  If I
take it myself, I will feel mean and selfish, hurting everyone else. 
On the other hand, if I give the love to you, I may not feel cared
for.  Thus we give birth to the scarcity contract: I will care for you
if you promise to care for me.  We pass a thimbleful of care back and
forth forever, never being filled, rarely feeling loved.”
Muller goes on to say, with a scarcity mentality, “care is never
something shared…there is not enough for that.  Love is either given
or taken.  And we all keep score.”
When we grow up with a scarcity mentality, it influences almost
every aspect of our adult lives.  Muller writes, “Our feelings of
scarcity…influence the way we approach major decisions in our lives.
 Confronted with important choices, we fear the wrong turn will bring
disaster, cutting us off even further from any possibility of care and
abundance.  Every new choice invites the possibility of getting even
less than we have now, so we must be very careful to make the right
Perhaps one answer to the belief of scarcity is to adjust our
perception of the size of what we need.  Do we really need more time? 
Do we really need more money?  How much time and money is enough? 
Benedictine monk, Brother David Steindl-Rast, writes that abundance
“is not measured by what flows in, but by what flows over.  The
smaller we make the vessel of our need…the sooner we get the
overflow we need for delight.”

Is the “vessel of our need” half full or half empty?   It depends on
our perception.  Henry Thoreau wrote: “I make myself rich by making my
wants few.”
  Shift your perception of childhood scarcity and you begin
to pay attention to whatever you have at the moment and perceive it as
Again Muller writes, “Love and abundance arise when we pay attention
to what we have already been given with freshness and curiosity.  When
we are always looking at the places where love never came, we tend to
feel an overwhelming scarcity.  But when we open our eyes to the
fertile garden of the present moment, we may feel the earth itself
hold us in her love…”
  May whatever you have at the moment make you
rich.  May whatever need you have be small.
Lloyd J. Thomas, Ph.D. has 30+ years experience as a Life Coach and
Licensed Psychologist.  He is available for coaching in any area
presented in “Practical Psychology.”  Initial coaching sessions are
free.   E-mail: or


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