Today’s show has been lovingly hijacked by yours truly, Emily Jones! Today I’m going to walk you through my journey and observations as someone who struggles with Scarcity Mentality. We’ll talk about what it looks like, my personal theory on how it can develop, and ways to combat this twisted thinking. I hope this information sheds some light on some ways that you or someone you love may think and provides a little encouragement along the way.
Hello everyone! Welcome to Kelly and the Encouragers! I hope you are having an awesome week. Not just an awesome week but not just an awesome week; An awesome week getting to the month of March. I have really high hopes for this year and I hope that if you are one of those people who set intentions at the beginning of the year like I am, that those intentions are taking you far in this world.
If you’re a little confused right now about why this doesn’t sound like Kelly, that’s because it’s not! My name is Emily Jones and I have very lovingly hijacked Kelly’s podcast this week. I had something really important to me that I really wanted to share and Kelly has been so gracious and allowed me the platform to do that.
Some of you might recognize my voice or my name. I have been a guest on the Kelly and the Encouragers podcast twice now.
The most recent one was in December right before the holidays. We talked about family dynamics and I’m going to bring a little bit more of that back today. It has a lot to do with the thing that’s on my heart.
So, for those of you who didn’t get to hear the other two podcasts or haven’t gone back to listen to them or you did listen to them and a lot has happened since then, I’ll tell you who I am a little bit more.
I’m a trauma therapist in the city of Fargo, ND. I serve kids as young as oh, currently I have a three year old I think. Yes, a three year old. And then clients all the way up until 90 if they wanted to see me but mostly I work with young kids probably my average age right now I’d say is about twelve. I do have some adults that I see. I do have some really young children that I see. But I think that my most comfortable demographic or the demographic that really just tugs at my heartstrings are those really awkward adolescents that need a little bit more encouragement in their lives. I know I definitely did when I was their age, for sure. And that’s probably why I like working with them so much.
The other thing that I decided to do this year because you know, why not, let's throw some more irons on the fire, is I decided that I would take an adjunct teaching position for the North Dakota State/Minot State combined social work program and I’m currently teaching a class for that program and I love it! I absolutely love it! I hope that that’s an opportunity that I get to do more of in the future for sure.
I am also the wife to a retired army veteran so things get a little interesting in our house for sure. There have been some issues transitioning to civilian life - that’s no joke. If anybody would like to know more about that or get more information about that, I would love to share that with you because it’s definitely a life transition that I don’t think enough people are very well prepared for, so if anyone would like to get some more information, tips and tricks, let me know, let Kelly know. I would love to provide those to you.
I also have two children - a nine year old and a fourteen year old. Ugh, you guys...okay, yes I love working with adolescents. It’s a whole other thing to parent them. It really is. I never knew how awkward and silly my life would become to have two adolescent boys in my home. It’s amazing. It is amazing but it’s so gross!! It’s so gross, it’s so weird sometimes!
So anywho, that’s who I am in a nutshell. I love to be creative, I love to use music and art in therapy, I love to use music and art in my home and that’s what makes me me I think.
Anyway, let's start to focus on the real reason we’re here today.
So, there’s something that’s really been tugging at my heart I’d say over the last two or three months and thank goodness I had an encourager like Kelly in my life because I am often the victim of my own thinking.
What I mean by that is that I suffer from something called scarcity mindset, also known as scarcity mentality. If you’ve never heard of that, it’s the concept that things are either all or nothing and so for those of you that may be therapists or people who have been in cognitive behavioral therapy before, you might recognize that as a cognitive distortion called all or nothing thinking but scarcity mentality was actually a term that was coined by the author Steven Covey in the book “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.”
Now, if you were to google scarcity mentality or scarcity mindset, you might get a lot of things that revolve around finances.
We’re not going to talk only about finances although it really will apply. We’re going to talk about the emotional impacts of scarcity mentality and why that sometimes happens.
So to share a little bit of my personal journey with this, I was finding myself in the rut of feeling extremely creative. I mean I was just popping out ideas left and right, like, “Yeah, this is awesome! I should do this! Oh my God, my agency should do this!” And I was so excited about all of these things, right? But I wasn’t making them happen. And then someone else would come up from behind and do something very similar. Maybe not the exact same thing but very similar and then I would cry and say, “Why are they getting all of the attention? Why are they getting to have all of this acknowledgement?”
Well, because they made it happen and I didn’t.
But why wasn’t I making it happen?
Well one, I can tell you that anxiety was a huge part of it. It was a huge part of it. Anxiety and self-esteem have this nasty habit of rearing their ugly heads together and going, “Emily! You have great ideas. But guess what? You’re still not good enough to execute them!”
And then when somebody else does it then I think they already did it, what’s the point in me doing it? Because they’ve already got all of the things that I myself would have gone for so like an audience or recognition or clients or anything like that and I just thought, “Well, if they do it, then there isn’t going to be anything left for me.”
How defeating is that?
Let’s just sit with that for a moment. If someone else is doing it...I shouldn’t. Because there will be nothing left for me.
I can tell you that this is something that I have dealt with for a really long time. It is something that has challenged me in many aspects of my life. And I’m fairly certain that there are some of you out there who have dealt with this as well. It’s not something that I walk around with every day. Sometimes I’m in really, really good places and I don’t have any hint of it at all.
And then sometimes when the moment is just right - maybe it’s a particular time of year or there’s a particular trigger, it just pops right back up and then I have to deal with it all over again and walk myself through it.
So, why do people get into this mindset?
The short answer for that is any number of reasons. I’d really like to share with you some observations that I’ve made.
Now, some of these observations come from doing the work that I do. Some of these observations come from me watching other people in their relationships and some of these observations come from simply being very reflective of myself and my own relationships.
I was listening to Kelly’s podcast last week when she talked about her journey with her own creativity - that was a really good episode - and there was something in there that she said that tugged at my heart. When she was talking about how much she loves to write and how creative she is with it.
I can tell you, she is immensely creative. But she didn’t feel like she could execute that or take that on as something that was her thing because they already had a writer in the family. T
That’s scarcity mindset. And I can tell you that my own personal journey has been very similar starting in a very similar dynamic.
I had two older sister that were much older than me and so by the time I came around, things had pretty much been done. We were from a small community in Kentucky and there wasn’t a lot of things we could do as far as extracurriculars or really sports other than basketball or football.
If you know anything about Kentucky, we LOVE our basketball.
Anyway, not the point.
I can remember thinking so many times that I wish music was my thing but it couldn't be because that was my oldest sisters thing. And I remember thinking I wish animals could be my thing but it couldn't be because that’s my other sisters thing.
I spent so much time trying to find my thing. And then that was challenged when I had a brother who came along eight years after me because the things that I worked so hard to establish as pieces of my own identity, he would start to infringe on.
I was searching so hard to find my place in the world and feeling like I had no place that wasn’t already claimed by someone else.
It’s kind of like going to the North Pole and seeing that American flag there and going, “Oh, okay sorry!” and then baking away.
I just didn’t have the self-esteem to boost me through that - the confidence to boost me through that and say yes, that’s their thing but guess what? It’s mine, too.
And there’s enough room for everybody.
So, that really instilled in me a highly competitive streak because if there weren’t things I could do that were new, I would surely do them better. So every endeavor that I entered into once I got into highschool especially wasn’t just about doing it or having the experience, it was about faster, better, stronger. I’ve got to be the best. I’ve got to be the best and if I’m not the best, I’m not worthy.
I think that scarcity mindset can often come from family dynamics. Feeling as if there’s only so much love to go around. There’s only so much praise to go around. And not feeling assured that the love and praise will come even if you’re not the best. Even if you’re not the first.
I think that’s a huge part of it and it is something that I have witnessed over and over again. Not just sin my own life but also in the lives of my clients.
Like I said before, I work with a lot of kids that have trauma. And in fact most of those kids I work with that have trauma are actually in foster care so I get a lot of foster parents that say to me, “They’re just doing this for attention.”
Yeah, you’re right. I validate that statement a lot. Yeah, you’re right...but let me tell you why. Let me tell you why they’re doing it for attention. It’s because this child is currently in scarcity mindset. They have a scarcity mentality. They feel very deeply inside their whole body that whatever love and affection you show for their siblings or for their foster sibling, there will not be enough left for them as well.
How deeply sad is that?
Often these kids have been told that they aren’t enough unless they do something. They aren’t enough unless they can move up to these standards. And sometimes these standards are highly unattainable. I also see some extremely high functioning kids that come in with massive amounts of anxiety and the pressure to perform is extremely high. That can also lead to scarcity mindset - the idea that if we are not about to live to mom and dad’s exact standards, there will be no love left for me. There will be no affirmation left for me. My work is gone.
So, how does that impact us as an adult?
Well, kind of like how I observed in my own life; We might have things that come along that we get really excited about and maybe we get a co-worker or a friend that has the ability to see that exciting opportunity through and instead of being happy for them, we take it deeply personal.
There have been times where there are people that I love and care about so much and something amazing happens for them. And I am so happy for them. Truly. Truly happy for them.
But there’s this little troll in the back of my brain going, “See, it’s happening for them but not for you.”
And doesn’t that just eat the joy?
It totally eats all of the joy.
So, how do we manage it?
Well, the first thing we have to do is recognize it. One of the ways that we can recognize that is we can seek an opportunity to meet with a therapist or have really, really good friends.
I said this in very first podcast that I was on that Kelly and I talked about supporting one another and I said some of the best encouragers are the people that tell us the truth. They tell us what they’re observing with kindness.
So, the first step is practicing self reflection. Take a really hard come to Jesus meeting with yourself to say, “This is what I’m doing. And there can be a way out.” You have to convince yourself of that.
So using a lot of thought. Stopping and saying, “Nope, I’m in scarcity mindset. I gotta change this. I gotta reframe the way I’m thinking.”
There are some simple things that you can do that are going to definitely feel like you’re faking it until you’re making it and the first one is to say, “I am enough and I have a lot to offer the world.”
That’s the first step.
You’ve got to develop some sort of monitoring your mind so that when you recognize that you’re doing those things you can go, “Oh, nope. That’s stopping.”
Do a little mindfulness exercise, repeat your mantra to yourself that you’ve developed and then you move through it.
So, how do you move through it?
Well, if you’re saying to yourself, “I am enough. I have a lot to offer the world” and you pick yourself up, you grab that opportunity and you move through it. You move with it. You see the opportunity. And if there’s not an opportunity in front of you, you find the opportunity.
I’ll tell you one of the gifts that I consider from having scarcity mentality is the fact that I’ve become extremely good at finding gaps in service for mental health care in our community.
It’s something that I’m able to pinpoint. I can see the nuances of service, I can see the loopholes of policy and I can pinpoint exactly where we need to put another service in place.
I truly believe that that has come from the fact that I have had to search high and low for my own spots in this world.
That is a gift.
It is a beautiful gift.
It is a way to reframe this beautiful mentality that we have and use it for good. I can find all of those things.
So, if there’s not a opportunity being handed to you - which sometimes the best opportunities aren’t - then go find your opportunity.
I have another amazing encourager in my life who often says to me, “Yeah, I get that it’s like what you’re doing, but they’re not you. You just be you.” Actually, what she says is, “You do you, Boo.”
And I love her for it because she’s so, so right. She’s so right.
I could go out and implement a program that looks exactly like someone else’s program but they will not deliver it the way that I will and that’s not coming from a place of competition. That’s coming from a place of confidence and creativity. They will never deliver it the way that I will and I will never deliver it the way that they will.
And guess what? The people that need them to deliver it that way will find them and the people that need me to deliver it my way will find me and what a great opportunity for us to collaborate.
That often means that my service delivery and their service delivery may be similar theoretically but not in delivery.
And we need both.
We need multiple people with multiple diverse ways of thinking, and creativity and delivering to provide service to provide hope, to provide healing. We need all of us. We are unique human beings. And there could be someone who looks like me on paper but you get us in person in front of one another and we’re two completely different people. The world needs both of us.
The world will not be the same without one of us.
The world has enough to give love and opportunity and affirmation to both of us.
So there’s two more things that I would really like you to try if you keep finding yourself stuck in this scarcity mentality.
The first is I want you to give to the world what you’d like to get back. Treat others as you would like to be treated. Karma’s a beautiful thing and if karma’s not something that you believe in then what goes around comes around is a real thing and if that’s not something that you believe in then just believe in being a good, kind human being and that blessings will come to you in abundance.
What comes back to you will be beautiful and supportive and encouraging.
Give to others what you want to receive.
The last thing that I would encourage you to do is thank your encouragers. Find those people that have given you words of wisdom along the way, that have helped lift you up out of a dark place or who have helped grow you into the professional that you are, the person that you are. Just tell them thank you.
It is amazing what that feeling of thanks does for us. When we take the time to be grateful and show gratitude for those who have helped us along the way.
So, in the spirit of doing that, I might get a little teary, I’m not going to lie, I’d like to thank my encouragers. I’d like to thank Kelly for giving me this opportunity to share something that is really, really dear on my heart. And I’d like to thank my husband. He’s the whole reason that I was even able to go back to school, become a social worker and ultimately become the therapist that I am. He challenges me daily. He encourages me daily.
My kids who believe that I am the best mom in the world even when I feel like I’m the worst.
And I’d like to thank my sisters.
I’m honestly really glad that there wasn’t enough room because I have learned a valuable lesson. We are not defined by the activities that we do. We are not defined by the careers that we have. We are not defined by the people with whom we are in relationships with.
We are defined by what we put out into this world. We are defined by the goodness and kindness in our hearts and I am so grateful that I can say I have never hung my hat on one particular aspect of myself and I have been able to come to a place now where I am thirty six years old and I can say that I am Emily, I’m simply Emily.
I am not Emily the musician.
I am not Emily the therapist.
I am not Emily, Stephanie and Allison’s little sister.
I am Emily and I never would have come to that if it weren’t for the fact that I felt that way when I was a kid.
I’m thankful for the roles we played in each others lives.
And lastly, I’d like to say thank you to you guys. Thank you for tuning in and listening to me ramble today. Thank you for supporting one of my very good friends in her endeavors and her efforts to be encouraging to the rest of the world.
Everyone go out and have a wonderful rest of your March. Have a wonderful rest of your year. Set your intentions and stick to them. Especially if your intention is to get out of scarcity mindset or scarcity mentality. Develop your abundant mentality and we’ll see you later!