Scarcity or Abundance? The Choice is Ours

May 22, 2020

Widowed people are familiar with feelings of scarcity: the loss of our person, our shared past, day to day life and future plans and dreams.

Many non-widowed people whose basic needs are met didn’t think much about scarcity, generally speaking, until Covid-19 made its dramatic entrance in the world. There’s nothing like a pandemic to spark world-wide scarcity.

Many are experiencing limited access to food, hand sanitizer, soap, and other necessities. Some essential employees lack appropriate personal protective equipment. We may perceive a lack of valid, helpful information. As we watch the stock market waver, businesses close permanently and farmers unable to sell their crops, it is easy to see the economy as doom and gloom. 

Interactions with family and friends are limited. Many have lost jobs, while others can no longer enjoy meaningful pursuits such as volunteering. 

The greatest losses are loved ones; from Covid-19 and other causes. While the causes are different, those left behind have all been thrust into a world in which they cannot mourn in typical ways. 

Scarcity is Also a Mindset

While scarcity can be defined in terms of supply and demand, it can also be defined as a state of mind. There are many circumstances that readily send us into a scarcity mindset. The human brain is designed to keep us safe from danger, so it naturally focuses on negative, potentially perilous circumstances. 

Thanks to the pandemic of 2020, there is no shortage of those circumstances. Circumstances are all the things outside of our control: pandemics, other people, and anything that happens outside of us. It’s easy to think that our circumstances directly create our sense of scarcity, but actually feelings of scarcity (or any other feeling, including abundance) are created in our minds. 

The Superpower Within Us

There is a protective shield between our circumstances and our feelings – and that is our thoughts. Our thoughts are our superpowers and they are 100% optional. For every thought our brains choose to think, there is an infinite number of other thoughts equally available to us. We can only feel scarcity if we choose thoughts that produce feelings of scarcity. Or we can choose other thoughts that still feel true to us but create a different feeling.  

This is good news. It means we are not victims of our circumstances if we are leveraging the power of our thoughts. It takes all the power away from our circumstances and places it directly with us.

For example, General Electric, General Motors, IBM, Disney, HP, Hyatt, Trader Joe’s, FedEx, Microsoft all have in something in common: these large companies were all started during a recession. Add to that Facebook and Google which were all launched right before economic meltdowns.

Those leaders saw opportunity when many others were spinning in a scarcity mindset. We can choose that for ourselves, too.

Is a Pandemic Also an Opportunity?

What if this pandemic were just like a weight in the gym? It’s heavy but that heaviness serves a purpose if we choose to pick it up. It can make us stronger. Ask your brain to consider all the ways you have become stronger this year, what you’ve learned and how you’ve grown. 

When we keep the long term in mind, we can see this as a blip in time, even an opportunity to better manage our minds, to think thoughts that serve us.

Thinking Thoughts on Purpose

We can acknowledge that it is normal for our brains to spiral on scarcity to keep us safe. Recognize the brain for trying it do its job, then ask it to also consider abundance. For every area of life that seems to represent scarcity, think of at least two areas of abundance.  

For every thought about what might go wrong, ask your brain to also consider what might go right. 

For every unsettling story on the news, seek out stories of triumph, teamwork and resourcefulness. 

I like this quote from James Clear, especially the first and last sentences: "Wealth is the power to choose. Financial wealth is the power to choose how to spend money. Social wealth is the power to choose who to hang out with. Time wealth is the power to choose how to spend your day.

Mental wealth is the power to choose how to spend your attention."

Even this unprecedented time can be a moment to notice abundance and create more of it. It is within our power to choose.

Teresa Amaral Beshwate, MPH, The Sudden Widow Coach, helps widows who have experienced the sudden loss of their spouse or significant other learn to live and love their life again. Her coaching program is exclusively for widowed people and offers the perfect mix of private and group coaching along with the most life changing tools for the uniquely challenging widowed journey. 


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