We live in an age of endless e-mails, to-do lists, and demands. “There is not enough time” and “I have not done enough” seem to be the battle cry of modern America. This type of inner dialogue is what Dr. Brene Brown, the world’s leading researcher on shame, calls scarcity thinking. At the heart of scarcity thinking is the belief that “I am not enough.” We need to complete, perfect, or fix something, anything—hair, career, relationship, fill in the blank—before we can stop and enjoy the life that is before us. The nagging nip of “not enough” colors our world with anxiety, and we lose touch with the tenderness of being alive.
As a wellness coach, I help clients identify and reality check the deeply held beliefs around which they have constructed their identities and their lives. I call these beliefs “life-design principles” because they operate in much the same way as the design principles used to construct a building. Sometimes these design principles are helpful (i.e., ““People can be trusted,” “I am supported”), and sometimes they are harmful (i.e., “Only beautiful women are valued,” “Asking for help means I have failed”). Modern American society is a scarcity culture. From childhood, we are bombarded with messages telling us we need to do, buy, and be more to be okay. “Not enough” is one of the most common and destructive life-design principles I see operating in my clients.
“Not enough” blinds us to the beauty of who we are and what is around us.
If your life feels more like an endless to-do list than an adventure of wonder and hope, please pause. If your days are filled with more anxiety than moments of delight, please stop. Take this month to challenge “not enough” and break free of scarcity thinking by honoring what is going right in your life with gratitude.
- Spend time in contemplation. What areas of your life are guided by a life-design principle of “not enough” (i.e., not enough time, not attractive enough, not accomplished enough)?
- Reflect. For each area in which “not enough” is operating, reflect on the following: Is this life-design principle helpful or harmful? Does operating this way move me toward being the person I want to be?
- Honor yourself. Combat “not enough” by honoring what is going right in your life with a gratitude journal. Every evening, write down three good things that happened over the past day and reflect on why they happened or what they mean to you. Over time, a gratitude journal provides the solid evidence needed to replace destructive life-design principles with life-giving principles (i.e., “There is not enough time” to “I am free to deeply engage the present moment”). Choose to see your world from a place of awe.