One of the most used statements of scarcity in the world is "I can't afford it." If personal finance were a category on Family Feud, "I can't afford it" would be the No. 1 answer on the board.
I'd love to go to Hawaii, but I can't afford it.
I'd love to hire someone to help me with my business, but I can't afford it.
I'd love to move to a nicer neighborhood, but I can't afford it.
They're all statements of scarcity. But if you dig deep, there are two critical things to understand about these kinds of statements:
First, scarcity statements are habitual.
We tend to think and speak scarcity statements without real awareness. We're not consciously saying, "Look, I ran the numbers for last month. We've got a 27 percent budget shortfall, which leaves us insufficient cash flow for the Hawaii project." We're just knee-jerking a habitual "I can't afford it" because that's what we've always done. The phrases just pop out of our mouths by default—in fact, we've been saying them for so long we don't even hear them anymore.
This is a crucial insight. If our thoughts of scarcity and, as a result, our words of scarcity are habitual, then scarcity itself is also habitual.
In other words, the lack of abundance in your life isn't bad luck, or lack of smarts, or the wrong connections, or the lack of an education; your lack of abundance is a habit.
Second, scarcity statements are often untrue.
If you want to go to Hawaii, there's a good chance you actually can afford it. The truth is that you're afraid you won't be able to pay for something else—your car, your home, your bills.
But what if your life depended on you getting to Hawaii? What if your children's lives depended on you spending seven days in Waikiki? You'd surely find a way to afford it then. Why? Because when the stakes are high, you realize it's not about resources. It's about resourcefulness.
"I can't afford to go to Hawaii" is about resources. It's scarcity thinking. "I'm going to Hawaii next winter. How will I do it?" is resourcefulness. It's abundance thinking.
Noticing your scarcity thinking:
If thinking correctly is what creates the right action for abundance—if, in essence, the right thinking is what "gets you to Hawaii," then your goal is to become more aware of your scarcity thinking and shift it to abundance.
You can begin by noticing your thoughts and words. For example, if you hear yourself say, "There's never enough money to pay the bills," then ask yourself, Did that thought come from a place of scarcity or abundance?
You'll know immediately.
Now, reverse the thought. Substitute a new thought or phrase, such as "I always have enough" or "I'm choosing not to afford this right now."
Declare the new statement out loud from a place of abundance.
Habit vs. ritual:
Because so much of scarcity thinking is habitual, it can be a challenge to build that initial awareness. You might read this right now and think, OK. I'm going to become more aware of scarcity thinking. But in moments, your habits can reactivate and you'll be thinking and saying the same things without being aware of it.
To begin lasting change, it can be helpful to develop rituals that you can use to replace your habits.
On the surface, rituals and habits may seem similar. You may think you have a morning ritual of waking up, making coffee, brushing your teeth, and reading the paper, but what you really have is a series of habits.
The difference is in the level of consciousness. A habit is unconscious. We perform it without thinking. A ritual, on the other hand, is something that we do much more intentionally. We do it consciously, with purpose. As a result, rituals can be a tool to deliberately change our habitual thoughts, words, and actions, moving us toward complete awareness of what we're doing and why.
Here are three examples of rituals you can use to shift your scarcity mindset toward one of abundance.
1. Go on a mental diet.
The Seven Day Mental Diet by Emmet Fox talks about a conscious effort to become aware of negative thinking. For a week, your goal is to try not to sustain any negative thoughts. You may have them—we all do—but your job is to make a conscious effort to let them go, replacing them with something positive. Over time, this ritual can make you very aware of your scarcity thinking.
2. Develop a declaration ritual.
I have a morning practice—a ritual—of several positive declarations that I make each day when I wake up. As soon as I put my feet on the floor, I begin with the statement, "I love my life." Then I continue with a series of positive declarations about the things I will experience that day, from gratitude and abundance to love and joy.
It's a conscious ritual that I do each morning and night. It takes just a few moments to complete, but it delivers every day, without fail.
3. Bless prosperity.
In our culture, we have a habit of speaking negatively about the success of others. We might say, "He might be rich, but I bet he's unhappy" or "She only became rich by being greedy."
Even though those statements may appear to be about others, we're really hurting ourselves when we make them. Tell yourself "money is the root of all evil" often enough and you'll believe it. And then what will you think of yourself when you get some? When we make negative comments about the financial success of others, we're in effect cursing ourselves.
To end the curse, develop a ritual of blessing others who have prosperity. "She worked so hard for her money. I hope it brings her great joy." You can take this an extra step by making an effort to engage with those people, blessing the interaction, and being open to learning and receiving support from them.
At the heart of these rituals is a conscious decision about whether to focus on lack or abundance. Do you see prosperity as a pie with limited size, from which some people get bigger slices and some get smaller ones? Or do you see it as limitless bounty of abundance?
The former is a scarcity mindset and it's extremely common for that mindset to be an unconscious habit. Ritual is about becoming aware and changing that unconscious choice so you can shift your mindset to one of abundance.
The best part is that over time, you'll notice something new: Your conscious abundance rituals have become your new unconscious habits. And that's where the magic happens.