The Scarcity Wound
Three signs this deep, tender wound is holding you back
Scarcity is real. Scarcity is also a lie.
Scarcity is a profound and painful experience of lack. There are people everywhere who experience the desperation of real scarcity - a lack of food, water, safety, infrastructure, money, health care, education, support, encouragement - you name it, it is possible to experience scarcity in almost any way. Having lived in Zambia and traveled throughout Africa, scarcity of material resources is evident everywhere you look. Though there are (too many) people who experience real scarcity in the United States, far more people have ample resources who still feel the painful clutch of scarcity. How can that be?
The scarcity wound refers to an inner experience of scarcity in the present moment that is based primarily on past personal, familial, and societal experiences and/or narratives. In other words, the scarcity wound leads to suffering in the present moment that isn't based on the current reality. Make no mistake, this fear feels very real, and it is debilitating. The scarcity wound leads people to feel powerless, to feel they are not enough, or, even if they technically know there is enough of any given resource, to feel a deep sense of lack. This is the scarcity wound at work.
The scarcity wound is like bindweed - it takes over, choking the life out of who we truly are and who we want to be in the world.
In fact, the scarcity wound is so deeply embedded in our collective body psyche, it is rare for someone to be completely free from it. Even when women say yes to healing the scarcity wound in one arena, say money, it will often pop up in other ways - like feeling a lack of support or time or love.
There are myriad ways that the scarcity wound can present itself, but here are three sneaky but common ways I see the scarcity wound holding women back from the life, the business, and the experiences they truly desire.
The scarcity wound might be holding you back if...
You are waiting for X to do Y. Perhaps this kind of conditional statement is familiar to you, "I will sit down to write when I've cleaned the house from top to bottom." or " I will apply to graduate school when everyone else I know is happy and fulfilled." This kind of conditional thinking is so pervasive that we hardly notice that we reinforce the idea that there isn't enough for everyone. We are taking the hit and prioritizing everyone and everything else in this scenario, leaving no room for what we truly desire. Please believe me when I tell you, the conditions will never be met. Stop waiting and do the thing.
You struggle to welcome experiences that delight you and bring you pleasure. Oh, our puritan roots are showing! The collective resistance to true pleasure is not only heartbreaking but can be incredibly dysfunctional. Pleasure is often equated with indulgence and so, collectively we tend to deny ourselves the true pleasures of life that fill us up, such as connecting with people we love, moving our bodies, going on adventures, being in nature, sexual satisfaction, sleep, or even laughter (to name just a few). In denying ourselves true pleasure, we tend to then indulge in empty pleasures that leave us feeling a more profound sense of scarcity in the aftermath. Empty pleasures like excessive drinking or drug use, excessive eating, or excessive spending - all of which lead to regret, emptiness, and the compulsion for more of what hurts us. One of the most potent antidotes to the scarcity wound is unapologetic pleasure-seeking. It's a powerful, life-giving, clarifying choice that is surprisingly challenging but oh-so-gratifying.
You feel chronically undervalued and unsupported. This facet of the scarcity wound is often found in helpers, healers, creatives, and/or mothers. These are the women who charge next to nothing (or nothing) for the excellent work they do in the world. These are the women who do, and do, and do for everyone else, expecting nothing but crumbs while those around them feast. This is baked into our cultural narrative about women, so it's no wonder it's so pervasive. Challenging this facet of the scarcity wound is genuinely revolutionary work. Saying no, asking for what you need, and giving those around you the gift of self-responsibility is no small task and requires significant deprogramming and rewiring. However, the result is being deliciously tapped into your worth and your value.
The scarcity wound is sneaky and corrosive - it erodes your connection to your power, your pleasure, and your personal agency. The scarcity wound insists that there is not enough, that you are not enough. Personal, familial, and societal wounds and narratives of the past silently dictate behavior in the present moment, leading to fractured, fear-based decisions that reinforce your experience of scarcity.
Healing the scarcity wound restores power.
Challenging the scarcity wound is tender work to be sure. As a woman living in a western context, the scarcity wound may keep you playing small, lowering your voice, or worst of all, ignoring the urge to finally, blessedly start the business you've been dreaming of (or growing the one you have). You may even find you diminish your desires, which is just another insidious facet of the scarcity wound.
Your dreams, your desires, your voice, and your Self are meaningful. It's not a mistake that the scarcity wound keeps us quiet - to challenge and heal the scarcity wound is to reclaim your power, to affirm your wholeness, and to make your dreams a reality. That not only changes your life and the lives of those you love, but it shifts the cultural narrative away from scarcity to enoughness. Not just enoughness, but more than enoughness.