For as long as I can remember I’ve suffered from not-enough-itis.
I hated the empty, anxious feeling in my chest and heart, the tightness around my throat and jaw- it was like I was always feeling behind, lacking in some way. I dreaded the sinking feeling that would come up when the circumstances of my life didn’t go as planned. So, I did what any normal person would do and I tried to take control of things. I did whatever I could to avoid it or to try and control it. I worked harder, strived and achieved in the hope that getting more would ease my inner ache and when that didn’t work, I turned to food, spending and mind numbing TV to try and not think about how inadequate I felt.
I know I am not alone in this lack mentality. This nagging feeling of inadequacy and not enough. It plays out in our relationships with money, in our career, with our partners and within ourselves. There is this constant feeling inside eating away at you. You try to avoid it. Sometimes you can. But then something will happen – your bank account drops, that guy doesn’t text you back, you put on a few pounds, a friend gets a promotion and then all of the sudden it hits you and you’re crippled with not-enough-itis.
This way of thinking drives us to be mass consumers with excessive to do lists. We find ourselves constantly seeking and searching but never putting our finger on what we need to light us up. We’re like a hamster on a wheel- round and round we go! Searching and seeking out more love, more money, more recognition, more stuff. But we still feel empty.
Symptoms Of Not-enough-itis aka Lack Mentality aka poverty consciousness
The lack mentality is a constant feeling of not enough.
From my personal experience and working with hundreds of clients over the past 6 years, I think that the root cause of lack mentality really is the fear that ‘I am not enough’.
Feeling like you are not enough or are insignificant or inadequate or however you want to call it, is an incredibly difficult feeling to feel. It can be so difficult to feel like you’re not enough and at the same time, summon the strength and courage you need to tackle it. It’s a double edged sword- ‘I am not enough’ – I need to do some inner work on personal acceptance and self love but I don’t deserve to because I am not enough…..round and round we go and we tell ourselves it is because we’ve not enough time or not enough money.
We don’t want to face up to that feeling so we will try keep our focus outside of ourselves, trying to make it go away by doing and getting more.
Lack mentality is always thinking about what is missing, constantly comparing and coming up short. Our mind is consumed with thoughts of what I don’t have, why I am not enough, what I did wrong, why I’m not where I thought I would be by now, what’s missing from my life, why things are lousy, why everything is so hard and it goes on and on and on and round and round..
We find ourselves stuck in this mindset. Going round in circles, obsessing, dropping into really negative emotional states. The more we focus on what we don’t have, the more we drop into unresourceful states and then the more we experience lack because we’re too drained to make a change, so it becomes this perpetual cycle.
Now, of course every now and then, we may strike gold and have things work out really well but for those stuck in lack mindset, that hit of satisfaction is only temporary and we find ourselves back in the same pattern and cycle again quite quickly. No matter how much money we have, it’s still not enough to ease that tight feeling of lack and worry. No matter how loved we are, we still feel that deep insecurity. No matter how qualified we are, it doesn’t quieten that internal voice telling you that you don’t measure up.
So, how do we change this? How do we break the cycle and learn to light ourselves up without constantly striving for more money, more love or more stuff?
The first step is always becoming aware of what you’re doing. Grab yourself a pen and paper and jot down some main areas of life- your health, your career, your personal development, your money, your family, your friends, your fun & relaxation and whatever else is important to you. Then, reflect on each area of your life. Ask yourself what’s going on for you in that part of your life and check in with how you feel inside. Where in your external world do you feel you don’t have enough? Where do you feel you are lacking? Compared to who? And now, look inside. Where do you feel not enough? What parts of yourself have you deemed as not good enough?
What Do you Really Want?
Everything we do, we do because of how we think it will make us feel….. So, if you got what you were striving for- how would you feel? If you had the raise, the job you wanted, the money, the loving sexy partner, the gorgeous house, the toned yoga body – how do you think you would feel? Start to get clear on what you are really seeking here. This is one thing that really made the biggest difference in my life. I realised I wanted to feel confident and happy and I was pursuing things that ‘society and media’ were telling me would make me confident and happy. I didn’t need them and my own confidence and happiness came from doing the inner work, letting go of who I thought I should be and embracing who I actually was. Do you want that job because it’s meaningful, fulfils your values, is your unique expression and contribution to the world? Or because it’s the next step on the ladder and everyone says you need to keep climbing?
Light Yourself Up
Once you are aware of what you truly wanting and desiring, the real work begins. As I mentioned earlier, often we look to our external world for fulfilment and to plug that empty feeling inside. We seek praise, promotion, approval, love, and so many other things but that approach is a temporary fix. You get the promotion, you’re pumped and then next week you’re down again. You hit the target for the mortgage deposit and it doesn’t bring you any long term joy- just the question ‘What next? It’s not a long term plan and what you need is to learn how to light yourself up from the inside. Easier said than done, I know!
How do you want to feel? Loved, appreciated, successful, happy, at peace, relaxed? And what have you been wanting from your external world (eg: your job, your friends, your partner, your bank account etc…) to make you feel that way.
This will be tough initially, but start to think about how you can start to experience those feelings now, without needing anyone or anything external to you to give it to you. What shifts can you make to how you think, what you focus on, your lifestyle and your actions, so that you can experience more of the feelings you’re desiring?
Attitude of gratitude…
One of the quickest ways to help you lift yourself up and out of lack mindset is to practice shifting into abundance mindset. This basically means opening your eyes to what you do have in your life- perhaps you have an abundance of friends, an abundance of energy or passion for a particular topic, you have a roof over your head and food in your press, you have your skills- your ability to read and write and how much pleasure you can receive just from that, you have the beauty of the world around you. When we start opening our eyes to what we already have, it can help us shift our attention from what we lack. I will admit though, the first time I tried to do this, I found it very difficult to do because I was deeply rooted in lack mindset.
Myself and Colm used to turn it into a game, asking each other ‘What was the best thing about your day? or ‘name three things you’re grateful for right now?’ – we’d do it in bed before we went to sleep and it felt really good.
The chance is that what you’re truly desiring to feel is probably present in your life right now in some shape or form but you’re not noticing it. Do you pay attention to what lights you up? Do you know what makes you feel good? When we start to acknowledge areas in our lives where we are truly abundant, things start to shift and we can ask ourselves ‘Where else do I already have what I want?’ ‘What is already part of my day to day life that I love?’
When you view the world from an abundance mindset- it looks completely different even though the circumstances might be exactly the same.
I hope this has resonated with you and that you take something from it! As always, I’d love to hear from you!
With love and much warmth,