There’s not enough … so if you have more, there’ll be less for me … and since those who die with the most toys win, more is clearly better. This means I have to constantly be paying attention to getting more … that’s just the way it is!
If you’re reading this, it’s unlikely this is the way you’re consciously living, and seeing these ideas written so baldly may seem a bit over the top, but even reading those words feels exhausting, doesn’t it?
They’re the 3 toxic myths of scarcity Lynne Twist points to in her book The Soul of Money – Reclaiming the Wealth of Our Inner Resources. It’s not a new book (it came out in 2003) but I’ve just read it for the first time this week. And though her focus is our relationship with money, these myths have an enormous impact on most everthing else in our lives. I’ve been struck by the connections between her writing and the way her words relate to all our relationships – with any and everything.
It may be our relationship with ourselves (I’m not ____ enough – skinny, fit, wise, strong, young, smart, etc.), our time (there’s not enough of that), love and attention (so many of us long for more of that), or energy. We often run ourselves into states of exhaustion trying to be, or get, more of whatever it is we feel we aren’t, or don’t have, enough of. Though not always consciously, in our modern world, the notion of scarcity pervades our thinking and our experience of life.
Particularly for those of us who’ve been intentionally engaging in personal growth, pausing and looking squarely at this as I did this week may not be comfortable. Especially if (as I did) you discover some of these myths still operating – often below the level of our conscious awareness. There’s no make wrong here, it’s the water of the culture we swim in.
This is the point at which the that’s just the way it is myth, and its corollary, there’s no way out tend to tighten their grip. As Lynne says:
“When something has always been a certain way, and tradition,assumptions or habits make it resistant to change, then it seems logical, just commonsensical, that the way it is is the way it will stay. This is when and where the blindness, the numbness, the trance, and, underneath it all, the resignation and scarcity sets in.”
Lynne points to the challenge we face if we’re not willing to question our assumptions:
“We have to be willing to let go of that’s just the way it is, even if just for a moment, to consider the possibility that there isn’t a way it is or way it isn’t. There is the way we choose to act and what we choose to make of circumstances.”
what’s actually happening …
The whole book is a treasure trove of wonderful insights – a pathway and practices interwoven with Lynne’s evocative story telling. If you’re not familiar with it, I highly recommend it!
In writing today, my focus is on the conversations we have inside ourselves, and with others, that can make such a difference to the kind of world we inhabit. As David Cooperrider, my Appreciative Inquiry teacher from long ago always reminded us, “Words create worlds“.
So once we’re open to the idea of scarcity being a myth, it becomes possible for us to nurture our relationship with the deeper truth of sufficiency. Being as supremely practical and grounded in the reality of what’s happening in our world, Lynne is quick to note that:
So when we notice ourselves in familiar old patterns of scarcity – judging, comparing, or criticizing, or find ourselves hyperfocused, ruminating on the things we long for and fear we might never have, or envious of those who seem to have what we don’t, or have it easier than we do – we’re in one of those choice moments. What if we intentionally chose to shift our attention?
What if we pause and love up those parts of us that are letting us know what’s really happening inside, and with all the gentleness we can muster, engage them in a conversation of gratitude and appreciation – for their courage in speaking up, and for our wisdom and courage in being willing to listen? And as we can feel our breathing slow, and our bodies soften and relax, acknowledge what is, our resourcefulness, and (even if we don’t right now how) our commitment to become the fullest expression of those deep desires – the ‘big yesses’ – we came here to stand for.
As we do this, we’re shifting our attention and creating within ourselves a conversation of sufficiency. Reminding ourselves of the things we know to be true – that there is enough (the resources are there for us), and that surrounded and supported by Life itself we are enough to meet the challenge.
In this way we can engage our journey of creating a legacy of enough. For many years I’ve said that while I do my inner work to make a difference in my own life (and it has and does!) another big driver of this commitment has been my desire to model for my children a different way of being in our world than I was able to when they were young.
Today is my youngest ‘baby’s’ 27th Birthday. As I reflect on the legacy I want to leave for all my kids, and indeed for everyone whose lives I touch, Lynne Twist’s words speak eloquently. Though she’s talking about this in relation to money, for me, this extends beyond money to my desire and intention to live and leave a legacy of sufficiency in relationship to all the resources in life. Lynne says:
“More valuable and useful than any amount of money itself is to leave our children a relationship with money that is healthy. Leave them with an understanding that money flows in and out, that it should do that, and that it is a privilege to be able to direct the flow toward their highest commitments. Leave them with an understanding, evident in your life, that if you turn your appreciation to your inner resources, there is no lack of what you need to meet the challenge or opportunity presented by external circumstances. Leave them an experience of true wealth, the beauty and security of a life that values and honors our relatedness with each other, inspiring, sharing and responsible stewardship rather than accumulation of cash or stuff.”
Even in the face of all the challenges we face in our world, together we can and are creating a different story. Old assumptions that no longer serve us are dropping away, and though we may still be in the minority, those of us who see these new possibilities, and are committed to the transformation of ourselves and our world are here, and we are connecting with each other. If you’re looking for a community of support to connect with as you take your stand for sufficiency and creating a legacy of enough in our world, please be in touch!