07/14/2010 08:36 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

Are You Playing the Scarcity Game?

"Laura" (not her real name) has the kind of life anyone would envy. She's been happily married to "Larry" (not his real name) for over 30 years. Laura and Larry adore each other. They have a grown son who's independent and happily pursuing his dream career.

In their late 50's, Laura and Larry are extremely successful by almost any measure, and quite probably never have to worry about money again in their lives. Their investments generate a handsome positive cash flow every month, which allows them to live the life of their dreams.

Laura and Larry are generous with their abundance. They support causes and organizations they believe in and feel a sense of responsibility for making a positive difference on the planet. Free to go anywhere and do anything they want at any time, they want for nothing.

Well, almost nothing. For in spite of all the material abundance in her life, Laura lives inside a conversation of scarcity. She can't for the life of her figure out why her life is so abundant yet she feels so undeserving. It isn't that she's not extremely grateful for what she has. She and Larry have worked hard and earned every bit of success they've achieved. Nothing was handed to them.

In return, life has spread its banquet in front of Laura and invited her to the feast. Her plate is overflowing with "cake." But like clockwork, every so often, Laura pushes the "renew" button on her self-doubt and ends up leaving the banquet feeling empty, disconnected and alone. She has her cake alright, but deems herself not worthy enough to eat it.

I asked Laura who she thought was responsible for all her success. Who is the person who was smart and creative enough to put together her life scenario?

"Well I did that", she admits, "but I think I'm just a good actor. That's not the "real" me. I think I have everyone fooled," Laura replied.

"Who do you think is the real you?" I asked.

"The real me is the one who's scared and thinks she's not enough," she responded.

"Really?" I asked. " How do you know she's any more real than the one who generates abundance? Maybe you're the one who's fooled,"I suggested.

""I never thought about it like that," she responded. "I just assume the depressed one is really who I am. I feel so uncomfortable when I'm happy. Feeling good just doesn't seem real."

In the end, it doesn't matter how much "cake" one has. If you live in an inner conversation of scarcity and lack of awareness about and acceptance of who you are, you are not much better off than a homeless person. You might not be sleeping on a cold sidewalk or worrying about your next meal, true. But oddly enough, the inner experience is the same.

In rejecting our own worthiness to just simply be, we become like orphans, cast out in the coldness of life at our own hands. All the magnificent homes and "stuff" doesn't make any difference if you don't deem yourself worthy to come to the banquet.

The soul of scarcity is rooted in the depths of not trusting or believing in one's self. It is a fundamental belief that who you are is not enough. Nothing from the outside can make up for the deficiency of belief in one's self as a worthy human being. Where those beliefs come from can most often be found in one's childhood. The most innocent remark insensitively delivered can sometimes mark a person for life.

John, a beautiful young man in his mid- 30's, stood up in a seminar I led this past weekend and shared that in 6th grade, a girl accused him of being "too much." After that experience, John shut down his voice and has lived under the radar since then, afraid of ever ruffling anyone's feathers again. Today, some 20 years later, John finds his life unsatisfying, even though he has everything he needs to be successful. He's handsome, intelligent, creative, well educated and quietly passionate, but no one knows who he is or feels his presence. He's become a "stealth person."

John and Laura are poster children for playing the scarcity game in the face of overwhelming abundance. It's not that they consciously choose to live their lives this way. But the choice is made at the unconscious level, where fear sets up the limiting beliefs that determine how we think, feel and what kind of actions we take in the world.

As such, they are a perfect demonstration for how it is with human beings. We all have our own version of their stories. Yours or mine might look different at first glance. You might not enjoy the level of material things as Laura, you might not be as shut down as John, but look to see how you push away abundance by insisting on your belief that:

1. There's not enough... (time, money, opportunity, jobs, etc.)

2. You're not enough... (smart enough, educated enough, pretty enough, etc.)

3. There will never be enough... (love, respect, attention) to fill your needs.

The world, indeed, appears to be a scary place right now. Uncertainty abounds. Paul Krugman, the Nobel-prize winning economist and New York Times op-ed columnist, says we're in the Third Great Depression.

Every day, 24/7, we're fed a diet of bad news and it's not getting any better. We read about the unemployment rate going up and the number of jobs going down. We see the value of our homes eroding, our retirement savings and the kids' college funds disappearing. We're running out of oil, ruining the environment, and killing each other in the name of who gets to control access to power and resources.

Scarcity = scare city.

In the scarcity game, we give our power away to the belief that what we fear is real. We allow fear to triumph over all other possibilities and disown the qualities in ourselves that demonstrate otherwise. Laura's belief that her "successful self" is just a good actor dishonors the parts of her that really are successful and have the results to prove it. John dishonors his voice of passion by swallowing it and keeping it all inside.

Are you playing the scarcity game?

Ask yourself the following:

1) Do you believe that there is "not enough to go around?"

2) Do you define yourself based on what you lack, not what you have?

3) Are you motivated by fear, and/or do you motivate others by fear?

4) Do you think that if others gain, you lose; or if you give, you have less?

If you answer yes to any of these questions, you are playing the scarcity game. Getting to the source of these limiting, fear-based beliefs and unraveling them creates the freedom to consciously choose from the present rather than the past.

F.E.A.R. = False Evidence Appearing Real

In the face of a world filled with fear, what does humanity need now, more than anything? What can only you bring to the world that you're not bringing because you're afraid?

What impact is the collective conversation about scarcity having in your life? How are you perpetuating the conversation of fear in your own life?

I'm listening for your answers. I have my own thoughts about it and surely our discussion will continue. But let's hear from you.

Please drop by the comment section below and weigh in. And while you're at it, Become A Fan. It's more fun if we're all in this together. Let's contemplate some powerful alternatives to fear while the world plays the scarcity game. I for one, am not interested in playing, are you?

I'd love for you to come hang out at my personal blog and web site: Rx For The Soul, where we'll engage in more of this and other topics of interest. And if you'd really like to get a handle on your own scarcity game, the next Life Fitness Group Coaching Boot Camp begins on July 27. You can register and learn about it here.

P.S. Laura's email arrived in time for me to include this as an addendum to her story: She wrote to tell me she had a whole new outlook on herself and on life in general. In the space of a few hours, she successfully "fired herself" from the scarcity team, dissolving the old belief that had kept her unworthiness in place over the course of her lifetime and hampered her ability to truly receive the gifts of her abundant life. This is how powerful she is. This is how powerful we all are.

For personal contact I can be reached at judith{at}judithrichdotcom