Have you ever heard the phrase ‘how you do anything is how you do everything’? I learned this from a wonderful mentor.
I was reminded of this recently when I noticed myself declining to use a good knife to cut up an avocado, in case I needed this good knife later. Meanwhile, I struggled with a blunt knife that took ages to cut through!
I also started to notice that there were several containers, spices and supplements with a tiny bit left in them in the cupboard. This is because I don’t like to use things up, and instead leave them just sitting there, which obviously isn’t much good either.
This is what is called a scarcity mindset. That feeling of lack, like there is never enough.
More common examples of a scarcity mindset are the feelings of a lack of time, money or energy.
The book Scarcity by Mullainathan and Elder researches this concept of scarcity and how it impacts on life. They talk about how scarcity can be a good thing – for example, deadlines force us to get things done. I certainly know that if I don’t have deadlines, I struggle to complete tasks!
However, when it comes to health, the authors found that the scarcity mindset is quite detrimental because it depletes us of our ability to think about the future.
Scarcity makes you myopic – meaning that you exhibit bias to the here and now. We are so fixated on our current situation that we overvalue immediate benefits at the expense of future ones – like exercise, eating well, attending medical appointments, getting a massage or meditating.
If you are constantly worried about time or money, you’re unlikely to feel like there is any space to look after your health (as this is a future issue). It’s not until your health becomes a current problem – like a health crisis – that you will place your attention in this area.
When I noticed I was worried about a lack of cutlery (our utensils are busting out of the drawers by the way), this got me looking at the areas of my life I was neglecting and importantly, the areas of my health I had been neglecting.
Old habits die hard. If we don’t catch ourselves, our old patterns will creep back in and it can be quite hard to break out of it.
So the next time you feel like there isn’t time to prioritise healthy eating or self care, I encourage you to look a bit deeper into this. Our bodies can take a lot, but eventually they break down.
Simply eating well and nourishing our nervous system daily can significantly reduce gut symptoms quite rapidly.
Once you realise there is time for this, other healthy practices will follow.