How To Break Free From The Poverty Mindset

You are more than your wallet. Learn how to break out of the painful poverty mindset, so that you can attract abundance

The poverty mindset is something that many of us have experienced before, or are still experiencing right now. It’s a harmful perception of life that paints the world in a frame where there’s never enough to go around.

This painful mindset perpetuates feelings of need and further brings you away from being content with what you have.

What’s worse is that while you harbor a poverty mindset, chances are you’re not going to make anything of your life. You bow out of the race before it has even begun, and wonder why you’ve gotten nowhere.

Here we’re going to dissect this degrading mentality so that you can better understand it, get rid of it, and build up better mindsets that do you good in life.

Understanding the poverty mindset

Poverty mindset

The years I spent living in Vietnam were a real eye-opener. Especially when riding through the Northern Mountains and passing through tiny villages, I met a lot of people who had so little, but their cups were so full.

Many of the residents lived in small adobe huts or run-down concrete shelters. Mostly, they were farmers who didn’t have a whole lot to show for their lives, at least not from a materialistic perspective.

What struck me was their friendliness. The villagers’ kindness and generosity were unmatched. While passing through, many would invite me into their homes, share food with me, offer a place to sleep, and give me all the happy water I could handle.

They laughed, sang, and just seemed genuinely happy about the little things in life, such as seeing a foreigner well out of his natural habitat.

These people are not poor. They are some of the richest people I’ve ever met.

This shifted something in me. I’ve spent most of my life feeling inadequate. I’ve always been on a goose chase, chasing things because I believed that wealth was the key to abundance and that abundance was the path to happiness.

Since then, I’ve questioned my perspective on abundance which has made some pretty dramatic shifts in my life.

What is the poverty mindset?

The poverty mindset is a limiting belief system where you feel like you’re lacking, despite how much you have. It’s a frame of scarcity: The idea that there is a finite amount of resources that you can have and that you’re fundamentally separated from them.

People who see through a lens of poverty tend to experience life in a way where their success comes at someone else’s failure. And that your failure is due to someone else’s success.

It’s the classic ‘there’s not enough pie for all’ scenario.

Just to make it clear, having a poverty mindset doesn’t necessarily relate to your financial position. It’s a perception of life where there isn’t enough to go around, regardless of what it is.

When you break this limiting belief system, your life becomes more fruitful. This is when you feel more wholesome, and it also sets a better mental infrastructure to attract more abundance into your life.

Seeing life in a frame of scarcity is a limitation as you see all the red flags but none of the green. It’s a pessimistic and limited way of thinking that manifests a negative life experience, through emotions such as jealousy, guilt, worry, stress, shame, hopelessness, self-victimization, and self-pity.

When in this state, you’re likely to miss opportunities or to push them away, either consciously or unconsciously. Instead of seeing the world as your oyster, you can never get ahead because you hold yourself back.

This causes stagnation and acts as a major barrier to growing into your best self and manifesting your dreams. Not to mention, the poverty mindset is just a generally disempowering state of mind that pushes away abundance.

Characteristics of a poverty mindset

lens of poverty and misfortune

You compare yourself to others

Rather than focusing on your own journey, you tend to notice what other people have which makes you feel like you’re lacking because you don’t have those things.

You have a fear complex

You tend to worry about what could happen, and you concern yourself too much with hypotheticals rather than actual outcomes.

You focus on what you need

Instead of focusing on what you have and how fulfilled you are to have those things, you’re always looking at what you don’t currently have, which creates a constant sense of desperation.

You are strife with jealousy

Instead of celebrating other people’s success, you get jealous or even resentful when people achieve something that you don’t have.

You make up stories about your failures

You tend to create stories about why you’re disadvantaged or why you can’t succeed in life. For other people who become successful, there will always be an outstanding reason why they’re successful.

You are worried about your achievements

Your hyper-focus on achieving things takes you away from what you already have. This leads to competition and the mentality that there is not enough to go around.

You are a victim

You believe that you’re a victim of the world. Life is unfair, and you’ve just gotten the bottom half of it. Since you’re a victim, you dedicate yourself to being a bystander in your life.

You tend to overvalue material things

You likely believe that having things is the epitome of success. So you place a lot more value on external things rather than intrinsic qualities such as gratitude and family.

You focus on the risk

You have an aversion towards taking action because you always think about the risk, and what could happen if things don’t work out.

You tend to chase pleasure

Rather than focusing on more wholesome, substantial states of consciousness, you’re concerned with momentary pleasures by getting the next shiny thing.

You think wealth will solve your problems

Part of a poverty mindset is believing that wealth is the key to all the good things in life. If you have more wealth, you’re successful.

You believe that resources are scarce

You believe that everything is finite, and that other people gaining something takes away from you, or your opportunities. This drives you to be more careful, and potentially competitive because you feel that you need to fight for equality.

Overturning the poverty mindset

First off, you need to change the way you see things if you actually want to experience abundance. As long as you’re caught in a frame of scarcity, you’re not going to attract abundance into your life.

Below are some examples of perceiving a situation through a frame of abundance vs a frame of scarcity. Use this table to reflect on your own life experience, and look at where you need to make some adjustments.

Situation Abundance mindset Scarcity mindset
You broke up with your partner You know that more amazing people will come into your life which opens up exciting new opportunities to find someone who you more deeply align with. You desperately hold onto something that has moved on, believing that you’ll never find anyone else like the person you were with.
You were let go from your job You gained valuable experience which will help you find an even better job in the future. While you may be upset, you are looking forward to the new opportunities that this opens up in your life. You start worrying about not having a job, or not being worthy of a job. This leads to anxiety and stress as the future looks uncertain.
You got some valuable information You want to share it with others and get their perspectives. If it helps them succeed, vicariously, you feel good. You want to keep it to yourself and avoid sharing it with other people. You had to find out yourself, why can’t they?
Analysis of your living condition The location is very central and in a great part of town. The house is cozy. You have everything you need to live a comfortable life. The house is too small, old and noisy. You’re not in your ideal home by a long shot, and you won’t be fulfilled until you get it.
Working on an avocation You have a vision of what you can achieve if you put in the work. You realize that there is no reason why you can’t succeed, so you continuously work towards your dreams You believe there is way too much competition, and that only people who are extremely talented can make it. As a result you’re likely to give up, or never take it seriously in the first place.
     

Money is an advantage, it’s not a game changer.

If you have a lot of disposable income, you can live a nice cushy life, but that’s not going to make you any happier. It’s important to value things that truly matter for your growth, well-being, and wholeness.

Never forget that happiness is an internal condition. If you’re trying to buy happiness, you’re barking up the wrong tree. So please, do the inner work. Go inside, not outside, and you’re going to make your life a much better place to live.

Life isn’t a get-rich-quick scheme. You need to work for it. And it’s the work that you put into your life that makes it worth it.

So instead of chasing money, focus on the process that is used to make money. As an example, if you’re a content creator or aspiring to be one, actually enjoy making content rather than trying to become successful through it.

This applies to anything you do. Do it because you genuinely care about it. If you fill your cup with more things in life that nourish you, it’s going to benefit you in more ways than one.

Sometimes you have to stretch yourself a little as abundance is a bit of an oxymoron. You get more by giving more.

Chances are, you rarely give. If you see a homeless person, do you give them a bit of cash, or tell yourself that you can’t afford it, even if it’s just a dollar? Do you give your time and energy without expecting a reward? What about donating to causes that you care about?

Here’s the thing. You need to give to get. You need to break the cycle of poverty by taking the first step. Remember, the universe matches your vibration, not the other way around. So if you adopt the feeling of generosity and giving, you’re going to receive more in the form of positive emotions, feelings, outlooks, opportunities, people, and things.

Ultimately, you need to work on the poverty mindset in small doses regularly, because whatever you enforce into your reality becomes your reality.

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