The Myth of Scarcity

Synopsis: The Myth of Scarcity–when people claim something is missing in their lives, they usually mean that no one told them they’d have to work and sacrifice for it.

Of Wayne’s many books, the one closest to today’s topic is: This Endless Moment
It’s not worth standing in line for…

Scarcity? Why, a little self-responsibility goes a long way.

A couple of weeks back, our niece got married. We flew back to Ontario for the nuptials. Got to spend time with her and her brother (otherwise know as our nephew) and their respective families. You know, they’ve turned out OK!

Back when they were kids and young teens, they set money aside for the things they wanted. Then… wait for it… they bought the things they wanted with money they earned; they have always taken care of themselves. Still are.

Quite unusual; most kids / teens I know assume that mom and dad are actually ATMs.

Said teens sit on their butts and expect their parents to give them whatever they want. They learned this behaviour as kids–they were given the stuff they wanted. Why? Parental guilt, mostly, plus some weird idea that this somehow helps the kid.

Besides, standing up to the endless requests that come with childhood is “hard” (sob, sniffle.)

This starts when the is kid screaming in the candy line–and the parent buys the candy to get the kid to shut up. The parent’s choice to endlessly buy a moment’s silence contributes to producing a person who thinks they’ll get what they want by simply wanting it. And if simply wanting it isn’t enough, then they’ll whine. And if whining isn’t enough, they’ll pitch a fit, and wail that “It isn’t fair!” that they can’t have what they want.

If that doesn’t work, they’ll try to grab what they want from another. And if that doesn’t work, they’ll turn into Trump, try to get elected President, and make the meeting of their wants public policy.

Such people think that not having things they didn’t earn demonstrates something external: a shortage, an unfairness, an unequal distribution of wealth–a scarcity. Of whatever.

Here’s a hint — there is no scarcity of things–there is a scarcity of self-responsibility and motivation.

Most couples that seek relationship counselling declare that there is a scarcity of intimacy in their relationship. (Of course, they don’t use those words–it’s what they mean, though.) They then, loudly and at great length, describe what their partner has to do in order for there to be more intimacy. Each feels that the other person should change. They also want their partner to stop insisting that they change–because–hey! it’s entirely the other person’s fault!

If you loved me you’d change. You’d stop doing all the things I don’t like, and you’d stop criticizing me and accept me as I am.”

And then the other person says some version of the same thing. Never mind that this approach has never worked for them–not once. Never mind that what they are asking for is a relationship that doesn’t cost them anything.

No, they declare, indignantly, they are being deprived of their just due because of the selfishness of their partner.

Well, actually, it does.

The belief being “pitched” is this:

By virtue of my entitlement, because I’m so special, I deserve special treatment. I deserve to be well-thought of, I deserve to have all my needs met.”

When they put it that way, it’s no different from a kid pitching a fit in a candy line.

On the other hand, I know that, as an adult, if I want the candy, I can have it any time I want. All I have to do is earn the money to pay for it.

Now, how does this apply to personal entitlement?

Entitlement: Just because I say so, I should get what I want. I will, of course, come up with “reasons.” I’ll say, “I’m the bread-winner, so what I say goes.” or, “I’m sensitive, you can’t treat me that way,” or “Every so often I really turn ugly, and you’ll just have to put up with it.”

Such behaviour paradoxically always gets the entitled person what they deserve (broken relationships.) It just never gets them what they want.

The way out, and of course there is one, is the willingness to pay for abundance.

I will get out of my relationships exactly what I put in. Actually, I’ll get more than I put in. But I have to be open, accessible, curious–as opposed to expecting the other person to “behave.”

If I choose only to hang around and be in relationship with people who act the same way, I will be met with openness, accessibility and curiosity.

If I want a career that I love, I have to pay whatever is due to have that career. I have to educate myself, and likely I’ll have to “work my way up.”

When people talk about scarcity (be it of intimacy, money, jobs, whatever) what they usually mean is that what they want (as if what we want should matter) didn’t drop into their laps. Magical thinking requires that life is easy and things “just happen.” Too bad about reality intruding.


I remember once working with a woman who wanted to be an artist. She got her husband to build her a 1200-foot studio. She never completed any projects, because she was afraid publishers wouldn’t like her work. (She was illustrating the children’s’ books she’d written.) She couldn’t understand why no one would just give her money, sight unseen, for her uncompleted work. (Entitlement # 1)

Then, she fell in lust with the carpenter who built the addition. This is when she came to see me. She was entitled, (entitlement # 2) she told me, to a deep and meaningful relationship with the carpenter (who was also married) and was entitled (# 3) to have the permission and blessing of her husband, the carpenter’s wife (# 4) and all their kids (# 5), while at the same time staying with her husband (# 6) and having him pay all the bills! (# 7) Because, you know, she wanted (# 8) this relationship, and it was good for her (# 9), and people should understand (# 10).

I said that she could ask for all of this, but she needed to be ready for her husband to scream “NO!” as the door hit her on the backside (Reality 101). She patiently explained to me that this would not happen, because God wanted her to have this relationship (entitlement from God) — and who was I to try to trump God?

What she wanted from me (entitlement of the “self-declared “wise” — what she wanted was for me to do and say what she wanted me to do and say. “I need help and don’t know what to do. My life is a mess. Here is what you should say to help me.”) was to help her get her affirmation just right, so that she’d get what she wanted.

She claimed, loud and clear, that she didn’t have a relationship problem–she had a faulty affirmation. (I’d never heard a brain called an affirmation before, but I digress.) I fired her.

From what I heard through the gossip mill, both marriages disintegrated, the lusting couple aren’t speaking and the studio is empty. But boy, she was entitled to everything — everything she got.

You can’t have something just because you want it. No, life costs. Relationships cost. They need a full-bodied commitment, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The price is commitment. It’s not lying to yourself, manipulating people, running around half cocked. Abundance is there, not for the taking, but for the earning.

We can have anything we are willing to pay for, in time, talent, effort and money.

What there isn’t is a free ride.

About the Author: Wayne C. Allen is the web\‘s Simple Zen Guy. Wayne was a Private Practice Counsellor in Ontario until June of 2013. Wayne is the author of five books, the latest being The. Best. Relationship. Ever. See: –The Phoenix Centre Press

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