It’s super common for us survivors of abuse to have a scarcity mindset. That’s when we constantly feel like we’re struggling to have what we need to survive, usually not enough money.
Abuse impacts us in many ways, and sometimes that means leaving us in poverty. Depending on where you live and what resources you have available to you, being poor can be a real threat to your survival.
You need food, shelter, and medical care to survive. It can be hard to get these necessities if you don’t have the money for them.
I’ve been working on overcoming my scarcity mindset for years, though it became a priority when I overdrafted. (Meaning I had a negative amount of money in my bank…on top of $60,000 in debt).
I had dozens of panic attacks about money—even though I’d never faced financial abuse and money itself wasn’t a trigger.
I’ve met dozens of other survivors who describe the same struggles, which is why I created the blog. If you ever felt burdened by financial stress and want to overcome a scarcity mindset in a self loving way, this blog is for you. (Even if you don’t have a way to make more money.)
Why is Money Stress so Terrifying for Survivors of Abuse?
Money issues are scary for everyone. And yet, time after time I’ve seen survivors (myself included!) react even more strongly to financial hardship.
Why? Because it triggers a PTSD response. We react to financial struggles with the same trauma response we had to abuse.
When we were abused, we questioned if we’d survive each new day (that’s the reason abuse is traumatizing).
Following this logic, anything that makes us question “Can I live through this?” reminds us of the abuse we once faced. And money stress forces us to ask ourselves that question because money is necessary for survival in this world.
So, every time we’re struggling to make ends meet, this causes a flood of past emotions to come up. We feel the same fear and terror we did when our abusers had our lives in their hands. We feel the same hopelessness we used to when our abusers did what they wanted with our bodies and minds.
This scarcity mindset is incredibly intense because it builds upon the emotions of past trauma, but fortunately it is something we can heal.
And that process starts by validating the emotions you’re feeling—including the fear.
How Validation Solves a Scarcity Mindset
Resisting natural emotional experiences wastes energy. When we’re experiencing something we can’t change (like a panic attack)—the best thing to do is roll with it. This is the basic principle of healing acceptance.
If we fight against it, we’re wasting energy trying to change something that won’t budge (no matter how hard we try). This is energy we could use, instead, to cope with the difficult emotion.
Validation, as a result, is the best remedy for any panic—including that caused by scarcity.
Our financial situation isn’t something we can immediately change. If you don’t get paid until Friday, you aren’t going to see your bank account increase until then. So, that fear will linger until then…unless you validate it. Emotional validation reduces the intensity of the experience.
Here’s how you do it:
First, acknowledge the emotion you’re feeling. Most likely it’s fear, but it could also be shame, anger, hopelessness, or other emotions.
After you’ve acknowledged the feeling, think about how the emotion connects to your past. Usually strong emotions exist because they bring up the same feelings you had when you were facing abuse. So, in essence, check in with the emotion and say “Hey, we’re safe. It’s okay that we’re feeling this—it makes sense money issues are this stressful. It reminds us of abuse because both made us question our survival. But we’re safer now than when we were being abused.”
Keep saying validating things to yourself until you begin to notice an emotional shift. Something that feels a little more peaceful. The key is to make yourself feel safe about the fact you’re feeling the emotion—to make sure you’re not rejecting or fighting against that natural feeling.
Free Yourself from a Triggering Scarcity Mindset
It will be easier to separate your current emotional experience (fear over money) from past emotional experiences (fear of abuser’s harm) once you do this validation work.
You’ll be able to identify that money stress is not the same as abuse. This will help you feel more free and peaceful.
It basically allows you to recognize you have two different mindsets. One is reacting to past trauma, while the other is having a typical emotional response to a stressful situation that’s currently happening.
Both are totally okay responses, but it’s good to separate them. The same trauma faced from your abuser isn’t going to happen because you’re poor right now.
As you recognize that this money-related fear isn’t actually the same trauma as your past, you’ll feel much more able to survive it. You have more control over this than you did over your abuser—and emotional validation will help you recognize this.
You’re still here, even with a low number in your bank account.
Now that You’ve Shifted Your Scarcity Mindset, What Do You Do?
Now it’s time to start solving the financial stress. The best way to resolve a scarcity mindset is to erase the scarcity. It is a mindset, so you can heal it in other ways (like this blog talks about), but if you have the opportunity to actually improve your financial situation, work on that first.
In most cases, this is a long term journey. For me, it was almost five years of learning how to run a business and navigate the ways disability impacted my work life. It was slowly chipping away at debt and increasing my income a little bit year by year.
For you, this might look like learning a new skill you’ll need for a better job. Or asking for a promotion. Or selling some crafts to supplement social security income. Maybe you learn a trade or do some consulting, or you blog about your experiences and monetize that.
Essentially, a Scarcity Mindset Can be Healed by Modifying these 3 Things:
Resources: Find government or community support, ask for a friend’s help, consolidate debt, work with a business mentor, take out a business loan, or work with companies to lower bills
Lifestyle: Cut out unnecessary costs, learn a new trade skill, change jobs, ask for promotions, start side gigs, stop overworking yourself (working within your means usually leads to more money!), sell items you no longer need, and so on.
Limiting beliefs: This is where you can heal the scarcity mindset part. What are your beliefs about money? Write them down and work through them. Even if you get more financial freedom, you’ll still want to work through limiting beliefs around money. Here’s a blog to get you started—and The Prosperity Path Program will help you through this process even more (here’s that info).
As you work on changing both your situation and your mindset, you’ll notice your fears around money decrease—even if you’re not actually out of poverty. I still made less than the poverty margin when I finally started getting comfortable about my financial situation. A lot of it was internal, limiting belief work—so don’t discount the power of this as a way to heal your fear about money.
No matter what, make sure you validate what you’re feeling in this moment. You have to lovingly show up for yourself first, before making any change. If this is something you struggle with, be sure to join The Prosperity Path program. You’ll learn how to master this self-loving skill in the very first module!
Before you head out, let me know if you’ve ever struggled with a scarcity mindset.
Have you used these techniques and did they help? Or, if you’re still struggling, what is one validating thing you’ll tell yourself today about the emotions you’re feeling around money? Comment below, I’d love to hear from you!