Earlier this week I was listening to a podcast with Emma Cannon, a fertility and women’s health expert. Although a lot of her clients are women trying to get pregnant, a lot of her practice centres around the idea of living a fertile life - a life of abundance. She was discussing how a lot of the women she treats who are experiencing fertility issues can see other women getting pregnant and think: well that’s one less baby in the world so I’m even less likely to get pregnant now, or that other people getting what they want means that she is less likely to get what she wants. She highlights how intellectually and scientifically most of us understand that this isn’t correct, but it doesn’t stop the perpetual disbelief in our own opportunity, ability and belief in the idea that there is so much scarcity.
This idea of scarcity can permeate the many threads of our existence, whether that’s in relationships and our belief in finding a partner, having a family, money, our careers, friendships or food - look at the panic buying that happened at the beginning of this pandemic. It seems that there’s this quite insidious expectation nestled into our psyche that manifests in limiting beliefs, sabotaging behaviour and quiet thoughts of ‘I don’t deserve that’ or ‘I’m not good enough’.
For me, this idea of scarcity is mostly evident in my work ambitions. I see someone doing something that I‘d like to do and feel like immediately there’s one less space in that arena for me. I then feel like I need to work even harder to be seen and can’t take time out to rest but don’t end up working productively because I’m working from such a negative mindset, which causes the vicious cycle of burnout. I wonder if this tendency is more prominent in women who since we were born have had or been shown so few examples of female role models in powerful positions sitting alongside men and being treated with the same respect and admiration. The same can be said for how whitewashed our taught history is and the lack of recognition for inspirational black role models and an inadequate commitment to ensuring that positions of leadership across all sectors of society are diverse in gender, race and sexuality.
Honing back in on our everyday experience this constant noise of other people’s lives, ambitions, successes and failures diverts our attention away from our own desires and thoughts and we get whipped up into this existential idea of never being able to achieve the things we want. Such visibility of other people’s lives on social media is often overwhelming. There's so much emphasis on the individual that it feels like the importance of our collective power has been diminished by the rise of the personal brand. It can feel like we have such little control over who and what we let alter our mood every time we open our phones. I think a large part of nurturing our self-belief is about making sure that we’re aware of what mindset we’re going onto social media with.
Social media, despite its benefits (there are some), perpetuates our lack of contentment and distraction from simply being, rather than always doing. If we take each moment at a time, which is crucial for our mental health at the moment, life becomes more manageable. Whenever I find myself going into a bit of an existential crisis I find solace in the fact that at least this life, whatever it may hold, will be uniquely mine. There is absolutely enough of everything to go around, despite what society and capitalism tells you. It’s easy to get caught up in other people’s dreams and success and forget that although we may not be exactly where we want right now, we will get there eventually, or somewhere else that we had never dared to imagine.
Originally published in my newsletter 14/02/2021