For creators and entrepreneurs especially, it’s easy to fall prey to a lack mentality: self-doubt or limiting beliefs with an underlying fear of not having enough, doing enough, or even being enough (but that—imposter syndrome—is a topic for another time). This might look like becoming overly attached to doubting course ideas, not knowing who to collaborate with, where to start, or stressing over numbers of clients, customers, or students.
And it’s completely reasonable: For creators like you, business is personal. You get the satisfaction of working for yourself and doing what you love. But with that comes the harder side of entrepreneurship too.
Why abundance thinking matters
Put simply, an abundance mentality allows you to see and embrace the support, opportunities, and positive possibilities surrounding you. This type of mindset ushers in positive thinking patterns over negative ones and even may lead to higher levels of creativity and productivity. Unfortunately, for many creative entrepreneurs, channeling an abundance mentality can be difficult.
A major barrier to embracing an abundance mentality over a lack mentality is negativity bias, also known as the tendency to give more weight to negative than positive thoughts or beliefs.
Simply put: It’s easier to react to bad news than celebrate wins, to hold on to negative feedback over positive praise, or to prepare for the worst rather than hope for the best. A negativity bias isn’t necessarily a bad thing though; neuroscience tells us that it’s connected to a primitive part of our brains that keeps us safe and alive.
What is problematic, however, is when you perceive threats that might not actually be there, thus keeping you safe and small in the comfort of negative-thinking patterns.
For instance, have you ever let fear of putting yourself out there keep you from launching a new webinar or podcast? In this space, it’s harder to access parts of the brain that offer creative solutions (and actually impossible if the nervous system becomes activated enough that it begins responding to a perceived threat).
To shift from a lack mentality to an abundance mentality, you can’t stay in survival mode. Below, we’ve outlined three actionable steps toward creating a lasting sense of abundance. Plus, we’re sharing empowering exercises to add to your mental well-being toolkit.
Step #1: Name and claim it
For true change to occur, you must bring awareness to a behavior or, in this case, thought pattern. When feelings of lack arise, acknowledge them. Notice your physiological experience, including quality of breathing and sensations in your body. Notice if there are any internal stories you might be telling yourself.
For instance, No one will sign up for my new courses or care about what I have to share. Are they true? What are the underlying feelings or emotions at play? (In this case, perhaps it their fear or nervousness.) Contrary to popular belief, repressing something will not make it go away. What you resist persists, so rather than resisting this intrinsic negativity bias response, can you allow it to be there? You might even say to yourself, “I see, hear, and feel you.”
And by “embrace,” we do not mean sugarcoat your feelings or bypass them. Gratitude is a popular antidote to a lack mentality. However, jumping straight to gratitude without honoring existing barriers is kind of like treating a symptom versus the root of a disease. When we say “embrace,” rather, we mean truly welcome whatever your experience is (grief, rage, stress, numbness, etc.).
Tip: Air your grievances
Before sitting down to write a gratitude list, start with your grievances: all the things that are blocking you from feeling abundant, anything bugging you or stressing you out, all the things you’re avoiding—even the pettiest stuff you would never want anyone to know.
Get it out and onto a blank sheet of paper. This is for no one to read—not even you if you don’t want. It can feel very uncomfortable and confronting but sit with the discomfort. This is crucial to clearing space and getting to the root of what’s standing in your way.
Just as you would take an honest inventory of both your assets and debts when working toward a financial goal, getting clear on your gratitude and grievances is crucial to tapping into a more expansive way of life and an abundance mentality.
Step #2: Thank and release it
Once you’ve given your grievances an outlet, you can move onto gratitude in your journey to an abundance mentality.
As you journal about your experience, you might naturally start a dialogue with this inner critic. Get curious about it, ask it questions, see what you can learn from it—but ultimately set the intention of releasing thought patterns that are hindering your growth.
Continue journaling about whatever you’re feeling grateful for in the present moment, no matter how small. As you start listing off things you feel grateful for—the clients or students you have—bask in the accomplishments or agenda items you’ve already achieved, etc. You might be surprised at how easily your gratitude multiplies, especially after clearing away all that was hindering it.
Tip: Recognize your fear
As you start to recognize your negativity bias (aka fear) and when it arises, you can start to develop a healthy relationship to it. Tear a page from Elizabeth Gilbert’s book Big Magic; here’s how she talks to her fear:
“There’s plenty of room in this vehicle for all of us, so make yourself at home, but understand this: Creativity and I are the only ones who will be making any decisions along the way. I recognize and respect that you are part of this family, and so I will never exclude you from our activities, but still—your suggestions will never be followed.
You’re allowed to have a seat, and you’re allowed to have a voice, but you are not allowed to have a vote. You’re not allowed to touch the roadmaps; you’re not allowed to fiddle with the temperature. Dude, you’re not even allowed to touch the radio. But above all else, my dear old familiar friend, you are absolutely forbidden to drive.”
Step #3: Invite in something new
The previous steps involve clearing a lot of space. Now, you get to invite in a new way of being. Consider the following questions: How do I want to feel? In which area of my life do I wish I felt more abundant? You can even get more specific: In which area of my business do I want to feel more abundance?
Then, ask yourself: What aspect(s) of my business already feels abundant? Which area of my life already feels abundant? How can I cultivate that energy into these other areas?
Additionally, make time to steep in what’s already working and what you’re already grateful for. It takes a conscious effort to think more positively, so celebrate your wins. Give yourself permission to feel giddy even. Notice how it feels.
Tip: Track your unexpected income
The Science of Mind author Ernest Holmes suggests keeping a list of all forms of unexpected income throughout your week. For example, a friend treating you to coffee, receiving a discount code in your email, doing your own bookkeeping, getting free childcare from your in-laws during a meeting, etc.
Next to each item, write the value or what you would have spent on it. At the end of the week, add up the total amount and consider donating, saving, or investing in your business a mere 10% of it.
But be forewarned: Similar to gratitude, once you start keeping track, this list is sure to add up quickly. This exercise will also help you see the different forms abundance can take (time, energy, resources, etc.).
The next time you find yourself learning toward scarcity, know that it’s your brain working overtime to keep you safe, but remind yourself of how far you’ve come and that creative solutions for abundance are always available. And as a creator, you owe it to yourself and your business to overcome that inherent fear and preserve. After all, what you have to share is valuable.