Believing There is Enough

By Stephanie Miller

As long as I can remember, I have worried about not getting my share. As a child, I worried that I wouldn’t get a piece of the cake at the party. As an adult, I was afraid there weren’t enough men around for me to find a date or get married. Later, I worried about my employer being unable to pay me or not getting a bonus. At the root of this feeling of scarcity was an excessive sense of self-reliance. I genuinely believed that if I didn’t take care of myself no one else would.

This also shows up as a discomfort with spending money. I wear clothes that have holes in them and hang on to things years after their usefulness because I’m afraid that I will need them later. Underneath this behavior is the belief that everything is about to run out and at some distant time in the future I won’t have any money to replace it.

I still struggle with this fear of not being okay, but every once-in-a-while I have a powerful illustration of how wrong I am. My mom had an accident while traveling in Ireland. I had only 18 hours to get to the hospital in Ireland before she went into surgery. On the morning of my departure a massive storm hit the Eastern Seaboard and my flight was grounded. I went to the ticket agent and asked if there was another way for me to get to Dublin. She looked at screen and said, “That’s funny. There’s a flight leaving for Chicago in an hour. It isn’t a normally scheduled flight but last night it had to be held over so the crew could rest. I can put you on that one and you can catch a connection to Dublin from there.” It turned out that only one flight went to Dublin from U.S. that day, the one I got on. I don’t know if the crew was grounded just so I could get on a flight but I like the idea that by divine providence I was able to get on flight when my mom really needed me. It’s easy to discount this kind of miraculous intervention, except I’ve literally had this kind of things happen hundreds of times. I’ve also had experiences where complete strangers have helped me, simple things like handing me money I dropped on the ground and larger experiences like offering me a place to stay. The trick is to notice when it’s happening.

My neurotic mind tells me that if others get something, like a promotion, then it won’t happen for me. If I don’t save my seat in the front row, if I don’t buy this shirt I love, if I don’t make plans for my birthday then someone else will get what I really want. Most of the time I do get what I’m hoping for so the idea that I won’t isn’t supported by fact. This thinking keeps me in constant state of fear. It's as if I think everything is a pie and I won't get a slice if someone else does.

I've found that making gratitude a regular habit is a really powerful way to diffuse this kind of thinking. Sometimes, I do it formally by making a list and sometimes I just look around wherever I am and see something I'm grateful for. I've also found that recalling past instances where I was taken care of (sometimes miraculously) can help alter my feelings of fear. I  use the mantra "I do enough, I have enough, I am enough" regularly and that has made a huge shift in my thinking. 

Stephanie MillerComment