I’m embarrassed to report that I had an emotional meltdown a few days ago.
I was working on an article about how to remain calm when a computer gremlin visited. Suddenly my email would not send messages.
Before we go on, there’s something you should know about me: I am not a computer person. That’s why over the years, I developed go-to resources for dealing with computer issues.
Last week, though, these resources were not available. The Apple store is closed. I could not visit my gurus.
And I melted down. (The irony about melting down while writing an article about staying calm is not lost to me.)
Suddenly this computer problem felt like a life-and-death crisis. I’m a physician, and intellectually I know the difference between email problems and medical emergencies.
Still, this felt like life and death.
I was experiencing a “scarcity scare.” I was panicking because I did not have the resources I normally turn to.
What I needed was resourcefulness to think about different solutions.
However, my reaction to the problem kept me from accessing the resourcefulness that would lead to a solution.
The Anatomy of a Scarcity Scare
Here’s what happened.
Think of the brain as a three-story house.
When I was writing the article about staying calm, I was in my thinking brain.
When I realized my computer was not sending emails, I went fleeing to the basement where my thoughts were, “This is a HUGE problem I cannot solve. And I’m all alone. WHAT AM I GOING TO DO?”
I stayed in a state of panic for a while before I finally said to myself, “Hey, you’re in the basement. You need to get yourself upstairs to the thinking brain and access your resourcefulness. So, take a deep breath, put this in perspective and make a list of five ways you can solve this problem.”
Within moments i came up with many ways I could get my email working.
How to Guard Against Scarcity Scares
In this moment in time, we’re facing core survival issues: threats to both our health and the financial resources to sustain life.
We are also at a moment of time in which the resources we turned in the past are no longer available.
You do not have control about the things that come your way. You do, however, have control over your response.
Here are three tips to guard against scarcity scares so you can access your resourcefulness.
1. Identify your triggers for scarcity scares.
Once you know what triggers your scarcity scares, you can either avoid them or prepare for them.
My biggest trigger is facing the empty paper goods isle at the grocery store. Now I simply avoid them. Just this week I was in the checkout line and I said to the clerk, “I know the answer is most likely no, but do you have any toilet paper?” Much to my surprise at 11 AM on a Wednesday, there was!
What are your scarcity scare triggers? Maybe it's the taste of soured milk or or the sight of bills or the sound of kids arguing.
2. Raise the threshold for scarcity scares.
The recovery community knows how to decrease the risk of relapse: think HALT. Avoid being hungry, angry, lonely or tired. Your physiology matters, too.
We are bombarded by messages of scarcity. You can focus on all that you have.
Celebrate the things that are going right. Here are a few ideas:
You will experience scarcity scares. It’s part of the human condition.
Your goal is to quickly recognize you’re in the basement and remind yourself that you need to get to your resourcefulness in the second floor.
Hey, my computer is fixed. You are now reading the article I was working on when I melted down. Life goes on.
We NEED You
We are all in this together. Each of us is an essential worker who will contribute to our recovery. That’s why avoiding scarcity scares may well be the most important action we take.
Thank you for all of your contributions.
Stay safe and stay strong!
© 2020. Vicki Rackner MD. All rights reserved. You may reproduce this blog post with the following by-line:
Vicki Rackner MD is an author, speaker and consultant who offers a bridge between the world of medicine and the world of business. She helps financial advisors acquire physician clients, and she helps physicians run more successful practices. Contact her at (425) 451-3777.