The Lack Trap: What Is It & How To Get Out Of It?

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This past Monday the night air was charged, electricity bolted across the sky, and the houses rattled with the thunder.

If you know me well, you know I quickly become giddy with excitement.

The reason is simple.

Watching crackling and thunderous light storms, I am immediately humbled and filled with exuberant gratitude at the same time.

Whatever my mind is focused on at the moment, shifts out into an expansive and abundant perspective of myself, the world, and the universe.  In other words, my mind shifts from minute to meta in the flash of a light. The last time I experienced such awe, humility and expansiveness was on a trip to Hawaii, in which I realized how small I really was.

On Monday, this momentary feeling of exuberance, humility and gratitude, led me to another thought...

A realization of how much time and mental capacity I waste when my mind  is focused on:

  • What I do not have,
  • Have not accomplished
  • May never have, or worse
  • Don’t deserve to have.

Oye! In everyday life I call these momentary, spiraling thoughts, The Lack Trap.

 

Lack

“1. The state of being without or not having enough of something.”

“2. Be without or deficient in.”

 

But what if I told you that so much of how we experience lack is a state of mind, and therefore, we have leverage!
 

State of Mind

“1. The status of one’s consciousness, as in their perception of the outside world, their perception of their own intuition, and the function of their brain.”

 

But because we are habitual beings by nature, if we are not careful, we can easily embark on a habit of perpetually thinking about Not Having.

 

What are some of the unintended consequences of getting stuck in the Lack Trap?

Jealousy, anger, overt competitiveness, victimhood, or just apathy. Really, these all sum up to a single unified underlying feeling: fear.

Aside from the ill effects of stress and anxiety triggered by these emotions, more studies are being conducted about how negative thoughts and emotions affect our physical health in a variety of ways and severities. Think placebo effect, but in the opposite direction.

 

So, what to do when you catch yourself getting caught up in the Lack Trap?

Here are a few tips that I personally use when I notice myself diving nose first into a Lack black hole.

 

1. Notice.

In last week’s blog we discussed Mindfulness as self-awareness in the present moment. Here is another opportunity to build that mindfulness muscle!

The first thing I do is simply notice that is is happening. Yup, I catch it right there, on the spot. But before I roll it back in, I might dig a bit deeper.

 

2. Ask.

Sometimes I’ll ask myself, “What is the root of this thought and feeling?”

Further, I ask myself, “What in my life right now really needs my attention that I am not attending to that is triggering this response?”

An answer may pop up immediately, or I might revisit the issue later on when I have some quiet time alone.

Also, notice if it happens repetitively and frequently, which is a big red flag for "please deal with me asap!!".

 

3. Shift.  

As in, shift your thinking.

Some studies suggest that the human brain is bias towards negativity. For example, a negative experience may imprint more significantly than a positive or neutral experience.

I will add, if negative thinking about yourself has been reinforced by a significant figure (like mom or dad) then it may be even more prevalent in everyday thinking.

The remedy?

Moving from deficit-thinking to strengths-based thinking shifts the perspective to your assets.

You can start with what you do have, marvel at how far you have come, and the recognize the resources (including social capital) available to you to go even further. You can celebrate small successes or value a failure or setback for the lessons you’ve learned as a result.

I personally start with gratitude. It is the quickest way I rebalance my perspective. But whatever your MO, just know that shifting takes practice, so please be kind and patience with yourself.

 

4. Affirm the Positive.

Again, returning to the point that how we talk to ourselves, and the ability to really show up for ourselves in life, is significantly important.

Sometimes reaffirming the positive is simply reminding ourselves that we are safe, we are loved, and that we are not alone.

 

Now I would love to hear from you.

  1. What is the one consistent thing that comes to mind when you spiral into the Lack Trap?
  2. And, what personal “tools” do you use to talk yourself down from the Lack Trap ledge?

 

Lastly, if you feel this blog post has helped you, or could benefit someone you love, please feel free to share this post with friends and family.

Thank you for taking the time to journey with me today!

From my heart-center to yours,

Noemi