Mindset is an interesting thing. It can make the abstract concrete. It can turn a mirage into a reality. It can turn abundance into scarcity and vice versa. Scarcity usually refers to a lack of something physical; for example, a lack of sufficient food or other resources. However, scarcity is not always physical. Now, psychologists have referred to scarcity in reference to the mind – how our mindset can put us in a sort of ‘survival mode’, where scarcity of varying resources is at the focus. These resources may be physical such as financial resources or they may be more emotional such as relationships.
Although it was difficult and embarrassing, I have had to admit to my own scarcity mindset. I noticed this within myself before I even heard this term used in this way, but couldn’t quite articulate it nor did I quite grasp the ramifications of such a mindset until something brought it to my attention. Having a scarcity mindset makes it less likely for you to share because you usually feel that there isn’t enough and you get nervous of the thought of there being no more. I used to always be in such awe of very generous people. I so badly wanted to be more generous too but found it quite difficult. I usually could only manage to be generous when a) I didn’t care much about the thing I was giving away or b) when I felt that I could give some away and still have plenty left. It just didn’t feel right. Now, I don’t want to dismiss the very real and physical limitations of poverty (or having too little money to properly meet one’s needs). It’s true that being generous and having what people now like to call an ‘abundance’ mindset can be quite difficult when you are struggling financially, and I’m not discounting that at all. But, then I think of the stories of the prophet Muhammad (SAW) and his companions and how some of them were so giving even though they were in need. Also, I’ve met people who were like this and it always left me in awe. So, what is it about them?
While reading a personal finance book written by a Christian woman, it became so clear and straightforward to me. She basically said that when you live always feeling as though you never have enough to be able to give and that you are always lacking, that you really don’t understand the source of all that you need and that you really do not Trust in that source. Islamically, this is Tawakkul ‘ala Allah (reliance on Allah SWT). Additionally, it is understanding Allah’s (SWT) attributes. He is our Rabb (Lord), Sustainer, the Most Merciful. He knows all that happens in the heavens and the earth. Not a leaf falls without his knowledge. He knows exactly what we need, when we need it. He is fully capable of giving it to us also if He so wills. Everything that happens is according to His decree and He is the Most Wise, knowing us better than we know ourselves. SubHanallah, Allah (SWT) guides whom He wills and when He wills. None of this was new to me. How many times have I read about such things in the Qur’an? How many lectures have I heard? How many books have I read? But it wasn’t until that moment that such clarity had come to me. Hence, the importance of mindset. Do you see? My mindset shifted and helped me gain clarity on what I already knew and now made it easier for me to implement what I knew. Albeit, I have made much du’a asking for clarity so of course all success is ultimately from Allah and du’a should always be a part of our regimen as much as possible.
When we decide and understand for ourselves that ultimate success and resources are truly from Allah and that He knows what is best for us and that He is perfectly capable of taking care of our needs, we become free. We become free such that when things get tough or don’t go our way, it is comforting to know that He sees and hears all things and He knows what will come to follow and what He has averted from us.
The prophet (SAW) said, “How wonderful is the affair of the believer, for his affairs are all good, and this applies to no one but the believer. If something good happens to him, he is thankful for it and that is good for him. If something bad happens to him, he bears it with patience and that is good for him.” (Narrated by Muslim, 2999). Patience does not mean that we are free from sadness, disappointment, or even worry. However, part of patience is staying away from being excessive in any of these things, and staying away from complaining and panic. Patience entails relinquishing control to Allah (SWT) in His wisdom. Understand that you are not in control. Yes, Allah (SWT) has given us choice and will, but that is within boundaries set by Him and still within His ultimate decree. We do our best and take comfort in leaving the rest up to Him. Imagine the example of young children and their parents. Imagine how children can easily ask parents for what they want without the worry of budgetary constraints. The budget is not the child’s worry. The child does his part by asking the parent for what he needs and complying with the parent’s request. It is up to the parent to worry about the budget. Do you see how liberating that is for the child? The worry of how to earn and allocate money is completely off of the child’s shoulders as long as responsible parents are involved. So, what about us? Allah (SWT) is the best of providers and the best at showing love. He is the One in whom we are able to put ultimate trust. If he does not fulfill your desires as you want or when you want, perhaps he is averting something harmful for you or testing you to reward you later-on or helping you grow. He knows best. Allow yourself the liberty of truly trusting in Him and removing the scarcity from your mindset. He is the source of all things and if more is needed He is the One with Whom is a never-ending supply.