How the scarcity mindset hurts your creativity

Because of my foot injury, I haven’t been able to spend as long at the work desk as I normally do (gotta keep it iced & elevated, baybee!). Hence, vintage post today (and probably a few more times before the end of the month!); this was originally published in March at FeelGooder. Enjoy! 

Here’s the thing about creativity: it’s all in your head. Even if you say there’s something outside of you that gives you ideas, they still end up in your head. And the thing about something in your head is this: your worldview, thoughts, and opinions will greatly affect it, and how it’s brought into the world.

Nowhere does this show as clearly as in the way we treat our ideas. People apply the scarcity mindset to their ideas and end up hoarding them. “No!,” they cry. “That’s my idea, you can’t have it.” Or, often heard from bloggers: “I think I should use my best ideas for my site instead of guest posts.”

Ideas are intangible things, completely without form and thus without limit. And, of course, they are abundant. They’re everywhere—how many ideas do you have in a random week? Okay, they’re not necessarily good ideas, but they’re ideas nonetheless.

Now think about how you treat your ideas when you’re influenced by the scarcity mindset. You hoard them or save an idea for later, when you can do justice to it. You don’t tell anyone about your latest idea, whether for fear of them ridiculing you, or fear of them stealing it. You wind up believing, consciously or not, that there exists only a finite number of ideas—more importantly, there’s only a finite number of good ideas—and so you treat them as if there will never be enough to go around. Big mistake.

When you treat your ideas this way, you set up creative blocks. Instead of treasuring the ideas you do have, you’re worrying about where the next one will come from. Instead of using them (and of course, ideas love to be put into action), you’re letting them get dusty on a shelf somewhere. Eventually, the part of you that creates ideas, that pulls them out of the ether—whether you believe that’s your subconscious, a higher self, or a daemon—will start to think you obviously don’t value them if you treat them so, and then the ideas dry up. They cease to come to you, and when they do come, it’s only with much effort.

Here’s a novel idea: instead of hoarding your ideas, use them relentlessly. They don’t have to be used in public, if you’re shy about them or not sure they’re that good—but use them somehow. Test them out, play with them, put them into action.

This sends a message to yourself that yes, these ideas will get used, yes, you do value them, yes, send more, please and thank you! Even if you’re only writing the ideas down and keeping track of them in a swipe file—and that’s all you do with that idea for now—that sends a little signal that you’re willing to act on the idea.

The less ideas you work on, the less ideas you have. So get crackin’!


  1. Michelle- this is timely and important re-post!

    “There is NOT ENOUGH,” is a huge fear people have. It shows up all over their lives, and it is usually a big fat lie. A lie that prevents growth and creation.

    Scarcity begins in one area (say idea generation), but pretty soon it creeps into other areas- including time with friends (I can’t go to XYZ gathering, too much responsibility), our wallets (I can’t afford nice things), our food (I would eat healthy, but I don’t have time to cook).

    Life is a constant flow. We must participate in that flow to experience abundance. I sometimes call it a “Catch and Release” program. 🙂

    Abundance is simply the certainty that “There IS enough.” Living in that knowledge allows us to get actually really creative to find the creative combination of our current resources that will bring our idea out into the world.

    Almost no one has all the money they can use, but someone who has abundance as her baseline will use her other resources in combination with money to realize her vision- AND feel rich in the process!


    • This is a wonderful comment, Christyna! I should have known you’d have something amazing & wise to say about this article 😉 Thanks for commenting, and I’m glad you liked the post!


  2. I know some people that are idea hoarders & always worry about someone stealing them. I never quite understood it, especially when their idea was one they couldn’t use themselves.
    My brain is an idea machine. I worry about what to do with them all. I forget more ideas than I can ever use myself. I’m also at coming up with ideas that I can’t use, because I don’t have the knowledge or skills or whatever to do them. I need people that can use them. I would be happy to give them away.


    • That’s how I’ve always felt about it, too – if I have what I think is a great idea but don’t have the tools or the energy to implement it at the moment, I’m totally happy to give it away. Why not? I want it to get used & out there, dammit!


  3. Hey Michelle, love this post! Something that helps me get out of the idea-scarcity mindset is remembering how special and different we each are. Even if someone else had the same idea as me, we’d never execute it the exact same way, because we’re totally unique, right?

    It’s so ironic that our egos tell us to clench up and hold on to things when we’re afraid of running out of them; when it’s exactly the thing that keeps scarcity hanging around.

    Hope your footsie feels better! Thanks for sharing this!


    • Great comment Marla – good points both about same idea/different execution and about hanging on to things being what keeps scarcity around. I’ve seen two different people start with the same root idea and then after brainstorming or talking about it more come up with completely different end projects, so I definitely think that’s true about execution being unique. Thanks for commenting & I’m glad you liked the post!


  4. SOOOOO interesting that you brought this subject up! 🙂 Divine synchronicity strikes again! 🙂

    I HAVE noticed, especially with the upcoming launch of my new community/website,, and my forthcoming book, that I WAS “hoarding” ideas to a certain extent — and it felt uncomfortable — but I hadn’t take the time to explore the discomfort! Was it “legitimate” as in “protecting” my intellectual property (I’m a lawyer’s daughter and worked in law offices for over 30+ years), or was it EXACTLY WHAT YOU SAID — simply another area to be brought to the Light of Abundance! 🙂

    Thanks for providing the answer for me in the perfect way in the perfect divine time! 🙂

    Rainbow Blessings of Gratitude fellow Goddess Sister!


    • So glad to see you here Stephanie! I love your new project and can’t wait to see where you’re going with it 😀 I think the sneakiest fears are the ones that seem “legitimate”…then you have an easy excuse for not examining it too closely. Good on you for looking closer. Thanks for commenting!!


  5. Wow, I hadn’t thought about it this way… but I totally hoard ideas as much as my aunt used to hoard Kleenex!!! This is something to ponder more deeply, for sure.


    • You know, on the slightly brighter side, hoarding ideas is probably far more common that hoarding…Kleenex. Just sayin’. 😉

      More seriously, thank you for commenting Sara, and I’m glad you liked the post!


  6. Pingback: how the scarcity mindset hurts your creativity | Let's Radiate | Random Creativity |

  7. Can I even say how timely this post is? I saved it in my RSS reader and finally read it today after I recently wrote about how I come up with ideas but never act on them. You make some impactful points, and it’s even more motivational to get off my rump and make something happen!


    • I’m glad I could help, Mike 😀 & I’m glad you liked the post, too – thank you for commenting! Good luck in your creative endeavors!


Leave a Reply

Required fields are marked *.