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This post forms part of the Antidote series: slightly extended-format Guides, in which I’ll set out and give initial training guidance on specific solutions for workplace wellbeing. These are inspired by or drawn from yoga and mindfulness practices, adapted for everyday, real-world application.
The key inhibitor to our wellbeing in any context – work included – is fear. Fear, that inescapable, instinctive emotion, which arises in response to threat, is at the heart of most experiences of stress and anxiety and is the primary cause of much psychological distress, unhappiness and dis-ease.
At the root of fear, there is usually a core belief of Lack, of Scarcity, of not having or being Enough. As humans, we fear and feel threatened by the limits, the boundaries of our existence.
This type of fear may take one of three forms:
- ‘I am not enough’: fear that stems from our internal perception of the limits of our own capacity or capability; our intrinsic value, energy, skills or talents.
- ‘The situation is not enough (for me)’: fear that stems from our perception of limits upon the choices, possibilities or opportunities available to us and upon our freedom to make positive choices in that regard.
- ‘I do not have enough’: fear that stems from our internal perception of the limits upon the external resources available to us; for example financial resources or interpersonal resources such as help and support.
The Abundance Mindset serves as a direct counterpoint to each of these fears. It strikes deep at the heart of a Lack-based mindset and instead positions us firmly in a resolute conviction that there is always an Abundance; that there is always more than enough. In management and leadership development theory, the model of Satisficing most closely echoes this mindset.
Here is becomes necessary to consider the conundrum of what, precisely, IS enough? Perfectionists – which many in high-pressure work environments naturally are – are pre-disposed to exaggerate and idealise performance – be it an outcome or route to it. In order to fully embrace the Abundance mindset we need to accept this fundamental perspective:
The natural order of things is that there is always more than enough.
If we perceive a Lack, that is either that we are not fully aware and focused upon what there is – we have not taken the time to properly explore and investigate this. Or, that we are exaggerating what ‘should’ be, beyond the natural reality of what is.
And so the challenge is actually in our minds, in our perception that what there is, is not enough. Abundance flips the situation on its head, and leads us to a healthier and more positive acceptance of what is.
Rather than assessing what is and deeming reality to fall below what is needed, we start from a position of believing what is there is always more than enough.
We can then work from that, more positive perspective, to how to work with what is, in reality, present and available to us.
Fostering an Abundance Mindset
First we need to open ourselves to the possibility of thinking and believing differently. In yoga and Buddhism, this is referred to as having a spacious mind: a mind that is open to different perspectives and viewpoints. To give an analogy: the view of Everest is much different if you are standing at the summit, vs the one at Base Camp.
We need to set an intention, a resolve to orient ourselves in a perspective, a mindset of Abundance. Our Focus here is to establish this as an unshakeable Truth within our hearts and minds.
This begins with a process of reflection – also known as meditation. Quite simply, we consider the idea. We ponder it. We seek to establish it firmly in our minds. We apply it to situations in the past. ‘When I had an experience of not thinking there was enough, was that the reality?’.
We bring this thought process into our present experience. Our aim here is to catch ourselves in the experience of making a ‘Not Enough’ judgement and switch it, immediately in our heads.
The simplest way to start is with a mantra. A mantra is a short, simple script or story we give ourselves, which we mentally rehearse over and over in our minds. Suitable Abundance mantras to begin working with are:
There is enough here.
I am enough.
I have enough.
Life is abundant.
We can also use bodywork to help encourage our minds to adopt and accept the Abundance Mindset: even simple movement, when practiced with focus and appreciation can help us to understand that we are more than enough, just as we are.
Cultivating an Abundance Mindset
As a direct contradiction to many of our habitual, practiced thinking patterns, the Abundance Mindset takes time and Focus to develop and master. We can strengthen it further by extending mantra, mindfulness and bodywork: mentally or physically putting ourselves in more challenging situations, noticing what is naturally present and actively countering the instinct to push ourselves beyond that. Extended mantra work may include repeating the phrases mentally:
I have an abundance
I am more than enough
I have an abundance of opportunity.
I have an abundance of talent
I have an abundance of resources
Life is abundant in choices and opportunities.
This involves developing an inner sense of knowing what may not be perceived; of recognising and understanding it is there, perhaps without tangible evidence. It is an act of profound faith.
What if what there is never feels like enough?
This feeling may be accompanied by a sense of loss, confusion or despair. If having practiced this mindset we meet situations in which our mind refuses to accept there is enough, we can learn something from that:
- The experience is truly beyond you. Have you chosen a path that is not best for your happiness and wellbeing? Or have you chosen a path based on a perfectionist ideal, an artificial perception of reality? What led you to that choice? Was it reflexive, i.e. less consciously thought through? Was it misguided? Was it based on flawed judgement? Where our working reality does not seem to be enough, this serves as a guidepost for our Ego: it teaches us Humility; not to over-shoot.
- Your mind is unable to accept the possibility there is enough. It dwells in a state of hopelessness. This is a difficult and uncomfortable place to be, and is affiliated with depression or burnout. It may be wise to start with simpler Gratitude-based work to gently begin to loosen these feelings. If after concerted effort and practice you still struggle to discover any experience of abundance in your life or work, it is wise to seek professional guidance.
I’ve been training in, studying and practicing yoga and meditation for a little over 13 years now, and this mode of perception is one I have been cultivating and practicing for several years – both in work and in my personal life. As a life-long sufferer of all the above conditions, I can only say it has aided me greatly. It helps to diminish anxiety and frustration and find creative ways through even the more challenging experiences.
My Smarter Wellbeing programme includes techniques rapid-intervention mindset change, using a combination of innovative bodywork and mindfulness techniques. For more information, you can sign up to my Smarter Wellbeing Insights newsletter below. To benefit from workplace or personal coaching, contact me.