do you show up with a straw or a shovel?


Thanks to the Tiny Gift Button

Used some tiny gift money to get myself some smell treats yesterday. Now i can’t stop sniffing my hair.

Unfortunately, though, I’ve fallen into the habit of receiving tiny gift money, I say ‘thanks”, and then I put the email into a folder called: “Donations Not Yet Spent.” Yes, sometimes I buy flowers, or fruit. But there are emails in this unspent folder dating back to January of this year…

It’s like I’m collecting the good will of the gifts, but not actually benefiting from them. It’s like I’m watching the balance go up, but am reluctant to spend it.

I’m the same way with furnishing this new (still empty) apartment. and it’s becoming distressing actually. Because I know what it is.

It’s an attitude of scarcity.

I have a thinking process where I feel that if i spend the gift money, then it’ll be gone, and then I will have an empty folder. Really? Is it better to see a folder of thanks than to benefit from the thanks? Is it better to collect instead of having experiences? That’s like watching your bank balance go up just for the fun of watching numbers, but for no actual gain or benefit or motive other than simply to watch the numbers…

And today i’ve just realized that I know this thing about scarcity already. And i know how to overcome it. I just recorded a Sober Rescue Audio about this idea of scarcity thinking. I was talking about it in the context of sober support … how we show up at the milkshake of sober support with only a straw, and we insist on taking tiny sips. We know that support is available to help us get/be/stay/enjoy being sober, and we don’t reach for it. Or we reach for it tiny little sips.

Instead, really, we should show up at the milkshake of support with a shovel. Take a bunch of support (i mean, it’s there for the taking). get ourselves solidly sober, and then ease up on the quantity of support later.

Here’s a clip from Rescue Audio #4:

And you know it makes sense to me when i say it in the context of sober support.

But when it comes to me looking at my paypal balance, I guess i still have some scarcity stuff going on.

I’ll keep thinking. i’m going to make a plan to spend the money in the folder. maybe i’ll buy the pink chair.

and i’m going to keep smelling my hair.


I want to put this online, to hold myself accountable. I want to document the noise in my head. I'm tired of thinking about drinking. date of last drink: june 30, 2012

  • OK so here’s something I never say outloud. All those presents I get, almost every single one of them, I give away.

    YUP I give them away, dont’ ask me what’s that all about ‘other people will enjoy them more’.

    Well let me tell you, I unwrapped the gorgeous candle someone sent me and its on the shelf. I have this weird hoarding thing going on, its like it might all vanish.

    When you sent me chocolate, and I’m VERY proud and ashamed to tell you, I looked at it and thought, wow that’s so pretty and posh, I guess someone would like that.

    And the very new young sober voice in my head said (she sounded very like you) eat the goddam chocolate. I knew you sent it because you cared enough to take the time to mail it. Thank you.

    I grew up in a family of four kids, no money and the biscuits were opened packet by packet and shared equally, the ‘what happens when it runs out’ ‘lets just save it or eek it out’ thing is deeply engrained in me. I still look for bread with my meals as we had it to ‘eek’ out the meal. Cheap filling fodder for kids.

    But you know what, if it were me, I’d buy the chair. You work hard. You’d work harder in a pink chair. 🙂 think of the tea you could drink in it too.

    And please, do an audio about the pink chair if it does arrive in your home!

    (Said not in a bossy voice at all, in a meek kinda ‘you know you want to’ voice.

    • my family life was the same! 4 kids, no money, cookies were counted out equally. i’m sure for me this not spending money thing it’s a holdover from that, a continued scarcity feeling, even when things AREN’T scarce 🙂 Now that I”m sober, i want to ADAPT and evolve and change into a person who feels less scarce. i’ll buy the pink chair. and i’ll take a picture when it arrives. and i’m going to continue to think about this. Who i was before doesn’t have to be who am i going forward. I can evolve. I’m allowed to evolve. I can let go of beliefs that (no longer) serve me.

  • Dear Belle,
    When I really decided my little sips weren’t working,
    I needed “radical change”.
    That’s when I did EVERYTHING I could!
    AA, WFS, READ Blogs, Writing a Blog, Reached Out To Everyone I Knew that could
    Help me.
    And it’s working.
    I do need a shovel of support!

  • Hmmm – I read this right after listening to your Rescue Podcast #2, the one where you talk about growing up being taught that buying nice things is to be frowned on. Maybe you haven’t gotten over that?

    My mother didn’t like expensive things either – but my dad did and I’m sure he made her pretty uncomfortable with the things he wanted for all of us. I’ve kind-of combined the two in buying nice things for my husband and kids, but not much for myself. In the last year though, I’ve made an effort to put that aside because I was reminded that my husband deserves a wife who looks good – for her age anyway :). So I still shop the sales (the MOST awesome coat from the The Gap Outlet for $35!) but the hair’s got expensive color and the boots are cute.

    Maybe if you think about furnishing the apartment because your husband deserves it?

    Hugs, Becky


  • When scarcity thinking impacts my thinking that HP is not enough or that I am missing out, often cracks the door for Wolfie to get in there and entice me to dialogue around my choice of sobriety. Reminding myself that the shorebirds are never hungry and watching them peck their supper from the sand … I acknowledge that I have enough … roof, food, love, care, and that my HP is large and in charge of my life … my content and useful sober life.

  • Well. Unfurnished apartment that’s driving you crazy + money that you’re only allowed to spend on non-essentials = beautiful furniture that you will be able to look at and enjoy using for the rest of your life that you would never have bought otherwise. In my world, anyway. Something so beautiful it shows all of the love that you’re given in return for the love you give out every day. That’s not advice, that was my instant thought. It might be that you just find it difficult to fritter money, which treats which are gone tomorrow may seem like – they’re not, obvsiously, they’re treasure; but that might be what the Scarcity thing means.

  • Scarcity is the natural human state. For millions of years of evolution, there was never enough to go around. It was survival of the fittest, or of the fit enough, through competition for resources. Historically, malnutrition and deprivation have been far more common than obesity and plenty.

    If you’ve ever met someone who lived through the Great Depression, you know what I mean. Clean your plate, re-use the ziploc bags, save the twist-ties. Just in case. It’s in our nature to be careful with our resources.

    So I don’t think there’s a need to feel bad about ‘scarcity thinking’. It’s an ingrained behavior in our species, and the members of our species who ignore that behavioral impulse often lead lives of tragic overconsumption and dissipation. The fact that you’re concerned about spending gift money is also relevant; most people value the idea of using a gift wisely and well, in part to show respect for the giver.

    I suppose what it comes down to is, is it simply a matter of being careful with resources? Or is there a spiritual scarcity involved, like the previous poster said, about not deserving others’ generosity?

    • yes, certainly i’d understand a scarcity mentality from my grandparents 🙂 and even my parents to some extent. my point is that we’re not in the depression now, and carrying over long-standing beliefs isn’t helpful in lots of current – today – situations. in my case, there’s no need for me to feel this weird about watching numbers increase … it makes me feel like someone sitting in front of a slot machine, who plays because they like to watch the cherries go round and round… like, what does this belief of mine actually mean? i think you’re right that because the money is a sober gift from sober people, that i’m perhaps thinking very carefully about using it wisely … i think that being careful with resources, in my case, is about something else …

      • I’m not so sure it’s just a ‘long-standing belief’. I think it’s really more our nature as a species. Even dogs are resources guarders. My dog regularly buries things in the yard or hoards all the chew toys in her bed. Since we have the basic mammalian brain, with some important add-ons, I could see that behavior being ingrained in us as well.

        Plus, depending on how you grew up, money in the bank could be more than a just a medium of exchange. It could represent the security of knowing that the rent is on-time and the food is on the table, or maybe it represents the pride of finally achieving the American Dream.

  • I continue to be amazed at how much I can relate to things you say. I have 3 gift cards for massages that I have never redeemed. At least one of them is probably 2 or 3 years old. Because once I use it it’s gone? Because I don’t think I deserve it? Because I want to wait for just the right time?