And it is such a bummer to be told that.
I just wrote a post at the iNLP Center about this called:
Why do we feel a twinge of disappointment when we are reminded to focus on what we have, rather than getting “more”?
Let’s think about it from a super detached perspective.
Focusing on getting “more” – more stuff, more friends, more money, more status, more, more, more… puts you in a position to live with a feeling of chronic lack. As soon as you get something new, you move on feeling the lack of the next new thing.
Focusing on gratitude for what you have, regardless of how much you have, allows you to feel fulfilled.
Given all this, the richest person in the world could live with a feeling of chronic lack. A relatively poor person could live with a feeling of deep fulfillment.
It isn’t what you’ve got – or what is on the outside – that makes the difference in how fulfilled you feel. It’s whether or not you are grateful for what you have.
So, why do we hate being told to appreciate what we have and to stop focusing on getting more, especially when we understand that focusing on getting more will create a “lack trap”?
Here is a common scenario: You begin a gratitude journal, or use some form of gratitude exercise. You focus on how lucky you are, or how grateful that things are not so much worse.
Then, the magic of gratitude works! You feel great – fulfilled from the inside out.
Then, you NEVER write in that gratitude journal again.
This is what we call a psychological attachment. Just being born and raised is enough to create attachments, but poor parenting contributes.
When you are raised with a lack of fulfillment; when your needs are not met, you build a tolerance for living in lack. In fact, you come to prefer it, as a life of fulfillment is unfamiliar to you.
Thus, you tend to get caught in the lack trap, unwittingly denying yourself fulfillment and setting yourself up to live in emptiness. The lack trap can become an unfortunate way of being a person, as you are chronically deprived of happiness.
As with any psychological trap, the key to freedom is awareness. You need to become aware of how you set this trap for yourself as an adult.
I sometimes ask my coaching clients to do something radical. They wake up in the morning and remind themselves: Some part of me wants to live with a feeling of lack. I am going to catch myself avoiding opportunities to feel fulfilled.
People are typically blown away at how often they bypass the good things in life in order to stay in the old familiar place of emotional lack.
If this topic interests you, then read my post about it here. You can also watch a free, 20-minute video called the AHA Solution, which gives an in depth overview of how psychological attachments affect you.
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Last reviewed: 14 Jun 2013