You finally got that promotion you have been working on for months/years. Then suddenly your mind goes ‘my boss is looking at me funny, I screwed up a presentation or sent the wrong email to a client’. Suddenly, you start thinking,’everything is over, I am going to get fired soon’. You finally met this loving person and started this romantic relationship and everything seems to be going on perfect;y fine when you start having these strange thoughts: ‘what if this person leaves me?’, ‘I think something is wrong, we are moving too fast, we need to slow down or take a break’.
This is the Upper Limit Problem in a nutshell: that subconscious self-sabotage that happens when we get a taste of something great, be it a promotion, a financial windfall, a great relationship, completing your first marathon, or any other measure of success. The self-defeating belief that many of us have, without even realizing it, that we’re not deserving of success, can quickly make happy moments backfire on us.
Psychologist and author Gay Hendricks, who first introduced this theory, describes an “inner thermostat setting” that determines the amount of good feelings we allow ourselves to enjoy. If we experience an increased level of joy, success or abundance, we approach our upper limit, and subconsciously invite in negative thoughts to bring us back down into the level of happiness with which we are most comfortable.
Often we mask this in our heads as simply “being realistic,” modest, or being careful not to outshine others, but in fact it can hold us back from achieving big wins and can have lasting consequences that sabotage our potential for success down the line. In reality, if you’re feeling unsure or undeserving of happiness, it’s actually a sign that you’re positively challenging yourself and experiencing more abundance than before as a result.
Has this ever been you? Have you ever been celebrating a personal success, thinking to yourself or telling a friend about just how darn good things are right now, when all of a sudden negativity enters the picture?
So how to deal with this?Start with these tips from Gay Hendricks, PhD:
- Make a list of your Upper-Limit behaviors. Here are some of the most common ones: Worrying; blame and criticism; getting sick; squabbling; hiding significant feelings; not keeping agreements; not speaking significant truths to the relevant people (If you are mad at John, he’s the relevant person to talk to. It doesn’t help to tell Fred that you’re mad at John.); deflecting (Ignoring compliments is a good example.)
- When you notice yourself doing one of the things on your Upper-Limit list, such as worrying or failing to communicate some truth, shift your attention to the real issue: expanding your capacity for abundance, love and success.
- Consciously let yourself make more room in your awareness for abundance, love and success. Use the resources of your whole being, not just your mind. For example, feel more love in your chest and heart area. Savor the body feeling, as well as the mental satisfaction, of success and abundance.
- Embrace a new story that tells about your adventures in your Zone of Genius. Find a new mythology, or make up one of your own, that shows you enjoying your life in the full radiance of your expressed potential.