Today, I discovered something.
I have an Upper Limit Problem.
Not sure what this is? No worries! I'm going to fill you in and help you conquer your own.
Not too long ago, I read an amazing book The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks. This book is INCREDIBLE if you're looking for ways to push yourself forward and to uncover hidden ways that you might be holding yourself back in your career and in life!
Hendricks has coined this term of "Upper Limiting" as something we do to bring ourselves down when something good happens to us. Essentially, subconscious self-sabotage
For example; you get a promotion at work for being so productive and outstanding, then all of a sudden you get sick for a week. Or you have a really great interaction with a friend, and come home to fight with your significant other.
You had been feeling so good that your mind reached a point of "maximum time allowed for good feelings" and worked to bring you back down to earth. Its like you've reached your capacity for these good feelings and you have to do something to neutralize your feelings.
This can show up in many different ways for different people. Gay talks about a client of his who got a new job and was super excited to take it. The issue was that he had also been asked to speak at an event for his current company to talk about how great the company was, but he hadn't yet told his boss he was leaving. He really didn't want to give the talk, but had no way out of it. On the morning of the presentation, he contracted laryngitis and couldn't speak. Problem solved right?
Not so fast.
After speaking with the client, Gay uncovered this man's upper limit problem. He had just had incredible news and was extremely happy, but didn't want to have to fake his way through a presentation and then tell his boss he was leaving. While they were talking(whispering) and working through these upper limits, the client's voice gradually returned!
His laryngitis was a symptom of his upper limit problem!
Upper Limit Problems (ULPS) can have a bunch of weird symptoms that seem unrelated, but a lot of the time, if you allow yourself to be aware of the situation and think about the things that have happened in the lead up to the ULP, you might find that you can work through the symptoms faster than if you just ignore them.
A couple of examples of these ULP symptoms could be: getting sick, throwing your back out, getting into a car accident, breaking glasses and cutting yourself, spilling red wine on a white rug at a boss's house, etc. It can literally be anything, and doesn't have to be related to your success or your field.
I had a BIG one recently.
I had a couple of HUGE breakthroughs in the same week and totally forgot to watch out for my ULP to appear.
Sure enough though, it reared its ugly head in a way that was far more upsetting, obvious and dramatic than I'd ever experienced before.
I went from feeling super great, to feeling like a total failure.
It wasn't until my best friend said "It sounds like you're having one of those Upper Limit things you talk about" that I realized what had happened.
I had allowed myself to sabotage my good feelings. I had reached the limit for my current state, and my mind had self-corrected. I had indeed Upper Limited!
The thing with upper limiting is that the bigger the win, the bigger the ULP. So, as I was seeing HUGE wins, subconsciously I was telling myself things like; You're not ready for this. You're not qualified to do this. You need to slow down. You need to get back to that safe place.
Anytime you're pushing yourself into new experiences, there’s a good chance you’ll hit an ULP.
So what can we do about this upper limit problem?
Well, the great thing is that once you understand this Upper Limit Problem thing, you're already ahead of the game. Sometimes we blame ourselves and call ourselves "stupid" or "flawed" or "not good enough", but the truth could simply be that you have Upper Limited.
Steps to conquering your ULP
STEP ONE: Identify the ULP (and realise that you're not alone)
Everyone is going to hit an ULP at some point, and the more success you have, and the harder you work to push into new experiences, the bigger the ULPS will be.
They're not always easy to deal with, and they're usually fairly unpleasant, but once you can identify them, you're already on your way to moving past them.
This is not something you can do once and cure all of your future ULPS. As long as you live, these will keep coming up, so remember to stay vigilant!
STEP TWO: Increase your happiness tolerance!
You have to work at this happiness thing! We aren't programmed to sustain happiness forever, but it is definitely something we can train and increase over time.
Things like meditation, spending time with loved ones and feeling in to the things that make you happy will help you increase your capacity. I know it sounds a little weird, but its vital if you want to conquer your ULPS.
Hendricks recommends you repeat his mantra regularly to help you increase this happiness quota. The mantra is "I expand in abundance, success and love everyday, as I inspire others to do the same"
STEP 3 - Stay vigilant!
When you have something great happening in your life, keep an eye out for symptoms or clues to your upper limit problem. Do you have a tendency to get sick after you do something great, or perhaps you get into a fight with a loved one?
Its not always the same thing each time either.
If you run into your ULP, you might want to flee from the feelings. After all, no one likes to feel this way, but let me challenge you not to run and hide, but stay and think. If you're about to make a really bad choice...stop. Think. Call someone you really trust to talk it through.
Observe why this happened, find the trigger, recognise the feelings.
While it might really suck at the time, there is actually a silver lining to an ULP.
Perhaps the coolest thing about an ULP event is that they are, in and of themselves, signs that you've increased your capacity for happiness in some way.
If you weren't pushing your limits, an ULP wouldn't appear. (You might just actually be sick, which happens too. Not all sicknesses or problems are ULPS)
If you can move through your ULP and find the reason for your limiting behaviour, you have the ability to expand and grow.
So, the next time you hit a barrier, ask yourself, is this my Upper Limit Problem today? You just might be on to something big!
Interested in Gay Hendrick's book? You can find it below! I highly recommend it!