The Upper Limit Problem

June 15, 2011 by
Filed under: Spinewave Bulletin 

A friend sent me a chapter from a book called The Big Leap, by Gay Hendricks, on ways we “upper limit” ourselves. Self sabotage, in other words. My understanding is that the concept comes from the end that you’re already well fledged in your potential and things are going along swimmingly in your life. But when we begin to enjoy great success in some area of our lives, we tend to create problems in that or other areas. We do this because we hit our “upper limit” of happiness, financial success, joy in a relationship, or any of a number of other things, and this upper limit causes us to unconsciously sabotage ourselves or even make us ill.

These few ideas really struck a chord with me, as I paraphrase. As the last 10 years of hard work in NZ slowly start to pay off, I find myself limiting the flow of energy. As I may have written previously, the really good things start to happen when we’re “in flow”: Your general mood and demeanour is good most of the time, you’re consciously creating the future as you want it instead of dwelling on the past, and you’re allowing that for which you asked to manifest and graciously accept it because you deem yourself worthy. As Hendricks writes, the art of getting beyond our upper limit problem has a lot to do with creating space within us to feel and appreciate natural good feelings – feelings that aren’t induced by short term fixes such as drugs, sugar, alcohol or television. Letting yourself savour natural good feelings is a direct way to transcend your “upper limit problem”.

Worry. Worry is usually a sign that we’re upper-limiting ourselves. It is usually not a sign that we’re thinking about something useful. The crucial sign that we’re worrying unnecessarily is when we’re worrying about something we have absolutely no control over. When things are going well for us, our upper limit mechanism kicks in and we suddenly start worrying about things going wrong in some way. We start justifying those worry-thoughts with more worry-thoughts, and soon we are busily manufacturing scenarios of everything falling apart and devolving toward imminent doom, creating anxiety. This process sucks the joy out of life. And once you’ve brought yourself down by worrying, it’s very tempting to inflict those worry-thoughts on others. Misery loves company after all. If we’re in the grip of worrying while someone around us isn’t, we seem to have an almost uncontrollable urge to criticise that person until he or she jumps into the stream of negativity with us. Recognising this pattern and nipping the avalanche of worry-thoughts in the bud before it spirals out of control is paramount. Understand what it means: You have a good life – allow yourself to enjoy it. Notice the thoughts and let them go.

Criticism and blame. Criticism and blame are addictions. They are costly addictions because they are the number one destroyer of intimacy in close relationships. When people give reasons for breaking up with someone, the most common statement according to Hendricks is, “I got tired of the constant criticism and blame.” Self criticism and self blame are just as bad. They are addictive mental behaviours and greatly impede “flow”. As Dr. Phil would ask, what is the pay off? If you have a habit of off loading to feel better, and expect the criticism to slip off the other person’s back as quickly as it rolls off your tongue, things will not end well – especially if the individual’s love language is “words of affirmation” because most negativity is taken to heart.

Deflection. Or as I learnt in counselling, discounting the positive. You reject positive experiences by insisting they don’t count, i.e. receiving a compliment and answering with yeah but… If you do a good job, you may tell yourself that it wasn’t good enough or that anyone else could have done it just as well. You’re not special. You may pick out a single detail and dwell on it exclusively so that your vision of all reality becomes darkened like a drop of ink which discolours a beaker of water. For example: You may receive a compliment about a presentation to a group of associates at work, but one person says something mildly critical and you obsess about his reaction for days and ignore all positive feedback. Deflecting takes the joy out of life and makes you feel inadequate and unrewarded. Graciously accept and allow good things to flow.

Squabbling. Or as I’ve come to call it after seeing Dane Cook, The Nothing Fight. Arguments are one of the most common ways of bringing yourself down when you’ve hit your upper limit. When things are going well, you quash the flow of positive energy quickly by starting a conflict. The conflict then develops a life of its own, lasting for hours, days or even years. Perhaps learning to see Nothing Fights as an upper limit symptom can provide breakthroughs in getting beyond them. It’s a myth that arguments are a standard way of “spicing” things up. Each person is 100% responsible for creating and resolving conflict.

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