I shared exciting news last week on Instagram. If you missed it, you can see it here.
In essence, I took the advice I shared in my last blog, and decided to stop waiting, and order my dream car: a Tesla. As thrilling as this moment was, it was also terrifying. I was saying “yes” to a bigger version of myself—to a bigger vision for my life.
I’m not usually emotional about cars—as long as it gets me from point A to point B safely, I don’t really care. I’ve been driving a Honda Civic for the last three years. And, yet, there was something about this car. I lit up inside when I saw it or read about it (I signed up for Tesla’s email list a year ago)!
A part of me assumed that that car, and the life I imagined came with it, was above me. A girl from a single-parent home in Charleston, WV, did not belong in that car. Yet, here I was, about to buy it, and step into another life!
I woke up the next morning looking like this:
I felt sick as a dog. I went from elated to deflated overnight.
What the heck happened?
The good news is I knew, because I had experienced this before. The last time was right after I hired my life coach at a rate of $30K per year. I woke up the next morning with a sore throat and runny nose.
So, what’s the deal?
It’s what Gay Hendricks, author of The Big Leap, calls hitting an Upper Limit. According to him, we have an internal thermostat setting for how much love, success, happiness, intimacy and creativity we allow ourselves. When things get too good and push us beyond our happiness set point, an internal response immediately gets triggered to put us back into “balance.”
It’s a form of protection that plays out as self-sabotage. For example, if you’ve ever had a big win (a promotion, new relationship, standing your ground and speaking up for the first time), only to then get rear-ended, injured, drop your phone in the toilet, over eat, over spend, get into a fight with your partner, etc. It’s probably not due to bad luck. You most likely have hit your Upper Limit.
And, this, my friend, is good news. It’s an opportunity to reset that inner thermostat—but you have to be conscious in order to do it. Here are some steps for resetting your inner thermostat:
Step One: Acceptance
Know that Upper Limits are a part of life. You will most likely butt up against them time and time again. So, don’t beat yourself up or judge yourself when you do.
Instead, use each one as a learning moment. There is so much growth that accompanies them when they arrive, but you have to turn towards them in order to reap the rewards. Which means, you must pay attention to your internal and external experience. You have to notice when you block yourself from feeling good—and exactly how you do that. Maybe you use worry, criticism, blame, negative future fantasizing, confrontation, or self-sabotaging behaviors—or all of the above—to get yourself back to your comfortable happiness set point.
When you find yourself using one or all of these coping mechanisms, it’s time to get to work and move onto the next step.
Step Two: Reflection
Pause to find out what’s going on inside you. Get curious about the part of you that’s so uncomfortable experiencing this much goodness.
Your own personal inquiry is a powerful tool here. Ask yourself questions like: What just happened? What is triggering this upset inside of me? What am I telling myself about feeling this good? What is the cost of having this new promotion/weight loss/Tesla/joy? What will I lose? What part of me feels threatened?
Slow down and give yourself time to allow the answers to unfold. What’s taking place is a fundamental misunderstanding and your answers will help you see that more clearly. Then, from that vantage point, you’ll be able to give yourself, and all the wounded, worried parts of you, what they really need—love, compassion and attention.
My inner seven-year-old was the part of me that was terrified and needed love. She was the one who decided that the “good life” wasn’t meant for her. She was afraid I would leave her behind. So, I slowed down and spent time with her.
Step Three: Offer Yourself Loving Compassion
One way I do this is through writing. I open a blank document on my computer and go from there. You can use a journal or legal pad, whatever works for you. The point is to connect to the part of you that’s confused and hurting—to let that part be seen and heard.
I gave my inner seven-year-old a voice. I wrote whatever she said and then responded to her from my most loving, perspective today. It’s a dialogue I got to have with a confused part of myself, so we could heal and form a new understanding—that she (my inner seven-year-old) is also meant for the good life! I told her it’s ok for her to have all her heart desires. And, that I wasn’t going to leave her behind.
This was a powerful healing opportunity, which all Upper Limit moments offer.
Step Four: Expansion Experiment
Take on your own “Good Experiment.” Ask yourself: How good can I stand it? How good am I willing to let my life be?
Then see. Test it out. See how good you can take it.
This is a form of stretching. You may find it easy to expand into greater joy, more love, and heightened creativity. Or, you may find it challenging. And, if that’s the case, go back and follow Steps 1-3 to come to greater peace, acceptance, and love.
Have you experienced an Upper Limit Issue? If so, how did you get through it? I’d love to hear from you! Please share in the comments below.