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Upper Limiting

Updated: Aug 17, 2022

The self-help world is rife with time- and money-wasters. For me, The Big Leap is not one of those. Although that could be debatable, given my past week or two.


I read the book for the first time at the suggestion of my coach, about a year ago, and was profoundly affected by it. My copy has a pencil attached to it, and is rife with lines, stars, annotations, and dog-ears.I quoted it often—still do—and found answers and inspiration within.


So you'd think I would know how to deal with my current Upper Limit issues.


Upper Limit issues, you ask?


Gay Hendricks posits almost all of us struggle with allowing ourselves to truly succeed, to dream big and achieve those dreams. The ‘What else could go rights?’ The ‘How could this be even betters?’


The struggle could also be framed as a window of tolerance issue—a state of being outside one’s comfort zone, producing a state of hyper- or hypo-arousal. My current pattern has been to bounce gracelessly between the the two: Hyper, generating lists, ideas, plans—then bam, hypo, I’m flat on the couch, paralyzed by overwhelm.


My special ability to guide people out of overwhelm comes from direct experience, folks.


I’ve seen glimmers of great success in my future—even in my very accessible near future—and that had me pulling out my own plug, disempowering myself. Can you relate?


So now it’s time for the ‘coach, coach thyself’ moment.


In this case, I’m doing some regulating exercises, and referring back to the book, to see what the expert recommends.


“When you’re ‘Upper Limiting,’ you're doing something that is crimping your flow of positive energy,” says Hendricks.


He then offers a series of actions (these ones based on worry, but it could be fear, questioning… whatever has you stuck):

  1. Notice yourself worrying about something.

  2. Let go of the worry thoughts, shifting your focus away from them.

  3. Wonder: What positive new thing is trying to come into being?

  4. Watch for a body feeling (not a thought or idea) of where that positive new thing is trying to come through.

  5. Open your focus to feel that body feeling deeply.

  6. Let yourself feel it deeply for as long as you can.

  7. Later, pay attention to any ideas you might get of the positive thing that was trying to come through.

(page 71, The Big Leap (dog-eared))


In an interview (that I find well worth listening to), Hendricks also discusses the Upper Limit problem, and suggests 'Breathe, Move, Love': As you recognize the self-limitation or self-sabotage, take some deep breaths, move differently, and offer yourself some genuine and non-judgemental love for feeling this way. Then commit to movin' on up!


In general, the worry/fear is not what it seems: it’s a distraction, a way to keep us ‘comfortable’ in our familiar feelings.


Kindly, Hendricks does admit, “It’s a heroic task.” It takes practice and patience, focus, courage, and strength. And aren’t those good skills to develop?


Interested in reading The Big Leap in a group? I could clearly use a refresher. Let me know—I’d love to get a book club going, and read this and other titles together too. Tara Mohr’s Playing Big comes to mind. Maybe it’s a ‘Big’ book club!



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