Let me ask you, “How do you, dear reader, limit your joy?”
You’re probably thinking, “Whaaaat? I want to experience as much joy as possible in my life! Why would I limit it?”
One of the most frightening emotions for us is joy.
In his eye-opening book, The Big Leap, Gay Hendricks, refers to this idea as an “upper limit problem.”
It makes for some very, very interesting reading.
The idea is we all have an “amount” of happiness, joy, love, wealth (and all things wonderful), that we think we deserve.
The kicker is, that when we get close to that amount (or surpass it), we unconsciously do something silly to self-sabotage.
It’s like a self-imposed glass ceiling.
Our upper limits show up in interesting ways.
Maybe, you’ve purchased a brand new car, or won money in the lottery or received a long-wanted promotion. You should be over the moon. But there’s a tiny part of you worrying, “it’s a fluke” and you start to wonder “what bad thing is on its way.”
Before you know it, you’ve crashed the new car, manifested a massive bill or fought with your partner while out celebrating your promotion!!!!
It sounds crazy, but we all do it. In all areas of our life. And we don’t even know we’re doing it!
A weight loss ‘upper limit’ case study
A client shifted 6kgs during the first six weeks of the Virtual Gastric Band Hypnosis programme while enjoying her new habits.
During our final session, she said, “I’m afraid this won’t last. This non-diet approach just feels too good to be true.”
This lovely lady had triggered the trip wire that is her upper limit. She was feeling better than she’d felt in years, and she’d maxed out her capacity for feeling good.
Once I’d explained the upper limit theory, it immediately clicked for her. It wasn’t the weight loss she was doubting, but her capacity to allow more joy, pleasure, and happiness into her life permanently.
With this new awareness, and using the tools she gained during the VGB, she went on to shift 25kgs, which she’s kept off for over three years now. She’s upped her capacity for joy.
Upper limiting behaviours. All of these will bring you down on the joy scale.
– Overeating, overdrinking, overspending.
– Lack of sleep, lack of water, lack of quality food
– Picking a fight with your partner / sibling / parent, especially after some positive news.
– Getting sick, breaking things, having tech issues!
– Comparing yourself with others.
– Procrastination, perfectionism, paralysis by analysis
– Excessive worrying, and self-defeating thoughts (aka “I’m not good enough who do you think you are?” internal chatter).
How to overcome upper limiting and stop the sabotage .
1. Observe yourself and become aware of your specific upper limit pattern
We all have unconscious patterns. Mine used to be IT drama (who can’t relate to that!) or getting sick on the day of important events.
Next time you find yourself facing your upper limit, STOP and observe.
Remember, we can only change something if we’re aware of it. The first step is always awareness.
2. Expand your capacity for joy
During the day, whenever something awesome happens, remind yourself, “this is my ‘new normal.'” It’s a great way of expanding your capacity for joy. e.g. every time the perfect parking space appears in a busy mall on a rainy day, “thank you, this is my new normal.”
Acknowledge and appreciate the good stuff in your life. That parking space was not a fluke. Continually encourage yourself to get used to having good things happen to you.
3. Decrease your tolerance for the crappy stuff
We all know someone who thinks, “Ahh, one good happens and then one bad thing.”
Or, “I’ve had such a good week, that means next week I’ll plateau.”
Or “Bad luck always comes in threes.”
You have to keenly observe that part of you that is making up those unhelpful stories and making them come true because you’re creating it.
When you nudge up against your upper limit, it’s human to want to retreat and shrink back to what is comfortable.
Stay with the discomfort and commit to expanding even more into the wonderfulness of life.
In those (often terrifying!) moments, commit to breaking through the upper limit by seeing how much more joy you can handle.
Bring it on!
Remind yourself that you are worthy of all this joy and so much more.
Love etc, Avril