Do You Have an Upper Limit Problem?


My heart was racing, I was shaking in my Havaianas (hey, I’m from California), and yet I couldn’t get the grin off my face. I was excited. But I was also freaking scared. 8 years ago, my mentor, Brooke Castillo, who had been managing Martha Beck’s Coach Training program at the time, asked me and a few other hand-selected coaches if I wanted to facilitate a book club for Martha’s new book—Steering by Starlight. I had never led a book club before, either in person or online. I felt honored to be asked; I knew Brooke well enough to know that she is very thoughtful about who she asks to teach. Her asking meant that she thought I was smart and capable.

I only wish I had felt the same about my abilities.

So I did what any coach would do, and tuned into my body compass. The problem was, I had too many sticky thoughts to get an accurate reading. I was feeling a huge heaping of self-doubt and couldn’t differentiate this icky feeling in my body from the plain ol’ “shackles on” sensation that comes from your Essential Self saying “NOOOO.” I was reluctant to say yes, so I asked her if I could think about it for a couple of days. I talked to some friends but they all jumped into my story: “If you’re not ready, don’t do it,” or, “Why pressure yourself, is it worth it?” and even, “Do it next year when you’re not so busy.” Finally, I self-coached. Here are the pesky little thoughts I unearthed:

I’m not ready.

Now is not the right time or the best time.

I don’t know what I’m doing.

They’ll find out I’m a fraud.

I should check with my husband.

I won’t get a return on my investment.

On a deeper level—and I didn’t have this insight until years later (at a Martha Beck workshop that I almost didn’t go to!), I realized that I was sub-consciously blocking my own success. I was afraid that if I was successful, I couldn’t be a good wife or mother. I was afraid of losing my friends because I wouldn’t have time for them. I was afraid my world would fall apart. I was afraid of outshining my mother. It’s a phenomenon known as the Upper Limit.

According to Gay Hendricks, each of us has an inner thermostat setting that determines how much love, success, and creativity we allow ourselves to enjoy. That thermostat setting usually gets programmed in early childhood. And, once programmed, our Upper-Limit thermostat setting holds us back from enjoying all the love, financial abundance, and creativity that’s rightfully ours. The Upper-Limit Problem is a set of four hidden barriers. They all have something in common: Although they seem real, they are based on fear and false beliefs about ourselves. The fact that we unconsciously accept them as real is the barrier holding us back. We take them as real until we shine awareness on them. Then the barriers dissolve, and we are free. (If you want to read more about those barriers, you can read the full article here.)

I Said YES!!

I still felt afraid, but it was more of a “leap of faith” afraid, not an “I will eat and like my own vomit” afraid. I emailed Brooke several days later and said, “Yes, I will do it!” I was so proud of me. Feel the fear and do it anyway, right?

Brooke responded with this: “I already hired someone else.”

I was devastated. I was mad at her for not telling me that if she didn’t hear back from me by a certain time, she would ask someone else. I was really disappointed and angry at myself for missing out on an opportunity to invest in this great learning opportunity.

Can you relate to this?

Have you said no to opportunities to invest in yourself, using the kind of excuses I used, because you’re afraid of reaching your true potential?

Here’s the thing—it takes confidence to invest in you. If you continue to hide behind those hidden barriers, you will never transcend your Upper Limit and you will continue to not just feel insecure and scared, but you will also flail and struggle in your business.

Here’s how to dial down the drama in your head:

I need to check with my husband or partner.
Try replacing this with, “I’m going to check in with someone who believes in me.” Maybe it’s your husband, but maybe, just maybe, it’s someone else.

It’s not the best timemaybe next year.
It’s never a good time. There will always be a wedding, your kid’s soccer game, a birthday party, or another conflict. There may not be a next time.

I should spend the money on my family.
This one comes up for women especially. We think it’s selfish. Flip this to, “I should invest the money in myself because…” Find three reasons why this is truer.

I’m not clear about the return on investment.
If you’re looking for a “sure thing”, there isn’t one. Whenever you choose to invest in yourself, it’s a choice. I’ve seen people spend thousands of $$ on trainings, and it changes their life. I’ve seen people who spend the same $$, and nothing changes. It’s the way you show up. Are you willing to be brave?

If you’re a coach and you’re genuinely tired of tolerating mediocrity, both personally and professionally, I invite you to come to The Coaches Retreat. Transcend your Upper Limits once and for all so that you can fully express your own unique magic. Walk away with more confidence, more connection, and a cracker-jack business plan that will inspire you to be the highest version of yourself.

And, if you mention you read this blog, you will get a $100 bonus rebate.

Click here for all the deets.

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One Response to Do You Have an Upper Limit Problem?

  1. Lynne says:

    Awesome story you got there Jackie. I do hope I get the chance to facilitate a book club in the near future

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