I recently read a FABULOUS book that I’m eager to share with you. The title is, “The Big Leap” by Gay Hendricks and it’s chock full of new learnings that can have a profound influence on you. It certainly did for me. According to the book, there is only one thing that is holding you back from receiving more love, success, and money in your life. What do you think that one thing is? It’s the limit you’ve unconsciously created for yourself.
When asked that question, some people will think the thing holding them back is an external situation such as a dead end job or a limited amount of resources. For others, it’s blaming someone else’s faults for their own limitations, like a difficult boss or a shortcoming of your spouse’s. While these may seem like the things that are responsible for holding you back, according to Gay, they are not. What is actually holding you back is not something outside of yourself. It is not caused by your environment and it is not about those you associate with. In fact, and we know this as therapists, what holds each person back is his or her own beliefs – both conscious and unconscious.
Gay calls this the “Upper Limit Problem” and defines it as a glass ceiling you have created for yourself. This glass ceiling limits the quantity of love, success, and money in your life. You are used to living below this ceiling because you’ve done so for many years. Yet when life presents us with more than we are accustomed to and the quantity approaches this Upper Limit, we freak out and do something to sabotage the goodness presented to us.
We are not comfortable with MORE love, money and success than we’ve been used to having. When we sabotage, we do it unconsciously. Perhaps if we’re experiencing love and affection with our spouse as we approach the Upper Limit, we become uncomfortable and pick a fight.
This has happened to me. My husband and I were making the bed together, putting on brand new, very soft flannel sheets. I was delighted to think that in a few hours, we’d be climbing into the softness and comfort. I was also pleased that he and I were doing this task together. In a larger sense, we were working together for the greater good of our marriage and our family. Apparently it was too much goodness for me: rather than say aloud that I felt delighted and appreciative, I picked a fight about something else. Next thing I know, we’re arguing and I ruined a wonderful moment between us. And it happened so fast: I just reacted by picking the fight without thinking through what I was about to say and without noticing that I was feeling good. I had an unconscious reaction as I approached my Upper Limit of how much love I am used to. My Upper Limit Problem was that I stopped myself from receiving the love that was available to me. Unfortunately, many of us do this without realizing it.
Another example you may have heard about is lottery winners. Hendricks writes “One study found that over 60 percent of them had blown the money within two years and returned to the same net worth as before they won the lottery. Add to their financial woes the large number of divorces, family squabbles, and conflicts with friends that lottery winners often experience, and you have a classic example of the Upper Limit Problem at work.”
I also see the Upper Limit Problem with my clients in therapy when I ask them what it is they want in their lives. Often, after clients have talked about what is not going well for them or couples bemoan the state of their marriage, I ask people what they’d like instead. Many, many people don’t know. To use Hendricks’ wording, they are communicating to me, “Meredith, I don’t know what is above my Upper Limit because I’ve never let myself receive that much love, or success or money. I don’t even know what that much goodness would look like in my life.” We need to become aware of what upper limits we’ve set for ourselves so that we can break through our self-imposed glass ceilings and achieve greater happiness. How have you freaked out when more goodness, success or love came your way?
To schedule an appointment to learn more about how feeling gratitude for your partner can greatly improve your relationship, call 908-246-3074 or email GetSupport@CouplesTherapyCenterOfNJ.com