The quote above is from my journal.
You see, I have this weird little problem.
There are too many good things happening in my life. I’m getting set to release Everything You Are and it’s getting some lovely buzz. I’m excited about my new Dancing with Your Demons class. I get to speak at upcoming conferences. Things in my life are positive and exciting and expanding in new and wonderful ways.
The morning I wrote that journal entry I woke up feeling miserable and a little depressed, with a low level headache just asking permission to turn into the real thing and disable me for the day, so that I could have a good and valid reason not to do a few important things that would help me fly a little closer to my dreams.
Right about now you’re probably thinking I’m crazy.
“Good things are a problem for you? Kerry, you are one crazy woman. Go ahead send all of your awesome positive things my way. I’ll take ‘em.”
I hear you. It’s completely illogical to shut yourself down when things are going well. But self sabotage is a common problem, and I’m willing to bet that you have a few self sabotaging behaviors of your own.
In his book The Big Leap: Conquer Your Hidden Fear and Take Life to the Next Level, Gay Hendricks talks about what he calls the Upper Limit Problem.
Hendricks believes that we all have unconscious limits that mark the boundary of how happy, successful, rich, famous, or loved we think we are allowed to be. It’s like our own personal glass ceiling, one formed by our own beliefs rather than the beliefs of others.
When we bump up against an upper limit problem it makes us uncomfortable. Anxiety kicks in—sometimes low level, sometimes an outright panic. And because we’re uncomfortable and anxious we do things to deflect further success, happiness or love so we can return to our level of comfort again.
Say you reach the amount of happiness you are comfortable with. The idea of more happiness makes you feel a little anxious, so subconsciously you do things to fix that problem. You start mulling on unhappy thoughts. Maybe you pick a fight with someone you love. Or you forget to do something important and drama immediately follows.
Or maybe you’ve been asked for pages by your dream agent. You forget to back up your work and lose your entire novel. Or you get into a big fight with your critique partner and feel too miserable to get the pages in the mail. Or you don’t have time, because you suddenly “have to” be involved in three different fundraisers at your kids school.
In my case, I got uncomfortable because I’d exceeded my comfort zone with the level of success I believe I’m allowed to have. My inner saboteur rushed in to save the day with a down mood, a headache, a desire to curl up in a corner and physically make myself smaller rather than to continue the actions that would lead to further success and abundance.
Fortunately, I’ve been dancing with my self-saboteur for a while now. I recognize the signs. I know what tends to trigger the impulse to dumb myself down, dim my shine, make myself smaller. And I know some surprisingly easy and effective ways to allow myself to keep soaring just a little higher.
I will be teaching everything I know about upper limits and dancing with self sabotage in the Dancing with Your Demons: Healing Writer Wounds class that I’m offering September 26, and I’d love to have you join us. We’ll be learning to identify our hidden barriers and shift them with EFT, forgiveness, mantras, anchors, journaling and other easy and effective methods that are going to open the skies for you and let you use the wings you’ve been given.
If you’re a DIY type, I get that.
Whatever you do, read The Big Leap: Conquer Your Hidden Fear and Take Life to the Next Level by Gay Hendricks. I’ve been working with my own self sabotage for a long time now, and have learned from many wonderful teachers, but when I read about my dominant hidden barrier I was hit with clarity so powerful it stole my breath and brought me to tears.
And then read Author Your Life: How One Writer Changed Her Life Through the Power of Storytelling, and How You Can, Too by Lara Zeilin. Lara teaches a journal technique of writing in the third person (as I did in the example at the beginning of this post) as a way of decreasing upper limit anxiety and creating new beliefs that allow us to live our dreams.
This is powerful and important work. How ever you go about it, I’d love to hear your story.