This book outlines how we each have “upper limits” that stop us from taking the big leap to our next level of success. These limits are operating in each of the different aspects of our life. They are present in work, relationships, and even creative endeavors. The term “upper limits” applies to the pattern of putting on the brakes, or somehow managing to stop yourself from living your full potential. When you step more fully into your potential the ego has less influence and control and it therefore will do all it can to prevent this. Beliefs are the major way the ego has of stopping us. Beliefs about what can do, what we deserve, and even what is possible.
Gay Hendricks asks:
- Are you willing to increase the amount of time that you feel good inside?
- Are you willing to increase the amount of time that your whole life goes well?
- Are you willing to feel good and have your life go well all the time?
It may feel easy to say yes to the first two questions but if you felt a twinge of discomfort on the last statement and whether it is even possible, this is resistance in the form of a limiting belief.
Here are a few more questions to consider:
- How much happiness and exuberance are you comfortable with?
- Are you uncomfortable with other people’s success, or question how they got it?
- Are you suspicious when things work out easily or quickly?
These questions can point to where you have self-imposed limits.
Where do “upper limits” come from?
There are three main ways that upper limits originate:
- From your family environment
- From an experience where you were “knocked down/disappointed/hurt”
- From a desire to help someone else feel better, by limiting yourself
Let me offer some examples to expand the above 3 categories.
In the family environment you may have grown up being taught unconsciously or sometimes explicitly, not to expect too much from life. It may have been the feeling of “we’re poor or things never work out”. The attitude is “this is just the way things are AND they aren’t going to change. And this does not need to be spoken out loud necessarily. Or you may not have ever seen someone YOU know, do really well. Or you did know someone who did well and you heard adults criticize or condemn them or they paid for it in a negative way like getting hurt, sick, divorced, etc.
If you experienced being knocked down and this occurred after you just experienced success you may form the belief that you shouldn’t be so happy or proud. “Don’t get too big for your britches” captures the feeling of this one. Almost instantly success can be paired with a negative experience and feeling.
The third main way we limit ourselves shows up when we sense that our success could or is making someone else feel less than or bad. Now, for the sake of another person’s feelings, we have to mute or downplay our success. If we don’t, we look like an insensitive person.
What experiences from your own life come to mind as you think about these three categories? What did your family teach you, whether intentionally or not? What happened to you when you were successful or tried to be? And did you ever downplay your success and if so why?
Here are a few other questions to consider:
- I can’t expand into my full potential because__________________________________________
- I can’t expand to my full success because_____________________________________________
- I can’t be the real leader I want to be because_________________________________________
- I can’t have the financial freedom I want because______________________________________
Ultimately, all upper limits result from limiting beliefs. These beliefs are almost invisible to us because they became part of us long ago. It’s almost like they “slipped” in when we were sleeping. Getting at the root of these beliefs, and clearing them from our system is very important for our health, well-being, and success. If you know you want to move ahead more powerfully, or feel happier and more alive, consider getting help to address your limiting beliefs.
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Lynn’s considers her own development equally important, believing you need to “walk your talk”. This opened her to a deep connection with her intuition, spiritual nature and what it means to be in flow with life. Now, as President of Miruspoint, Lynn has the opportunity to do all she loves
– work with clients, train dedicated professionals, and be part of a community of people that passionately champions the personal freedom of our spirit.
There is a woodchuck in my life. He lives close enough so I see him when he emerges from his den to sprawl on his rock in the sun. He’s far enough away, and much too wary of me, to become a pest.
I’ve been observing him off and on for a couple of decades now. I call him Willie.
Yes, I know it’s not the same woodchuck that I first saw twenty years ago. Some years, Willie has the grey muzzle of maturity. Others, he’s a sleek, fresh-faced youngster – that’s Junior. Occasionally, there are offspring, indicating that it wasn’t Willie at all, but Wilhelmina. Sadly, some years, there’s no woodchuck at all.
I get a ridiculous amount of joy from seeing Willie emerge in the spring. I also recognize and am grateful that I can find genuine joy in such small things.
Some people may perceive that the ability to find joy in the trivial is an indicator of unsophisticated tastes. That might be a reasonable perception. I choose not to let it bother me.
In choice theory, Dr. Glasser likens the human satisfaction mechanism to an internal scale, one that looks like the scales of justice. The scale compares your “what you want world” to your “what you perceive that you have world.”
If those two worlds are more or less balanced, then you’re reasonably satisfied and happy.
Glasser refers to the “what you want world” as your personal Quality World. It’s unique to you, filled with pictures of people, things, and values that you associate with positive feelings. Clearly, Willie the woodchuck has a place in mine.
To find joy in what you have is a wonderful gift. However, if you spend much time watching news or listening to some who position themselves as leaders, you may detect an attempt to influence you—to convince you that it is more virtuous to be dissatisfied than satisfied.
We could complete this sentence in a million ways: “We cannot be happy, satisfied or joyful because…” There will always be reasons to be unhappy; valid reasons that affect your life, the lives of people close to you, and the lives of strangers.
Despite all that, there are also reasons and opportunities to find joy.
If I want to find joy, I have options. I can identify what brings me joy, seek it out and bring it into my life. For example, if I were not so fortunate to have Willie, I could seek joy in other ways. No woodchuck? I could go to the shelter, help out, and pet puppies.
Or, I can deliberately choose to look for the joy in what I do have. If I find joy in nature, then even in an urban area, I can choose to see the beauty of the seagulls (or the pigeons) and the emerging greenery of spring.
Do you, too, look for the joy in whatever you have?
Susanne’s interest in Dr. Glasser’s work was sparked by the connection between Lead Management and the work of quality guru, Dr. W. Edwards Deming. Reality Therapy Certified and a mentored Take Charge facilitator, Susanne is also an active writer and blogger on Choice Theory and Reality Therapy topics. You can read more of her work at www.realitycheck.focusonclarity.com
Would you rather….
- Talk till you’re blue in the face or ask a pivotal question?
- Work harder than the clients you are trying to help or give them information that helps them to help themselves?
- Get frustrated over people’s seemingly ineffective behaviour or develop an understanding and perspective to facilitate effective learning?
You already know which of those choices you’d rather do. You know which is most effective. And if you are in a profession that involves helping others, you also know that making the effective choice can make the difference between loving your job or hating it.
But how can you develop that skill? How do you become more effective yourself, and become more helpful for your clients?
Since 1967, more than 86,000 people have completed Basic Intensive Training in Reality Therapy and Choice Theory. Dr. William Glasser’s work is taught in over 30 countries. Choice Theory will make a difference in your life.
And the learning opportunities, books, and resources that you’ll find on this site can help!
President, The Key Associates Inc.
Founder of Choice Theory Online | William Glasser International Inc. Faculty Member, Supervisor level | Glasser Canada Board Member
During my 25 years in the Life-Work field, I have constantly been on the lookout for new tools that can better meet the needs of the people who have the desire to improve and equip themselves to achieve a work-life balance on both an individual and professional level.