man facing sunrise
No upper limit, no problem! Image by Peggy und Marco Lachmann-Anke, public domain.

Upper limit problem? You deserve your success!


Hitting an upper limit problem (ULP)? You know, the panic attack your brain throws your way when you reach a new milestone, when you achieve something wonderful? Because it gets scared about having too much good stuff in your life? And so you self-sabotage, in all possible ways. The bigger the achievement, the larger the mess-up your brain is going to serve you. Anything from yelling at your loved ones out of the blue, to tanking your entire business.

There is a way of neutralizing your brain before it goes crazy. Remember that you are worth it, and don’t confuse that with self-esteem. There is a handy little quote to tell the difference between the two:

“Self-esteem is a bit like walking down the street as if you own it, self-worth is walking down the street and not caring who owns it.” (John Niland)

side view of black woman
You are worthy, no matter what. Image by Matthias Cooper, public domain.

Self-esteem is an indicator of the reputation we have with ourselves.

Congratulating ourselves for a job well done. Being proud of ourselves for making it through a tough moment in time. Or being disappointed with ourselves because we failed. Self-esteem fluctuates with our successes and failures. And for that, it’s a helpful tool to remind us to stop and really celebrate these victories. To help us realize when we fall short of our own, often unvoiced, expectations. Because in these moments we should also pause to remind ourselves that we can always choose to love ourselves, no matter what.

That’s what self-worth is about. Feeling worthy because we recognize our inherent, unquestionable value.

When all the clutter and talking in our minds stop, when the inner stillness becomes perceptible, we KNOW. We can feel, and understand in unspoken ways, that we are worthy no matter what. To be alive, to be breathing, to be walking down a street; just being one with all the life around us. We are worthy of it. Always. In every instance. No matter what we did or didn’t do. We are always worthy of life. And life loves us. Unconditionally. Remember that.

woman leaping on beach
Celebrate the victories. Image by Messan Edoh, public domain.

There simply is no reason to neutralize the good things. No matter what happens, success or failure, we are worthy of being loved, by ourselves and all of life. And that’s what I’d like you to recognize when a ULP hits. It’s just the brain talking, comparing transactions that shouldn’t be compared. So when you catch yourself thinking, “Oh, this is too much success, I am not worthy of all that goodness,” then remember to use your words correctly. You really should say, “Oh, this is too much success for my self-esteem. But then again, there is no such thing as “too much” success. Because I’m always and forever worthy of all the goodness of life.”

When we talk about living life as our most authentic self, from a place of maximum self-actualization, happiness, and fulfillment, we also have to talk about the ULP. Think about it: we have all grown up in a world of scarcity. You can never, ever have it all. Money, love, freedom of creative expression. Maybe your family had a lot of love to give, but finances were always strained and jobs were tedious. Or maybe your parents are artists, following their innate passions, but money was always tight. It’s the way of things. You can’t have all three. Or so we were told. But that’s exactly the thing about us younger generations, we can!

We live in a world where all of these things are now attainable. It’s just that deep down, or even outright, we don’t believe it yet.

 And that leads to uncomfortable, unintended consequences. According to Gay Hendricks, author of the book “The Big Leap”, when our inner capacity of “acceptable” levels of love, money, and creativity is exceeded, we move into self-sabotage. Anything, really, to bring misery into our lives in order to get back to our normal, approved, and accustomed level of happiness. You just got a nice, big contract with lots of fresh cash flowing in? I bet now is a good time to pick a fight at home, yell at the kids, or get annoyed with your best friend. Finally loving your career? How about a good dose of self-hatred. Those wrinkles, the belly fat, the annoying laugh. It really urgently needs fixing, and ideally, it will take up a good chunk of time and money. Sound familiar? Probably. We all do it. But now that we can name it, we can actively choose to stop.

Ready to start? OK so let’s first ponder the following question. Are you really, truly willing to increase the amount of time every day that you feel good inside, that your whole life is going well? It’s OK to feel resistance to this, just notice it for now.

confident black man
Find your “expander”. Image by Rui Silvestre, public domain.

Look for people who are committed to living their best life, every single day.

To be honest, I have never had anybody in my social circle who was a good role model for that. But I’ve come across some fantastic books that allowed me to believe it’s possible. Find your “expander”.

There is a very handy little hack. What if every single worry (that is not immediately actionable at that very moment) is actually a way for your brain to mask a happy feeling? Stop the negative thought and drop into the moment, maybe through breathing or feeling your body. And see if, in the calmness of your mind, a happy thought emerges; a pleasant feeling or sensation. The original one. The one that was too much for your own inner capacity for happiness. If so, savor it thoroughly, ideally for minutes. And thus, every day, little by little, your capacity for happiness increases, and your authentic self will have the space to emerge fully. Because you truly can have it all. You deserve it all: abundance in love, in finances, and in creative endeavors.

Damaris Kroeber is a futurist and freelance consultant interested in exploring a world where rapid technological and social changes go hand in hand with a new type of decision-making: deep authenticity. Furthermore, Damaris is the founder and organizer of the Female Entrepreneurs and Creatives Meetup, based in Leipzig, which provides a safe and inspirational space for womxn to explore the intersection of self-development, creativity, and entrepreneurship.

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