How to Break Through Upper Limits

When I was first learning to snowboard, I noticed the strangest thing happening.

Whenever I would get going down the mountain – the moment that I noticed that I was no longer struggling and everything was going well – something would happen.

I would have this pang of fear and then a waterfall of thought: What if I fall? At this speed that would be terrible… probably hurt a lot more than when I fell while standing.

No sooner than the thoughts began to enter my mind, I would catch an edge and tumble.

There’s something about reaching another level of achievement, success, happiness that rocks us to the core.

On a conscious level we might feel elated, ecstatic, relieved – but then something happens.

Our ego doesn’t recognize this new level and it immediately registers it as a threat.

Not just that, but our nervous system gets thrown out of whack too.

Warning lights are flashing in our system and in an effort to get us back to familiar territory, we experience self-sabotage.

I say experience self-sabotage to avoid taking on any self-blame around this process.

It’s not intentional. You don’t self- sabotage, your system tries to protect you.

Or, as Will Smith quoted Denzel Washington at the Oscars this weekend:

“When you’re at your highest moment, be careful – that’s when the devil comes for you.”

This may look like:

  • Getting into a loving stable relationship and then looking for problems with your new partner, simply because your subconscious isn’t familiar with love feeling this good.
  • Signing a soul-mate client and then completely spacing on your next sales call, when you normally never miss meetings.
  • Getting booked for a speaking engagement and then getting a debilitating headache right before. (Our bodies are often in on this too).

The first step is to grow your self-awareness around this.

Tip: The next time you notice a shift – I say shift because it doesn’t have to be a big action for you to catch it – it may simply be that you notice your mood changes drastically, you start worrying more, you become fixated on something, you are more annoyed at someone than usual.

Gay Hendrix in his book “The Big Leap” suggests that when you notice this, you ask yourself, what good thing is trying to come through in my life right now?

Look for what your self-sabotage might be blocking.

Another thing that’s helpful is to give yourself extra space and nourishment for your nervous system when reaching new levels. So, the next time something AMAZING happens in your life, celebrate it and give yourself time to integrate it by taking really good care of yourself.

Get extra sleep. Take a bath. Buy yourself some flowers. Drink enough water. Eat nutritious foods.


Make yourself comfortable at this new level, and you’re less likely to fall back into old patterns.

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