There was nothing extraordinary about the day. The hot August afternoon was waiting for me as I stepped out of the subway and I began to make my way home to my upper east side apartment. As the cars slowed to a stop, I was about to cross when I felt an overwhelming ball of anxiety begin in the pit of my stomach. As I reached the other side of the street I could barely breathe and the feeling had rushed to my limbs. My heart was racing. I felt baffled and overwhelmed. What the hell was this!? I became increasingly self-conscious and looked around to see if anyone else noticed that I was freaking out. It took every ounce of concentration to breathe normally. I had to figure out what was happening to me, Now.
The day had begun nice enough. I woke up in a great mood because the day before I had gone on a pretty glorious date. We had a picnic in the park. We sipped chilled wine and munched on baguette topped with cheese and fig jam. We chatted all day until the sun went down. Pretty picturesque stuff. He kissed me goodnight and I floated home on a cloud…by cloud I mean I rode a sweltering 6 train back to my part of town.
I had been thinking about him all day. This was something new and I had a feeling that it was going to be something big. For the last two years I enjoyed being single. I dated some nice men, had a few adventures and even kept a friendship with one or two of them but, at the end of the day, none of these guys felt exactly right. It was fun, but often frustrating. I tried to explain to one of them who wanted to move further, ‘We’re like two pieces of a puzzle that look like they are going to fit, but when you put them together they don’t quite work.’ I just didn’t have a desire to date anyone seriously. I thought that maybe there was something wrong with me. Was I being too picky? I spent a lot of those last two years annoyed with myself and totally confused.
And then here came this man seemingly out of nowhere who was right under my nose this whole time.
I remember the first time we had a conversation. We were both standing still and I was close enough to look into his eyes. It was as if my soul said, ‘There you are.’ It took me by surprise, but it also made perfect sense. I was completely at ease in his presence. I don’t know how he did it, but every encounter with him made me want to reveal more of myself. Something told me to remember as much as I could about these early dates because there was going to be a future with this man, a very long one.
So, naturally, I’m having a panic attack.
My mind was clear despite the unnerving freak attack my body was going through and I had an inkling I knew what this was. Just to confirm, when I got home I reached for my computer and Googled ‘upper limit problem’. Sure enough a bunch of articles popped up saying the same thing:
Everyone has an internal thermostat setting that determines the amount of success, happiness and love we allow into our lives. When we attempt to grow our subconscious tries to hold us back where we know we are safe. Upper limits are like adolescent growing pains. Whenever we experience a tremendous amount of growth, we have to bust through our upper limits in order to expand our capacity for success.
You may find yourself in a loving relationship and all of a sudden you pick a fight. You may be having a lot of success at work while simultaneously develop insomnia from worrying about losing your job. You may be enjoying new projects and encouragement from your peers and suddenly become bed-ridden with flu-like symptoms. You go to the doctor and the tests come back negative. All of these are examples of what happens when you reach your upper limits.
Here’s the thing: No one is exempt from dealing with their upper limits. Even the most successful entertainers and CEOs have to contend with them. In fact, they probably had to deal with their upper limits many times to get where they are.
I liken upper limits to stretching. When you stretch a muscle too quickly or further than you are used to, your brain panics and sends a signal to your muscle fibers to contract. When faced with the unfamiliar, your body’s first reflex is to protect itself. However, if you are aware of this reaction, you can relax the muscle, override the panic response and breathe into the stretch. The next time you attempt it, you will find you are able to go deeper into the stretch because you pushed your limits further.
So I confirmed my suspicion: I had reached my upper limit for love. I was in completely new territory and my subconscious was freaking out. I had never experienced anything like this before. I was unprepared and caught off-guard.
Becoming aware of my upper limit was the first major step to override it. I had figured out what this was. Check. Next I had to address the fears that were hitching a ride on Love’s coattails. I got real honest with myself and I discovered something that surprised me; the bottom line was that I was uncertain that I was worthy of this much love. Now that I had said it out loud I could see that my fears were silly. There is no remedy for uncertainty and of course I am worthy of love. Everyone is. I had literally been overwhelmed with love. So, just as with a good stretch, the only intelligent choice I could make was to relax, breathe, and go deeper.
Have you ever experienced an upper limit problem? How did it show up? What did you learn from tackling it?
Tell me in the comments below.
To busting through our limits Kool-Aid Man style 😉