Breaking Through Your Limits

By Roberto Giannicola

March 9th was International Women’s Day. As a parent to a daughter, I often think about how much I want to see her feel empowered and confident in pursuing her goals and aspirations.

That day, I also thought about something a coaching client expressed to me. She spoke about the goals  she wanted to reach; which included her ambition to attain a higher position in her company. At the same time, she expressed the frustration she felt at herself.  She found that often, the closer she got to reach her goals, the more she was inexplicably sabotaging her own success.

I could relate to this as I’ve caught myself doing the same thing in the past. This is what Gay Hendricks, author of the book The Big Leap, calls overcoming the “Upper Limit:” moving beyond the threshold into a reality in which we earn more, live a fuller life, achieve a higher status or enjoy a wonderful relationship.  Once we begin to embrace the idea of our transition into this new reality, we tend to sabotage ourselves. Why? Because self-sabotaging thoughts and behaviors are perpetuated by an inner critic we all possess; our critical inner voice that casts doubt on our abilities, undermines our desires and convinces us to be suspicious of ourselves and the choices we make.

According to Hendricks, there are four hidden barriers that lead us toward sabotage:

  1. Feeling Fundamentally FlawedI cannot expand to my full creative genius because something is fundamentally wrong with me.
    Challenging your deeply engrained attitudes might bring anxiety. To overcome this, keep your goals in mind and take small steps to build your confidence. This is your time to shine and to let go of old sabotaging beliefs.
  2. Disloyalty and Abandonment: I cannot expand to my full success because I’d end up all alone, be disloyal to my roots, and leave behind people from my past.
    This fear often stems from interpretations about others and the stories we create. Challenge these interpretations by initiating communication with those people and speak openly with family and friends. It’ll all work out.
  3. Believing That More Success Brings a Bigger Burden: I cannot expand to my highest potential because I’d be an even bigger burden than I am now.
    Is that an assumption? If it happened in the past, will it necessarily happen again? Think of other ways to view it so you can let go of that assumption. This could also be triggered by a feeling of guilt. Remember that you deserve it, just like everyone else.
  4. The Crime of Outshining: I must not expand to my full success because if I did it would outshine ______ and make him or her look bad.
    Like Marianne Williamson wrote in her poem, Our Deepest Fear. “Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. You playing small does not serve the world. You are meant to shine, and as we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

After my client recognized the self-sabotaging behavior, the solution was to consciously take the time to understand the fear behind the behavior, then let it go and connect again to the vision that she had in mind, staying focused on the desired goal.

As for you, have you noticed patterns of self-sabotage in your work, relationships or in reaching for your goals? Are you living right below that threshold and failing to fulfill your desires? What is the vision that you connect to that will give you the courage to shatter that upper limit?

Remember to be your mighty self and shine. The world needs you.


Consult with Roberto on your next goal!