Upended By Your Upper Limits?

I was really hitting my stride.

Getting back to the novel that I had been dancing with for way too long. Ready to finally send out my first email newsletter for this blog.  Talking to my partner Curt about the post-production progress of our short film Waiting for Goodbye.

Doors were opening. Things were shifting in a positive way.  I was taking step after step toward being the writer I always wanted to be.

And then …


I woke up the next morning with my neck so sore I was unable to move it more than an inch in any direction. Always one to the rescue, my  sweet husband kindly set me up for a massage at a local chiropractic office.

So I’m thinking, “Awesome! A little woo-woo music, lavender oil and some gentle kneading by an earth muffin named Rainbeaux Skye and I’m all good.”

Holy mother of God, was I wrong.

The chiropractor poked around my spinal area for a moment, and promptly pronounced that I had torticollis (that is chiro-speak for “Your neck muscles are spasming like a mo-fo.”).

He then said, a) you don’t need a massage, b) you need an adjustment, and c) it is going to hurt.

I’ll spare you the grim details. But suffice it to say it was like the vertebral version of Steve Carrell’s body waxing scene in “The 40 Year Old Virgin.”

So, after that festive experience, I went home and attempted to distract myself with the greatest numbing agent known to humankind: Facebook.

As of this writing I still have no earthly clue what went wrong.

But after a few (so I thought) benign clicks on my FB newsfeed, it was suddenly translated into the glorious language of…well, I don’t know. Something that looked like a cross between Portuguese and Russian, with some hieroglyphics thrown in for fun.

It was so unintelligible, I couldn’t even navigate my way to my account page to change my password (in the event that I had been hacked by some irate Portuguese/Russian/pictographic genius).

So, I did the mature thing and had a 20 minute tantrum.

I then called my techie best friend, Kelly, and begged her to fix it. Which she did.

But not before laughing her ass off as she assured me that I was not being targeted by foreign cyber goons.

Apparently, I had somehow blindly clicked my way into to explaining to Facebook that I wished to be communicated to in my mother tongue of….



I could feel myself gearing up for yet another fit of exasperation. Wanting to rail at the universal forces that seemed to be having a grand old time at my expense.

But I’m more about answers than I am about pity parties.

So, I took inventory of the past month’s seemingly “random” issues and events that seemed to pop up every time I was on track with my creative destiny:

Computer hard drive goes into its death throes and needs replacement STAT.

Routine visit from relatives turns into an extended stay at Hotel Hughes.

Adoption of a puppy who requires 24/7 “poop-pee-everything-is-a-chew-toy” monitoring.

(Granted, the last one was a happy and much-wanted “issue”…but you see the pattern.)

And then it came to me. I was having an Upper Limit Problem (ULP).

But what exactly is that?

The concept comes from the book, The Big Leap, by Gay Hendricks, PhD.  In a nutshell, he offers the idea that we each have our own threshold for how much happiness, success, money, (fill in the blank with whatever floats your boat) we can handle.  And when you bump up against it (or exceed it by having things go amazingly well)…then the unconscious kicks in.


You begin to do things to sabotage yourself. Some relatively minor, some pretty huge.  But they all serve the purpose of giving you permission to slide back into the perceived safety of your comfort zone.

“Oh, whatever. Can’t I just get sick or have an accident?  Does everything have to **mean** something?”

It’s true, things do happen for all kinds of reasons.  And I would never presume to interpret anyone’s life circumstances except my own.

But before you dismiss the ULP as so much New Age, navel gazing crapola…consider investing a moment to ponder if you’ve ever experienced one. Or several.

If you have, it doesn’t mean you’re weak, flawed or doomed to never get your sh*t together.  You are simply ready for more of the good stuff.

And that involves patiently increasing your tolerance for all things amazing and abundant.

The only caveat is that as you begin breaking through your upper limits, some discomfort is inevitable.

You may start waiting for the proverbial other shoe to drop. Or worse yet, seek out the other shoe in a panic and hurl it into your world with a defiant, “See? I told you this was too good to be true!”

You will probably want to revert to the status quo.

But don’t do it.

Increasing your capacity to live your dreams doesn’t just make you a happy human being. It lifts all of us up, too.

We get to see you shine.  Soak up your inspiration.  Receive your gifts.

Ask yourself: How good am I willing for my life to be?

Then listen for the answer. And heed the call.

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  • Reply Jennifer Blanchard March 30, 2016 at 8:32 am

    Ugh! I am experiencing this exact thing right now. Had 3 insanely successful weeks in my business and with my writing and I got the fucking flu. I’ve never had the flu ever in my entire life and yet I managed to UL myself right into it. And a week before the biggest live event I’ve ever participated in. Finally starting to feel better and I still managed to write something every day while I was sick! Take that ULP 😉

    • Reply Mary DeRosa Hughes March 30, 2016 at 9:23 am

      Wow! I’m so sorry you’re going through this, but I can definitely say I (literally) feel your pain. You’d never had the flu before, and I had never been to a chiropractor (nor had I ever planned to…lol). Those ULPs can get pretty damned crafty in terms of how they try to keep us down! But you persevered, and so did I…which is the key to busting through our upper limits and getting on to the really good stuff. Now that you’ve shown the ULP who’s boss, I predict you’ll have amazing success at your event next week and perfect health going forward! 🙂

  • Reply Cory March 30, 2016 at 1:43 pm

    Thanks for sharing, I’m unfortunately a life long casualty of ULP. Reading stuff like this helps me to break through.

    • Reply Mary DeRosa Hughes March 30, 2016 at 2:43 pm

      Hi Cory! So glad you felt like reading this could help you as you work on breaking through your upper limits. God knows, we all have them! But I feel like that just means you’re striving for more in life, so in a weird way, ULPs are a good sign. I definitely recommend reading “The Big Leap.” I wish I had gotten into it sooner, because it has really changed my perspective and given me a lot of hope and motivation! 🙂

  • Reply Zara Quentin March 30, 2016 at 4:52 pm

    Yes, I have experienced this too. Just before launching my website I got sick with mastitis, my husband got pneumonia the previous week, then had to travel interstate for work. Luckily I seem to have such a stubborn streak that I made myself do it anyway! I’m sure its not all in the head either – biologically we are hard wired to stay in our comfort zones to avoid getting eaten by lions so I’m sure the fear and stress of taking those steps towards your goals fires some kind of reaction in your body that le.ads to illness! Thanks so much for the post Mary

    • Reply Mary DeRosa Hughes March 31, 2016 at 8:10 am

      Hi Zara! Good for you for calling on that “stubborn streak” to get you past some pretty huge ULPs! And you know, I hadn’t really thought about how we are biologically hard wired to stay in our comfort zones. But you’re so right! Our caveman ancestors needed that warning system to avoid becoming some animal’s lunch. But unfortunately, our bodies today don’t always understand that launching a website or writing a book isn’t going to kill us…lol! But the good news is, we’re self aware enough to know when we’re starting to “upper limit” ourselves. So, we can head the ULP off at the pass when we see it coming! 🙂

  • Reply Elaine F French March 3, 2017 at 6:42 am

    I too have seen this. Things go well, doors miraculously open, but then when you really need to leave your comfort zone behind, things ( as I said in your last post) start to go pear-shaped. I can identify now when this has happened to me and am now aware that during this time there was a nagging deep-seated fear that wasn’t there while I was still ‘safe’.

    • Reply Mary DeRosa Hughes March 9, 2017 at 11:49 am

      “Things start to go pear shaped”…I love that! Great way to describe an Upper Limit Problem. 🙂 And good for you for being self aware and starting to notice what you’re feeling/doing when the ULP comes around. The more you know your patterns, the more you can keep the “pear shaped” times at bay. 🙂

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