It was the first time I’ve ever walked out of a yoga workshop, in my life. Let’s be clear – the teachers were fantastic.

But after my fourth downward dog, I started breaking into a cold sweat, got nauseous and my head began throbbing so hard it felt like it was about to explode. “Oh great,” I thought.

Not only do I have to walk out in the middle of this yoga workshop, but we’re right at the tail end of my new Rich Happy & Hot B-School program and we’re about to open up registration to Rich Happy & Hot LIVE (my annual event) I can’t get a 24 hour stomach bug now! There’s too much good stuff going on!

Well, what I thought was a 24-hour stomach bug turned into an entire week of being completely out of commission. And I do I mean completely. For seven straight days I’ve was a hot, sick mess.

Skull crushing headaches. Stomach pain so severe it had me doubled over for 70% of the day. And whatever tiny amounts of food I managed to get down came out faster than a rocket ship.
Yeah, not cute.

After the first 3 days with no signs of improvement, I started to get concerned.

I’m “strong like bull” and rarely, if ever, get sick. When I do, it’s pretty minor stuff and I’m back in action within a day or so. In the moments between bathroom runs, I scoured the web looking for what could possibly be wrong with me.

“Is it salmonella? Hmmm…there was a big egg recall recently. Some kind of nasty-ass 10 foot long parasite or tapeworm? Maybe, but highly unlikely. A life-threatening stomach disease? Boy, would that would seriously suck.”

It’s important to note that during the first half of my sick week, my fiance Josh was in LA shooting an NBC show so I was completely alone at our house in the Hamptons.

Thank God, I had a crew of awesome girlfriends staying not far down the road to help keep an eye on me.

“You’re pregnant!” was the first thought they all had. Nope. No shot it hell. I didn’t need to pee on a stick to know that wasn’t it.

Then my friend Kate, who knows me well, made a very astute observation. “I think you’re having an upper limit problem Marie.

Interesting . . .

Cut to day four. I’m deathly pale and emaciated. Josh was back from LA and it’s clear to him that whatever I had was not going away on it’s own.

We went to the doctor to run tests. Later that same evening, I wanted to get out of the house so we stopped by my girlfriends’ house for tea. One by one, everyone took bets on what was causing my mystery illness.

Then Rachel, Kate’s uber intuitive cousin said,

Marie, I really think those test results will come back negative. It’s definitely an upper limit problem. You’re going through some major growth right now and I’ll bet this is just part of you busting through your upper limits and increasing your capacity for success.

My friend Kate was sitting across from me. She giggled and nodded in agreement.

Josh smiled, gently squeezed my hand and said “Yeah, that and you really need a break. You’ve been going non-stop. Since you weren’t about to take one willingly, your body decided for you.” (Damn him for always being right ;)

So in case you’ve never heard of an “upper limit problem”, what Kate and Rachel are referring to comes from Gay Hendrick’s incredible book called The Big Leap.

Here’s the basic idea.

Each of has an internal thermometer for how much success, wealth, happiness, love, and intimacy we’ll let ourselves experience. That’s our upper limit setting. Kind of like our success comfort zone.

When we exceed our internal thermostat setting and life gets super duper OMG good (we have an influx of money, get healthy and thin, find a great relationship) – we unconsciously do things to sabotage ourselves, so we can drop back to the old, familiar place where we feel in control.

Upper limit problems can manifest like this.

You’ve just had a huge win and then you… get in an accident, break a limb, fry your computer, over-drink, over-eat, over-spend, start a fight with your significant other, get really sick, etc.

You know, fun self-sabotaging stuff like that.

The truth is I was so ridonkulously excited about the success of Rich Happy & Hot B-School and the miracles aligning for my annual Rich Happy & Hot Live event (partnering with Donna Karan’s Urban Zen; securing all of my dream speakers, etc.)

That I didn’t just bump into my upper limit, I demolished that sucker with a sledge hammer.
So, yeah. I guess I was bound to have a little re-adjustment time.

Cut to Sunday morning. I’m reading Breaking Dawn in bed when the phone rings.
Test results time.

“Hi Marie. It’s Dr. Mott. We got the results back from the lab. Really good news here. There’s nothing wrong with you. No bacteria, no parasites or anything we need to worry about. You got a regular old stomach virus. Keep doing what you’re doing and you’ll be just fine.”


The girls and Josh, were right on. Upper limit problems – I can handle that.

Alien-like intestinal parasites eating their way through my stomach . . . not so much.

So here’s what I did:

I gave myself total permission to chillax. Zero computer time. I told everyone in my world not to expect anything work related from me for a few days. We rescheduled appointments. Released myself from guilt and totally indulged in healing, coziness and every guilty pleasure I could think of.

I emotionally and energetically celebrated by giving myself permission to relish in a series of non-productive, silly and frivolous things. (Translation: a whole bunch of Edward, Bella and Jacob from Twilight plus back-to-back episodes of Mad Men.)

Funny enough, the moment I stopped beating myself up for being sick, my body kicked into speed recovery mode. Wild how that happens, right?

How To Dismantle Your Upper Limit Problem

Unless you understand this whole upper limit thing, you may mistakenly believe that you’re flawed or simply not “good enough” to handle a big jump in your success or happiness.

It may feel like you’re always on the verge of a life altering breakthrough, but you either can’t seem to ever get there or maintain it.

I can tell you first hand that everyone on the planet has varying degrees of “upper limit problems.” Thankfully, they’re a snap to overcome if you’ve got the right tools and an open, willing heart.

Step 1. Get that dealing with “upper limit problems” are a necessary part of the journey.

Look. No one escapes this shit. So don’t feel weak, bad or alone if any of this sounds familiar.
Thankfully, upper limit problems can be super easy to dissolve when you bring compassion and self-awareness to the table.

Which, of course, means checking both your ego, and your victimy “Why does this always happen to me?” BS at the door.

Important note: Moving through upper limit problems is not a one time event. If you’re committed to continually expanding your levels of wealth, love and happiness, strap in for the ride, baby.

Step 2. Increase your tolerance for how good you’re wiling to have your life be, starting right now.

What does this mean? For starters, it means treating exactly where you are and what you have with all the love, honor and respect you can muster. And this isn’t just a mental exercise, you need to act on it.

Tell your your family that you love and appreciate them; be truly grateful for whatever money you have in your bank account; take care of your physical environment and the roof over your head; thank your clients for their business, and nourish your body and soul in every way you can possibly imagine.

Step 3. Go on high ULP (upper limit problem) alert when loads of good stuff starts to come your way.

Pay special attention to your thoughts, behaviors and actions when things in your business and life start getting OMG good. Here’s a question to regularly ask yourself, “How much wealth, love and happiness am I r-e-a-l-l-y willing to have?”

If “a shit bunch!” is close to your answer, then make sure your behaviors and words line up with that answer.

Then keep a watchful, observant eye and open heart. If you catch yourself about to start an argument, go into some manufactured mental drama or make a royally stupid and rash business decision – STOP. Take a few deep breaths. Call your most grounded friend and have a chat.

Remember, any time you’re in the midst of busting through your own upper limits, it’s bound to be a little scary and uncomfortable. You may want to pull back and contract.

Don’t. Hang with the discomfort. It’s a good sign.

It means you’ve just increased your capacity to experience wealth, happiness and love – both for yourself and for us all. Go thoughts on this one? Ever have an upper limit problem yourself? A story about how you’ve overcome it?

I’d love to hear your thoughts so leave a comment below.

Marie Forleo is an international bestselling author, speaker and founder of Rich Happy & Hot, a thriving community of entrepreneurs and go getters from over 108 countries around the world. Her book, Make Every Man Want You: How To Be So Irresistible You’ll Barely Keep from Dating Yourself is published in 11 languages. She was recently interviewed by Tony Robbins for his DVD program The New Money Masters and mentored young business owners at Richard Branson’s Center of Entrepreneurship in South Africa. Get access to weekly videos, articles and upcoming events by joining the party at

Join the discussion 24 Comments

  • Avatar Anonymous says:

    Thank you Marie, I really enjoyed this article and can certainly relate to the “upper limit problem” LOL.

    Great suggestions!

    Carolyn Beale

  • Avatar kavita singh says:

    Amazing article..thank you for sharing….Ok so what does this mean…pleaseeeeeeee answer….I am going good…keeping my vibrations high…in the vortex but then all of a sudden i feel like so drained like all my energy has been sucked out of me and I want to sleep the whole day….I haven’t seen any major OMG moments but I keep feeling this discomfort that something’s gotta change….is it a sign that my upper limits are shifting or I am still at the level where I am not aligned yet that is why I am feeling the discomfort that I am back to to my old self….what is it??????

    • I have a dear friend who told me once that the Eastern way is fasting and meditation, the Western is illness, exhaustion and sleep. Ring any bells? I know that I can make what seem like tremendous strides, then, all of a sudden, I’m exhausted and asleep for three days.
      I like to think it’s my body and brain catching up to the new vibration and “cementing” it in place.

  • Great post Marie! Your upper limit problem is what I believe can also be referred to as making “Quantum Leaps”. With a quantum leap, it’s harder to get there and much, much harder to hold onto the new, higher vibration. Shifting into a drastically different belief system takes a lot of discipline. The old one is like a well worn groove that we can easily fall back into.

    Whenever we expand our vibration rapidly (make huge breakthroughs), we speed up our energy. Any lower frequencies (negative beliefs) still present are going to show up big time. This is the reason that slow, steady expansion is a lot more comfortable than fast growth (although it’s up to each individual which one they want to subject themselves to). When those old beliefs come knocking, it can feel like failure – why are things suddenly getting worse? But fast moving energy simply means faster and bigger manifestations, both for the wanted and the unwanted.

    As you say, the trick is to view it all as part of the process and not fight it. If we give ourselves a break, treat ourselves with compassion and realize that all the uncomfortable stuff is just old crap that needs to come out, we’ll have an easier time releasing those lower frequencies. But if things get too uncomfortable, we always have the option to slow down. It all comes down to how ambitious we are and how much discomfort we’re willing to put up with in exchange for growth. I’m guessing that even though you had the week from hell, you consider it worth it… :)

  • Avatar Shamela says:

    Wow! this sounds all to familiar! Never heard it be it being nailed on the head like this! Not only would I be speaking for myself but for many as well, I’m sure. I live through this everyday at home, work, through group of friends etc…. though it would be extremely hard to run away from it physically like disappear to some place where no one knows me and start all over. I agree it would take self discipline (which of course, would take practice) I personally experienced on many occasions the feeling of my UL being raised and OMG everything seems to be going great! my self-confidence is risen, my insights become clearer and I feel lke I’m quickly rising to the top until someone really close like my sibling would act or say somethng towards me that would instantly drop my level back down to what I call zero! making me feel like some sort of Fantasy trip I was on and he was just bringing me back down to “Reality”. This is such a shitty feeling and it leaves scars for days, weeks, months even years to heal but I have experienced this way too many times not only with him but with friends, co-workers even my boss!! In a work environment I feel that upper management feel threatened if an employee makes a solid suggestion almost like the intention is to take his job or replace him. Well in my case, my boss is close to retirement but wants to stay. I don’t think he realized that my suggestion was to simply make his job easier …actually, I don’t I want his position! I hate babysitting adults!! LOL but obviously he didn’t see it that way …so, I was laid off. That’s ok. Now I’m at home. At least he gave me a little compensation so that I won’t have to be rushing for another paycheque…this time is kind of like a blessing to me because it alows me to really re-adjust my mindset before moving forward. Still asking myself …”what do I want???”
    Yes, I would say I feel like right now I am going through some sort of ULP.

  • This is exactly what I needed to read right now. I’ve got a cold and my business is just taking off like crazy, and I have no doubt it’s related. I haven’t gotten sick in what feels like years, and I know it’s a matter of allowing myself to take in all this good stuff that’s happening. :)

  • Avatar Shamela says:

    This sounds way too familiar! It’s finally been nailed on the head and the feeling of being alone on this one is diminished! I’m sure I’m speaking not only for myself but others as well. It’s too easy to be slapped back into limited beliefs by a loved one, friend or even a co-worker or boss. Just when we begin to feel and enjoy the “high” of exceeding our UL and entering a different phase of accomplishment mentally, someone does or says something that completely busts the bubble and bring us down to what they would call “reality”. It takes strong mental discipline to avoid the surroundings we cannot change like home or a job environment. For example, just recently I was enjoying exceeding my UL when things began happening for me. I could actually feel the shift of positive feeling both physically and mentally even my surroundings were becoming a pleasant one until one day someone as close to me as my sibling said something very negative that just bust my bubble and set me straight back into the limited belief that I would never accomplish anything other than what they believe I can. That was such a shitty feeling and it’s really hard to get back to that level of where I was before, but I enjoyed it so much that I am determined to get there again and disregard anything anyone else has to say. When I do, I will not only prove to myself but to them as well that you CAN break the ULP so many of us suffer from. As for the work environment, I was recently laid off due to shortage of work. My personal opinion? because of the lack of security in the workforce today, many upper management narrow their thought strategies simply because of the fear of losing their own jobs. An example, my boss was close to retirement. I was his assistant. I had strong suggestions for making his job easier (that’s what I was there for!) I don’t want his job…I hate babysitting adults! lol but I was perceived as someone who was “stepping on toes” in terms of bringing about change. Honestly it was a blessing in disguise. At least they were generous enough to compensate so I wouldn’t have to run out and look for another paycheque. This time that I have is being used to yet again, break my ULP and rise. It gives me the time to re-adjust my mindset and figure out “what I want.” To finally find my passion and move on sending nothing but love to those who said I “can’t”.

  • Avatar Sbureros says:

    I really hear what is being said. I am going through some crazy things to. Glad to hear that nothing is seriously wrong!

  • Avatar Brad Holland says:

    Simple equation {Reach your UPL = Chillax} (yeah, that term just got stolen.)

    Congrats on your Rich, Happy, Hot B School – Johnny B T. is promoting the shit out of it. It looks like a real cool program. Take care!

  • Avatar Starr says:

    I LOVE THIS! Thank you so much for this article! I knew there was something I was doing that was self-sabotaging, but I could never quite put my finger on it. I am a model and actress. Last year was the doozy: Soon as I started getting work on a regular basis, I suffered from (and passed) a kidney stone. So I slowed myself down and used my healing time as an excuse not to pursue any new jobs for a while. From August of last year to February of this year I accepted no more work. I also became self-conscious about my health and my physical appearance in ways I never had before.

    I am about to embark upon a reviving of my modeling and acting career, but the Upper Limit thoughts resurfaced. Doubts started to seep in and I began to focus on every obstacle possible – almost to the point of quitting before I even started.

    My love of my career and of self-expression have given me the courage to get back up and try again. Not only have you helped me to identify what was going on, you’ve given me tools to work with to get through it. I’ll take my “baby steps” and approach my career with optimism and Appreciation. I am so looking forward to my own breakthrough!

  • Avatar Cherry says:

    Yep. Can relate to the self-sabotage related to being successful. Thought I was over it because I was successful in a previous business but changing directions “caused” it to happen again. In fact I wrote about it in my last blog post.

  • Avatar Anonymous says:

    I love the visual – raising the upper limit is our expansion and growth. I believe it becomes less painful with practice. So, let’s keep doing the push-ups. Here’s one person’s story of raising her upper limit.

  • Avatar sarah147 says:

    Great article – I can totally identify with this!

  • Avatar Craig Morton says:

    HI Marie–I’m a yoga teacher and a lot of what you talk about is like a yoga injury that is called and opening. LIke your ULP, our bodies have limits to different poses. And after a while, a certain joint or muscle may start to become cranky. If done wrong, then there is an injury and the practice starts to go backwards and the injury is a negative. However, an opening is a different approach to pain in the body. Imagine trying to sit in Lotus position and doing lots of hip openers in order to get those femurs to rotate enough that you can put your feet into the creases of your thighs. As the hips open, they might undergo different sensations like being very open, very closed, tightness, an uncomfortableness when in the pose, etc. Traditionally, we think of these feelings associated with injury, but if we ease our way into them, what they can be as signs of weakness and if we work with them as such (gentle, slow, patience and not back off them like we would with an injury), then we find that we push our upper limits and our baseline for the pose changes. Does that makes sense? I know it might seem like an odd example but what you described in your post was a mental ULP presenting itself as a physical illness. In yoga, often a physical ULP can be treated with a change in our mental processes and how we approach it.
    Food for thought….

  • Avatar Mona says:

    This is exactly what I needed to read at this moment! Recently, my life has come together in so many ways: I have been promoted within my company to a position that I’m very passionate about, I’m in a healthy relationship with the love of my life, and I’ve had wonderful opportunities with my music, which is my true passion. A year ago, I would have never dreamed that I would be finding so much success in my life. However, I spent this past weekend hypothesizing reasons why I should quit my job and go a completely different direction with my career, because I’m afraid of the responsibilities that come with success. I felt hopeless and depressed, and like I’d rather just go volunteer at the zoo or something.

    What was I thinking?! I now see that I am on the verge of a threshold and my upper limits are being tested. I hope this passes quickly, and that I can come out unscathed. Thank you for the guidance at a time when I need it most!

  • Avatar Mona says:

    This is exactly what I needed to read at this moment! Recently, my life has come together in so many ways: I have been promoted within my company to a position that I’m very passionate about, I’m in a healthy relationship with the love of my life, and I’ve had wonderful opportunities with my music, which is my true passion. A year ago, I would have never dreamed that I would be finding so much success in my life. However, I spent this past weekend hypothesizing reasons why I should quit my job and go a completely different direction with my career, because I’m afraid of the responsibilities that come with success. I felt hopeless and depressed, and like I’d rather just go volunteer at the zoo or something.

    What was I thinking?! I now see that I am on the verge of a threshold and my upper limits are being tested. I hope this passes quickly, and that I can come out unscathed. Thank you for the guidance at a time when I need it most!

  • Avatar Gopi says:

    Great Article Marie; Thanks for sharing.

  • Avatar Gopi says:

    Great Article Marie. Thanks for sharing.

  • Avatar Vweird says:

     AHA moment for me – I am moving into a new role which I really want & here I am facing sleepless nights and thinking abt things go wrong. Thanks for the heads up

  • Avatar Shelly Buckman says:

    Ohhhh Mannnn … this totally nailed it for me.  I knew that I was creating my “illness” but I couldn’t for the life of me figure out why?  Finally, the last piece of the puzzle is in place.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.

    Here’s how it went down for me and it totally SUCKED!

    I’m 47 yrs, very active, very healthy.  Always have been.  I’m one of those freaky healthy people, never gets sick, never looks her age.

    8 months ago I had made a firm commitment to change my life for the better & finally realize the success that had been eluding me for so long.  I had taken a year off to write a book I had had in my mind for about 10 yrs.  I have a natural ability to write very well and an amazing idea for my book.

    I had already been off for a few months but didn’t seem to be able to make the progress on the book that I thought I would.

    While rollerblading one day I very aggressively yelled out “that’s it, I’m going back to the house & writing this book, no more BS.”  So strong was my conviction that a whole flood of ideas & writing style came to me.  It was wonderful.  I began to write furiously and all of it was amazing!  There was no doubt what ever that I was going to be published.

    Then I got sick.  I mean REALLY sick.  First I started coughing up green & black stuff from my lungs.  I’m not a smoker and the Doc said my lungs were clear so where was it coming from?

    Then that stopped and I began to have this incessant ringing in my ears.  It wouldn’t stop.  That went on for 5 months.  Then I had this low voltage current surging up the front of my body.  Then I lost the ability to digest my food.  I began losing weight at a scary rate.  At one point I had lost so much, you could see my ribs.  I became so weak that I couldn’t even stand up long enough to make myself something to eat.  Basically all I could do was lay in bed.  I was literally wasting away.  And what was even more frightening was that the docs could find absolutely NOTHING wrong with me.

    I’ve always firmly believed that we create our own reality and with the doctors finding nothing, I was forced to turn within.

    Now in all this time being sick, work on my book came to a standstill.  Slowly but surely I began to recover but, obviously, everyone understood that I couldn’t possibly work on my book.  I was sick after all.

    I managed to bring myself back to nearly perfect health but hung on to some lingering issues.  I mean, until  I had my health issues completely resolved, I couldn’t be expected to focus on anything else.

    2 days ago I started quantum jumping.  Today I have but a shadow of one symptom left.  In fact, I only experience that shadow when I remember to check in on it, lol.  And I’ve written 4 new scenes for my book.  Then I read this blog post & the last piece of the puzzle fell into place.

    We all use different methods to get past our blocks but regardless of the methods you might use, the Upper Limit issue is VERY REAL.  I nearly killed myself trying to force my way through.

  • Avatar Lucy444 says:

    Wow. I never heard it called an Upper Limit Problem, but I’ve found that every time I am about to let go of a tightly held belief and embrace something I feel is a higher truth, I get extremely sleepy and tired, sometimes for days. The resistance to change is so strong and so subconscious that its easy to pin the symptoms on some mysterious disease or clumsiness, in the case of accidental injury. Sometimes, I think when a person falls asleep in a lecture class, or during a sermon, or when sitting at the computer watching a self help video, something in the words being spoken is challenging some deep subconscious belief. Its as though the mind doesn’t want to hear it and instructs the body to just go to sleep, avoiding the issue altogether.

  • Hi. I used the law of attraction to get a machine into my reality from over seas and got it in 7 months the machine was R337 000-00 (South-African Rands), I never had collateral on my name, I wasn’t a client of the banks and It was a start up business, the vendor wasn’t on the bank’s vendors list, and through all that I got the loan started the business and is now going for about 40 days, the problem is I think there is a blockage in the clients department (In my head or hart or past some were), as another machine in the same area as mine with a smaller capacity than mine is fully booked up, for 2 months, my machine is empty allot of the time, I have allot of advertizing in the market place, is there anybody that can be my chat buddy as I have bin doing this alone and have no teacher except the internet, I cannot see my own mistakes as I am the one looking for answers and not getting them, surely being able to attract a machine of this capacity in some way , I should also be able to attract clients to use the machine in the same way, this hasn’t really worked I tried all kinds of stuff and just feel like I’m running into a wall I built for myself somewhere along the way, and because I cant see it, its a great disappointment trying cause all is falling apart, it’s like running into myself the whole time but being blind, and not knowing who I run into the whole time

  • Avatar Christine says:

    Wow..This is all really food for thought! I basically take all things as they come and try to be accepting..But I have noticed an unusual tiredness for me. I am also one of those people who rarely is ever sick.Wondering if I am subconsciously sabotaging myself.

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