I found another term that rocked my world and affirmed a character trait I’ve embraced as long as I remember. It’s called the “Upper Limit Problem” and, according to Gay Hendricks, many people deal with this notion that there is such a thing as too much success. What?! When I first heard it I balked but then I listened to my soul and knew I had an Upper Limit Problem. Somewhere, deep down inside that’s what I do, that’s what I’ve seen many peers and contemporaries do… success comes and we self-sabotage, to continue to fit-in, to avoid envy from others, to avoid challenging our own abilities, etc.
For years, this is where I’ve lived. I’ve reduced myself. I am an intelligent woman, not the smartest but I am a woman of thought and intellect and I like to think deep, read to expand my mind, memorize to challenge the sleeping places in my brain, study to learn new ideas. Sometimes I “geek-out” and see people’s eyes glaze over so I reduced myself to fit in. But I’m intimidated to find others who are like-minded, learners, readers and, dare I say smarter than I am so that I’m intellectually challenged and not reduced in my capacity.
Physically I’ve reduced myself around other ladies. No, I’m not the most fit woman but I’ve always enjoyed physical activity… as long as I didn’t outperform any of my girl-friends and make them feel bad about their physical level. I’ve reduced my food choices to a lower level to not make someone less nutritionally balanced feel badly. I chose to underperform and eat bad so I didn’t come across as “better than” anyone else and in so doing become the brunt of their envy.
Emotionally and socially, well, I’m an odd duck so I’ve never had to worry about reducing myself socially, except that I don’t like to captivate an audience. I’d rather the people around me speak their thoughts, insights, memories and feelings than to put mine out there. I withhold what I share of myself. True it’s because others have value, but also I feel like my self has less value than theirs. Why?
Spiritually, I reduce myself. I LOVE the Word, to study it, hear others preach on it, memorize it, know it. I could talk theology or Biblical history for hours! But… when I know an answer others are looking to find I don’t want to come across “holier than thou” so I stay quiet. When people mix up Bible stories I don’t want to seem arrogant and correct them so I let them go on unless it’s grossly inaccurate. I study in secret and seek out deep thinkers like Ravi Zacharias to listen to alone to nurture my hunger to go deeper without looking puffed up.
I fear being “better than” anyone at anything and I have reduced myself to avoid anyone accusing me of that. I already know I’ll never be the smartest, strongest, most charismatic or theological person in the world, but I am smarter, stronger, more gregarious and Biblically knowledgeable than I’ve allowed myself to be. I've stunted my own growth for the sake of others and ease. This is a challenge for me. How do I be the absolute best version of myself and not diminish the success, intelligence, ability or progress of others at a different level or be the object of envy which really makes me feel yucky and bad about being a better me? I don’t know how to address this Upper Limit Problem of mine. I’m working on it.
What I know is in every romantic relationship I’ve ever been in I have reduced myself in some area; physically, intellectually, socially, emotionally or spiritually so as not to hurt the ego of my partner. I don’t want that this time. I want a man that I can celebrate and cheer on in his strengths, that knows it is important to improve. I want a man that I can challenge in the areas he wants to strengthen, that I can be proud of for his accomplishments, desires and ministrations to God those around him… and I want the same. I don’t want to be an object of envy in my lover’s eyes. I don’t want to feel like I’m wrong for improving or desiring a higher level of success in any aspect of my life. If he can’t “keep up” in some area, I at least don’t want him to “keep me down” I want him to believe in me the way I’ll believe in him.
And then I wonder … does Quality Casual dating help or hinder my Upper Limit Problem? …