Are You Resisting Joy? Your Answer May Surprise You!


“Joy is what happens to us when we allow ourselves to recognize how good things really are.” 
― Marianne Williamson

Early morning last weekend, as I sat by the pool at the Ritz Carlton in Aspen, I reflected upon the present situation: it was truly a perfect moment.

Great hair day, perfectly brewed coffee in hand, new opportunities presenting themselves weekly, and a pool boy stopping by to ask if I needed anything. Deep breath in to appreciate and savor the moment…

Then– suddenly– as if I were just handed a dire diagnosis, my heart sank as dangerous thoughts crept up…

Who am I to deserve this?

What if I can’t keep this up?

What if I disappoint people?

What if I fail?

My mind became more cloudy after every thought I entertained. Here I sat turning a perfect morning into a self-made nightmare.

Then– suddenly– as if a best friend shook me from my daze, I realized something:

One of the scariest emotions to embrace is joy. (Tweet it!)

Can you relate to the following?

When things get too good, you plan for the worst and expect your life to fall apart.

When you’re feeling great in your body, you begin obsessing about getting older or weight gain.

When money starts flowing in, you start worrying about losing it.

When your dream man shows up, you push him away before you might lose him.

As Brene Brown puts it, “We dress-rehearse for tragedy.”

As I lounged by the pool torn between enjoying a precious morning and allowing myself to be my very own joy-stealer, I made a decision.

As scary as it may be, I will NOT resist joy.

I am choosing to not deny myself of excitement, pleasure, abundance, or success– even if it feels uncomfortable or too good to be true.

Instead of dress-rehearsing for tragedy, dress-rehearse for joy. (Tweet it!)

And with that decision came a clear reminder of my mission: to inspire you to expand your capacity for joy, pleasure and abundance.  And, dare I say, to ecstatic states!

Allow yourself to break the limitations you have put up around happiness, love, joy and success. Everything you desire is on the other side of that self-imposed limit.

Gay Hendricks, in the book The Big Leap, refers to this as an “upper limit problem.”

An upper-limit is essentially when you have reached your amplitude for love, wealth, joy, and all things great. If you’re not aware, you’ll end up sabotaging your joy and return to old patterns and situations that will keep you in your familiar world (but not your ideal).

I still haven’t met a person who, at some point in their lives, has not dealt with an upper-limit problem.

Here’s an example of an upper-limit problem:

One of my Slim, Chic and Savvy students lost six pounds during the first two weeks of the program while eating delicious foods and having the time of her life (no dieting was involved).

During one of our calls, she said, “I’m afraid this won’t last. This approach simply seems too good to be true.”

This lovely bon vivant had reached her upper-limit.

I explained the upper limit theory to her and it immediately clicked. It wasn’t the approach she was doubting, but her own ability to handle more joy, pleasure, self-satisfaction and overflowing self-adoration.

She also discovered that her joy was being limited elsewhere: in work, relationships, and her overall quality of life. She was resting somewhere in the middle because it felt safer to not expect too much and risk disappointment.

With this new awareness and other tools she gained during the Slim, Chic and Savvy Immersion program, she lost 20 pounds, which has been kept off more than two years now and opened up so much more joy to enter her life.

Are you wondering if you’ve hit your upper-limit? Here are some ways people often subconsciously become their own joy-stealers:

– Overeating.
– Overspending.
– Lack of sleep.
– Starting a fight with your partner.
– Getting sick.
– Drinking too much.
– Comparing self with others.
– Procrastination.
– Excessive worrying.
– Self-defeating thoughts (aka you’re-not-good-enough-who-do-you-think-you-are mind chatter).

Do any of these apply to you?

If you sense that you may be hitting an upper limit, I have two suggestions:

1. Recognize your pattern.

When things get too good, do you go to a place of fear and mistrust the goodness?

When you begin to cultivate better health and vitality, do you start to overeat or decrease your exercise?

When an amazing potential partner presents him/herself, do you reject the possibility?

When love becomes too strong, do you push away?

When money begins to flow, do you overspend or declare yourself unworthy?

We all have patterns, but it’s those who are able to recognize them that are able to break their cycles.

Next time you find yourself coming up against your upper limit, STOP.

Call a trusted friend or mentor. Put down the doughnut. Allow the right person to hug you. Say yes to the date. Find evidence that the thought simply isn’t true.

Commit to breaking through your joy limits by noticing the pattern while not engaging in the self-sabotaging behaviors.

2. Expand Your Capacity for Joy.

I’ve created a personal practice: When I find myself contracting and shrinking, I know that I’ve hit a limit. So, I physically open my chest and take deep breaths as a strong indicator to the Universe that I’m willing to expand and accept more.

Then, instead of going to a place of fear, I journal pure gratitude and throw a big High Five to the Universe for this joyful moment.

I pour love on my cherished ones, celebrate my successes, turn on feel good music, and do something decadent for myself.

In those moments, I commit to breaking through by seeing how much joy I can really handle. Bring it on, I command.

When you find yourself hitting your upper-limit, it’s normal to want to contract and regress.


Hang with the discomfort and commit to expanding even more into the greatness of life.

Remind yourself that you’re receiving what you’ve asked for.

Remember that you are worthy of all this and more.

Commit to breaking through your limits.

My goal is for every woman (and man) in this community is to begin testing the limits on how good it truly can get and then get as comfortable with joy and success as you are with fear and worry.

Up it! Let your heart open to more, because I promise you that more wants to flow into your existence!

Want to share your thoughts on this one? Have you ever struggled with an upper limit? How did you break through? I look forward to hearing from you!

Breaking Limits,



(P.S. If you are ready to expand your capacity for joy and pleasure when it comes to your body and confidence, Slim, Chic and Savvy is opening for enrollment soon.  It’s not a diet; it’s a lifestyle!  Get on the waiting list here.)

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17 Responses to Are You Resisting Joy? Your Answer May Surprise You!

  1. I recognized myself in many of the ‘joy-stealing’ activities mentioned in your blog. In the spring, I had committed to getting in better shape after a long cold winter had seen me gain a couple of pounds. I hired a trainer and signed up for a 10KM which also required me to train for it. I found myself exhilarated by my improving fitness! But then came the end of my sessions with the trainer and I successfully ran the 10KM run. I went on a week long conference and ended up eating my way through the city. Needless to say, I have found it hard to get the momentum back…until yesterday. I tried on a dress in a shop and was not happy with the way I looked. Yesterday evening, I went home and got on the treadmill. This morning I woke myself up early to do a quick workout. I am committed to taking a steps towards my goal of getting fit again. The next time, I am tempted to eat a whole large dessert, I will stop and think of today’s post. Thank you.

  2. Ahhhhh, I LOVED this article (but I love all of your articles:)) I began going through this same scenario in the Spring. I have gone through so much in my life and always had a clear vision of how I wanted my life to be – soul mate, two children, girl and a boy, successful doing what I love, having a flexible schedule where I could eat how I want and work out during the day, live in a gorgeous Victorian Home decorated like the magazine pages I tore out and living in Europe – I am living it ALL right now and it became uncomfortable – I was shocked! I wasn’t able to fully receive it. t always dreamed of this life and one day when I suddenly realised that it was literally all manifested I didn’t feel worthy when so many other people didn’t have what I had – it didn’t feel normal – what no drama? I had that shake that you had and it just put everything I believe into perspective. I actually made a BOLD decision to take a year sabbatical from my business so I could practise FULLY receiving this life I have manifested. Reading this article was just the seal on the deal – thank you and bless you for all you do. We share much, much , much in common. X
    Erin Kurt

    • Erin, your comment warmed my heart! Isn’t if fascinating how we ask for things and then we’re given them, we want to somehow offer them back? I’m so excited about your sabbatical. Keep us posted!

  3. Oh my gosh, Tonya,
    I recently wanted to work with a coach to help relaunch myself back into my field. Hung up the phone with her and found the deposit within the hour. I didn’t even know where I would come up with it two hours before that.. Couldn’t believe how amazing that was. And here I am just two weeks in and I’m stalled making sales calls that will have me crossing the threshold into my chosen field again. Reading this, I’m thinking could it be an upper limit issue..that what worked so well once, that energy of getting what I want, could I actually believe that it couldn’t possible be repeatable? Or that I can only have this much success and not that much…I’m ridiculously amazed that it might just be this denial of my own joy. Is this the same as the examples above?

    • Janice, it sounds like joy resistance to me. The cool thing is that you now have awareness and that is often what is needed to change a behavior! Cheering you on . . .

  4. Thank you so much for sharing this principle! Sometimes to have name for it (whatever it is) helps to call it down. My biggest challenge is trusting that someone will be there in a relationship. So, I tend to hold onto as much of myself as I can, fearful of heartbreak. The old scenarios pop up in my head, and I just think this is how it is going to be. It makes me commitment-phobic in a sense though I still do show up for the responsibilities of marriage. I struggle with ever being really comfortable feeling that someone is going to use me up and toss me. Sad, pathetic………… “Preparing for that tragedy” is a cycle I need to break. It will take a lot of undoing to get rid of this mind-taunting habit. The balance between belonging to self/independence and surrender is one I haven’t mastered.

    • Natalie, thank you for sharing this. And, I disagree, it’s not sad or pathetic, it’s something we all do, so be gentle with yourself. Also, to experience deep joy requires a huge amount of vulnerability. I’d recommend that you read some of Brene Brown’s books. She touches on this issue. And, I think we’re always in a process of mastery:). xoxo

  5. My upper limit comes from being a crisis junkie. I don’t want to be one, but it is my default and I need to work hard to u-turn from it.

    When things are going well, I look for things to worry about. I manufacture issues and problems in my head. Then I work on them.

    When I’m fighting a crisis, I complain, I flip into survival mode and I don’t live the way I want to live.

    Thanks for the techniques to turn off this mode.

  6. Such a great reminder! I just had an experience of intense joy and energy and found myself suddenly in “lock-down” mode. Like I had muffled myself and dulled down all the excitement that was coming to me and surrounded me. It took a bit to loosen it off and I hadn’t consciously acknowledged an upper limits problem (ULP) but reading your post I recognize it.
    Instinctively I went for support and love from my amazing husband and slowly it loosened off and opened back up.
    Thank you for that great post and more conscious strategies for me to use!

    • Hi Janine! Love seeing your comment. And, it’s such a blessing when we are surrounded by people who can call us out and support us when we’ve hit our ULP!


  7. You sure hit the nail on the head with this post–I am constantly second-guessing when the good things will stop coming my way. I love the chest opening exercise & plan to use it myself. Thanks!

  8. As always, such perfectly timed wisdom! I had an epiphany while reading your post about my own ULP. So much of expanding into greater abundance for me has been a fear of the unknown. Growing up in a family where struggle, lack and shame about our circumstances were prevalent themes, it has been a constant practice to be mindful about leaving all that behind for so much more. And I have always known more was possible – even as a child. Whether in love, work or life opportunities, stepping into something grander and bigger than I have ever experienced is at times unfamiliar, which can also be scary! Not to mention all the feelings of “Do I really deserve it?” that come up (still working on that answer being a clear and emphatic YES). I have been very aware of my anxiety around this lately, so reading your post gave me just the boost of inspiration and encouragement that I need to be open to embracing more love, joy and success – and to staying on the path of gracefully receiving the abundance that the universe presents, expanding into what’s possible, and feeling gratitude for these wonderful moments and opportunities. Thanks Tonya for sharing your gifts, experiences and wisdom with us! xo

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