When a Cold Isn't Just a Cold

02/27/2015 11:10 am ET | Updated Apr 29, 2015

The cough started just below my throat, at the top of my chest, late in the day. It hurt. By night, my throat started to ache and swell. By the next morning, my throat was inflamed and very painful. The third day I knew I was sick. The thing is, I get this almost annually. The timing of this, however, clued me in that something was amiss.

Sure, it is winter and illness abounds, but I had not been exposed to anyone who was sick. Further, no one around me was becoming ill, so I was obviously not contagious. I am a very healthy person. When I do get the occasional allergy or sore throat, it's done within a day or two.

When day three arrived and I was getting worse, I started self-evaluating. I was having an upper limit problem. Further, I knew this upper limit problem came directly from my fear of being seen.

We all have a happiness quotient in us and when we get close to the edge, we manufacture something to level us out. Some part of us is afraid of what will happen if we feel good, shine brightly, grow abundantly for an extended period of time. Though I had been working on the roots of my fear of being seen, I had suddenly become very visible on a week where I would have to show up fully, further increasing my visibility. I had far surpassed my happiness quotient and now I was sick.

Gay Hendricks writes in The Big Leap: Conquer Your Hidden Fear and Take Life to the Next Level that upper limit problems manifest commonly as:

  • worrying
  • blaming
  • criticism
  • getting sick
  • squabbling
  • hiding significant feelings
  • breaking agreements
  • not speaking significant truths to the relevant people, rather speaking it to everyone else deflecting compliments.

My sore throat and cough started the day after one of my most authentically written posts was published. I was proud and ecstatic. Then I started seeing the reviews and shares. What I had written resonated with readers. The number of views grew in the tens of thousands.

Meanwhile, I was preparing for my first paid speech. Though I had been booked for a couple of months, the irony had not yet occurred to me. Both of my parents works at hospitals while I was growing up. Both my parents and their counterparts had unhealthy lifestyles. I saw how it held them back, exhausted them, and negatively impacted their health. In many ways, this drove into a career in the wellness field. I wanted to help people live optimally, which includes taking accountability for lifestyle choices. My speech would be at a local hospital on the topic of self-care.

I remember the day I got sick, the number of views on the article peaked 50,000. I knew I was no longer a secret. Something big was about to break for me and the part of me that has hid behind the excuses and limitations in order to stay safe was not impressed. I lost my voice first. Then the cough set in fully, so bad at times that it literally gagged me. No medicines could ease it.

I was slated on this same week to teach an asana and a mediation practice to my cohorts in my advanced yoga teacher training. I wasn't worried about this. I am confident in my skills as a teacher. I was actually excited to be able to share my style with my cohorts. By class day, I recognized I was in an upper limit issue.

I had to show up, to give my best class that I could no matter how I felt. For my own good, I needed to break through this upper limit, otherwise I was going to repeat it over and over rather from an illness or some other manifestation. I showed up fully for my speech, too. I stepped into my zone of genius which is helping people be whole.

Breaking through upper limit problems require you to show up and keep showing up fully, no matter how scary or challenging it may be. When you become aware of hitting your upper limit, pivot. Be willing to look at the real issue. What could I do to expand my capacity for success, acceptance, love, and abundance?

Draw on previous experiences of how it felt to be in your zone of genius and really shine. Notice how that memory feels within your body and allow that feeling to expand. Ask yourself what steps you could take immediately to allow the positive energy to flow through your whole being again? Commit to taking inspired action and show up fully.

My pivot was giving myself permission to be supported. I drank in the feedback from my teaching and speech, which was all very positive. I allowed myself to be taken care of instead of being the one taking care of others. I slowed down significantly and listened to what my body needed to heal. Through the whole ordeal, I practiced a great deal of self-compassion, allowing myself to explore what would it mean to be fully seen.

I not only mentally and emotionally shifted, I physically shifted. I made a conscious decision that I am ready to be seen. I do not need an illness to be another excuse to hide behind. I want to see how much more greatness there is waiting on the other side of my limitations.

While I recognize that old habits can sometimes be hard to break, with this one, I am choosing for whatever replaces it to arrive with ease and joy. It is, after all, a choice I have the power to make. I know that the inspired action necessary s to keep showing up fully, each and ever moment. The choice itself is quite simple and I know grace will gift me with exactly what I need to continue to open up into my greatness.

Wendy Reese is a lifestyle strategist who specializes in whole being, author, host of The Whole Being Zone and yoga teacher with 13 years of teaching experience. Get regular Wendy Wisdom (and inspiration) on Twitter and Instagram @wholebeinginc