LIMINAL. Oh how I love this word. The Oxford Dictionary defines liminal as an adjective used to describe a transitional or initial stage of a process; occupying a position at, or on both sides of, a boundary or threshold.
This liminal space is the coaching arena. Where the work of setting your course and taking stock can be done. It is the Now. That space between what you have already experienced and what is yet to come. For some, it may feel like an island respite while for others it is the distance between trapeze bars with no net below. In the Co-Active® Coaching model one of the contexts we work with is 'deepen the learning and forward the action.' This is about allowing things to settle so we can truly be with what was and is, before taking our next steps.
How do you feel when you look at an empty canvas or blank page? Are you lit up by what is possible or do you feel paralyzed or uninspired? I have been in this liminal space many times and yet each time has been different – perhaps because each time I have been different. Age and circumstance inform this space and if your gremlins happen to be DJ'ing the affair it can quickly become a dissonant disco.
Coaching allows us to stand together in this middle place of Now and intentionally design what could be next for you. While you can’t predict or choreograph life events outside your purview you can decide how you want to respond to them. When you make choices that are aligned with your core values you will be connected with your inner wisdom and from there you will be setting out on your unique path.
So if you find yourself in this space I recommend taking some time to simply be with what is. This is not about finding fault or criticizing, but rather gently noticing what has served you well and what in retrospect you might do differently in the future.
Here are three tools I use when I find myself or clients lingering in the liminal space:
Spend some time noticing how you are feeling. You can do check-ins throughout the day where you simply note your physical energy and body's alignment. Notice when you feel constricted or expansive. Who is around, what are you doing? Are your shoulders relaxed or is there tension? Your body is your emotional first responder. Listen to what it is telling you.
If you are unsure of what your next steps might be put on your Sherlock cap (flaps up) and start sleuthing. Who do you admire and why? What books are stacked on your nightstand? What subject do you never seem to tire of? Have any people, places or topics popped up on your radar and then inexplicably kept showing up? Do any themes emerge? The brilliant Elizabeth Gilbert gave a lovely Super Soul Session The Flight of the Hummingbird that speaks to the act and art of getting curious in our lives.
Ground in Gratitude
Sit down and make a list of everything you are grateful for in your life. Melody Beattie says that gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow. It is easy to take the bird in the hand for granted. Our society likes us to keep our eyes on the horizon for the next next's and yet we have so many gifts in our daily lives. Even on a seemingly terrible day we can appreciate a hot shower, clean clothes, family and friends who love us. Sometimes it is the little things that can surprise us by meaning the most.
Taking stock of where you are and, where you have been are the prequels to figuring out where you want to go. Be present with what is, notice how you are feeling. If you are struggling with the imagining or perhaps you already know, but need help bringing it to life I'll happily meet you there.
What threshold will you step over?