The Liminal Space

Let\’s talk about LIMINAL SPACE…

The world (and that means all of us) are in this Liminal Space right now (because of the pandemic), but we may not be conscious of what this space really is.

Liminal space is a THRESHOLD. Think of it like a door way, where we stand in the space between two rooms. We are neither in one room or another.

It\’s a complex space and one that both Leaders and Coaches need to know about and have conscioulsy experienced themselves. 

It can be deep and profound, so you will need wise guides to support you, those who know the territory, like sherpa mountain guides.

Liminal Space is a place where my clients contact me because they\’re in it, they feel lost, confused and lacking focus and purpose, but they\’re not consciously aware of why. 

The reason I think it\’s useful to talk about this at the moment is because we\’re collectively now in a liminal space in this pandemic. Even if you\’ve not been directly affected personally, we\’ve all been collectively affected by it.  

\”We must be willing to let go of the life that we have planned, so a sto accept the life that is waiting for us\” – Joseph Campbell

So what is liminal space? 

Think of two rooms. 

The liminal space is like a threshold between these two rooms. Like the door frame that’s in between the two spaces. 

So if we put it into the context of the pandemic, what we find is, right now, the life we\’ve known, say room one, has ceased to exist. 

So we\’ve left the room. 

However, the ‘new’ life that we\’ll go on to lead has not quite started. So therefore, we\’re at a threshold point. 

Obviously, I\’m looking at it from a pandemic point of view, but we could be looking at it from the point of view of what happens when we get married, or when we start a new job, or when we move up a level in our career. We don\’t just step directly into that position or that role and fully inhabit it, what we find is we tentatively step into that place and then slowly evolve and emerge into it. 

It doesn\’t just happen overnight. 

It\’s worth spending some time thinking about what liminal space actually feels like, and how we actually experience it. 

What does it feel like to be in it?

It\’s a deep and profound space and it\’s complex, because one of the things we experience in this space is a loss of purpose and identity and from an ego perspective, this can feel like a \’big\’ thing. 

We don\’t like losing our identity, because it\’s the sense of who we are. It\’s what we use to navigate the social world and once we lose it, it can make us feel lost and insecure. It can take us into our old unresolved \’stuff\’. 

If we acknowledge this space though, it can be comforting as well, as it gives us some time out to pause and reflect and some breathing space before we\’re ready to step into the next evolution of who we are. 

What’s also important to recognise is that we\’ve stepped out of a place too, we’ve created some metaphorical distance from the past. 

Working with the liminal space gives us the opportunity to create new processes and practices that will help us release those things we no longer need or no longer serve us going forward. It allows us to let go and surrender to what\’s new and emerging, this potential future we can\’t quite see fully yet. 

In future blogs I’m going to go into a bit more detail as to how we navigate this space and also talk about how, as consultants, coaches and leaders, we can hold that space for our clients as well. I’ll be answering the questions:

– How are we holding that space right now for ourselves?

– How do we actually hold that for our the people that actually work for us? 

#systemicleadership #Liminalspace #theemergingfuture

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