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We are all in a Liminal Space

We are all in a Liminal Space

25 Jan 15:00 by Steve Twinley

Children on the beach looking out to sea

Our world has been thrown into quite a turmoil this week with all this uncertainty about Brexit. I feel compelled to write this article not to talk about Brexit itself (as I am in no way qualified to do so) but to talk about its impact on our general day-to-day lives; and how we as individuals and as groups can find ways to navigate the uncertainty. I invite you to join the discussion at the end, as I feel strongly that we, as a society, have a duty to look after ourselves and each other during what could be difficult times ahead.

It is having an impact on businesses – this is clear. Pharma companies are stockpiling drugs; they are setting up “worst case scenario” Brexit teams; they are even spending millions on building testing laboratories in Europe so that the drugs that are made here can still be sold abroad.

But where else is it having an impact? Well...everywhere.

We are all aware of Brexit. None of us understand it – but we are all aware of it. It permeates more or less every discussion at the moment (thankfully not our Christmas Day lunch – we banned it) in one way or another. We are going through something similar to the 2008 “credit crunch” (what a ridiculous name), the Cold War; the aftermath of any large terrorist attack when the “terror alert” is raised (whatever that means); and, dare I say it, the general sense of limbo that families might have felt during the two world wars.

When something like this happens, we experience a loss of control. We can argue and debate about it until we are blue in the face; but ultimately there is nothing that we can physically do to influence what is going on in the political world (even a protest march of nearly a million people was forgotten almost immediately).

We are existing in a Liminal Space, on an enormous scale.

A Liminal Space? What is that (aside from the name of a brilliant album – a shameless plug ha ha)??

A Liminal Space is a physical zone which exists for no purpose other than to help you transition from one place to another. A stairwell, for example. No-one visits a stairwell for the purpose of visiting a stairwell - they use it to get from one floor to another. No-one waits in a departure lounge unless they are waiting going somewhere. No-one sits in an empty cinema, unless it is just before a film starts or just after it ends.

But a liminal space can also be a psychological space, a symbolic entity during a period of transition. It describes those times when we say things like “I’ve just got to get through this – then everything will be back to normal”. For example, it could be the period of limbo before you change to a new job, or move house, or try to cope with a bereavement. Being in a liminal space gives us the uneasy feeling that we cannot get on with our lives until we know what is happening.

The reality, of course, is that things very rarely ever get “back to normal”. We move to the next phase. There is a shift in what “normal” is, and what it means to us. A liminal space is the unsettling period of limbo while we are in the middle of a change.

The struggle - indeed, the trick - is to figure out how to navigate these uncertainties in a positive way. You can let all these worries terrify you into apathy, or you can acknowledge, talk about and accept them, realise that it is futile to say “I’ve just got to get past this and then life will be easier”...and get on with living.

Maybe it is ok to exist in uncertainty, and maybe the key is to stop trying to reach “certainty”. Maybe we will be happier by accepting that there is very little that we can do to control anything; and this is alright.

Many of us will be glued to the news at the moment, waiting to hear what the latest Brexit development is. But please, please, take time to reflect on how this uncertainty might be impacting on you. At home, are you putting off doing things because you are waiting for more certainty first? If you are a business owner, or a person of influence, how emotionally charged are your professional decisions being at the moment? If you work in sales, are you allowing a perceived fear of a customer’s reduced spending power leading you to procrastinate?

We can all relate to feeling in limbo. In fact, many of us exist in this state most of the time, even though we don't want to. Just remember, the next time you enter into a conversation / debate about Brexit, that we are all feeling unsettled right now, whether we realise it or not. The most important thing is to be kind. To listen to others. To be respectful. And to avoid falling into the trap of being completely led by the media. Life can still go on; it just won’t go back to “normal”. Life is all about change.

You can listen to my new album too, if it helps

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