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Linda Samuels, CPO-CD®

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How to Improve Handling Next When You Are in Limbo

Just like nature, we also go through seasons. Some seasons are filled with purpose, clarity, and direction. Other seasons are filled with uncertainty and doubt. There are seasonal transitions from cold to warm, from snow to rain, from gray to color, or from bare to bloom. It’s during these in between times that we can deeply feel like we’re in limbo. When that happens, next can feel murky.

So how can we improve how we handle next, especially when we’re in the uncertain mode? I have a few ideas, but I’d love to hear yours too.


Feel the Limbo

If you quiet yourself, see if you can identify where in your body the angst is felt. Do you sense a rumbling in your belly or butterflies swirling about? Do you feel tightness in your shoulders or jaw? Is your breath shallow? Is your head pounding with pressure? Where in your body is your limbo-state showing up? Notice it. Acknowledge it. Sit with it. Take some slow, deep breaths in and then out. As you exhale, see if you can soften the tension. Practicing mindfulness by getting in touch with how our body feels and helping it to relax, will make us more available for the present and for next.


Sip Some Tea

Slowing down to enjoy a cup of tea (or coffee, if you prefer) can be a kindness you give to yourself during this waiting time. Allow yourself to focus on making the tea. Watch the bubbles boil. Listen to the sound of pouring the water into your favorite mug. Notice the clear water turn darker as the tealeaves brew. Breathe in the aroma. Savor that first sip of warm tea as it enters your mouth, travels down your throat and to your belly. It’s as if you’re drinking a warm hug. Leisurely experience the tea-drinking ritual as you slowly calm yourself and prepare for next.


Exercise Some Patience

We can be so terribly hard on ourselves. Especially during transitions, we are often missing certain pieces that we need to make decisions. We have to wait a day or a week or a month or more.  And you know what? We don’t like to wait, do we? Remember that you won’t always be in limbo. Recall other times when you exercised patience to secure the outcome you desired. Remember that instant isn’t always possible or even desirable. Be patient. Have confidence that in time you will find the answers you need to figure out next.


Form a Habit

Sometimes we postpone doing something that’s good for us, while we’re waiting for next. However, we can use this transition time to form one new habit that will have positive life-affirming benefits. Think about something simple and achievable. Think about something that will make you feel healthier, happier, or more content. Think about one thing that you currently aren’t doing, but would be beneficial if you began. You could brush your teeth each morning and night. You could take a 15-minute walk each day. You could declutter one surface every day. You could write one sentence a day in a gratitude journal. You could meditate for 10 minutes a day. You could...


Do One Thing

One of the benefits of moving forward is that feeling of accomplishment or endorphin rush we experience when we get stuff done. And while it’s important to focus on doing things that matter for our larger goals, sometimes, it’s helpful to just do one thing. One and done. It’s not a regular or daily thing. It’s just one thing. That thing doesn’t have to be huge or complicated. It does need to be something that will lift your spirits. You’d be surprised how small the thing can be. Don’t underestimate the power of organizing your junk drawer, or filling up a bag of clothing to donate, or calling a friend you haven’t talked with in a while. Try it and let me know what happens. We can do one, small thing, which will promote positive feelings and help pave the way for next.

What helps you navigate through to next when you’re in limbo? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Come join the conversation!





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Reader Comments (12)

An important reminder for everyone to stop and honestly be aware of what is going on in our lives, thanks for bringing this topic to your blog.

I'm dealing with my child going to college in the fall and between now and then we are in limbo on what the details are going to be and what we need to do next. So, I find, morning quiet time before getting out of bed is a perfect time for me to reflect and allow the listening to happen.

March 26, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterSabrina Quairoli

How wonderful is to read your tips full of wisdom. I love them because are easy and simple to follow. Thank you for sharing Linda.

March 26, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterNacho Eguiarte

I was so excited to see this blog title! Limbo can be misery, and yet it definitely part of normal life. We all go through it. I love the idea of reminding yourself - out loud if necessary - that this time will pass. I think we feel pressured to solve the issue or make the decision quickly, and this isn't always wise. I believe there is value in the waiting if we do it right. Talking things through with someone I trust helps me gain perspective on an issue. In many cases we are just too close to the issue to see all the angles!

March 26, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterSeana Turner

@Sabrina- Ahhh. What a wise woman you are...using the early morning to "listen." Congratulations on getting ready to launch your child off to college. It's a big deal...and as you said, there are so many unknowns and firsts. Limbo-city!!! I remember well when our daughters left for college and all that led up to that point. They were precious times, even with all of the angst. Wishing you all the best as you use your mornings to center yourself and for a successful transition.

March 26, 2018 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

@Seana- Thanks so much for the "title" support. I love how you normalize the "limbo" experience. And what great strategies you shared about saying a positive affirmation out loud and talking things over with a trusted person. It IS challenging to have perspective when we're so close to a situation. So having someone else there to talk us off the ledge can be so helpful.

March 26, 2018 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

Being in limbo can be so uncomfortable. Sometimes we don't even know what to call it . Naming the uncertainty helps me deal with it. I call it the 'in between' time. I love your thought of doing one small thing - like the Japanese theory of Kaizen. Small steps toward a goal or out of limbo.

March 26, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterDiane Quintana

@Diane- Soooo uncomfortable. We just don't feel like ourselves when we're in limbo. One of the parts I find most challenging is my lack of motivation. Normally that's not a problem, but when I'm in that in-between state, the lack of clarity takes the oomph away. A nice connection you made with the one small thing and Kaizen. It's always a great "go to" solution for seeing some movement.

March 26, 2018 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

I love meditation for limbo time. It channels your energy in a positive way.

March 28, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterEllen Delap

@Nacho- So great to "hear" your voice! I hope all is going well with you and that life is full and just the amount of busy you like. Thank you for your kind words about the tips. I'm glad that you found them useful and easy too.

March 28, 2018 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

@Ellen- I know just what you mean. It's one of the daily essentials that I've come to depend on even when I'm not in limbo.

March 28, 2018 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

Sometimes limbo is easier when things are totally out of your control, because there's nothing you can do about the situation, so you focus on other things.

April 17, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJanet Barclay

@Janet- That's an excellent point especially if we're willing and able to give into that "out of your control" part. Often softening a bit and letting go of that control can also help.

April 17, 2018 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

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