liminal space

by Alice Dommert
November 13, 2016

The one thing we can count on in life is change. Most of you know this. Most of you know that sometimes we pick the winner and sometimes our team does not win. You know that life is not going to go as expected. The “plan” as you had hoped, often takes an unexpected turn, in life, love, elections and every day happenings. Even when you plan and know things will change, it’s often hard for your mind to repave a new, positive path.

When change happens, it’s hard and scary and disorienting. Your mind keeps playing the track as you had thought it would go. Then like a scratch on a record you remember. Your mother had died, your child is off at college, you are now divorced.

Fear gets triggered, and it can be so much thicker than you remembered, like a cold, dense fog. There is no way of knowing when you’ll be able to see clearly again.


Liminal space… it’s not something that comes up in every day conversation. It is considered a threshold in anthropology, a state between in the middle of a ritual. A space where the participant is no longer in their pre-ritual status, something has shifted. There is no going back, yet the transition has not yet begun. A waiting space.

Heather Plett writes,

“liminal space finds us between who we once were and who we are becoming. It’s disorienting, uncomfortable, and it almost always takes far longer than we expect. Much like The Waiting Place in (the story by Dr. Seuss) Oh The Places You’ll Go.

It feels like “a most useless place”, but it’s not. It’s a time of hibernation, a time of transformation, a time of resting, and a time of deep learning.”

Right now you may be in a place like that. Or perhaps it’s a place you recognize having been before. Waiting, in the middle of change. In a space that feels bad, and you want it to be over, and done, and to feel better.

I so often want to put a timeline on just how long I want to feel sad, scared, lonely, bad. More often than not, my timeline is like trying to put a plastic bag on a wet umbrella that has a broken button and keeps popping open, again and again. The harder I try to make it fit, the worse it gets.

I’ve had more coaches and teachers that I like to admit tell me, “what you resist, persists, Alice.” It feels so much better when I feel like I am in charge, in control, in command. Especially if I can’t be in charge, control or command of others, can’t I at least be in charge, control and command of MYSELF?

Yes, and no. I can choose to focus on the positive, I can choose to be kind, and I can choose love. Underneath, though, if there is sadness, or fear, I have to see and be with that too, in the liminal, waiting place, for as long as it takes.

It’s not easy. Sometimes it can take weeks or months. In the meantime life goes on. Caring for yourself, as if you had a broken arm, and letting others hold space and care for you is the path through that liminal space.

At some level you have been broken, something changed, and it hurts. Like when you were a child, a warm bath, hot cocoa, soft blankets, hugs and love will heal.

You’ll be different, and stronger, on the other side.¬†You’ll see more clearly what matters and have the strength and clarity to take action.

For now, take care. Be patient. Be kind. Sending you light, love and courage.


Alice Dommert

Alice Dommert

Founder, Wholebeing Architect

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