How To Be At Ease With ‘In-Between Times’
By Jacquie Wise
Originally published on LinkedIn
In-between times are those times of transition when you’ve left one career, relationship or lifestyle behind, but have no idea what to do to reach the next shore. You feel cast adrift. It can be nerve-wracking—how can you be proactive when you don’t know what to be proactive about or when all your attempts lead to nothing?
We tend to think we are powerless and therefore at the mercy of events, circumstances or other people.
As we try to make sense of what’s happening in the present in our lives, the bigger picture for the longer term can elude us.
It’s worth bearing in mind that if we were able to see far into the future, we would miss learning the wisdoms we need to acquire as we stumble along the way.
In times of transition, we can find solace in the fact that there is a higher order to life and we need to learn to trust the process, however frustratingly slow it is. (More on how to do that below.)
We spend our lives trying to predict and prevent negative fast shifts, while at the same time chasing after positive fast shifts such as get-rich-quick schemes.
The danger is that all of this focus on the dramatic shifts reduces our chances of being alert to the slower, smaller shifts, including the shifts within our own priorities as we change. That’s how we find ourselves at odds with what truly matters to us.
Shifts can be so slow as to be imperceptible, such as those we experience in world economics or politics. It’s hard to identify exactly when they started. But when we look at the bigger, long-term picture, we can usually predict how they will end unless we take serious action. When we become aware of the pattern that caused the problem, it’s clear what we need to do to solve the problem.
Similarly, slow shifts in our lives are so subtle, they’re too easy to overlook. In fact, this is how people can end up in deep shift without realising the full implications of their situation.
The way the universe works might seem odd, but hey, it works
We’re beginning to understand that everything happens for a purpose and for the greater good. We need to learn to look at our lives from the perspective of a cosmic process, way beyond what is impacting on us as individuals.
Certainly, some losses are tragic and sudden. It may take years to recover from them. But you can always identify a higher purpose if you choose to look. Books abound about individuals who have overcome all kinds of hardships and have created something positive out of their experiences, transforming many other peoples’ lives.
On a larger scale, newspaper articles after a world-shattering event reveal amazing advancements as a direct consequence of that tragedy. Communities grow stronger as people pull together to activate change, or governments introduce new laws and services.
Life is an ongoing challenge to continually reinvent yourself, to leap at new opportunities, even if they make no immediate sense, to recover from setbacks and restore your energy, and to find meaningful alternatives that matter to you without damaging others.
There is transformation occurring at every level in In-Between Times
There is something struggling to be birthed, like a fragile little shoot pushing its way through dense soil.
In-Between Times give us the chance to undertake reality checks or self-exploration exercises. They bring us closer together. Perhaps this is your chance to take up a new hobby or take up a course of study. Or the purpose might be to push you to find temporary sources of income and, in the process, develop new skills, or meet new people who can open new doors for you.
It might simply be that you were one-dimensional before and you now need to learn to find a better life balance, or simply that you need time to restore and regroup.
The trick is to trust the process, and the only way to learn to trust the process is to actually take appropriate risks. Anyway, if nothing else is happening, you might as well try something new.
It requires a leap of faith, a leap into the void (hold your nose and shut your eyes). When you leap, expect a net to appear.
I’ve learnt from my own experiences over many years that if we’re on the wrong path, something picks us up by the scruff of the neck and puts us somewhere else. There’s no point grumbling or resisting. Go with the flow.
What to do when you’re caught in In-Between Times
1 See your In-Between Times as a short-lived opportunity.
Develop the same attitude to your In-Between Times as you would to a holiday.
Imagine you have a short break in which you’re going to explore a new country. You have no work commitments to distract you. You’ll relax and unwind, and you’ll be open to exploring whatever comes your way. Imagine you only have a short time before you’ll be called back to your commitments. You want to make the most of your time there. Part of the tour will be the challenges that follow below.
2 Expand your comfort zone to include being comfortable with waiting and not knowing.
When you feel lost in the gap between the old and the new, develop an attitude of expectancy without urgency. This can be very unnerving as you watch your savings dwindle, but anxiety will not encourage positivity to come into your life.
Your attitude can influence and encourage positive shifts in your life. Cultivate being curious, courageous, persistent, flexible and optimistic. You’ll begin to notice things shifting at the right pace.
3 Let go of the old.
To allow room for the new, something needs to leave your life that is not serving you well—perhaps an outmoded outlook or even the wrong people.
This is rarely a comfortable process. It’s a bit like a snake shedding its old skin. It can certainly be frustrating if you feel blocked from moving on, but at least be sure you’re not adding to those blockages yourself by avoiding, sabotaging, or refusing to see truths you need to acknowledge.
Get rid of any clutter, physical, emotional or mental, that might be standing in your way.
4 Find constructive ways to acknowledge your emotions and allow them full expression.
In walking through these In-between Times, it’s easy to become engulfed in anger, sadness, resentment or fear. Acknowledge and express your emotions, be it through art or in a journal or by talking.
If you focus on a constructive response, you’ll become less likely to be overwhelmed by negativity. It’s a learning process that becomes a very comfortable way of being. Ask for help from a mentor, role-model, friend or counsellor.
5 Navigate these times wakefully.
Remain open to little signs. They could come to you through a book you’re drawn to, an article that sparks your attention, something said in a conversation, a dream, or even something seemingly irrelevant like an advertising billboard. Anything that makes you look twice is worth noting.
If something catches your attention once, it could mean nothing, but you need to notice that you noticed it, so that you recognise it if it comes up again.
If something similar appears a second time, sit up.
If the same information crosses your path a third time, pay close attention and explore further any ideas that pop up as a consequence of this ‘tap on the shoulder.’
6 Wish upon a star—put a request out to the universe for what you want, without insisting on a specific outcome.
Whether you want a new job or a new relationship, you’re likely to wish for something specific. Modify your wish to include the words: ‘Or surprise me!’ You will get what’s best for you, which might not be what you expected.
If you request something you want, there are only three answers possible: ‘Yes’, ‘Not yet’, or ‘There is something better for you’.
I love that gorgeous line from the film ‘The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel’:
‘Everything turns out right in the end.
If things are not right, then it’s not the end.’
I would love to hear about any experiences you’ve had with sudden shifts in your life that have led to positive outcomes that you didn’t expect. What strategies helped you navigate through the In-Between Times? What’s your reaction to this article?
If you’re stuck at any point, contact me directly to arrange a convenient appointment time.
I’d love to know what you think of what I’ve said here. You can give me your feedback, ask a question by email or post a comment below.
If you or someone you know would like a personal consultation, please call +61 3 9690 8159.
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Reproducing and Sharing
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