How many times have you heard the phrase “I’m in limbo”, or “Our relationship is in limbo”? If you have heard it, what exactly does it mean? In looking at some different meanings of the word, it seems to describe a sense of neglect or disregard, of being forgotten, or feeling lost. Limbo is frequently used to describe a temporary state- a lack of movement either forwards or backwards. In relationships one thing is certain, being in limbo is uncomfortable.
We can feel like our relationship is in limbo for many reasons- life transitions, family issues, the discovery of an affair or a separation. Humans prosper when there is a certain degree of routine and structure, so “being in limbo” is an unnatural state of being. We need direction, goals and action to feel that our lives have meaning, but what can we do if the decision of “what happens next” resides with someone or something else? Our nature wants us to resist the lack of movement by trying to force the issue with our partner, but this usually ends up making things worse.
One of the worst things about being in limbo is fear. Fear of the future, fear of the unknown and fear of outcomes can immobilize our thoughts and actions. This can cause depression, stress and anxiety. Fear is that nattering voice inside our heads that keeps us from taking risks that might enrich our life or holds us back from doing some things we need to do. Want to experience something new and exciting? Or accomplish something really great? Fear says, “No, you can’t.”
Another discomfort from being in limbo is the feeling of losing control. Great leaders are admired for their serenity and confidence in the face of uncertainty. When we are in limbo, it can feel like serenity is far from our reach. Instead, our emotions are close to the surface and can flare up at the slightest opportunity. Whether you lash out, cry or pound on your desk, it’s uncomfortable to feel out of control.
So how can we feel better about being in limbo? Here are some tips to keep things more in control and less fearful.
Information is power and knowledge. When you find out about what options and choices you have, you replace fear with knowledge.
Talk about your fears
Keeping your fears bottled up inside magnifies them. Taking them out (and talking them out) can shrink them. Find a good listener who won’t disregard your fears or make judgments.
Talk to yourself
Self-talk filled with positive messages can change fear energy into positive energy. Eliminate the negative from your self-talk vocabulary.
Chunk it down
Keep your mind on the small things, not the Big Picture. This stops you from feeling overwhelmed and to recognize the smaller things that you can change. This result is a feeling of being more in control.
Expand your comfort zone
Take a small risk each day. Make one phone call, ask for one thing you want, go to one new place. Little by little your confidence will expand, too.
Accept the Limbo
Don’t push against the inevitable. Limbo eventually brings change, and different opportunities. It can lead the way to the next step in our lives, bringing us closer to our goals. Even if we resist the change, it may still result in personal growth, so it can still be a learning experience.
Prepare the best you can for the changes that might come, but then accept the reality of the moment. Think back to other challenges you’ve come through and remind yourself that everything will work out ok.
Kelly Chicas 2011