Life’s Transitions

Life’s Transitions

Hi, I’m Paul Krismer, and I’ve got another quick film about emotional intelligence and how we can use these learnable skills to get more of what we want in life – better relationships, better outcomes at work, better qualities that enhance our own experience of well-being in the world. It’s a lot, and they’re learnable. And this specific film is going to be about something that I call liminality, which is really how do we manage transitional spaces – liminal spaces.

It was originally an architectural term, and it meant any place that was not a place where you hang out but where you move through. It might be the foyer in a house, and we know that we’re coming into the foyer in order to go someplace else, or we’re going down a hallway, or we’re crossing a bridge – anything that’s transitional to some place where we’re experiencing where we are now with an expectation of where we want to go. And where we are now, we know. But where we’re going is the unknown. And that’s the tricky part about liminal spaces. When we think of it from a psychological perspective, we say, “Hey, this is comfortable, but as soon as I start doing something in my life that’s taking me to some place new, that’s not yet known – I don’t know how it’s going to work out – that puts us in a little bit of a difficult position. We’re unsure, we’re stressed out, there’s some anxiety about it.”

You know, Hollywood’s great at showing liminality. They tend to, in horror movies, use liminal spaces very effectively to show uncertainty and fear and concern. And there’s something beautiful called the vertigo effect which you’re going to see in this little video clip here, and we all get it – the hallway where we don’t know what’s going to happen out of any door, something horrible can happen. And the experience in Hollywood films and horror films is classic – the thing that always happens is the group of people that we’re kind of cheering for tend to get separated, and one by one, they break up to go and do something, look for so and so or get some tool or do whatever. And what happens to them when they’re by themselves? When they get picked off, right, they die one by one, some horrible, frightening death. Well, those are liminal spaces that Hollywood would use this to their advantage.

But the truth is, we are all of us in some kind of liminal space all the time. Nobody’s life is static and just staying the same way; it’s always dynamic. And so, liminal changes could be all kinds of things. I’ve got a new job promotion. I’ve joined a new hockey team. We’re expecting a baby, or I’m going through a divorce, or I’m learning a new subject, I’m going back to school, I’ve got a new boss that I have to adjust to. All the time, everywhere we are in our lives, there’s elements of change. And this is where the juicy part of life really is. It’s in that opportunity that’s given in liminal spaces for growth and to grow through the challenge and become better. And yet, at the same time, it tends to be a little bit frightening.

So, there are a few clues in liminality that we need to think about. One is, like in the horror movies, don’t go alone. We want to share the things that are in transition in our lives because it gives us this sense that somebody sees me, they know where I’m at, and they’re understanding my particular set of circumstances. And to simply be seen, heard, and understood is hugely rewarding as an emotional experience for all human beings. And so, as we work in teams, we can actually help each other by simply having conversations about, “Hey, what transitional place are you in in life?” And people will explain whatever it is – “I’m doing a home renovation, finances are tough, my marriage has got a challenge, or whatever’s the liminal shift in their lives and in the lives of their business. Hey, what are we doing collectively as a group that’s new and scary for some of us? Let’s get that on the table and have a real conversation about that transition and how we manage as a group – sharing and being seen, heard, and understood – so that we don’t feel alone as we make these journeys.”

And as you consider this, I encourage you to break into small groups right now and say, “Hey, what’s the invitation that you’ve got individually in your lives to become a bigger and better version of yourself? You’re in some kinds of transitional space. When you consider that question, it’d be great to share that with other people. And you might also say, “Hey, what do I want to be supported in as I learn some new thing?” And maybe finally, “How am I growing? What’s going on in my life that’s stretching me?” All those related questions can be a great subject to share, bring people’s relationships closer, and also find ways that we’re less alone as we travel through these spaces. Hope that’s helpful. We’ll see you in the next video.