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How to Deal With the In-Between Periods?

The middle part of a transition is the unknown phase. When you are disentangled from your old place, job, or company, and you're not in the new yet. In Bridges' transition model, this is called the Neutral Zone.

The Neutral Zone: The Middle Phase of Transition

The common feelings in this phase are frustration, resistance, and confusion. People and organizations experience a loss of motivation and an increased sense of anxiety. Productivity drops until the new patterns are formed and a renewed sense of meaning is created.

This is the in-between phase that most people hate and want to skip: get a next job immediately, get clarity on what they want to do, and form the relationships they don't have yet in a new place.

This in-between state is where critical psychological realignment takes place. You might feel that nothing is happening, and your energy tends to be low, but under the surface, essential psychological changes are going through.

You will probably start questioning things, which is good, but can lead to self-doubt and uncertainty. Most people going through a transition can experience self-doubt and low self-esteem, it'll likely be the case for you too, even if you're an executive or seasoned professional. You might question and doubt your own abilities and what you want, worry about finding a job, or what's next, and feel deflated after being rejected or not seeing the direction.

The Gifts of the In-Between Period

The seeming lack of outside progress is no sign of a lack of inner transformation. A lot is going on in this cocoon. The neutral zone, “the invisible inner reorientation" (Bridges) is time for processing, ripening, and preparation. Cultivate faith and trust in this process because you've experienced that it'll end.

“The essence of life takes place in the neutral zone phase of transition. It is in that interim spaciousness that all possibilities, creativity and innovative ideas can come to life and flourish.” - Susan Bridges

The very first transition all human beings go through happens during birth. When the baby already departed from the warm, safe realm of their mother's womb, but has not yet reached the outer world.

The tiny human is leaving a known Universe through a very narrow channel and heading to the unknown. A place they’ve never been before and they don’t know anything about. If you're reading these lines, you likely went through this transition with success.

In the spiritual world, the unknown represents the fruitful emptiness. It's a sacred gift when anything can take place and the new is born. A time when your task is mostly to witness, listen, observe, prepare yourself for the new, and maintain an attitude of openness to receive. Referring back to Bridges' Transition model, this is when the organizations and people can tap into their creativity and resourcefulness.

Activities to Ease the Uncertainty

We wrapped up a coaching process with a client today and drafted a plan for the upcoming phase. He is exactly in this unknown period now and the plan mainly consisted of actions of preparation, re-organization, getting ready, and being aware. Here are 10 things you can do to ease the frustration of this period:

  1. Meditate Engage in a meditation practice, and train your mind.

  2. Exercise Strengthen your body, and enjoy the endorphins that can also ease anxiety.

  3. Go on a vision quest If you can't commit yourself to days of wandering, take an intentional walk in the neighboring forest, or in raw nature.

  4. Read, listen, and watch Read books, listen to podcasts, and watch movies that feel interesting and broaden your perspective. Dive deeper into a topic that is calling you.

  5. Rest Give profound rest to your body and mind. Nurture yourself with simple food, and massages, and practice a low-key sport, restorative yoga, and systematic relaxation.

  6. Engage in creative activities Play on an instrument, remodel your kitchen cabinet, or spend time with your favorite DIY activities. Create space for creativity.

  7. Take tech time-outs Schedule hours, or even days when you disengage with activities in front of the screen. Be outdoors, or place your devices in a place less visible to your eyes, and allow yourself to be active with your bare hands.

  8. Set short-term goals Break down the more significant transition into smaller, manageable steps. Smaller steps will help you feel a sense of progress and accomplishment, even during uncertain times.

  9. Keep expectations low Lower your expectations and celebrate any accomplishment, no matter how small it is. You're functioning in a mode when internal changes require most of your energy.

  10. Be compassionate with yourself Cultivate self-compassion. Acknowledge that you're going through a difficult period, and remember that you're not alone in this. All human beings experience transition throughout their life and imperfections, feeling lost and not knowing are part of the human experience.

If you're in the middle of this empty space, cultivate a sense of active patience, and allow yourself to be carried rather than trying to push the river.

Trust that (re)birth will come for sure.


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