Learnings in my journey of Becoming
Updated: Aug 20, 2020
“Honor the space between no longer and not yet.”
Have you ever wondered what really happens to the caterpillar when it goes into its cocoon before it turns into a butterfly? As young students we learn the process is called “metamorphosis” and we learn the different stages completely unaware of the significance this process will have as we go about our own journey of becoming who we are - away from conditioning, assumptions and extrinsic pressures as to who we ought to be. Joseph Campbell calls the process of our own "metamorphosis" the Hero’s Journey.
The Liminal Space: What happens in that space (that cocoon) where you are no longer the person you used to be yet not quite the person you are meant to become? Well, if you are anything like me, it feels like a lot of stormy weather. It feels like wind, rain, and thunder. It feels unsettled. It feels as if I am a captain of a ship losing sight of shore and not able to yet see the destination. It is plagued with fear, uncertainty, self-doubt. At times, it feels like a mountain and at times it feels like a desolate desert. It feels like a journey to the center of the Earth without being sure that I have packed the right materials to get there - should I have left the parka behind? It feels like Hotel California and I wonder if I will ever really get out of this place? The answer of course is YES - I will be evicted because I will outgrow and become. I will not only molt, that is a mere consequence of being a living being, but I will INTENTIONALLY become a truer version of me that is congruent with the potential inherent in the seed that makes me... me.
In the meantime and in case it helps, here are 5 things that I have learned during my stay at the liminal space:
Knowing that it takes time ... like for real time - I have been at it for over 18 months and I'm still at it and I realize that I am on the early side of time. When I read about this type of experience from others, or when I engage in vulnerable, curious and open conversations with others who have stayed here before me, this is a common thread and learning. It simply takes time - it took time to get to this point and it will take time to get to a different point. There are no magic shortcuts. None. It is a process not a jump. The shift is very gradual (when it is the right shift). Depending on personal circumstances for it to be a sudden shift requires a MAJOR jolt - a situation perhaps being forced on you usually with an extrinsic (outside of you) origin: losing your job, a relationship, a major event happening. The process I’m referring to is a change initiated by an intrinsic recognition of a void inside of us that is asking to be filled. We hear a calling from the unlived life inside asking us for manifestation. We find ourselves in a comfortable (albeit unfulfilling situation) and we move more gradually (meaningfully and intentionally) to make that shift. TIME.
Knowing that it takes changing the origin reference point of my self-narrative: Ever since I can remember I have based my sense of self (my self-narrative) from an origin point based on my past. My past experiences and therefore my conditioning determined my thoughts about myself, what was important to me, what I would want and even what I could do or couldn’t do or shall I even say, should or shouldn’t do. When our origin reference point is based on the past, it inhibits our ability to grow and fully embark on this journey of becoming away from the safety of who we already are. The past is fixed and cannot be changed and that can lead us to be stuck in patterns of thought and feeling that would not be conducive to forward movement through this liminal space. The unlived life inside of me has an origin reference point based on a future version of me. It builds my self-narrative with the vision of what I will become, feel and act when this unlived life is finally manifested. It is understanding I am not a prisoner of my past but a servant leader of my future. FUTURE SELF is the starting point.
Knowing that it takes action: It is very easy to get trapped in the thinking patterns, the ideas, the learning, the discovery, the reflecting. All of that is necessary AND must always be paired with action. Action in a gradual shift looks like small steps - at times barely seen but powerful as they accumulate. The small steps are awkward, maybe not even well defined and definitely not perfect. I like to think of them as “drafts”. For me a lot of it looks like doing different things perhaps in addition to the things I already do: like writing blogs, participating on podcasts, joining twitter, collaborating in twitter chats. As I have done these actions, unknowingly I reinforced my values. These “drafts” felt good and in congruence and I did more and more of them as well as naturally abandoned “drafts” that did not seem to add to a state of flow. ACTION.
Knowing that it takes others: As I started to take small action steps aligned with the forward direction that supported the future self version of me, the people around me started to also change. The people I talk to, listen to, engage with changed and they were more in line with that future version of me. The people you associate with are very important and I don't think it is possible to make a significant meaningful change without paying close attention to those you are around and shifting your relationships to grow alongside you. PEOPLE.
Knowing that it is important to intentionally check-in for progress along the way: I must have periodic (and frequent) check-ins with myself so that I can spend time recognizing the subtle steps I have made. Asking myself questions like: what am doing today that I was not doing 3 months ago? Who is around me today that was not around me 3 months ago? At times, I enlist others to help me see what I dismiss or I'm unable to see because my self-critic controls the narrative. This has been critical for me because with gradual change it is very hard to recognize progress and without that recognition it is very hard to keep up the spirits and the energy required. Without taking this self-reflective time to check-in with my progress, all I see (or feel if I can't see it yet - I KNOW the feeling of the destination) is that end destination I’m not at yet ... and that can be the source of a lot of heartache. CHECK-INs with self.
If you are like me and find yourself inhibiting the liminal space, I see you, I feel you, I wish I could talk to you and sit with you while we are here. If you have already outgrew it and are now on the other side, I thank you for sharing your journey vulnerably so that we don’t feel so alone as we lay in our cocoons transforming into the butterflies we were always meant to be.