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Elisa Goldstein, Ph.D.Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D.
A blog about mindfulness, stress-reduction, psychotherapy and mental health.

Breaking Free from Limbo

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D. Updated: Aug 19th 2011

There are many times in life we find ourselves stuck in-between one place or another. It’s a time of limbo, where there’s confusion, perhaps a lack of direction or awareness of what comes next. It happens in between college and figuring out our first job and it also happens during the so-called “mid-life crisis” when our careers are behind us or maybe the kids have left the house and we’re no longer looking at how long we lived but more at how many years do we have left. Since the mind has an automatic negativity bias we can experience this as a time of purgatory, but there’s another way to see it.

While sitting in that in-between space, that place of uncertainty, can see rather uncomfortable, is also a time of possibility. If you’re mind jumps up with the thought, “oh, he’s just putting some rose colored glasses on,” see if you can allow that initial thought to come and go and then look at this again.

Can you see that there is potentiality in this time?

One thing to consider is to meet this experience head on, without judgment and get curious about what this feeling of limbo is like. Get to know how it feels in your body, get to know what thoughts come along with it and what emotions are there. Emotions are sometimes a tough one so it’s good to look over a list of emotions to familiarize yourself with what’s there (scroll down to Emotion Vocabulary link).

See what happens to the experience of limbo as you practice, “Breathing in, I acknowledge the limbo that’s here, Breathing out I let it be.”

Notice how your body feels now.

From a more grounded space you can take out a sheet of paper and title it “Page of Possibility.” Simply free associate all the potentialities that are open in the future now. Again, set aside your judgments about whether this will work for you or not, let your experience be your teacher not the critic in your mind.

As you’re writing, dream a bit bigger than usual (unless you’re usually a big dreamer), let your imagination go free. No one’s looking, no one’s judging, just go for it.

If you feel up to it, let us know what you find. Please share your thoughts, stories and questions below. Your interaction provides a living wisdom for us all to benefit from.


Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D.

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist in private practice in West Los Angeles and is author of the upcoming book The Now Effect, co-author of A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook, Foreword by Jon Kabat-Zinn, author of the Mindful Solutions audio series, and the Mindfulness at Work program currently being adopted in multiple multinational corporations.

Check out Dr. Goldstein's acclaimed CD's on Mindful Solutions for Stress, Anxiety, and Depression, Mindful Solutions for Addiction and RelapsePrevention, and Mindful Solutions for Success and Stress Reduction at Work. -- "They are so relevant, I have marked them as one of my favorites on a handout I give to all new clients" ~ Psychiatrist.

If you're wanting to integrate more mindfulness into your daily life, sign up for his Mindful Living Twitter Feed. Dr. Goldstein is also available for private psychotherapy.

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