Be the Hero of Your Own “Liminal” COVID Journey!

Woman experiencing Liminality going on Journey

There are years where nothing really happens, and then there are weeks where years happen… I wish I could say these were my wise words, but I adapted them from a quote by Lenin (whom I didn’t want to glorify by ‘officially’ quoting).

So. This COVID crisis may well be the defining event of our lives. A worldwide major upheaval forced upon us. Life, government, businesses and economies literally turned upside down.

If something similar happens in the future, it won’t be such a big deal – because we’ll all have been through something similar before.

But right now, we are all on a journey!

And recently I came across a new word – liminality. It comes from Latin, and means a threshold. And it’s the exact part of the journey we’re all on right now.

Specifically liminality is about the uncertainty, confusion and discomfort that comes when we go through a major life change – especially when it’s without warning. It’s all about not knowing what happens next, when it ends or how things will be afterwards. And it’s uncomfortable in a BIG way.

According to Wikipedia, during a liminal stage people stand at a threshold between their “previous way of structuring their identity, time, or community, and a new way.”

Sound familiar? As a result of this COVID crisis – the entire world has been thrown into a liminal space – every country, every world and business leader, every parent, adult and child.

But liminality is just step 2 of a 3 step framework for “rites of passage” (later expanded to apply to all major life changes and shifts) developed by German folklorist Arnold van Gennep.

Here are van Gennep’s 3 Stages of a Major Change:

  1. Separation – from ordinary life.
  2. Limen (Liminality) – when we are in limbo. We are stuck between the ‘usual’ and ‘not yet’ and are unsure of what is to come, or how things will be once the crisis is over.
  3. Incorporation or Re-integration – the return to ordinary life, only we are different – changed.

What’s relevant about this framework is the comfort of knowing 1) there’s a structure to what we’re going through right now and 2) there can be a silver lining (and even ultimately benefits) to this experience if we integrate what we learn into our lives!

But there is something different here…

But what’s different with this COVID situation is that in a traditional “rite of passage” there is a ritual that gets followed and a guide – some kind of Master of Ceremonies – who leads people through the process, helps them navigate their transition and integrate back into ‘ordinary’ life.

But we have no-one to guide us!

In fact no-one does. Because no-one has been through a world lock-down before.

And our leaders are just as blind, confused and uncomfortable as we are.

It feels weird and unpleasant not to be “in control” of our lives. So we must guide and navigate ourselves through this crisis.

The big question is whether you are going to be able to say a hearty yes to your adventure. Joseph Campbell

How to be the Hero of your own Journey:

Stage 1 and the separation from ordinary life has happened. We are still in Stage 2 – a period of liminality, a threshold between what was – and what will be.

Fierce Kindness Life Noticing Sheet

Life Noticing Sheet

To get through Stage 2 – we must pay attention to our experience:

And we must notice what could be different:

Example Values Sheet

  • What don’t I like about my life and what ideas do I have for doing things differently going forwards?
  • What don’t I like about the society/world I live in – and what can I do about that?
  • How do I want to BE different going forwards?
  • How do I want the world to be different going forwards?

And then to get through Stage 3, we must GET SPECIFIC to integrate our learnings:

It’s time to begin considering how you want things to be different!

As the world begins to loosen restrictions, it’s the ‘beginning of the end” for this liminal stage of the crisis. Don’t let it go to waste!

If you’re feeling sad about life ‘returning to normal’, ASK the difficult questions. SEE the truth that is in your heart. And USE it to find a way to LIVE your life differently.

John F Kennedy Quote about Crisis and OpportunityHere are some examples to get you thinking:

  • Have you been eating more healthily and enjoying cooking great food. How can you keep that going?
  • Do you hate your commute? Will you ask to work remotely (full or part-time) or switch to a job that allows remote work?
  • What about precious creative time, downtime, solitude, silence. How will you create more of that in the future?
  • How about going into work when you’re ill? We’ve proven it’s not really necessary – and that it can spread to others. Will you rest more when you get sick?
  • Have you enjoyed going to bed earlier or getting up later – and the benefits of more sleep? How can you keep that going?
  • Have you enjoyed not wearing make-up every day? So, now what?
  • Did you see how fast your children are growing up and you now want more quality time with your family?
  • Is your relationship definitely not working? Do you need to get counseling, a divorce – or both!?
  • Have you realised that you are a good leader, and will finally ask for that training or promotion?
  • Or perhaps this has been a time when you’ve worked harder than ever, and it’s highlighted your workaholism (erm – guilty. I have been working on this for years!)
What will you do differently?

It’s not about WHAT you do, it’s HOW you do it – and HOW MUCH you do it.

This is about your HEART – not logic, rationality and what your HEAD says. And importantly – remember to think POSSIBILITY not PROBABILITY…

You might also like to consider creating a Post-COVID Life Vision Board!


“In school you get the lesson and then take the test…In life you take the test and then get the lesson.” Unknown

What are the lessons you want to take away from this crisis and weird liminal space we are all in? And what will you do with them?

Remember the 3 important connections we need to be happy in life:

  1. Connection to ourselves: Learn to pay attention to and take care of our selves!
  2. Connection to others: Consider who matters most – and build your life around them.
  3. Connection to something bigger than ourselves: How can you make a difference in the wider world?

For personal growth to occur, there must be change. For our lives to be better, we must do things differently. What will you choose?

โ€œChange the world, start with you!โ€



Image of Person walking down road – their Hero’s Journey by soft_light via Shutterstock


    • Emma-Louise Elsey

      Dear Lori, thank-you so much for your kind words ๐Ÿ™‚ Love Emma-Louise

    • Emma-Louise Elsey

      Dear Steffi, thank-you! Glad you liked this article ๐Ÿ™‚ Warmly, Emma-Louise


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