We don’t cope very well with being in limbo. Waiting to find out whether we have secured the position or won the award can be difficult. Learning that your partner is deciding whether they are going or staying is agony. Waiting for medical test results is sometimes more painful than any procedure that might come after hearing those results. And I simply can’t imagine the torment of having a missing family member.
So what do we do if we are in limbo? Obviously it depends on the situation. When a loved one is missing, the family will do everything within their power to find them. Social media has certainly made it easier not only to find people, but it also helps those in limbo because it gives them something to do. Waiting for the results of exploratory surgery, scans or blood tests is made easier by trying to focus on the fact that medicine has come such a long way. If a diagnosis is made, at least you have an answer and hopefully a treatment plan can be formulated. We often adjust fairly quickly after bad news because we shift into fight mode – determined to beat the disease or make the most of life. If the tests do not shed any light on the problem, limbo will continue while new tests are ordered, but at least some nasty things will have been ruled out.
Waiting to hear whether we have gotten the job or won the award is clearly easier than waiting for a diagnosis and nothing compared to having a missing loved one. But it can make it hard to focus on the here and now, especially if you have been unemployed for a while or you really need to change jobs. While in limbo, it’s a good idea to come up with a plan B. What will you do if you don’t get the job? There’s nothing stopping you applying for other jobs while you wait. Now could be a good time to think outside the square and imagine all kinds of possibilities that could open up if you don’t get the position – moving interstate or overseas, further study, or completely changing professions might be options.
Finally, if you’re in relationship limbo, it might be time to take some control. The person you love may never make a decision. They may be consciously or unconsciously waiting for you to end things. I hear many people saying that they won’t make things easy for their indecisive partner by walking out themselves – but at what cost? It’s not good for our mental health to remain in limbo for too long. If your partner is still ambivalent after you have discussed the issues in your relationship and have done everything you can to improve things, then don’t wait any longer for the verdict. Why do you want to be with someone who is not sure whether they want to be with you? Obviously if you have children together, the decision is much harder. But it’s not good role modelling for children to see a parent being treated with anything but commitment, kindness and respect. And if you are the one who’s keeping your partner in limbo, do the right thing and make a decision as soon as you can.