Liminal Thinking

Liminal Thinking

Liminal thinking is a concept made popular by author David Gray in his 2016 book Liminal Thinking, and is a helpful framework to consider this new alcohol-free life you may be considering or embarking upon. “Liminal” comes from the Latin root for “threshold,” and represents transition periods between one thing and another.


When we make a transition in life—like moving out of our childhood home for the first time, or getting married, or starting a new job—this time is marked by a lot of new behaviors, habits, thoughts, and actions. We have the opportunity to start anew in many ways, and often adopt novel ways of behaving that feel positive and productive. We feel as if life is moving forward and we are in a period of creation.

In the concept of liminal thinking, the idea is that we can co-create these periods of transition (even when our life stays the same) by purposefully changing the way we think. When we shift from one way of thinking to another, this creates an opportunity to adopt new habits, behaviors, and thought processes. We get out of stagnation by creating a period of change out of thin air.


In Liminal Thinking, David Gray states that a primary tenant of liminal thinking is that “new thinking comes only when we are open to changing our beliefs.” This is a powerful place to begin when we consider alcohol. Each of us is managing a lifetime of conditioning, experiences, and perceptions about alcohol, and these perceptions are often highly influenced by society, media, and marketing.