If you are trying to create something new and you feel inhibited, listless, or otherwise blocked, consider this: in order for new life to grow, something must first die.

Now, I’m not a gardener, but even I appreciate that death and rebirth are inextricably bound parts of nature’s cycle. Most plants must die or go dormant in the winter in order to be reborn in the spring. Plants with a life cycle of only one year aren’t reborn in exactly the same way – their progeny are reborn from the seeds that they spread.

I’ve been reading a lot lately about the Life/Death/Life nature. In many western cultures we see death as a final state, rather than as the night between two days, or a necessary step on the way to rebirth. While I don’t purport to know what happens after we humans die, we can see that in nature new life usually comes forth from the old. New life is impossible without death.

In my life, I often feel like so many parts of me have died. Sometimes I’ve let them go willingly, and sometimes I’ve really struggled to let them die. Often what has died is a belief about myself or an expectation about how the world “should” be. Here are some examples from my life:

Becoming Vegan
What died: the ability to “be normal,” not having to explain my food choices all the time, some degree of convenience
What was born: a completely new perspective on food, a huge improvement in my health, the joy of living in alignment with deeply held principles

Becoming Minimalist
What died: the ability to consume unthinkingly and uncritically, living without questioning my possessions, being able to use shopping as a drug when I needed a pick me up
What was born: the ability to travel, start my own business, move with MUCH less stress, save tons of time and money

I don’t see these “deaths” as bad things anymore. Now I understand that they were necessary for me to grow as a person, and to do the things that I want to do in life. I’m now very grateful for the parts of me that have died.

It is so easy to hold onto beliefs and expectations about how things “should be.” Sometimes we hold onto them because we are doing so unconsciously, sometimes it seems unthinkable to let them go.

If you are feeling blocked ask yourself: “Am I holding onto something that needs to die? Do I have a belief/expectation/habit that is no longer serving me?”

If you feel afraid to let something go, reconceptualize it from a loss to a necessary part of the Life/Death/Life cycle. Accept that you can’t know exactly what rebirth will look like, but there is a time for everything to die, because without death we would all be stale and unchanging.

If you’d like to read more about the Life/Death/Life cycle, I highly recommend reading Women Who Run With the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estés. She is a cultural anthropologist and a Jungian psychologist who psychoanalyzes ancient fairy tales and stories. She tells a story based on an old Inuit tale called “Skeleton Woman.”