Sometimes a part of us must die before another part can come to life. Even though this is a natural and necessary part of our growth, it is often painful or, if we don’t realize what’s happening, confusing and disorienting. In fact, confusion and disorientation are often the messengers that tell us a shift is taking place within us. These shifts happen throughout the lives of all humans, as we move from infancy to childhood to adolescence and beyond. With each transition from one phase to another, we find ourselves saying good-bye to an old friend, the identity that we formed in order to move through that particular time.
Sometimes we form these identities in relationships or jobs, and when we shift those areas of our life become unsettled. Usually, if we take the time to look into the changing surface of things, we will find that a shift is taking place within us. For example, we may go through one whole chapter of our lives creating a protective shell around ourselves because we need it in order to heal from some early trauma. One day, though, we may find ourselves feeling confined and restless, wanting to move outside the shelter we needed for so long; the new part of ourselves cannot be born within the confines of the shell our old self needed to survive.
We may feel a strange mixture of exhilaration and sadness as we say good-bye to a part of ourselves that is dying and make way for a whole new identity to emerge in its place. We may find inspiration in working with the image of an animal who molts or sheds in order to make way for new skin, fur, or feathers to emerge. For example, keeping a duck feather, or some other symbol of transformation, can remind us that death and rebirth are simply nature’s way of evolving. We can surrender to this process, letting go of our past self with great love and gratitude, and welcoming the new with an open mind and heart, ready for our next phase of life.