How does grief dissolve self-doubt?

Magic isn’t a trick of diversion or something frivolous.

True magic is the difference between how people think things work, and how they actually are.

When we see and feel how things actually are, when we go with that, magic is the result.

One of the most persistent challenges my clients cross swords with is self-doubt. And though that self-doubt usually arrives with thoughts of not being qualified, or letting others down if blooming and growing were to take them in a new direction, self-doubt is actually a hallmark of people who seek to live fully, who want every seed in them to ripen, who want to arrive to the end of life knowing that they have given everything they had to give, every dream in them birthed.

As all things do, self-doubt comes bearing gifts. It’s there to show we’re onto something. But because it comes with a lot of discomfort, most people are looking for a way out of it – fast. We commonly look to receiving validation from others or believe we need readiness or self-confidence to proceed.

The truth is, we need none of those things.

Outer validation happens only if we assign greater authority and authorship of our lives to the others around us than we hold within ourselves. It is not a necessary ingredient for action.

Confidence is a result of taking action – it’s an outcome not a precursor.

Readiness is a stand-in for simply standing in the fire of, “This is what I choose. And that’s enough.”

We don’t need anything of things to dissolve barbed wires of doubt.

What we need is grief.

If you’ve been going steady with self-doubt, right now your first thought isn’t, “I think I need to grieve.” It’s not the empowerment go-to of conventional thought.

But grief is the energy that dissolves the forms that have found their completion. Grief is not sadness at all, though sometimes we feel sad in grief. Grief is life initiatiating us into a new season, taking us from one way of knowing ourselves into something wholly other. As meditation teacher Joe Dispenza is fond of saying, “You can’t change your personal reality while being the same personality.”

Grief is important, because it takes us out of the lie that things require fixing, and into the truth that what is needed now is undoing and renewal. Grief is important, because self-doubt is inevitably a lineage wound, handed down to you, innocently, by your ancestors or even by an earlier version of yourself. Grief dismantles the frequency of doubt and frees it to turn into something new.

The autumn season, the West on the Wheel of the Year, is practiced as a time both to grieve and to honor the ancestors. This is no coincidence. It’s not just a time to remember, honor and release those family or lineage members who have passed from this world. It’s because our ancestors can be called on as allies and guides in navigating the powerful and sometimes confusing waters of genuine release. They are the masters of the grief, transformation and renewal that stitched into the code of our bones.

Feeding our ancestors feeds us. Honoring them unleashes their wisdom into our dreams and daily lives through synchronicity and serendipity. They are our direct link to the Other Side.

One of the simplest and most powerful ways to nourish our ancestral allies and enact creative grief is to create an ancestor plate.

This week, perhaps even on the upcoming new moon of September 17, take a little bit of the food you’re eating on your own plate and place it directly out onto the earth. Often this is done near a tree or in a space where you feel a specialness. Often it is done in the North of a piece of land.

When you offer the little bit of food, feel the same joy, delight and innocence you felt as a child, giving a family member a dandelion flower or one of your drawing or school art projects. This is how the ancestors see us – as sweet, innocent beings full of love and power.

When you offer this little bit of food, ask your ancestors to help you grieve anything that has been in the bardo of your own being. Ask them to bring the waters of healing, forgiveness and transmutation. Thank them for all they have done for you on the Other Side.

When self-doubt has been a fixture and a companion for so long, it can be easy to believe that it will take monumental amounts of effort and time to uproot. But in truth, a simple offering done sincerely can move the whole shape of reality into the form of it seeks.

With the love of the ancients,