At the end of December, I’m always excited about the New Year approaching. It suggests new chances, new beginnings, new hope and it gives me the chance to leave the unfinished behind. A clean slate, a new start – and so I love it. I have great plans, great ideas, great excitement and energy and great things seem possible again.

Then something happens a few days into the new year. I notice that nothing has really changed; that I haven’t actually turned into this slim, sober, zen-like health goddess that meditates for an hour before going for my run every morning. That in actual fact, I’m still eating the remains of the Roses chocolates, that my jeans still don’t fit and that I need to argue with myself to go for a walk with the dog!

But then something worse begins to happen…I start to be mean to me; to give myself a hard time that I haven’t lost the few lbs overnight,; that I should know better; that I must be useless and that there’s no point in trying. In previous years, this insidious nastiness has gone on for weeks or even months, without an ounce of self compassion or kindness present in my thoughts. I know I’m not alone. I meet people every day who do this to themselves and not just at New Year.

This year, I noticed the pattern within a day or two. Fighting it gets you nowhere – Kindness is the ONLY answer. So as I got up one day last week and was ‘trying to figure’ how to interrupt the thinking, I read the following:

‘Every intention, every achievement has come out of dissatisfaction not serenity. No one ever said, “things are perfect; lets invent fire” ‘ Fran Lebowitz

And I let go! Of the desire for everything to be perfect instantly. And to accept that I can only take baby steps in the world, that my jeans won’t fit for a while, that I might ache a little more after my walks this month. The giant steps are the ones I make in my own thinking; when it’s possible for me to know I’m not perfect and still be kind to me. Because then I can actually have a happy new year.

So if you’re giving yourself a hard time, I highly recommend that instead you take the softer route. It can seem as though it will take a little longer but the hard time paralyzes you in pain. Be kind, especially to yourself.