Starting Over in January

But home is far away
In the Dark, we can’t make out the sea.
No stars point our ways to the shore
Wind comes from all directions
Cutting our bones.
By Wang Ping

January is a time of brisk, crisp, sparkling skies and clean air— an inspiration to get outside and get some exercise. January is cold wind and early darkness that feels likes an assault.

Sometimes I revel in the snappy skies, sometimes I grouse about having to wear shoes and boots and socks and sweaters. . . It can be depressing. I’m thinking about those times when the glass is less than half empty— it isn’t even there, which doesn’t matter because there is nothing to pour into it, anyway.

In winter, “wind comes from all directions.” We shrug our shoulders and hollow out our chests to make our bodies smaller and less exposed. “Home is far away.”

If you’ve lost your job or your good friend or relationship, if you’re feeling stuck in the same obnoxious spot, or if you feel like you’ll never get where you want, what you want, when you want, this is a particularly poignant time of year. You might remember all your good hopes, desires and wishes from last year, and feel especially hurt if they didn’t come true.

Grieve. Then close the door on what is lost or should be. Mark this day with a ritual. Write a poem or paint or take photographs. Go for a long run. Play racquetball.

Maybe you’ll experience a deep movie or a book— something to take your attention. Enjoy a good meal with a friend and talk all night. Spend the day in meditation, then light some incense and relax in a warm soothing bath. Move on.
Generous action is an important antidote to feelings of worthlessness, aloneness and depression. Find someone who needs a hand and lend yours— that will feel make you feel better. Knowing that you made a difference helps you feel more worthy.

Give something to yourself, too. Not an object, but an experience, a way to live differently. Set yourself one goal. Just one, that’s enough. There may be other changes you’d like to make, but take it one bit at a time; transformations are more powerful and more likely to succeed if you work focused, deep and slow.

In January many people make resolutions, and by February many people forget them. Resolutions can feel fiery, but they are often surrounded by cold water. Your resolve will be tested, and sometimes extinguished. Don’t give up. Start over.
Starting over gets easier with practice.  Younger people often feel that all is lost, life is over, there is nothing left to do. A person who is a bit older and more seasoned has been through difficulties before, and may be more optimistic— knowing that after all is lost something gets found again.  Life is a process: you fail, you win, you sail along— until you fail again and the cycle starts over. If you don’t fail, you probably haven’t tried anything new; failure is an audition for eventual success.

Recently a dear man who had been very ill, who thought he was going to die, told me that he needed to get used to being helped doing things that had been easy for him.  Even though it was hard for him to accept help, he needed it, and he learned to feel grateful and become more loving to his family. He is thankful for his life, especially because it may be coming to a close. I am thankful that I can spend time with him.

Every morning when we wake up we’re starting over.

Related Articles:
Happy Holidays! Are you Happy Enough?
For Real Change This Year, Skip the Resolutions and Look to Your Life Goals
New Year’s Resolutions – Why They Don’t Work; And Commitments – How They Can

© Copyright 2012 All rights reserved. Permission to publish granted by Lynn Somerstein, PhD, NCPsyA, C-IAYT, therapist in New York City, New York

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

  • Leave a Comment
  • Georgia


    January 13th, 2012 at 3:48 PM

    “Every morning when we wake up we’re starting over.”

    Now that is a quatoe we can all stand to live by!

  • helen f

    helen f

    January 14th, 2012 at 9:17 AM

    Change takes time and it does not happen overnight. But we are all human and this is where most of us fail. We get to where we want something instantly and can’t wait and be patient enough to see somehting through. If we can’t have what we want in a minute, then phhh we are done.

  • Dr. Lynn Somerstein

    Dr. Lynn Somerstein

    January 14th, 2012 at 10:50 AM

    Thanks, Georgia. Starting over embodies hope!
    take care,

  • Dr. Lynn Somerstein

    Dr. Lynn Somerstein

    January 14th, 2012 at 5:51 PM

    Yes. indeed, Helen- developing patience is a long term objective–you have to be patient so you can get more patient, eventually. ;>)

  • shan


    January 15th, 2012 at 6:08 AM

    Januay is just too crazy. Think I am starting my new years resolutions in February this year instead! :)

  • Dr. Lynn Somerstein

    Dr. Lynn Somerstein

    January 15th, 2012 at 7:18 PM

    Sounds like a good idea to me. ;>)

  • KD


    January 16th, 2012 at 12:23 AM

    You can’t win all the time. You can’t stand tall all the time. Sometimes you must take a fall. But what’s more important is that you stand back up after that.

  • Nan


    January 16th, 2012 at 5:48 AM

    This time of year depresses me more than anything. I don’t like the cold or the gray days. It does not feel like a time of renewal for me, just cold and death. I have a hard time getting out of this winter slump until spring and summer arrive.

  • Dr. Lynn Somerstein

    Dr. Lynn Somerstein

    January 16th, 2012 at 10:46 AM

    You it exactly right, KD- thanks for writing in.

  • Dr. Lynn Somerstein

    Dr. Lynn Somerstein

    January 16th, 2012 at 10:48 AM

    Sorry, Nan, I almost had it right. What I wanted to say is, “You have it exactly right!”
    Thanks and take care,

  • Dr. Lynn Somerstein

    Dr. Lynn Somerstein

    January 16th, 2012 at 10:50 AM

    NAN- this is for you.
    The cold has effected my brain, I have a hard time too. When I wake up, it can help sometimes to try and think of something good. When it’s freezing and grey and snowy and icy I have to try really hard. Then, if I can’t think of anything, I have to laugh. There must be SOMETHING!

  • Dr. Lynn Somerstein

    Dr. Lynn Somerstein

    January 16th, 2012 at 10:53 AM

    Actually, so far I have two of the names wrong in this bunch of messages, so please forgive me, Nan and KD. Maybe it’s brain freeze. ;)

  • Brad


    January 16th, 2012 at 11:51 PM

    I find that if you’re ever stressed or are just too frustrated from the same routine,take a step back and change things around,do something new.Always works for me :)

  • Dr. Lynn Somerstein

    Dr. Lynn Somerstein

    January 17th, 2012 at 6:21 AM

    That’s great advice Brad. thanks!
    take care,

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