How to Begin Again…and Again

Santa Rosa therapist and life coach Patty Bechtold explores the practice of beginning again at

We’re well into January, and I’m cautiously wanting to tell you I may finally be getting this thing about how to begin again.

Seeing that every moment is an opportunity to begin again…and again.

Of course, others have arrived here way before me and I’m definitely a novice.

It doesn’t necessarily come easily either, but I’m so glad to be here.

Because no matter how often you need to begin again, it in no way diminishes your worth or goodness.

And yet, I do suspect we’ve been conditioned to believe that if we aren’t going all in and rapidly making progress there is something wrong with us. No doubt that’s why I’ve struggled to begin again.

Perhaps you have too?

The good thing is there’s much more awareness these days of all the ways women have been expected to contort themselves in order to keep up or fit in.

Still, the message about going all in definitely remains.

January really brings it out, but this year I’m seeing how subtle it can be. I almost didn’t pick up on it in this article about five journalists coming together to change their relationships with food and eating.

They noted (and rightly so) that their approach to resolutions is a bit revolutionary because it’s not about dieting or losing weight.

To me it seemed like a perfect opportunity for a gentle start, and a practice of beginning again.

One of the journalists longed for shared meals and more connection.

And then she said, “So for the entire month of January, I will eat only when sitting down, at a table, with a human.”

I had to read it again to catch all the restrictions in that sentence:

  • every meal
  • the entire month
  • must be sitting down
  • must be at the table
  • must be with a human

Wow, that’s a lot to expect of herself, considering that it sounds like she has mostly eaten alone for quite some time. Yet here she is, assuming she should be able to go from zero to sixty in a flash.

But I can definitely relate to her experience.

Plenty of times I’ve applied the same restrictive and extreme narrative to myself without realizing it.

When you think about it, it doesn’t leave much room to begin again.

At least, that’s been my experience. I hear similar stories from other women too.

It appears that when we believe we’ve not done something often enough or fast enough or well enough, we’re likely to just give up.

Nothing to see here. No room to begin again.

This can apply to any part of our journeys: careers, relationships, health, healing, creativity.

But you know what?

Although this restrictive and extreme approach to self improvement has been normalized to the point where we barely notice it anymore, I don’t think humans are built to function this way.

I’m seriously questioning that lately.

So what I most wish for you this year is to be kind and gentle with yourself.

Set your own pace, honor your own rhythms and grant yourself a thousand (or more) opportunities to begin again.

And know I’ll be right there with you!


If you work with a different rhythm, you will come easily and naturally home to yourself.
-John O’Donahue