This time of year people reflect on endings and beginning. It feels like an opportunity to start fresh. To take stock and to realign ourselves with our true purpose in life. Can you approach this with kindness, acceptance, and compassion?

There is something inherently risky in comparing our goals to our actual life. That risk is that we will judge and shame ourselves. Do you have a harsh list of all the ways you need to be perfect masquerading as goals? Driving yourself toward perfection is a bedrock of a toxic internal environment. These “lists” are a leftover from childhood survival strategies and core deficiency stories. Softening and letting go of them is a project for 2018 that will transform your life.

There is something inherently valuable about pausing to evaluate and reset. That value includes increasing resilience and a wider window of tolerance for being with reality, even when it makes us uncomfortable. We move closer into internal alignment.

What are the elements of clear seeing?

We have to be able to afford to see without denial. There are so many reasons why we shy away from the truth. Unresolved trauma can drive avoidance of being present with fear and intense energy or sensations in our body. Our thoughts might be torturing us and we need to escape. We feel an urgency to maintain connection and fear our relationships are not strong enough to cope with the truth.

The bottom line: how can we stand to see how we are out of alignment with our core values and passion for life if we feel stuck and unable to make meaningful change?

We have a primitive brain that is set up to protect us paired with a nervous system straining to cope with chronic stress in modern life. Our “fresh start” is in fact lived through a container that remembers and shies away from every possible danger.

We all long to be free. To feel comfortable enough to share authentically with people in our lives who honor and value who we truly are. To live a life of meaning, connection and purpose. To contribute to our family, friends and community. These are human drives that we share.

You needed your protective mechanisms to survive through to this moment. You did survive. And you deserve more. Take a fresh look. What are the benefits and what are the costs of maintaining these strategies in your life now? What can you release if you apply knowledge, introspection, kindness and compassion?