Being a coach and therapist, my world is steeped in accountability. A top request for most clients’ is something to the effect of “hold me accountable.” To goals, plans, visions – the usual.
Got it. Yes. Will do. I’m all in on that, but at the end of the day, I’m really about helping you be accountable less to what you want to do and more to who you are and who you want to be.
I hold you accountable to yourself – to your feelings, thoughts, beliefs, actions, and often times, reactions. I help you be accountable to those you care about. And to hold others accountable to YOU.
That’s the bad and good news. Bad because it’s not as easy as one, two three - create the vision, identify the goals, make the plan. Done. Business launched! Novel finished! Health optimized! Love life activated! Work/life balance balancing!
If it was only that easy. That cut and dry. Oh life.
The good news is that if it was so easy, you’d already be doing it – or you’d have done it by now. You’d have cracked the accountability code and you’d be owning that shit!
Why’s that good, you ask? It’s good because it means a) it’s not your fault; this is a universal human struggle b) there’s new information and insights you’re about to get to help you and c) you’re a BIG step closer to getting what you’ve been wanting.
Feeling better? Not yet? A little maybe? Ok, keep reading.
New information and new insights
In one of Brenè Brown’s talks, she confesses to being a blamer. “Hi, I’m Brenè and I’m a blamer” she says in her now-well known, funny Texas-tinged style. I can relate. I’m for sure a blamer.
Fun Fact: Brenè was one of my professors back in the late 90s. She was the same person then as you see today. She had star quality. And she was funny as hell, smart, genuine, and engaging.
In the talk, she explains that blame - fault-finding and finger-pointing – is how way we discharge the intensity of feelings we don’t like. It’s our knee jerk to get away from pain. Something bad happens and in a split-second, we go “whose fault is it?”
The more we blame, the less we’re accountable. To ourselves and to others. And whether we make it our fault or someone else’s doesn’t matter. We’re not being accountable if we’re blaming.
Just recently, I faced the music of my blaming ways with someone I love dearly. In a moment – several, actually – of reacting to intense emotional pain, I made something his fault. I reached for something to grab onto – something to control - blaming him for my hurt was it.
You can probably guess how that turned out. Not well. Deeply hurt feelings. Not talking for several months. Silence and pain for us both. I decided to make amends. I needed to own my behaviors. And my feelings and my story and my words. I wanted to give this to him. So I did. And it helped us both. It set the stage for healing. Though I wonder where we’d be had I not blamed in the first place.
“Accountability is, by definition, a vulnerable process.” – Brenè Brown
Indeed it is. Holding yourself accountable and taking responsibility for how we feel, for something we said or to a commitment we’ve made is a profound act of high self-worth. It’s self care in the highest. It’s a generous and loving act. And it’s empathy in action.
And even though we all want to be living in our worth, standing for our selves, giving care, and loving fully, we’re afraid. And often ashamed. Ouch. Most of us have been raised – with generally good intentions – to get away from feelings that hurt. But it’s taking ownership for our hurt and for how we hurt others that generates our whole sense of self, our complex humanity of light and dark, joy and grief, pain and comfort, getting hurt and hurting others.
Taking ownership, being honest and accountable are also the doorways to forgiveness and humility and the freedom to make mistakes, to make amends and to be perfectly imperfect.
And all of this gets you more positive emotions, more self-worth, greater resilience, a calmer body, and healthier relationships.
And THAT’s the fuel you need for your goals and dreams and for the life you want.
Goal planning and vision setting, while important and necessary, are 100% dependent on deep value, high self worth, the ability to fully human, and of course, healthy relationships.
So what does accountability in action sound like?
"That was a hurtful thing I did to you. I’m sorry I hurt your feelings."
"When you said that to me, I felt mad and sad. My feelings were really hurt."
(To self) "I made a mistake and I feel shame and guilt. But I’m new at this, and I’m not perfect. This is a tough lesson, but I’m glad I’m learning it now."
And how does it feel?
Not gonna lie…probably super uncomfortable and maybe downright scary, at first
Then, a little easier, more open, shoulders relaxing, breath exhaling
Finally, relief, lighter energy, deep worthiness, pride in self, vital connection
What does it look like?
Repaired and healed relationships
No longer beating yourself up
Following through on your commitments
Business launched, novel finished, health optimized, love life activated…
Where in your life, work and love could you be more accountable? What’s holding you back from shifting out of default fault-finding, attack mode – toward yourself or others – and into taking responsibility?
Try journaling about this for a few minutes. Tune in to see what comes up. Then, if you’re up for it, take one of the “sounds like” examples from above and experiment this week. What do you notice? I’d love to know how it goes.
As always, I’m here as your guide. Learning this stuff isn’t easy and it takes time. I’ve got a lot of accountability-holding – of myself and others – under my belt. I can help you. Let’s talk.
Yours in accountability,