It's easy to forget that we are all perfect in our own design. Sometimes we muck it up with habits and choices that do not serve us.
What’s the first thing you think when you make a mistake? If you’re like most people, you will either blame someone else or blame yourself.
Blaming, even blaming yourself, is not at all the same thing as being accountable.
Why is it so hard to be accountable for ourselves – to take responsibility for ourselves? One of the problems may lie in the connotations we have applied to these words.
What are the judgments attached to these words?
What are the fears attached to these judgments?
If anything like this comes up for you, no wonder it’s hard to be accountable!
Think back to your childhood. What happened when you did something your parents or caregivers didn’t like?
If any of these happened to you, then the message was clear: “I’m not okay if I make a mistake. Mistakes are bad and wrong, and I’m bad and wrong if I make a mistake or do something that someone else is upset about.”
Wouldn’t this make it very hard to be accountable for ourselves?
Since perfectionism was one of my control strategies, I agonized whenever I made a mistake. I would feel so awful – so humiliated and mortified. I would get very defensive when someone was upset with me – until I finally decided that it was okay for me to be human! It was only after I took the badness off making mistakes or upsetting others that I was able to hold myself accountable for my choices.
Life became much easier when I realized that I can’t be human without making mistakes, and that I can’t learn, grow or take risks without making mistakes and sometimes upsetting others. I even learned to laugh at some of my mistakes!
Now ‘accountable’ no longer scares me. It just means that I’m responsible for my choices and their consequences, which I now find empowering rather than intimidating.
It’s amazing how much relief I feel when I take responsibility for the outcome of my choices – good or bad. Being accountable means that I don’t have to pretend anything. I don’t have put on a front or hide anything. It means that I accept that I have a wounded self who is controlling – who can be angry, mean, judgmental, shut down and resistant, and that, because I don’t judge my wounded self, I can be accountable for when I’m closed and controlling and less than loving to myself or others. And because it’s okay for me to make mistakes and be unloving, I can learn instead of shame myself each time I’m less than who I want to be. The learning is the prize, the jewel within the mistake or the unloving behavior – the jewel that I could never access when I was afraid to be accountable.
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