“Without a healthy dose of humility, accountability is near impossible; find the courage to be accountable.” ~Lisa Merlo-Booth
A damaging core component in relationships is a lack of accountability. Responding to the upset of others by dismissing, minimizing, defending, or blaming the person who is upset are all examples of a lack of accountability. If you find yourself responding in these ways to the upset of others, chances are you struggle with being accountable. Over time, a lack of accountability rots out even the best of relationships.
Healthy accountability has three components:
- Respecting the other person’s experience: “Thank you for sharing. I didn’t realize you felt like that.”
- Acknowledging the impact of your actions on them: “My actions were not okay, and I’m sure it was embarrassing for you in front of your friends. I can see why you feel like you can’t trust me.”
- Taking 100% responsibility for your actions and repairing the damage: “I’m sorry for snapping at you like that. I will speak with our friends who were present and apologize to them and own my actions. I will also do whatever I need to do to be the safest person in your life from now on.”
Without accountability, problems go unresolved, personal growth stagnates, and relationships flounder. People grow tired of not working through issues due to defensive reactions; the problem subsequently becomes your response to their upset rather than what led to their hurt. Although finding the humility and strength to acknowledge, own, and repair your harmful interactions is not easy, acting with this courage will drastically change your relationships with others and yourself.
Challenge: If you struggle with being accountable for your actions, look at the root of that struggle. Is it about perfectionism, insecurity, what you saw in your family of origin, entitlement, sexism, or (fill in the blank)? What does it feel like when you defend, dismiss, or minimize your actions to let yourself off the hook? How do others respond when you do this? Notice if your lack of accountability brings others closer to you or creates a greater distance. Work hard to take 100% responsibility for your mistakes, harmful actions, and hurtful behaviors while also holding yourself in warm regard. Acknowledging your mistakes is a necessary part of every relationship—particularly those you love. Courageous accountability is life-changing; find the strength to incorporate it into your life.