One of the most common struggles I see in relationships is the struggle to be accountable. It seems that people have a truly hard time acknowledging their mistakes without defending, rationalizing or explaining why they did what they did. As you can imagine, not being willing to be accountable does not bode well for relationships.
While I could name many reasons why people have a problem simply acknowledging their mishaps, the reality is…it doesn’t matter why people struggle with this acknowledgment, what matters is that they learn to move past the struggle and into the gift of being accountable…of which there are many.
Below are ten gifts from being accountable (being able to admit your mistake, acknowledge the pain/upset/frustration it caused and repairing it in some way).
- Acknowledging you messed up often results in the other person softening.
- When you own your mistake, the other person feels a huge sense of relief.
- Your acknowledgement often reduces the intensity of the moment.
- Being accountable without getting defensive, can feel empowering to you. It feels good to be strong enough to own your mistakes rather than pretending you don’t make any.
- Owning your mistakes shows others that you’re responsible and “workable.”
- Owning your mistakes shows others that you “get it.” If you understand what you did wrong and the way it impacted the other person, they will have more trust that you won’t do it again.
- Acknowledging your mistakes while holding yourself in warm regard feels good.
- Being able to admit to your mistakes is excellent role modeling for children.
- Taking responsibility for your actions is acting with integrity.
- Acknowledging that you screwed up, repairing any damage done and committing to not do it again is FREEING. Once you do your part, you can let it go and feel good that you did your part to fix things—even if the other person doesn’t let it go.
The reality is that all of us make mistakes. There is no way for ANY human being to not make mistakes—we are not GOD. The courage comes in when we can own our mistakes, acknowledge how they impacted those around us and then repair things and move on. It’s empowering to have the strength to be able to simply say, “I’m so sorry. I messed up on this and I know it hurt you. I promise to do whatever I can to make things right.” Whew! The other person will feel a huge sense of relief and you can feel a great sense of pride in yourself for doing what many people seldom do.
Dare to be accountable; it is the one thing that can shift your relationship on a dime.
Challenge: Pay attention to all the ways you deflect, deny, blame, rationalize and defend your poor behaviors and instead step up and be accountable.