Thursday, July 18, 2013

The Big Girl's Guide to Accountability

The Big Girl Chronicles:  The Big Girl’s Guide to Accountability

If you’ve ever spoken with someone about a relationship gone wrong, chances are you’ve been lulled or courted rather than given the truth about the situation.  I came into an awareness of this after having listened to myself try to explain away a failed relationship once.  My entire conversation was about how I’d been the most reasonable person and there was absolutely no way that any of what went wrong could’ve possibly been my fault.  The more I thought about what I’d done, the more I began to listen to others talk about failed relationships in their lives.  Whether that relationship was with an employer, business associate, friend or relative, it seems my goal in explaining why the relationship ended is more to get the listeners’ favor rather than give an actual account of events.  That could seem ideal, but I’ve found it to be something impossible to grow from.  The more I learn about my tendency to avoid accountability, the more challenged I am to overcome it.  This is how I got started.

Listen to yourself.

The first thing I had to do was check my language.  Anytime I discussed a failed relationship, I usually would explain all the things that I did that could be considered “right.”  I also noticed that when sharing about the other’s role in the relationship, I tended to only mention things the other did that could be considered “wrong.”  It works like a charm each and every time.  The listener becomes empathetic and convinced that the other involved is completely at fault.  My halo and angelic glow verify that the other person or entity involved is nothing but a predatory mess that happened to my innocent, naïve self. 

Take ownership of your flaws.

The truth is that living under the illusion of perfection is easier to do than having to actually acknowledge character flaws and correct them.   Learning self-discipline and accountability is hard work.  Staring at the truth reflecting back at you in the mirror is difficult.  However, the benefit of growing through this personal challenge and building character is priceless.  My blog post from August 2012, “The Big Girl’s Guide to Falling in Love…With YOU!” summarized a bit of the personal struggle I’ve had with self-acceptance.  It could be that I lacked accountability because I’ve not ever dealt with myself realistically.  To cope with my imperfections I went to the opposite extreme and denied any imperfections at all rather than acknowledge them and challenge them head-on.    Taking ownership of my faults and imperfections led to a clearer perception of the situation, and actually gave more confidence in myself.  Once I was able to say, “This is the kind of person I am and this is where I fell short in the relationship,” I could more accurately pinpoint how both myself and the other party involved could’ve handled things better. 


Confronting yourself realistically is the most difficult part of the process.  Once I did so things got tremendously easier.   Doing a self-assessment helped redirect my focus.  It was no longer important who was at fault or whether or not I’d “won” someone else’s sympathy or favor.    The facts of the situation are what they are.  And it was incredibly liberating to not have to rehearse my version of the story so that I’m not the one who appears to be the cause of the relationship’s demise. 

Accepting accountability isn’t something I notice very much of in today’s world.  I can’t begin to imagine why it seems society at large has instead mastered avoidance and denial rather than practicing accountability for their actions.  I laugh as I think about that because if there is any remote chance of some kind of positive reinforcement we are quick to speak up and say, “Yes, I did this.”  However, if negative connotations are involved with our actions we’re somehow not to blame by any means.   I’m not sure where this trend began in society, but I’d bet that most of the social ills that plague society now can be traced back to some person or group or entity not accepting responsibility for their actions or role in creating the problem.    And as long as it continues to work, we’ll continue to practice avoidance and denial rather than accountability.  

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