Trustworthiness Skill #3: Accountability

Accountability is our ability to own our parts in every situation. Crappy boyfriend/girlfriend? What did WE do to contribute to picking that person? Crappy situation? What was our part in creating it or going along with it. I find that accountability often pairs well with boundaries when it comes to ensuring that we make our expectations and what is and isn’t okay clear with others and also have consequences that back them up. Additionally, some clients I’ve had tend to have a worldview that the world is against them, it was the “world’s” fault or someone elses, and really have a hard time owning or identifying what is their own responsibility in a situation.


To make things a little clearer, let’s talk about what is ours:

We are responsible for:

1. Reaction to a situation or person

2. Setting or not setting boundaries around a situation

3. Learning from our mistakes or trying something different

4. Our emotions or what we do with them

5. The friends and people we surround ourselves with

6. How we respond to failure or rejection

7. How creative we get in finding other solutions to a problem or other ways of feeling happy or meeting our goals

8. If we ask for help or let our ego get the best of us

9. If we apologize for the hurt or pain we caused a person (real or perceived)


It is also important that we let other people be responsible for what is theirs and NOT take responsibility for:

1. Their emotional reactions to a situation

2. Whether they ask for help or not

3. Whether they communicated what they wanted or didn’t want in a clear, direct way

4. Other’s happiness

5. Other’s unhappiness

6. Other’s anythingness

7.Things outside of our control (the weather, a car hitting us, being a target of bullying, having different tastes and preferences)


With accountability, it’s all about the balance of owning our part, and allowing space for other’s to own theirs. In every situation, it is likely we have some sort of role to play or role in how we respond to it, make meaning of it, and move forward. There are some exceptions with trauma/death and ultimately it can be helpful to hash these things out with a professional. Trauma happening to us and in our lives is usually not our fault (although it can be complex when it comes to addiction, complicated grief, etc). 


When I’m looking to get close to someone, it is important that I see their ability to take accountability for what is theirs, AND not take accountability for what isn’t. For those of us who say “sorry” too much, practice telling yourself something good about yourself every time you do. This practice has been valuable for my clients and even close colleagues of mine. Ultimately, it can be really hard to face ourselves. But I guarantee you that the more you do, the better your life and relationships will be.”

Thank you!

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