The most important idea to start with here is my outlook on responsibility. I am going to try to articulate this the best I can as to not put you off of this thought process. These ideas may also turn you off, because they sound selfish, but really they are self-aware, so stick with me as I explain these differences and their relevance.
If you are not aware of what you truly have to offer and what you can give to others, then you often give more than you have available and when you are relinquishing energy to others without making sure that you have that energy or capacity to give, then you aren't actually giving them your best and you are losing yourself in the process. You may equate this to what you might call love in a romantic partnership.
I suggest this thought process because you need to be aware of where your paradigm is. Our experiences are nothing but what we believe they are and we are nothing but who we believe we are. If that is the case, then our ultimate responsibility is for ourself. We are not responsible for anything outside of our own paradigm. Now stay with me for a second, I know that can be a statement that has you turning this off or yelling at me through your car, but there is more to that. We are not responsible for anything outside of our own paradigm, because our paradigm is all that we have control of. We have no control over anyone else's experience of the world around them or their experience of us. What we have instead of being responsible for them or their interpretation of their experience is a responsibility TO them and their experiences of us. We are responsible for ourselves, and we are responsible to others. Pay attention to these two very small words, because they hold very large differences in meaning in this context. Being responsible for suggests you have control. Being responsible to indicates that you can only be responsive to the situation as you have no control over it.
So, to be responsible for yourself is to be accountable to your own actions. Thinking you are responsible for someone else or their actions inherently suggests that you have any sort of control over them. You do not. To be responsible to someone else or their actions is to choose to be in control of your response to their experiences. If someone is making a choice that you don't agree with then you have to let it go, because it is their choice and their choice only. Let's say your friend is going back to their toxic ex and then complaining to you about that person, and now you feel this burden to either carry that feeling of pain with them or try to fix the situation, but you have already told them your views of the situation and they are still making that choice. You have to let it be what it truly is. Those feelings are their's. They are annoyed. They are making choices. They have ownership and choice over their experiences. I am not suggesting that you shouldn't have empathy. You can have empathy and be aware and understanding of their pain without taking ownership of it. You are not responsible for their feelings. But you do have responsibility to that feeling now that they have shared it with you. You are now responsible for your response to their vulnerability and that particular paradigm they have. You are not responsible for that vulnerability and paradigm, they own that viewpoint and chose to share it with you, only they have control over it. You are responsible, however, for your response to it, because that is what you have control over.
Now if you tried to be responsible for that feeling and carry that burden, what would you be able to do with it? Being responsible for someone else or their paradigms is not an action orientation. You can not take action for someone else, you just live with the inaction of carrying someone else's mental and emotional weight. If you choose, instead, to be responsible to that feeling, then you get to take action towards being better to that person. These actions you must take are reflection, deliberation, and response. First, reflect on their words and what you can comprehend of their experience and determine what that says about you, who you are, and how you act. This is translating empathy into emotional intelligence. Second, deliberate on how you may want to be - moving forward - and what you might be able to do so that you may be better to that person. Then respond. Take action by taking responsibility for yourself and becoming accountable to the truth of your needs and paradigms. If you don't want to carry baggage that is not yours in the future, how do you need to think and act to be responsible to instead of responsible for future situations? You have no control over their response to your actions, you only have control of your actions. Be responsible for yourself by understanding your responsibility to others.
Alright, let's shift gears a little bit. Accountability works within these same concepts. To stay accountable to your goals and desires, you have to be weary of what you are responsible for. You are responsible to what happens to you, the world around you, and your experiences, but you are responsible for the way you process these things. You have no control over what is going to happen in your day. The weather, who is going to text you, someone else not wearing a mask at Kroger and coughing towards you as you pass by. Shit happens. The only thing you have control over is how you respond to those situations. You are responsible for yourself and your responses. This is also how you create accountability for yourself.
The first step to creating accountability is to have the awareness of why you are doing (or not doing) the thing you are trying to hold yourself accountable to (the keyword here is accountable to). Why am I choosing sobriety? Why do I want to exercise every day? Why am I choosing to eat a vegan diet? Why am I choosing abstinence at this moment? Every choice you make, you are accountable to, so to understand your accountability to the decision, you have to be aware of your responsibility for ideas surrounding it.
If you can define your alignment up front (or the why behind whatever it is that you are trying to do), then you will have a greater rate of success, because you are aware of what you are actually holding yourself responsible for. For example, I have found that weed ironically increases my anxiety even though I began smoking it as a way to decrease my anxiety. Alcohol doesn't play well with my body, but I love my body. So, in the example of sobriety, I am responsible for my brain and my body. I am responsible for choices that will reduce anxiety and increase the likelihood that my body feels alright each morning. Notice that I am only responsible for those choices though. I am not responsible for the anxiety and the way my body feels, because that can happen and change at any time, at which point, I will have to be responsible to the situation.
So, first things first, define your alignment, understand your needs. Then, you set a course for how to get there. This is choosing the ideal that you are becoming accountable to. This is the part you already know and experience. This is wanting to choose sobriety, a new diet, a new method of physical activity. So how then, do you keep yourself accountable?
When I consider the truth of how I keep myself accountable, it is a complex answer. The answer is counterintuitive. To keep myself accountable for my goals, there is only one thing that I have found that works better than anything else. I don't. You can't be accountable for your goals, you can only be accountable for yourself. That being said, being accountable to your goals will get you there faster, more successfully, and with more resilience. When you feel accountable for your goals instead of for yourself, you begin creating negative reinforcing loops or internal narratives that end up driving you further from your goals. For example; if you are trying to work out or be outside more consistently and you have determined that you are going to do so five days a week, but you end up having only done four days (or less) at the end of the week, you might end up saying to yourself "I knew I couldn't do it. Five days is too many days. I messed up."
In that phrasing right there, you have just agreed to three different negatively reinforcing thoughts in that reflection. You are now agreeing that you can't do it, five days is too many, and you definitely failed. The way in which you overcome these situations is by forgiving yourself, offering kindness, and choosing positively reinforcing narratives. Instead of "I knew I couldn't do it," lay it out as fact. "I didn't do it this week." Instead of "Five days is too many days," lay it out as fact. "Five days is a high target rate." Instead of "I messed up," expand on the truth of the situation. "I did not achieve what I set out to achieve this week, but I am still alive and okay. In fact, I spent an impressive amount of time outside or working out." You have now neutralized the negative narratives. Next is the hardest part. Forgive yourself. "I didn't do it this week, but that is okay, it was a high target rate and I have an opportunity to try again next week."
With the negatively reinforcing thought process, you are already going into the next week decidedly a failure. With a forgiving outlook on your situation, you are going into the next week with opportunity to fail again. While both of those can involve failure, one of them says you have failed before you even start. Give yourself the space to fail and you will have a higher rate of success. When you have already come to terms with failure, you fail every time.
When you have given yourself the space for failure, you also open up the space to be successful. To be successful, you have to learn from past failure. This takes curiosity. You must be curious of the effects of the actions you took that did not align with your integrity. Be curious how these actions or choices made you feel or defined who you are and whether that is how you want to feel or who you want to be going forward. The important questions here being; Did that serve me? What would I feel and be if the choice I made did serve me? Use these questions to see that you have choice going forward. The only thing you are in control of is your choice, so be aware of what they might be and use them to do better the next time. Determine where you might be able to make choices in the future that allow you to circumvent the space of negatively reinforcing loops.
If you want to gain more accountability to yourself and be more responsible for yourself and responsible to others, it takes a high level of awareness. If you would like to start or continue your awareness journey with me, reach out anytime to set up a free consultation to see if I may be a good partner for you.