Being Accountable

Accountable: adjective … required to account for one’s actions; answerable, liable.
 “American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition.” 
 TheFreeDictionary, www.thefreedictionary.com/accountable?sr=40g3, 2016)

The definition of Accountable looks unpleasant. “I like being held accountable for the things I say and do; even my kid likes being held accountable…” said no one… ever. We human beings like to appear good, right, and perfect; not bad, wrong, or fallible. Sometimes this drive to maintain a shiny appearance prevents us from building authentic relationships — you know, the kind where we say what we really mean and what we really think without the fear of being rejected and negatively judged, the kind where we can agree to disagree and the friendship remains solid.

Accountable has a positive face, regardless of its acidic definition. I learned there is encouragement, perspective, and safety that being accountable preserves for those who are dedicated to it. I made this discovery while completing a faith-based, 28 week, 12-step program.

I started as one of 100+ participants, then I was placed in a small group of six participants and two leaders, then we formed groups of threes and were instructed to regularly communicate for strength and encouragement, whether we were in crisis or not. We were required to commit to communicating honestly; my group took our commitment seriously by choosing to meet virtually and in person every week.

As we met, some sayings of King Solomon took on new meaning: 
 “Walk with the wise and become wise; associate with fools and get into trouble,” and, “The righteous should choose his friends carefully, for the way of the wicked leads them astray,” (Proverbs 13:20, 12:26, respectively) made me think long and hard about the past people I let into my inner circle, the subtle erosion of my psychological independence, and the slow destruction of my emotional safety. To be fair, these people were not intentionally abusive; they merely wanted what they wanted, when and how they wanted it, and did not care if the words and tone of voice they chose were spirit crushing, insulting, and cruel. They were self-centered, narcissistic in some cases, and fed off my ‘hard-wired’ desire to encourage and please people. The lives they led on the outside make them look like they were wise, but underneath was selfishness, manipulation, insecurity, and blame toward others for the areas of their lives that were deficient. I ended up a self-deprecating social alcoholic with deep emotional wounds because I was not associating with truly wise people.

“Plans succeed through good counsel; don’t go to war without wise advice.” (Proverbs 20:18) I think of this saying on a personal level — we all have our own unseen wars, whether personally with friends and/or family, or professionally with subordinates, peers, and superiors. Sometimes we are even at war within ourselves with addiction of some form. We all have things in our life we are fighting, but winning those wars means we must fight them on the front they originate from, which often requires a different perspective. For example, many people never conquer addiction because they cannot see through the pain of where they are today to address the original trauma they sought to escape from in the first place. In my life, wise advisors see past my tendency to procrastinate writing to my fear of my rejection; they encourage me to write anyway. They remind me of what I know in my head, but still teaching my heart: my life (anyone’s life, for that matter) is not about pleasing people, but about pleasing God — Who, I’m learning, is much easier to please than I thought.