Accountability: Throwing resistance out of the driver’s seat
One of the biggest issues I have seen people struggle with in my coaching career is doing what they say they will do. Or simply put, keeping their commitments and staying in integrity.
It has been a colossal struggle in my own life. It is the reason I like to design my days in such a way that I am constantly being asked to show up for others in a way that will allow me little-to-no wiggle room out of them.
I publicly commit to projects that provide tangible evidence that I am working on them — I even started sending daily practice reminders to newsletter subscribers with a focus for the day.
I teach yoga a couple times per week and I publicly announced that I intend to do yoga at the studio five days per week.
I also have a little experiment I am doing with a few folks on accountability that requires me to be accountable myself.
Why do I do this? Because I know that if “my life” were left in the hands of the voices, I may swerve off the path, and likely hit something unfortunate!
I may choose a new practice that is really uncomfortable, difficult, challenging, TRULY BENEFICIAL FOR ME — get really into it — and then for some mysterious reason, quit.
It’s happened before. It could happen again.
The one thing I’ve seen that makes a big difference for me over-and-over is accountability.
Wise words from my teacher’s teacher: “You will do for the love of others what you are not willing to do for yourself.”
It is a skill that I am in fact training myself to do FOR myself and have been practicing with for sometime now:
Showing up when “I” (ego) doesn’t want to.
What I am doing is moving all the things that support and nurture me onto a “non-negotiable” list.
What do I mean by this?
Consider this mundane daily ritual: Brushing your teeth.
How much energy do you put into resisting it? Not much, I imagine. You may not look forward to doing it, but really, there’s not much of an internal dialog about it, right? And if there is, in the end, what’s the point, really? You’re going to do it. It’s part of being human and having teeth.
I bet there are other rituals in your life that you can safely say fall onto this “non-negotiable” list.
But how do you do things that you know are beneficial to you but are not non-negotiable? (At least not yet — until life starts to really fall apart!) Things like meditation, eating healthy foods, exercising, working on what you love, and practicing kindness.
I’m convinced that the reason coaches, personal trainers, and buddy systems exist are to bridge this gap. They are external representations of your inner authentic, loving, compassionate being. They are kind and supportive and will take no crap from the whining, resisting, small ego that is sabotaging and ruining your life. They see through it. They understand that this is NOT you.
I know for myself that when I look at others, I can see their amazing capacity. I see infinite potential. I can also see that it may be safely buried under insecurities, doubts, and self-hatred — but that doesn’t mean it isn’t there.
Try it yourself. Look at someone you love who struggles with self-doubt. It’s so much easier to see their talents and goodness.
Now circle around and take on the huge training opportunity to begin to see that within yourself.
Because it IS in all of us.
If I can see it in someone else — I know that it is there within me. I wouldn’t have the capacity to know it was in someone else if it was not also within me. This is the law of projection.
I encourage you to please sit quietly today to allow insights to drop in about this if it is not apparent to you right now.
Putting this into practice:
Don’t go at it alone. Find someone you can ask to keep you doing what you say you are going to do. Get yourself an accountability buddy.
Perhaps you keep a commitment to meditate daily for 5 minutes.
At the end of your day, perhaps at 9:00 pm, you check in with your buddy to say that you meditated. I would even suggest you both set recurring alarms to remind yourselves to do the check-ins. You will be amazed at how good resistance is at thwarting your best set intentions by “forgetting!”
And the check-ins don’t have to be in-person or even long, drawn out conversations. They can be simple text messages.
A good way to make it fun is for you to help keep your buddy accountable to some goal as well. That way it’s a mutually beneficial relationship and one in which you both learn about resistance while feeling like you are giving as well as receiving. It will help you “see the infinite potential of the other person.” It is a win-win relationship.
For this to really work, it is important that you do not entertain the usual excuses, resistance, and sabotage. If one of you takes on more than is possible — do what you have committed to today and then adjust what you do the next day. If exercising for an hour like you committed to is too much — do the hour today and then commit to half-an-hour tomorrow. It really doesn’t matter if you commit to something as tiny as 5 minutes. The important thing is that you get into a rhythm of saying you are going to do something and then doing it. That’s it!
Here’s the biggest goal in all of this: It’s not about doing the commitment as much as it is seeing how resistance works. You will see what happens when you can’t meditate for half-an-hour. You may say, “Okay, not a half hour, then how about 15 minutes?” If you find that even 15 minutes is too long, drop it to 5. If 5 is too much and you want to quit, you can say to yourself, “Hmm… something’s funny here. I can’t meditate for even 5 minutes during my day? That seems impossible to fathom, really. Must be resistance!”
Bring it all to the light of day and see it for what it is — an energy-robbing vampire that is against you!
It is important to do what we say we are going to do. We are learning to become trustworthy stewards of our lives. We are learning that just because a voice in our head says “I don’t feel like it” doesn’t mean that we can’t do it. We are proving to ourselves that we do not have to feel a particular way to do something — that feelings and what we do in life — are mutually exclusive. We can transfer all of that energy being tied up in the resistance — the excuses, negotiations, whining and complaining — toward the act of doing what we said we were going to do. We can drop the resistance because we love ourselves too much to risk letting ourselves down yet again.
If a baby we love is crying in the middle of the night and we can get up when we “don’t feel like it” to care for it — we can show the same compassion for ourselves. Bringing that love that is inside of us to the person who really needs it as much as the baby (ourselves), is teaching us that the love is not “out there somewhere for me to get.” It’s right here inside of me.
It is the first step to taking back the steering wheel and throwing resistance out of the driver’s seat of our lives.
This is a chapter from my book, Meditation and Reinventing Yourself.