Accountability feels like an attack when you’re not ready to acknowledge how your behaviors harm or impacts others.- Instagram
Full transparency, I did not post yesterday because what I wrote did not
feel right. Long story short my writing yesterday was not an honest reflection of my thoughts and feelings. So, let’s try this again.
I struggle with emotional people. I need logic and emotional order to function. To me (because this is in the world of Danell), sensitive people are those folks who are aware of their emotions and can access them with minimal effort. Often these individuals use their feelings as information and not a fact. Emotional people are those who have big emotions and often wear their emotions on their sleeves. These individuals often are reactive and may lack insight or the ability to differentiate their feelings from facts.
I would describe myself as sensitive. I have emotions, I openly experience them, and I am aware that my emotional process is mine. I work diligently to self-regulate and practice empathy. When I communicate, I tend to be much more reserved with how I feel and describe issues factually. My emotional reservation is because I believe that most people cannot take genuine emotions for what they are- ways to provide information. In my experience, people have used my truth as a means to fuel their insecurities. I find that when I express my feelings, others have difficulty separating what I feel internally from how I feel and think about them. So, I tend to stay away from sharing my emotions when possible.
When it comes to accountability, I imagine it feels attacking for someone, on the receiving end, to hear how their actions have impacted another person. I have learned over the years that the better my personal accountability is the better able I am to receive others who hold me accountable. At the end of the day, accountability is a form of feedback and not blame. When we get into a place of blaming others for how we feel we have moved from accountability to seeking justice. What I most often run into is others want their friends, partner, or coworker to be responsible for how particular actions make them feel. This deflection of responsibility is futile because others do not control our emotional process. Our loved one, friends and collages have an impact on our feelings, but they do not control them. When our emotions are our only standard of holding others accountable, we are sure to be met with resistance. Accountability is only effective externally when it is practiced internally. Checking our own emotions and judgments are forms of internal accountability.
To hold others in our lives accountable, both parties must agree to the rules or limits of the relationship. When it comes to relationships, we often fail to do the work needed for setting limits and boundaries, leaving us unable to communicate left and right limits. We assume because they are in our lives, they are agreeing to take on different responsibilities. Think about how entitled we can be with our loved one. There are expectations we pose on them without gaining consent. Then, when the person fails to meet our wants or needs we what to hold them accountable (often blaming them and disguising the blame as accountability).
How we use accountability is all wrong. Accountability, when used from an honest place, can be a useful tool in developing and maintaining relationships. Having a sense of responsibility allows us to engage in communication when the task, roles, or agreements are met. Operating from a mutual place where all parties are clear on what is their’s and for what others are labile generates connection and trust. But, for this to happen accountability cannot be a means to catch someone or to expose flaws- all which are better suited for blame, reprimand, other forms of punishment. However, when accountability is used as communication it can be a form of boundary setting; letting others in our life know how to engage with us. When we are out for blood accountability can feel harmful and shaming.
Accountability can be deceiving at times. We are accustomed to using this sense of responsibility as blame rather than a way to set and enforce boundaries. We too easily hold others liable for our emotions forgoing our own responsibility. Resulting in failing to take time to see if the other person has agreed to what we are holding them accountable. At times, we are attached to the outcome of holding others accountable, shooting for retribution. Yes, there are people in the world who are not able or willing to hear feedback. Therefore, they will always feel attacked when shame is activated. Conversely, I also believe that when accountability is used as a skill for developing understanding, more people will be able to hear what we are trying to share.
Until we meet again.