I am officially 10 days post-op and learning to use the dictation program on my laptop. Yay! My shoulder surgery went well, and healing has begun. After 6 months of pain, and trying all the remedies including cortisone shots and physical therapy, it became evident the only way forward was surgery. So I surrendered, gave up a documentary project and decided to trust my gut. With every bone in my body, I felt this was the right move. To all of you who sent your love, prayers and wishes for fast healing, I am here to tell you that I have felt it every step of the way. I am so grateful for all of you, and have missed connecting more fully with the outside world.
It’s a time for going inward. And I’ve been thinking a lot about where I am, and where I have yet to go in almost every aspect of my life. I’m taking stock, working on letting go of the things that no longer serve me and trusting I am exactly where I need to be. Part of that process is recognizing the difference between blame and accountability.
What’s the difference?
Blame carries with it emotional baggage. It tends to be a word we associate with wrongdoing, carrying a judgment, a negative connotation with a big dark stain of shame.
When we feel blame, it can often rip the wind out of our sails. We feel small, wrong and defensive.
Accountability has power.
We step up to the plate and own our behavior. It doesn’t have the same emotional charge. Instead of a character assassination, we are more focused on the behavior rather than the emotions. We take responsibility, and in taking responsibility we acknowledge we made a choice. When we recognize we made the choice, we recognize we have the power to make a different choice next time.
Why does this distinction matter? To better understand it, take a moment to think about a past transgression. Think about an incident where you blamed yourself or felt blamed. Now shift it in your mind and instead of blame, say to yourself “I am accountable.” Do you feel a difference?
“I am accountable.”
There is a shift when you recognize your choices. Notice I say choice, not transgression. You made a choice, and you have the power to make better choices going forward. Blame doesn’t leave you with much more than feeling bad. Accountability opens the door to moving forward with new awareness. So let’s talk about how to make this shift in more detail.
Step 1: Assess The Situation
Assessment involves detaching yourself from the emotion and looking at your behavior in a neutral non-judgmental way. You are not there to judge, you are simply looking at the circumstances and choice made. You are not defensive, or looking for the reasons why you did what you did. You are simply looking at what happened.
Step 2: Recognize You Made A Choice
Here again, you’re not playing judge. You are simply recognizing your part. This didn’t happen to you. You made a choice. This is not about making excuses. It is simply owning the fact you did indeed make a choice. Perhaps it didn’t feel like a choice at the time, but when you really drill down to it, a decision was made. This is also a time to recognize we do not control our circumstances or other peoples’ behavior. Our only control in any situation is our response to the circumstances, and that response is a choice.
In every single situation we have a choice as to how we respond.
Step 3: Own The Choice
Why would you want to own a “bad” choice? Owning the choice doesn’t mean you are deciding it was a good choice or you plan to do it again in the future. You are simply owning your action, stepping up to the plate, and accepting it. This step can often be challenging because it requires you to shine a light on behavior you’d rather not acknowledge. The importance of owning your choice stirs a powerful energy. No one made you do it. The circumstances didn’t make you do it. You chose a course of action, which means in the future you have the power to make other choices, no matter what the circumstances are.
You are not at the mercy of circumstance. Bring it out into the light, and accept it without judgment.
Step 4: Recognize You Are Not Your Behavior
Who we are is not defined by one action or one choice. We are human. And humans make mistakes.
Mistakes are teachers.
With every mistake,
we are presented with lessons.
These lessons are what help us build our character, decide who we want to be, and aim to do better with actions that are in alignment with the highest good. With that clarity, we set ourselves up to make better choices. If we don’t, we are presented with the same lesson again and again, with new opportunities to practice and learn.
Step 5: Make Amends And Forgive Yourself
If the choice you made had an impact on another, apologize. A proper apology isn’t possible if you’re going to launch into a litany of reasons why you did what you did. A clean apology is an apology without defensiveness. Simply put:
“I was wrong, and I am sorry.”
This is an important step even if the only person affected was you. Think of it as an apology to your higher self. Dear self, I was wrong and I’m sorry. Next, you shift into forgiveness. It is just as important to own forgiveness as it is to own your accountability. You are making peace with your psyche and letting go of the past. You are opening up space to continue your journey without the baggage of all your “sins.” This is how you build trust with others and yourself. You own your actions and you own your power to make choices in the future that are in alignment with the highest good.
Practice Practice Practice!
This takes practice. We don’t just wake up one day and shed all of our baggage. It takes focus. It takes the willingness to shift our thoughts and energy whenever we are about to move into blame or shame. It’s just as important to practice this when someone else does you wrong. You can’t control whether that person will be accountable, but you can practice forgiveness, separating the person from the behavior. These steps move you toward more self-awareness, which in turn will help you own the power you have to make better choices in the future.
The next time there is a misstep, try working these 5 steps.
If you’ve gone off plan, you need not carry the extra weight by playing the blame game.
Recognizing you are in control even when it looks like you’re out of control will help you own your weight loss journey. Let the mistakes be your teacher, and let your heart beat forgiveness.