How being responsible and accountable is a first step in forgiving yourself
While it is important to be responsible and accountable for your thoughts, feelings and actions, there is a massively important aspect of this notion we cannot ignore.
When you have accepted responsibility and accountability, you need to forgive yourself.
Forgiveness can be difficult in many ways. When somebody does something awful to you, directly or indirectly, it may not be so easy to forgive them.
But in many respects, it is even harder for us to forgive ourselves. As a part of the human race, it is important to acknowledge the following Five Truths of Your Self:
- You will screw up. Plain and simple, you are going to screw up in some way.
- You will fail. The best laid plans and all that stuff. Sometimes, you fail.
- You will be wrong. Nobody is right all the time, whether this involves thoughts, feelings, actions, or a combination therein.
- You will get hurt. Might be mental, emotional, physical, or all of the above. Sorry, it’s part of the human condition.
- You will hurt others. Most likely this is mental/emotional and unintentional, but because you cannot control how other people feel, causing hurt happens.
You can run, you can avoid this, but you will have to face it. Hopefully not all at once, but that can happen, too. When these things happen, being responsible and accountable for them is the first step. The second step is to forgive yourself.
Being responsible and accountable is a first step in forgiving yourself
Straight to the point. When I acknowledge my screw up, failure, wrong, hurt or whatever, and do not blame another for it, it clears the air. Ever do something wrong, and totally fear what would happen when you fessed up to it? When you did, even if it went badly for you, didn’t you FEEL relieved, and better? That matters.
This is why it is better to take on responsibility and accountability for yourself. You clear the air, you create an end point, rather than an open-ended question of doubt and uncertainty that blame tends to make. You may not like doing it, you may feel ashamed, angry, frustrated, or any number of other unpleasant feelings about it, but it is still the best thing to do.
That written, now you need to still forgive yourself.
It is seldom easy to forgive. In especial when you feel wronged. But it is actually even harder to forgive yourself. We hold ourselves generally to the highest standard of them all. As such, when we screw up, we tend to become hyper-critical rather than forgiving of ourselves. When we are responsible and accountable for the above Five Truths from the get go, it can help quite a lot.
Psychology and self-help gurus both put a huge amount of energy into this notion. There are any number of tools available to help with forgiveness. One that I think, however, that they do not give sufficient attention to is being responsible and accountable for ourselves.
There is nobody but me who has control over MY thoughts, feelings, and actions. In truth, even claiming that you allowed someone else control of these things is a form of blame. In many respects, it is the ultimate lack of responsibility and accountability.
Responsible and accountable is a part of the total package
Mindfulness is an effort to be more aware of what we think, feel, and act upon. Or, in other words, mindfulness is taking responsibility and being accountable for thoughts, feelings, and actions. Run all you want, the world is curved — you will just wind up exactly where you started.
This inescapable truth can be super-scary. When you do something along the line of the above Five Truths of Your Self, often the LAST thing you want to do is acknowledge it. The disappointment, the shame, the guilt, the hurt, the rest of the potential negative emotions can be overwhelming.
Consciousness creates reality. If you expect those negative reactions, you are more-or-less asking for them. How about instead simply accepting that you are responsible and accountable, and letting the chips fall where they may? Chances are the actual effect will be much less painful than what you fear.
Once again, referring to a favorite quote from Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist. “Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself. And that no heart has ever suffered when it goes in search of its dreams, because every second of the search is a second’s encounter with God and with eternity.”
You may argue that in the process of screwing up/failing/being wrong/hurting/getting hurt you were not in search of your heart’s dreams. I beg to differ. Most of the things we wind up needing to forgive ourselves for come from some attempt to do something. It may have been big, or small, but we made a choice, a decision, and took a thought, applied feeling, and acted.
As a result of that action, one of the Five Truths of Your Self was the end result.
Being responsible and accountable means more choices and decisions are made
Now you have a new choice. Let that negativity linger…or let it go. To let it go, you are going to need to forgive yourself.
How do you forgive yourself? This is the most difficult aspect of this idea. The how is the single largest challenge of this process. And just to add insult to injury, there is no one way to do this. What works for me may not work for you, and so on.
That written, however, in my experience the best way to forgive yourself is to be accepting. Accept the Five Truths of Your Self, acknowledge that they are inevitable, and remember that it happens. Most people do not set out to cause hurt, in especial to themselves. The screw up/failure/wrong/hurt is how we grow, and learn. Working to see it as an opportunity to improve your life alongside accepting it make strong tools of forgiveness.
I know this answer is vague…but the specifics are always going to be unique and individual. We do not think or feel the same way. But we are equally capable of forgiveness.
Side note — forgiving is not the same as forgetting. Letting go is specific to the negative feelings, not the activity that generated them. Forgetting would mean you likely would learn nothing from the experience, and that could be tantamount to easily repeating it.
This is a choice, and you get to decide to be responsible and accountable for your own forgiveness.
Will you be responsible and accountable for the Five Truths of Your Self?
All Rights Reserved for MJ Blehart