When it comes to relationships, it’s essential to be as open and honest as possible. Not just with our companions but with ourselves. A critical part of companionship is being able to admit when we’re wrong.
Saying you’re sorry can be difficult, especially if you’re convinced that you’re right, but when these feelings of passion supersede your compassion, we have to ask ourselves, “What’s more important, being right or maintaining peace?”
Does the value of being right outweigh the consequences of hurting someone?
If the answer is no, it’s important to know when and how we should take accountability.
They say accountability is a “love language.” Here’s why it’s so valuable for love and companionship.
Accountability: What It Looks Like
Accountability, by literal definition, is “an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility or to account for one’s actions.” (https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/accountability)
What it looks like may vary, but it typically consists of
- Acknowledging that you’ve done something wrong
- Taking ownership for your behavior
- And making amends
“Accountability can come in all different forms – kindness, the ability to be present, taking action, apologizing, and changed behavior. Accountability can increase one’s awareness of oneself. “- Jenny Jinhee Lee, Licensed Creative Arts Therapist.
Taking responsibility for something you’ve done wrong bridges a gap between two person’s feelings: yours and the person you’ve hurt.
There’s strength in owning your flaws. Facing the fact that you were wrong and you hurt someone can be scary; after all, you have no idea how the person will react or whether or not they’ll forgive you, but don’t let fear prevent you from taking action and making an effort to move forward. Instead of beating yourself up for a fumble (you’re human, it comes with the package), acknowledge what you did and allow yourself to learn from it. If you open up and allow love to move you past your fear, you may find that forgiveness awaits you on the other end.
Sometimes, our pride gets the best of us and interferes with our decision-making– accountability will require a level of selflessness that’s easier said than done. Still, it’s important to learn because it can be a pivotal deciding factor in the success or failure of relationships. “The consequences of avoidance of accountability can show up in a variety of ways – guilt, shame, anger – mostly the negative emotions we try to suppress. It can hurt relationships and break trust. The sense of pride and shame may be great barriers to one avoiding taking accountability for hurting someone.” – Jenny Jinhee Lee, Licensed Creative Arts Therapist.
How Pride Gets In The Way
Owning up to doing something wrong takes guts. Most people will go their entire lives oblivious to what they’re doing wrong, all the while ignoring the damage they cause along the way. They’re more likely to cower away in shame, avoid the situation out of embarrassment, or hold people to a standard they won’t hold themselves to. That’s thanks to the ego.
Author Eckhart Tolle writes about the ego in his best-selling self-help book The Power Of Now. In the chapter “Consciousness: the way out of pain,” he writes about the level of attachment we have to our mental identities and how deeply rooted the human desire is to defend their concept of right. “Even such a seemingly trivial and “normal” thing as the compulsive need to be right in an argument and make the other person wrong–defending the mental position with which you have identified–is due to the fear of death.” He explains how going against the ego is considered mental obliteration, “If you identify with a mental position, then if you are wrong, your mind-based self is seriously threatened with annihilation. So you as the ego cannot afford to be wrong. To be wrong is to die. Wars have been fought over this, and countless relationships have broken down.”
When it comes to relationships, it’s important to compromise, put your pride aside, and work towards an agreement. There has to be room for more than one person’s feelings. When you lead with pride first, you push people away and risk the foundation of valuable kinships and associations such as friendships, marriages, and family ties. When you hurt someone and hold yourself accountable, it strengthens the bond and brings you closer together.
The Benefits To Owning Your Mistakes
Holding a mirror up to yourself and admitting you were wrong can be scary, but achieving this level of vulnerability comes with benefits.
- Accountability strengthens communication. When you butt heads with someone, and you’re unwilling to admit you’ve done something wrong, it can result in a battle of clashing passions and truths that can spiral out of control quickly. Or, in extreme cases, a loss of interest in communication. After all, why engage with someone who is never wrong? Taking accountability can help you avoid these missteps. The transparency shows that you can be trusted, strengthening the communication between you and a loved one.
- Accountability makes people feel valued. When you push past your own sense of self for the sake of someone else, it makes them feel valued. Your remorse and empathy prove that you’re willing to see things from another person’s perspective and that you care about feelings other than your own. This makes people feel seen, heard, and appreciated, inspiring people to move forward on the best foot, making communication easier.
- Accountability is great for personal growth. Accountability creates space for growth. Accepting where you’ve gone wrong can open your eyes to flaws you didn’t realize you had and paves the way for changed behavior so you can avoid making the same mistakes in the future.
- Accountability offers relief from guilt. Hurting someone can weigh heavy on your conscience, especially when it’s someone you care about. Taking ownership and making amends will lift the weight of guilt and shame off of your shoulders, allowing you and the person you’ve hurt to move forward. If you’re feeling guilty about something, owning up to it is a necessary step in trying to make things right.
Need Help With Holding Yourself Accountable? Here’s Some Advice
Jenny Jinhee Lee is a mixed media artist and Licensed Creative Therapist from NYC. When Jenny is not reaching people worldwide with her expressionist works of art, she carries out her life’s mission of helping people follow their dreams and move past life’s traumas. When asked for ways to help someone who struggles with accountability, she offered this advice “Accountability can boost self-esteem and self-confidence in oneself. As one holds oneself accountable for their actions, they are able to boost morale not only for themselves but for the relationship they have with others around them. It builds trust and character as a person in taking accountability for one’s actions and their accomplishments.” Jenny had some silver linings for those who are brave enough to weather the storm clouds of blame “Accountability can build oneself towards positivity in their life, but it can also bring a sense of shame and guilt when avoided. Taking the first step towards change is always difficult, but the more difficult, the more changes and impact it can have on a person. “She adds, “Accountability does not always mean admitting or taking blame but rather a notion of awareness of oneself and how it could have impacted the other or even oneself within a certain situation. Taking accountability means building – whether it be with yourself or with another.”
Our minds can convince us to jump to our own defenses and react in irrational ways for the sake of our egos, making it hard to see the chinks in our own armor. Responding out of selfishness can leave you with feelings of shame and embarrassment. Don’t let your pride sever the relationship between you and your loved one. It’s never too late to say you’re sorry.