terry lige relationship accountability

Accountability in Relationship

Maybe you Need to Own that you are Being an Ass

A common issue that I often have to deal with in Couples Counseling is “The Victim Position.” This position assumes that the responsibility for the problems in the relationship rest with the other person. Unfortunately, a common motivation for someone attending counseling, is that I will somehow help their partner see the error of their ways and will help them to fix their relationship sabotaging behaviors.

One of the first things I say to couples that are playing the ‘blame game,’ is that I cannot help them if they are determined to maintain their position. Blame is an unworkable position. Meaningful, lasting change can only be created by me, for me.

Personal ownership of your outcomes in relationship and in life is the point at which change begins…I create my results in life. I attract to me that which occurs.

There are powerful laws of attraction that are operating in your life and the more clear you are about what or who you want to attract to you, the more focused you will be about the kind of person you want to be and the life you want to live. For example, if I work at being an honest, vulnerable, authentic person, I will attract honest, vulnerable, authentic people to me. Ultimately, individuals that hide their true selves and who depend on deception and posturing in relationship feel too uncomfortable to consistently hang out with those who are honest and authentic.

The same holds true in your most significant relationships. The healthiest approach I can take to creating the change I want is to own the outcomes I have created and to model the change I want. The least effective approach is to consistently tell your partner what they are doing wrong and demand they change for your sake. Usually that will only generate disappointment, frustration and resentment. In effect, it will create what you fear.

Becoming fully accountable for your actions and modeling the relationship you want can become a good news, bad news scenario. Two outcomes will generally surface in response to your approach. Either your partner will see the value of your approach and seek to follow your example, or they will feel uncomfortable and either shut down or push back. This is the point at which you really have to believe in your independent commitment to you or retreat into old, familiar, unhealthy habits in relationship. My hope is that both individuals in a relationship see the value of being personally accountable for their part in the relationship and work to build the healthiest relationship possible. It is actually the only way a healthy relationship will happen.

I am grateful for my Inside Out work because it often places me in a position where I have no choice but to be accountable for my issues. I think Christine would agree with me. Without a doubt, if we are in some kind of conflict there will be a program right around the corner to expose our issues and provide us an opportunity to own our individual part in the conflict. This was never more evident than last summer when we were hosting a leadership boot camp. The topic was Emotional Intelligence. An hour before everyone was scheduled to arrive, we got into it. So, who in their right mind has a fight before guests are about to arrive? I was so upset that I told Christine that I was going to stand at the door and turn everyone away. Christine was operating with a clearer mind and made it very clear that turning people away from a program was not an option. As each person came in and greeted us it was obvious that the air was thick with tension. We sat down to check in and everyone was being very gracious as I’m sure they could tell that I was checked out. I think that people were saying nice things about me because I looked so distraught. Before long Christine had heard just enough about how wonderful I was and stopped the check in to let everyone know that I can be an asshole. I immediately thought, she’s right, I can really be an asshole. I think for both of us that broke the tension and allowed us to be honest with one another and the group. As it turned out we became the example for what emotional intelligence is not and the weekend became one of the best programs I can remember leading.

Not everyone has the opportunity to work through conflicts in a program; however, if you want to resolve a conflict it may be helpful to begin with admitting that you are an asshole and taking responsibility for how you are being one in the moment. At the very least it may break the tension and allow you converse with civility.

In what ways do you need to become more accountable for the outcomes you have in your relationship? And what are you willing to do different to create the relationship you want?

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