The A Word: Living a life of accountability
Why Accountability is Important
Living a life of accountability is probably one of the most important steps you can make towards recovery. You can’t hold yourself accountable if you can’t be honest with yourself about what you have done or are doing. It is the mortar in the building blocks of personal integrity which are absolutely vital to success.
Living a life of Accountability is Hard!
Accountability is difficult because it’s a promise to oneself to be responsible and honest. To stare addiction in the eye and say “ok I see you, I know what I did.” The guilt and shame we harbor over letting addiction control us makes it very hard to be able to do that.
We feel that guilt, because every time we fail, every time we relapse, it’s another promise that we have broken. The promise to others, and most importantly, the promise we made to ourselves that it won’t happen again. I know because I am the QUEEN… of breaking promises to myself. No one is better at lying to themselves than I am.
Shame, the ever-present partner of guilt, shows up because we feel defeated. I know when I give into an eating binge the shame is almost overwhelming. I let myself down again. Feeling like I just fail over and over. Most importantly I end up feeling that I am not worth a life free of addiction. At least that is what shame loves to tell me every time.
Enough is Enough!
It takes reaching a point of finally being done with the shame, and over the constant guilt holding you down, to reach the point where accountability becomes tangible for an addict. The definition of accountability by Merriam-webster’s dictionary is “an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility or to account for one’s actions” Being that honest with myself about my problem was probably the hardest conversation I’ve ever had with myself. Like any other addict, the first reaction is to blame anything or anyone else for why I behave the way I do.
Accept the Responsibility not the Crutch
Now please don’t confuse recognizing where trauma starts, with blame. I will dive more into the issues that created my need to medicate with food later in this blog. For now, knowing what triggered it, is not the same thing as blaming those triggers. Using any substance to help numb pain, or cope with stress, is a decision. It may be an unconscious decision, but it’s a decision nonetheless. Blaming the cause of the pain and stress, be it person, place, or thing, only serves to keep us stuck and under the control of our addiction.
When I decided to be honest with myself and accept responsibility for the damage I have been doing to my mind and body from this addiction, I became accountable for my choices. It actually strengthened my resolve to do better. It took a weight off my shoulders, because if I stop blaming external trauma that puts the power back in my hands to take full control! To find the answers to my addictive behaviors and search for ways to unwind them.
Accountability takes Time and Courage
Living a life of accountability takes time. It won’t happen overnight. It takes constant work to change the thought patterns and habits that you develop to cope when you are an addict. I struggle daily with the patterns I’ve developed. Somedays accountability comes easily. I can be honest with myself and how I’ve interacted with food. Other days I tell myself to not think about it, as I mindlessly shovel edible numbness into my mouth. It’s these days that I have to work the hardest to own up to my problems and stay true to the promise I made to stay accountable.
Living a life of honesty and accountability takes courage. It is by no means easy. It can be brutal, and in some ways break you down into a new person. This is not a bad thing, life is about growth. When we grow, inevitably we change. Therefore, by owning up to my own actions, I forge a new tool for growth and the creation of my own success on the road to recovery.
Stay Focused and Set Goals
The two simple things you can do to get started is to stay focused and set goals. When you focus on what you are trying to accomplish then you start to see the triggers and patterns that are sabotaging your recovery. Learn from your mistakes don’t hide from them! Setting goals gives you a daily reminder of why you need to stick to accountability. The longer you are honest with yourself the more your self-esteem will build, as a result, your self-doubt and insecurity will begin to lose its grip on you.
Just don’t Give up!
To sum it up, remember, living a life of accountability is far from easy. It forces us to see the things about ourselves we have been hiding from for a very long time. It takes time and courage to become fully accountable! Don’t beat yourself up if you struggle with this, just keep trying until it becomes habit. There are tools out there to make staying accountable easier. Next week, on The A Word I will dive more into those tools. Today I wanted to focus on why accountability is such an important step in recovery, and how it has such a direct effect on the core of who we are as we take back the control over our lives! Once again, please remember you are not alone!
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