84 posts categorized "PERSONAL ACCOUNTABILITY"

March 26, 2014

Building Your Accountability Muscles

IStock_000007605445XSmallPeople have this fantasy that “if only” their partner was kind, or respectful or caring or … (fill in the blank),  their relationship would be great; this is not how relationships work. The idea that your relationship would be fine or easy “if only” your partner…, is a convenient way of taking the responsibility of creating a healthy relationship off of yourself. Chances are your partner is thinking the same thing about you – if only you would…

She said: “You never talk, it’s like I’m living alone!”

He said: “I would talk if you weren’t nagging all the time. Did you ever think of that?!”

She said: “Well, if you did something around here, I wouldn’t have to nag. Did YOU ever think of that?!”

…and on and on they go with little, if any, resolution to many exquisitely described problems. 

To create the relationships you want, you have to be consciously working them in new ways. This requires that you look at your part FIRST, and when you’ve changed you, THEN, you look at your partner’s part. For example if your partner is treating you poorly, are you putting up with it, treating him/her poorly back, setting limits around it or just complaining about it? 

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December 04, 2013

Bringing Your Best Self to the Table

IStock_000007605445XSmallWhen I first got married I hated conflict. The thought of an argument made me nervous and so I avoided upsetting conversations with my husband all the time. If I was angry about something, instead of voicing my upset, I would go underground and act it out rather than talk it out. As you can imagine, this would be very difficult to live with. 

Fortunately over the years I learned the error of my ways  and worked like crazy to learn to speak up and stop acting things out. However, during those first years I remember justifying my anger and seldom thinking that I was at all wrong with my behavior. Seeing the mis-behavior of others was so obvious that it didn't occur to me to look at my own. 

Sound familiar? Human beings justify our own screw-ups all the time, while condemning the screw-ups of others ad-nauseam. We are quick to let ourselves off the hook for poor behavior, yet can make others pay for their bad behaviors for decades. Understandably, this is a recipe for disaster when it comes to relationships, jobs and even life. 

Living a good life is about bringing our best selves to the table at all times. The truth is, I wasn’t passive-aggressive because of what my husband did or didn’t do. I was passive-aggressive because that was MY dysfunctional way of handling problems. As soon as we get caught up in thinking that “we do what we do because others do what they do,” we’re all in trouble. The same is true when we think, “We are who we are and others should just accept us.” I’ve heard more excuses, justifications and blame for people’s poor behavior to last me a lifetime. I’ve even done my own fair share of all of these. These moves, however, aren’t serving us. 

Continue reading "Bringing Your Best Self to the Table" »

September 20, 2013

The Gifts of Being Accountable


One of the most common struggles I see in relationships is the struggle to be accountable. It seems that people have a truly hard time acknowledging their mistakes without defending, rationalizing or explaining why they did what they did. As you can imagine, not being willing to be accountable does not bode well for relationships. 

While I could name many reasons why people have a problem simply acknowledging their mishaps, the reality is...it doesn’t matter why people struggle with this acknowledgment, what matters is that they learn to move past the struggle and into the gift of being accountable…of which there are many.

Below are ten gifts from being accountable (being able to admit your mistake, acknowledge the pain/upset/frustration it caused and repairing it in some way).

  1. Acknowledging you messed up often results in the other person softening. 
  2. When you own your mistake, the other person feels a huge sense of relief.
  3. Your acknowledgement often reduces the intensity of the moment.
  4. Being accountable without getting defensive, can feel empowering to you. It feels good to be strong enough to own your mistakes rather than pretending you don’t make any.
  5. Owning your mistakes shows others that you’re responsible and “workable.”
  6. Owning your mistakes shows others that you “get it.” If you understand what you did wrong and the way it impacted the other person, they will have more trust that you won’t do it again.
  7. Acknowledging your mistakes while holding yourself in warm regard feels good. 
  8. Being able to admit to your mistakes is excellent role modeling for children.
  9. Taking responsibility for your actions is acting with integrity.
  10. Acknowledging that you screwed up, repairing any damage done and committing to not do it again is FREEING. Once you do your part, you can let it go and feel good that you did your part to fix things—even if the other person doesn’t let it go.

The reality is that all of us make mistakes. There is no way for ANY human being to not make mistakes—we are not GOD. The courage comes in when we can own our mistakes, acknowledge how they impacted those around us and then repair things and move on. It’s empowering to have the strength to be able to simply say, “I’m so sorry. I messed up on this and I know it hurt you. I promise to do whatever I can to make things right.” Whew! The other person will feel a huge sense of relief and you can feel a great sense of pride in yourself for doing what many people seldom do. 

Dare to be accountable; it is the one thing that can shift your relationship on a dime. 

Challenge: Pay attention to all the ways you deflect, deny, blame, rationalize and defend your poor behaviors and instead step up and be accountable.

August 23, 2013

What Takes Me Off Track in My Relationships: A Relationship Expert’s Journey (Part II)

IStock_000008637129_ExtraSmallBelow is the continuation from my previous post of things that have taken me off track in my relationships. I hope some of these will serve as a reminder to you to pay attention to the moves you make that may also be taking you off track in your relationships. After being married for twenty years, I’m sure I could probably come up with many more but I don’t want to overwhelm you. 

  1. Let fear drive my actions. Fear of failure, success, financial problems, future happenings etc., all keep me out of the present and have often lead me to make poor choices. Some times the fear leads me to making no choices. Either way, fear has taken me down the wrong path too many times. If the bad thing is not happening now, I’ve learned to stop fretting about it (on a good day). I’m realizing that if the bad thing does happen, I’ll only have to fret about it later anyway so why not give myself a break now.
  2. Assumed that as my kids got older they wanted to see less of me. I’ve learned that universally kids want their parent’s time and attention. Of course there are times when they need a their space, however, even then they need to know you’re always there for them. Pay attention, listen to their stories and don’t assume they don’t care. I’m learning everyday to be more present and to SHOW I care, I’m listening and I have their back.
  3. Shut down and shut others out when I was angry/hurt. Although I’ve come a long way on this issue, this has been an ongoing edge for me. All I can say is shutting down and stewing is not productive. Giving someone the silent treatment is not justified, okay or helpful. I’ve learned through the years that resolution cannot happen if there is no conversation to work issues through. I’ve had to learn to speak it in the moment…or at least as soon as I can find the strength to do so.
  4. Forgot to lean into the good moments. This is so big and something I am still trying to remind myself to do every day. LEAN IN. There are little moments that occur all the time that so many of us forget to take in. We have to learn to take them in. Breathe in: A moment of laughter with your child, a spark of tenderness with your spouse, a great conversation, a cool success, a healing moment etc. We have to learn to notice the gifts…especially if we’re going to be so hyper-vigilant to the struggles/imperfections of life. Feel the joy and… LEAN IN.
  5. Allowed perfectionism to get in the way of acceptance. If I could re-do the first 6 years of my parenting I would do my very best to stop the tweaking and critiquing and instead enjoy my children’s imperfections and journey of discovery. I would also have started much earlier to let go of all the self-tweaking as well. Perfection is an impossible feat and it’s time we all stop demanding it of others and ourselves.

Relationships can be amazing opportunities for self-growth if we dare to allow ourselves to see our fault lines. We all have our own particular vulnerabilities when it comes to life and relationships and it’s up to each of us to be aware of what those are. It’s also up to each of us to be conscious of when we’re going down the wrong path and then, have the courage to take steps to self-correct. 

Challenge: I encourage you to make a list of the ways you can go off track in your relationships. Pay attention to signs that you’re headed down the wrong path and learn to self-correct. You and your loved ones will thank you for it! 



May 29, 2013

A Cheat Sheet for Women Who Are Ready to “Step Up”

  IStock_00strong woman

  1. Learn to love yourself. It all starts here. If you don’t love yourself, you will not be able to stand up for yourself in any real way. Quit the negative self-talk, stop trying to be perfect, let go of micromanaging, and refuse to put yourself down. If you want to work on yourself, great…just do that without beating yourself up in the process.
  2. If you want to be treated as an equal, act as an equal. Know that you deserve to be treated as an equal rather than complaining that you’re not or wishing you were. When you really know it, you will step into situations differently and others will know it as well.
  3. Stop allowing the most dysfunctional person in the room to run the show. Ducking, pleading, begging, silencing or even yelling doesn’t stop bad behavior. Refuse to allow fear to keep you imprisoned by the crazy behaviors of others. Take action.
  4. Clean it up. Clean up your side of the fence. Find your Grounded Powerful Strength (GPS) and don’t ever excuse, justify or rationalize an aggressive strength. Be calm, grounded, strong and respectful…even in the face of disrespect.
  5. Don’t look to others for answers you have within yourself. No one is more of an expert on your life than you. Trust yourself, listen to your instincts and dare to make your own decisions or share your opinions when warranted. 
  6. Tune in and make things happen. Pay attention to what you want, what’s not working and what’s missing from your life and start to take the steps necessary to create the changes your soul knows you need to make. Don’t waste another three years hoping things will change or playing victim to your life.
  7. Refuse to put others and the world ahead of you. Find the balance of self-care and other care. If you’re a mother, don’t neglect your children or yourself. Spiritually, emotionally and physically feed both. Don’t work so hard that there’s nothing left for you, your family or life. Find moderation in all things and be humble enough to know when you’ve tipped the scales and be courageous enough to recalibrate.
  8. Don’t give up your dreams for the dreams of others—find room for both. If you have a dream, find a way to make it happen. Partner with others who will hold that dream with you...not squash it on their way to reach their own.
  9. Stop the desperation!!! Do not lose your soul for the sake of romance. Walk in your romantic relationships with the same GPS with which you have to walk in life. Don’t accept crumbs because you don’t want to be alone. Don’t have sex in order to get someone and don’t become a female “player” because you have somehow justified that sleeping around is your sexual right. Please. Cut the crap and have more self-respect than that. If you don’t respect you, don’t expect anyone else to.
  10. Stand up and step in. Don’t silently accept the unacceptable and then be hurt, wounded or resentful that the behavior continues. Learn to find your voice and have your back at work, at home and in life. If you don’t have your own back, don’t be upset when no one else does, either.

Women, you have the power to create change on a very grand scale if you dare to step up and step in. Know you are equal to every other human being on this planet and walk in the world as an equal. Don’t duck, placate, yell, scream, beg or plead. Simply use your voice, set your limits, surround yourself with a healthy, supportive “tribe” and confidently step in. We are making leaps and bounds entrepreneurially, it’s time to make leaps and bounds interpersonally. 

Challenge: Look over the list above and choose two points on which you know you have to work...and work them. Be deliberate, consistent and focused. When you have these down, move to the next two.


May 07, 2013

Relationship Game Changers: Characteristics That Burn Out Relationships (Part II)

IStock_000010066559XSmallThere are a handful of characteristics that can, will and do make relationships extremely difficult. Last week I wrote about six of them and this week here are the remaining six. If these issues are present within you or within your relationships, chances are there are struggles in your relationships that are beyond the norm. Tackle these issues with a determination (not aggression) to get them under control.

  • Control. Constantly telling others how to do something, what to do and when to do it, is annoying at best. If you struggle with wanting things done a certain way (your way), then learn to let go of your grip; people don’t like to be controlled. If someone is controlling you, stop going along and take a stand using a grounded, powerful strength (GPS). Stay calm and matter of fact and tackle this issue.
  • Lack of accountability. “Love is never having to say you’re sorry” is a crazy saying. When people refuse to be accountable for their mistakes it becomes a chore being in relationship with them. We are all human, which means we are imperfect and will make mistakes. Making mistakes is not the problem; not owning them is.
  • Blame. Blaming often happens when a person is feeling shame and they want to get out of that feeling. It’s thinking, “If you didn’t do __________(fill in the blank), then I wouldn’t have had to do _______________(fill in the blank).” This type of thinking gets really old to be around. If someone is constantly blaming their behavior on someone else, they’re unlikely to ever change their behavior. Justifying your behavior because of someone else’s will burn out your relationships. Someone else’s poor behavior is not a green light for yours. Period. If someone uses this type of thinking, don’t buy into it and if you think this way, you’re fooling yourself. We all do what we do because we choose to do it.

Continue reading "Relationship Game Changers: Characteristics That Burn Out Relationships (Part II)" »

January 15, 2013

Managing Feedback: Assume There’s Truth in the Message

IStock_0feedbackllOver the years I have worked with hundreds of couples and individuals struggling to take in feedback from the people in their lives. Often one person will get caught up in trying to point out all the ways the other person is off. Seldom do I see people slow the message down to try and hear the truth in the feedback.

What we all seem to forget is that we all make mistakes. We all do stupid things, even when we may have the best of intentions. We each have our own personal fingerprint of the way we, specifically, tend to be relationally dysfunctional. And, yes, we are all relationally dysfunctional at times. We tend to have blinders on when it comes to our own personal foibles and “edges” (those places where we are the most relationally off). And we all seem to forget that those closest to us often know what that dysfunctional move is better than anyone else in our lives—even ourselves. No matter how much we think we’re hiding it, they know. They know because they see us do it, they feel us do it and they experience the impact of our anti-relational reactions the hardest. Those closest to us, know us the best—warts and all.

So...if we’re all imperfect, why is it that we fight like hell to not listen to negative feedback from the people in our lives? Why is it that a majority of people seem to think that our partners, bosses, friends, etc., are crazy, vindictive, blind, absurd and on and on in terms of the feedback they have for us? And, why is it that so many of us seem to think we have 20/20 vision in terms of our feedback for others, but others have 20/200 vision in terms of their feedback about us? It just doesn’t add up. It does not make sense that we would be so brilliant about the faults of those closest to us, yet they would be so ignorant about our own faults. 

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December 18, 2012

What I Know…The Sandy Hook Tragedy

IStock_0babywithtearllI know that 26 families just had their world ripped apart because of the violent act of one 20-year-old young man.
I know that twenty children, -- none older than seven years of age -- had their lives taken in the blink of an eye.
I know that six brave adults were killed trying to save the lives of many.
I know that we cannot always rely on others to protect us.

I know that people are looking for answers and there are no simple answers.
I know that in our search for solutions to these senseless killings that there are many problems to solve: gun control, bullying, mental health care options, better and more thorough mental health care coverage with insurance companies, cultural violence, gaming violence, family issues, various types of abuse and on and on.
I also know that it will take a very long time to solve or even make a big dent in any of these issues.

And I know we have to start somewhere.

I know that change starts with the individual…with you, with me and with every single man, woman and child in our world.
I know that kindness starts with a smile.
I know that inclusion helps others feel a sense of belonging.
And I know it takes a lot of courage to go against the masses.
I know anything short of that, won’t be enough.

Continue reading " What I Know…The Sandy Hook Tragedy" »

November 28, 2012

If You Want Something, Make It Happen

IStock_0change2llWe are bombarded with messages about creating a great life, having what we want, making our dreams come true and on and on.  These messages often leave us wanting for more.  We want “rockin’ relationships,” amazing kids, meaningful jobs and satisfying lives.  When we don’t have these things, we have a tendency to blame external factors. 

Until each of us learns to stand behind the light within us, we run the risk of forever wanting more.  It’s time to stop wanting and instead start creating.

If we want something, then it is up to us to own it, stand behind it and believe in ourselves in order to make that want a reality.  Rockin’ relationships don’t happen if we’re not strong enough to stand behind that desire.  They don’t happen if we want so badly to be loved that we accept crumbs and pretend the crumbs are a birthday cake.  Great relationships don’t happen if we can’t ask for our needs and wants, choose to accept the unacceptable or become so over the top in our pursuit of respectful treatment that we become disrespectful ourselves.  Rockin’ relationships, great jobs and amazing kids happen when we have the courage to do what is necessary to create these things. 

We create our destiny.  It’s time we stopped wishing, wanting and hoping for more and instead start taking action.  If we want a better relationship, we start by changing ourselves rather than complaining about our partner.  If we’re tired of that mean-spirited colleague, we have to stop pretending they’re okay.  If we want a better job, we may have to risk losing the one we have.  Creating change always starts with the self -- the only person we have control of.  Change starts with a choice and a commitment to engage in countless actions strung together in such a way that they produce results. 

Stop wishing and start acting.  Change starts and ends with you.

Challenge: What is the one thing you are complaining about most in your life?  What would happen if you decided to stop complaining and instead chose to take steps to change things?  Choose one step and take it today. 

October 10, 2012

Are You Sabotaging Your Relationships?

IStock_0caretaking womanllI hear from women all the time about how badly they want to have a good romantic relationship.  They want to feel close to their partner, do fun things together and have interesting conversations and feel emotionally supported by their partner.  Most women tell me the reason they don’t have these things is because…well, it’s because of their partner.  They say their partner won’t talk, doesn’t like to share, hates it when she gets emotional and would rather be at work or left alone then to actually sit and hang out with her. 

Not surprisingly, this is only half the story. 

The other half of the story is what the women are doing that is getting in the way of them getting what they want.  Below are several ways women sabotage the connection in their romantic relationships. 
Too many women often:
1.    Start relationships under false pretenses.  Women often think that the way to “get” a man is to be everything they think the men want them to be.  This is crazy thinking since at some point the women will either have to stop the façade and be themselves or eventually lose themselves.  When you start off a relationship pretending to be something you’re not, you’ve already sabotaged your relationship. You can’t have emotional intimacy when you’re faking who you are.
2.    Use a wall of words.  Most women have a strong desire to want to be heard and struggle when those round them don’t listen.  In an effort to be heard, therefore, some women excessively talk.  As the women talk more, the men tune them out and when the men tune them out, the women increase their talking.  The women think that if they just said it the right way the men would listen.  The excessive talking has the opposite effect of what the women want and in effect puts a wall of words between them and their partners.
3.    See too many things through a critical lens.  I see countless women in my practice constantly tweaking those around them.  Women do this in an effort to get things to be better, however, the constant criticism does anything but get things better.  In the quest for perfection, women end up sabotaging the good things they do have.  How a dishwasher is loaded does not really matter in the grand scheme of things.  If women continue to tell the men in their lives how to cook, how to clean, how to dress, how to talk and how to be, they will lose the men.  No one wants to constantly be told how to do things better.  A critical lens is about you not the other person.  Get over your need for perfection and instead deal with your internal anxiety.

Continue reading "Are You Sabotaging Your Relationships?" »

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