Taking accountability after causing harm is essential to healing, but where do you begin? Claiming ownership for your actions is often framed as a negative journey, but it can inspire meaningful growth, recovery, and transformation. Read on to explore further.
What exactly is accountability?
Accountability is the willingness to accept responsibility for our actions and the consequences that follow. It's an honest, intentional, direct recognition of our behaviors and their impacts. While taking accountability may sound intimidating, it can be a transformative process that enriches healing, connection, and growth.
Who is involved in taking accountability?
Accountability is a process taken for and by the self. It's an inner healing journey with outer world impacts, but it must begin and end with you. When taken with intentionality, accountability may help more than just you heal, but this is not a guarantee.
Part of taking accountability is deepening your understanding of the harm you have caused and accepting its impacts. You can't change its impacts in the process or project your own journey onto others. The process is more personal than it is punitive.
Accountability does not necessitate a judge or juror, but rather a journey toward growth and change. Or as Kai Cheng Thom writes in Everyday Feminism, “When we think of accountability in terms of listening and love instead of accusation and punishment, everything changes.”
What is involved in taking accountability?
Accountability is a journey of self-love, understanding, growth, and transformation. It involves deepening your understanding of this harm and its impacts through acknowledgement. This introspection will help you get closer to accepting your actions and releasing the shame or guilt attached with them.
Is accountability a bad thing?
No, accountability is just another step in your healing journey. Taking accountability may be uncomfortable - as deep reflection, awareness, and growth often feel - but these experiences shouldn’t be perceived as negative. Rather, transformational.
The process of understanding the harm you caused involves doing the investigative work into your own life to discover what it was that led you to these actions. This newfound understanding is crucial to ending the cycle of harm — so it could never be a bad thing!
What can and often is harmful, is ignoring or minimizing hurt caused, gaslighting the people you have harmed, or only beginning the accountability process to try and get the person you hurt to forgive you.
How can I start my own accountability journey?
Everyone’s accountability journey is different, and we encourage you to seek guided support as you navigate your own. Here are 5 ways to start practicing accountability:
- Take responsibility for harm you have caused, intentional or not
- Actively listen, and respect what you hear
- Practice reflective, direct communication
- Respect the boundaries of people who have experienced harm
- Seek internal forgiveness and growth over external validation