It’s easy to say, somewhat easy to spell, yet oh so hard to do, at least in certain situations. One situation that has a particularly prickly relationship with accountability is the one with addiction. Remember the dragon? He hates accountability. Nope, no fun at all, not for him.
Accountability seems to be a vague value for so many people. In the room of therapy, here is what it means. It means we will have to take responsibility for our actions and words. We will have to feel pain and not try to rationalize it away. We will have to ignore the urge to minimize or dramatize actual events, but relate them accurately with all their warts or modest accolades. It means some will be proud, some will judge, some will not care and some will possibly try to undermine or retaliate. It then means that we do not respond, that we accept the fact that our actions have reactions, reciprocity, and that we don’t get to always be the weavers of the tale that follows. Sometimes we have to sit with the reality of the situation and just let it be.
Man, this is hard stuff to teach in therapy! It sounds so neat and simple yet it is the undercurrent of so much of what we do. Can client A sit with the pain of an over-reaction and let it feel bad and then let it move away? Can client B sit with a stunning realization without the usual snide comeback? Can client C allow the truth of a situation to be OK and isolated and not “kitchen sink” old issues to muddy the moment?
Sometimes the magic works, sometimes it doesn’t. We aren’t looking for perfection (that’s a whole other blog post) but slight shades of improvement, insight, to string together a few successes and allow them to resonate more than the old pattern.
Come on in, the water’s great!