BETTER THAN HAPPY – Episode 235

CHOICE AND ACCOUNTABILITY = We make choices, and then we are accountable for the consequences.

“That’s an amazing, useful concept, but it’s not what I’m talking about today. I’m talking about accountability and choice.”

ACCOUNTABILITY AND CHOICE = We hold ourselves accountable for where we are – the results in our life – and then we can see that we have all these choices.

“Here’s what I want to introduce to you today, the idea that the more accountability we take over our own experience, over our results, over every single thing that happens to us, and around us, and the way we experience those things, the more choices we have.”

Let’s look for an example from this past week. One of the children – I won’t say who – hasn’t been doing well on their math assignments this past couple weeks.

NO ACCOUNTABILITY: I got poor grades on my math assignment because the work was too hard.

CHOICES: I have no choices because I cannot control whether the work is too hard or not. I have to just let it happen to me.

ACCOUNTABILITY: I got poor grades on my math assignments because I didn’t understand the concept, and I didn’t ask my teacher to help me to better understand the concept.

CHOICES: I have the choice to ask for help when I don’t understand. I can stand up and walk up to my teacher’s desk, or I can email her my questions, or I can bring my book home and ask my parents to help me understand the concept.

Now let’s consider this:

“There’s a difference between making it your fault and making it your responsibility. Taking accountability for it is not the same as blaming yourself in some way … I want you to know that you can take accountability for everything in your life and you don’t have to beat yourself up for it. You don’t have to make it mean something negative about you.”

So, if I am getting poor grades in math, and I am accountable for those grades, then I can either myself:

FAULT: I am no good at math. I will never get it. It is all my fault. I feel shame.

Or I can take responsibility:

RESPONSIBILITY: I did not ask for help. But I can now. And my grades can improve from here on out.

Do you see the difference?

“We’re humans! We’re always going to struggle in this life. We’re never going to get to a point in this life at which we are perfect. We don’t need to, right? That’s where the Atonement comes in. I want you to take accountability without taking blame. Take accountability and own your results without telling yourself, ‘This is your fault because you should be better than you are’.”

It is almost always easier to see how others can be better at taking responsibility for their life results. Let me see if I can find an example from my own life, right?

CIRCUMSTANCE: This past week was the anniversary of Matthew’s birth, and then, of course, his death. I spoke in church about some thoughts I’ve had surrounding these hard memories. When I stood to speak, though, I cried enough that I could not communicate the message I had prepared. Afterwards I beat myself up about it, a bit, because the message I wanted to share was, I believe, inspired. And I was not able to share it because I was crying so much.

ACCOUNTABILITY: Because the topic was still emotionally charged for me, I did not anticipate the level of preparation I needed to be able to convey the message I felt so strongly to share. Also, I forgot to spit out my piece of gum. Dang it.

CHOICES: Next time I speak in church, I can rehearse my words to Bryant first, maybe many times, to help me control my emotions better. Blubbering is not how I want to show up. And I have control over that. (And … I will never again speak to a group, with a piece of gum in my mouth.)

My crying through my words wasn’t because I was “out of control” or because I am not a good speaker or even because I have not dealt with my emotions about Matthew’s death. It isn’t my “fault”. But because I can see how I am accountable for my condition, I can see how I can do better next time.

“(Taking accountability) is such an amazing, powerful gift to give yourself.”

Sometimes determining how you are accountable is tricky. But, we know that it is all created by a feeling, and that comes from a thought, right? Think of the model. What is the feeling that I am feeling that is causing me to take this action that I want to be accountable for – getting poor grades on my math assignments, or crying when I am speaking in front of people. What is the emotion?

“That might take some time. It might mean you saying, ‘Huh. I think the reason I’m yelling at my children is because I feel frustrated with my children. Let me observe myself and my frustration, let me see where that’s coming from. Let me understand it a little better, let me be kind and patient with myself.'”

The process is worth the time. What we learn about ourselves in the process will serve us well. Okay, I am going to go pick up children from school and playdates. It is that time of day.