Being accountable — the importance of owning your shit

Being accountable — the importance of owning your shit

Being accountable means taking responsibility for one’s own actions. Sounds reasonable enough, right? So why is it that so many people find it so damned difficult?

While most of us recognize the importance of holding ourselves accountable in the workplace (where our credibility pretty much depends on it), owning up to the actions we take in our personal lives isn’t quite as easy — especially when nobody’s standing by to judge us.

It’s easier to accept responsibility when people are watching.

Imagine you’re at a party. You spill a glass of red wine on the carpet, a dozen witnesses standing by. There’s no denying you did it so you accept full ownership.

Now, imagine you’re home alone. You get a text from the guy you’re dating. He’s just broken up with you. You’re devastated. As you prepare to drown your sorrows in a shot of tequila, you drop your glass on the kitchen floor. It shatters. Who’s fault was that? His of course. I mean, who breaks up with someone via text!

Being accountable image 1

Being accountable suggests that we’re to blame. And often, we are.

Over the years, I’ve incurred my fair share of emotional blows. Haven’t we all? As human beings, we have the ability to be cruel, or just plain thoughtless. Either way, we’re capable of causing great suffering to one another.

The thing is, when we fall victim to the suffering inflicted upon us by others but refuse to examine our role in the story, there’s no end to our suffering. Even worse, we’re likely to repeat the decisions that got us there in the first place. Thus, the importance of being accountable.

– Here’s a great article about owning your sh*t –

In 2008, my ex-husband dropped a bomb on me.

He told me that in our 10 years of marriage, he had never felt like himself when he was in my company, and he couldn’t see that ever changing. A day or two later, I learned that he’d made multiple calls to another woman in the weeks prior. Within a couple of months, we were divorced and he was officially in a new relationship.

In our decade together, we had tried therapy several times. During none of our sessions did he ever suggest he was anything other than happy. How was I to have known?

“Accountability turns pain into peace.” Amy Jalapeno

The demise of my marriage taught me the value of being accountable.

Was I to blame for our breakup? Hell, no. I was clearly the victim. I knew it and my friends and family knew it, too. But while I found some comfort in their certainty, it wasn’t enough to ease my suffering.

Being accountable image 2

It was an incredibly painful time in my life. I still have flashbacks of the evening I sat in my car on a quiet suburban street and screamed so loudly that I literally woke up without a voice the next day. For months or perhaps a few years following — I honestly can’t recall — I was the walking wounded,  unable to imagine ever living without that pain. But then I faced a truth that allowed my healing to begin.

While I had loved him, I was often embarrassed by how he conducted himself socially. There were times I simply couldn’t not tell him how inappropriate he was being. Still, I married him, didn’t I? And I did it knowing full well that there were parts of him I didn’t accept. So really, how could he possibly have lived with me without feeling that he needed to be a different self from the self he felt born to be?

Being accountable doesn’t mean condoning someone else’s wrongdoing.

It simply means owning your part. Not only the role you may have played leading up to a certain situation, but the choices you make after the fact.

We are not always responsible for the events that unfold in our lives, but we are always responsible for how we choose (yes, choose) to respond. If your employer fires you without cause, if your partner cheats on you, and yes, even if somebody you love deeply dies — you ultimately get to decide how to move forward.

Being accountable quote

I’m not saying dust off your pain, pull up your socks and carry on without grieving what has befallen you. Pain takes time to process. Sometimes weeks, sometimes years. But when you’re tired of living with the pain, remember, you have 100% control of one thing and one thing only, and that’s yourself.

To thine own self be true.

Viv for today xo

(Originally published on August 4, 2017)

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By |2018-08-17T13:58:25+00:00August 12th, 2018|12 Comments


  1. Gabrielle Bunch August 8, 2017 at 12:17 pm - Reply

    Definitely needed to read this! Thanks!

  2. Natalie August 8, 2017 at 12:22 pm - Reply

    I’m sure this took courage to share ! Beautifully written and oh-so true ❤️❤️

  3. Kristy August 9, 2017 at 10:49 am - Reply

    It took me a long time to learn that I needed to own up to my own shit. I had always learned to deflect it to anyone else and got caught saying something extremely ugly about another person to learn that I needed to shut up, grow up, and own up. It is a difficult subject, but you wrote this beautifully and really dug into your own situation to drive the point. Great post!

  4. Elaine Russell August 24, 2017 at 10:43 am - Reply

    Such a powerful post. We do need to take responsibility for what happens to us. Words of wisdom! Thank you!

  5. Kerstin Henson August 17, 2018 at 1:58 am - Reply

    Great post Viv. I waste so much energy making excuses for why shit has happened the way it has, usually deflecting my own responsibility in the matter! But you’re spot on, I’d never dream of doing this at work. I’m going to try and own it. For today at least.

    • Viv August 17, 2018 at 11:58 am - Reply

      Great point you make, Kerstin. Blaming others is way more exhausting than owning it and moving on! Hope today goes well 🙂

  6. Liz McGregor August 17, 2018 at 10:45 pm - Reply

    Love this Vivienne. So true!!!

    • Viv August 18, 2018 at 8:26 am - Reply

      Thanks, Liz.

  7. Aradhana August 29, 2018 at 2:38 pm - Reply

    Beautifully expressed . Thanks for sharing

    • Viv August 29, 2018 at 3:58 pm - Reply

      Thanks for stopping by!

  8. Natalie August 30, 2018 at 5:53 am - Reply

    Yes!!! Amen amen amen. It takes some serious maturity and awareness to realize that we are 100% responsible for our own choices and responses.

  9. Miranda@JustRaisingTheBahr August 31, 2018 at 2:04 pm - Reply

    I love this post. I have realized being held accountable is necessary. There are many things I’ve experienced that I would love to blame on other people, but that isn’t always the case. Great read!

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