• Kelly O'Donnell

Be Accountable and Have Self Compassion (they are not opposites!)

Accountability and Self-Compassion

One thing that almost all of my clients struggle with is the ability to be both accountable for their actions and have compassion for themselves when they fail. You know the cycle… Set a goal, try, fail, beat yourself up… Set a goal, try fail, beat yourself up harder.


Are You Emotionally Abusive to Yourself?

If you really pay attention to the things that you say to yourself in your head it sounds like an abusive relationship… “I can’t believe you ate all those fries. You are such a fat ass!”, “Why can’t you just eat one cookie? You ate half the bag! What is wrong with you?”, “You are so lazy! Why can’t you just stick to an exercise routine?” Imagine if your husband or boyfriend were saying those things to you. Would you feel like cozying up to him, loving him, doing nice things for him, spending time to prepare great food for him? Ummm…no. You would start resenting him! You would start avoiding him! You would probably start behaving in ways to spite him!


Do you see any resemblance here to the relationship you have to yourself? No wonder you are self-sabotaging!


Ok, so we need to stop emotionally abusing ourselves and have self compassion. That is half my message today. The other half of my message is about accountability. If you want to change your behavior, you can not simply be compassionate, you must also be accountable for your actions. So how can we be both accountable and compassionate?


How Do We Become Accountable and Compassionate?

While reading a book by Pema Chodron called Living Beautifully with Uncertainty and Change, I learned about a Buddhist practice called Sojong which beautifully encompasses this idea of compassionate accountability with yourself.


Sojong is the bimonthly practice of a sort of “confession” observed by members of the monastic community. Each month on the days of the new moon and the full moon, these monks contemplate the ways that they broke the observance of their vows. They explore these questions without self-criticism or blame. They admit their transgressions and start fresh. They do not hang on to it, they let it go, and then move forward in a more mindful state. Every two weeks, with the moon as a friendly reminder! I love it!


Your Challenge: Practice Being Accountable with Self-Compassion

I encourage you to give it a try this month. Set a goal around a behavior you would like to change. Try to change it. Notice when you fail without judgement (definitely no more emotional abusing yourself). On the days of the new moon and the full moon reflect on your transgressions and forgive yourself. Let go and move on more mindfully.


(You can add the moon cycle to your google calendar by clicking on “other calendars” then “browse other calendars” then “phases of the moon”. You can easily find moon calendars on the internet also.)