Accountability is a bit of a buzzword right now, and I’ve been getting a ton of questions on how men can become more accountable to themselves and to others. As someone who used to suck at accountability, here’s what I’ve learned on how it ties into self-esteem, confidence, confrontation, boundaries, and the path to betterment.
So almost every single week, maybe daily, I get messages from men on Instagram, on Facebook, through the podcasts on different social media platforms, through the ManTalks Alliance about accountability, about how we as men, how you as a man can be more accountable to yourself specifically, and then to others.
And I think that as men, we really understand that our level of accountability. And the depths to which we can, we feel like we can be accountable to what we’ve said we are going to do and to follow through on that is the depth that we feel like we are going to trust ourselves. And for years, I struggled with accountability for years.
I was terrible with it. I didn’t trust myself to follow through with what I said I was going to do on almost anything. In university, writing a paper, getting a project done. Like I knew I wasn’t accountable. Not watching pornography, not texting that woman back that I knew was maybe dangerous or unhealthy, not engaging in the infidelity. Waking up when I said I was going to wake up. Holding myself accountable to go to the gym and working out when I said I would. I mean, it really was a struggle in almost every aspect and area of my life.
And one of the things that fundamentally changed my perspective of accountability was when I really realized not just intellectually, not just cognitively, that my self worth and my value as a man was dependent on my accountability. But when I actually physically felt it, when I realized the damage that, in some ways, I was doing to myself by not holding myself accountable and that my self-esteem challenges, that my lack of confidence, that my need for external validation specifically from women, a lot of those things were a by-product of the fact that I felt wildly out of control in being able to hold myself accountable.
And when I started to realize that, I could start to remind myself that if I wanted to develop the self-esteem and the self-worth and the confidence that I knew I was capable of, not that I deserved, but I knew I was capable of having, that it was going to require myself to really hold myself more accountable.
And that meant a bit of a confrontation. That meant almost like confronting this dysfunctional, lazy, out-of-control rebellious part of me that just wanted to play video games all day and spend time with beautiful women and smoke weed and get drunk and ride my motorcycle and really shirk off any kind of responsibility.
So that was step one; really realizing that my value and self-worth as a man was contingent and tied to my ability to hold myself accountable in the moments, especially in the moments where I really didn’t want to. The second thing was that I had to set some boundaries with shame. And when we are lacking in accountability, there is inevitably shame there. When we’re really conscious and aware and dialed into the fact that we can’t hold ourselves accountable, there’s usually a pretty real shame that comes along with that.
“What’s wrong with me? I must be broken. Why the fuck can I do this?” Those are all the types of narratives that would ruminate and roll through my internal dialogue on a daily basis. And it made me wildly ineffective. But when I started to set some boundaries with the shame that I was experiencing, being able to say, “I’m not broken, I’m not wrong. There’s nothing necessarily wrong with me. I’m making bad decisions, I’m making bad choices, and I’m making bad choices because in the past I’ve continued to make bad choices, but I can choose a different pathway for myself.”
And slowly as I set boundaries with that shame, when I didn’t allow myself to shit talk myself or bully myself, or really self-deprecate. Then there was a possibility, there was an opening for me to take right action. For me to take the action that I knew that I wanted to take. For me to hold myself to the standards that I knew I was capable of. \
And that’s the path of betterment, but I had to recognize that I had a lot of shame about the man that I’d become, about the boyfriend that I was, about the friend that I was, about the son that I was, the brother that I was, the employee that I was. I had a lot of shame about the man that I had become when I was acting recklessly and out of control and not holding myself accountable and rebelling against this inner sense of authority.
That’s the other piece in some ways, when we lack accountability. It’s because we’re giving the middle finger, we’re saying “fuck you” to authority in some ways, but it’s usually our inner sense of authority. So that’s a very different topic that I’ll cover in another time, because that gets into dad and a whole bunch of other pieces. But know that in order to build and develop a sense of robust authority within yourself is going to require you to hold yourself accountable. And that maybe you lack accountability because what you’re actually doing is rejecting your own quality and sense and capacity and ability to have an authoritative stance within yourself.
The last thing that I would say is if you want to develop this accountability, recognize yourself and validate yourself every single time you do it. Every single time you hold yourself accountable, right? You say, “I’m not going to watch porn anymore.” Recognize yourself when you don’t, or when you open up the browser and then you shut it down and you walk away, right?
When you say, “I’m not going to text that woman anymore, I’m going to break up with my girlfriend because I know this isn’t the right relationship,” and you hold yourself accountable to that action that you know is right, recognize yourself for that.
One of the biggest pitfalls that I see a lot of men falling into is that they actually lack the ability of self-recognition. So it’s very hard for them to complete the loop of self-accountability because we need to be able to verify and recognize that we have held ourselves accountable. And so a lot of men miss out on this piece. They almost — maybe they’re looking for an external relationship, from their wife or their girlfriend. Or maybe a family member or a friend to verify and validate that they held themselves accountable.
But the last step that to really reinforce that you’re holding yourself accountable is to actually begin to validate yourself. Whenever you do recognize and catch yourself in the act of holding yourself accountable. So those are the steps that I took, and I think start at the very beginning, right? By recognizing and knowing fundamentally that your self-worth your value as a man, your self-esteem, your confidence as a man is directly tied to your ability to hold yourself accountable.
And that doesn’t mean that you have to be hyper-militaristic or really authoritarian about it, or very rigid about it. I’m not hyper rigid around my level of accountability, that’s not how I want to operate. I tried that for a period of time. I tried being really militaristic with holding myself accountable, to waking up at a certain time and following through with absolutely every single thing that I said I was going to do, and really browbeating myself when I got it wrong. And that just didn’t work for me. That just didn’t function. That level of rigidity, I found, was equally as shame-inducing as being out of control.
And so find your balance of where you want to operate, on the accountability — not spectrum, I guess there’s not really a spectrum of it — but know what’s right for you. Be able to develop that accountability to the point where you have bettered yourself as a man, as a father, as a husband, as a leader, as an entrepreneur, and to have developed yourself and bettered yourself to a place where not only do you trust yourself, but you respect who you’ve become.
I think that’s the most important thing is that when I look at the man that I’ve become today I’ve let go of pornography. I’ve let go of drinking. I’ve let go of infidelities. I’ve let go of using any sort of like recreational drugs. I’ve let go of a lot of mechanisms that I used to use to sabotage my accountability. And the man that I’ve become today I deeply respect, and I trust myself to hold myself accountable. And for me, where I am in my life right now, that’s brilliant. That’s exactly what I want and what I need because when I look externally at my relationship and my marriage and my family and my business, it’s working really well. I see it working really well and it feels good for me. I can tell internally that there’s a deep level of fulfillment in who I have become and the manner in which I act.
And I think for every man that’s really what we’re striving for; is to be able to stand solidly in who we have become and who we are. And to be able to say, “I am proud of this man. If I met this man objectively, if I met the man that I am on the street and got to have a conversation with him, I would really respect and admire and appreciate him as a man, as a father, as a husband, as a leader.”
And so that’s the aim when it comes to self-accountability. So thank you so much for tuning this video. Don’t forget to subscribe on whatever platform you’re tuning into me on whether it’s YouTube or Instagram or on the podcast. Don’t forget to subscribe and leave a rating and review. Thank you so much for tuning in.
And if you have a question, please submit them on whatever platform you are tuning into this on. So thank you very much until next week. This is Connor Beaton signing off.
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