One of the most frustrating concepts I share is the Art of Accountability and Forgiveness. This is especially frustrating when the person listening to my words has been – or currently is – a victim of violence. It is tenfold as frustrating if the violence happened when they were a very young child, at an age when they had no say, really, in how their life went and they were at the mercy of the adults in their world who were supposed to be protecting them, instead of violating them.
It isn’t a concept that is easily swallowed for someone who has been a Victim and is committed to still being a Victim and it’s really hard for someone that is currently in a situation where they are being victimized. It is a confusing concept for a Victim to learn about because, often times, Victims feel as if they had no say in the matter and they have done nothing “wrong” and that it wasn’t their “fault.”
I have learned this not only by being witness to countless transformations out of victimhood and into empowerment, but also because I have lived that transformation process myself. That journey is what I wrote about in my book, Above the Clouds. So, I actually understand how someone who has been hurt, violated, betrayed, abandoned, and/or beaten can hear “you need to be accountable and forgive” and seriously want to kick my ass.
There is a lot that happens in this world that just doesn’t make sense. This week alone, the news has been bogged down with several stories about the senseless occurrences of violence that are happening across the United States. In every person’s life, at one point or another, there is inevitably something that happens that the human mind cannot wrap around or comprehend, there is no way to rationalize it or understand it. It just happens and we are left to “deal with it.”
It is in the choosing of how you are going to “deal with it” that makes the difference in how you experience your life. You can choose to continue to hold a grudge against the person that “broke” you somehow. This choice does not call the perpetrator to repentance. It does not make the situation better. It doesn’t “fix” what happened or make it go away. It doesn’t even punish the perpetrator. This option simply keeps you perpetually stuck in that situation. It also creates the magnifying and magnetic energy that will draw to you similar situations, giving you the opportunity to relive the destruction until you choose otherwise.
The other choice is to choose to be accountable and forgive. This choice does not call the perpetrator to repentance either. It also does not make the situation better or “fix” what happened or make it go away. Forgiving the person does not release them from their wrongdoing or say that their behavior is condoned. Forgiveness doesn’t even really benefit them in any way. It benefits you. It is for giving you freedom.
For any situation that you are blaming another person or for any situation wherein you are saying “but… it wasn’t my fault!” These are the areas where you need to look into being accountable for that experience. This can be very difficult when the person is healing from childhood abuse and I want to be clear about something: NO child should EVER be abused or feel unsafe and those who do harm our children should experience grave consequences! If your childhood was stripped away from you, I am so so sorry. My heart goes out to you. And please know that when I say, “Be accountable” I am not asking you to take on responsibility for what happened. As an innocent child, it truly wasn’t your fault.
That being said, if you are someone that is stuck in the “but… it wasn’t my fault” pattern, there is a really good chance that you have some childhood issues that need to be healed. It may not be abuse that needs to be healed, but that statement is generally rooted firmly in childhood – younger than six years old – because it is at that age where your life is not your own and your options about your own safety are very limited.
One point I’d like to make… it is important that you are ready to heal before choosing accountability and forgiveness. Ask yourself, “Am I ready?” And listen for the answer. Your body will tell you. No one else has the answer for you on how long your process will take. People can give you a lot of “should’s” based on their own expectations, but only you have the answer for what will work for you. And, honestly, part of the healing process is releasing all of the emotions that you didn’t go through at the time of the violation. This does not mean you have to relive the experience. It simply means that the emotions that didn’t move through, need to move through. And, one of the emotions that can get really big in the healing of violation is anger. So, in your own process, if you are in the anger stage, it is actually counterproductive to step into accountability and forgiveness. Knowing where you are in your process is crucial. And knowing when it’s time to move on is crucial, as well.
As long as you are committed to the “other” person being “wrong” or the “bad guy” or that the situation is all “their” fault, you are going to remain trapped in that situation. Accountability is about looking at how you got into that situation. What choices did you make that aligned you with it? Where did you override intuition? Where did you ignore your promptings? Where did you sell out? Where are you still doing these sort of things? (Again, for healing childhood abuse, this process is different and unique to each person. Contact me or find support with a professional who can help you heal this.)
Accountability is about coming from an *I* standpoint. I chose to marry him/her. I chose to date a person that was clearly disturbed. I chose to trust him/her, even though my gut told me not to. I didn’t stand up for myself. I allowed little indiscretions and minimized them.
That is what accountability looks like.
Forgiveness is an act of surrendering. It is an act of letting go. It is an act of releasing yourself from the bonds of victimhood. As long as you are seeing someone as the Bad Guy, you are the Victim to that Bad Guy. And, also… if you’re viewing someone as the Good Guy, the Hero, The Knight on the White Charger… you are still the Victim.
Victimhood is demoralizing, disempowering, and destructive. When you stop blaming others and step into accountability and forgiveness, you will set yourself free.
I always welcome your thoughts, questions, and comments. Feel free to jot down what you’re thinking in the comment box below.