Between all the conversations I have had with people over the years, I have come to realize that in general, there are two groups of people who seek out recovery.

Those who are proactive and those who are reactive.

Or another way to put it…

One group makes things happen.
The other waits for things to happen.

Both groups deserve credit for their desire to grow and heal and both generally have a genuine desire to change. But while the active group recognizes that their recovery is their responsibility and sees their support systems as a source of encouragement, the other group wants their support systems to share in the responsibility for their recovery efforts.

I see this frequently when it comes to the area of accountability.

For instance, we tell people they can find real accountability in the Live Free Community. And they certainly can. But every so often I will get a new member who messages me after downloading the app and asks how they can enable or find the “accountability feature.” 

As if accountability is something you download, toggle on, or set and forget. A decidedly reactive viewpoint.

Recognize that I don’t say this to shame those who fall into the reactive group. In fact, I would argue that often their more passive approach is a byproduct of misinformation.

Here’s what I mean.

When the subject of accountability is brought up, it is common for people to define their understanding of the word based on certain assumptions and preconceptions. 

Accountability means… 

  • Someone is going to call me out when I mess up.
  • Someone is going to check on me periodically and ask for an update.
  • Someone is going to insist on meeting up from time to time to ensure I’m sticking with my promises.
  • Someone is going to call me if my latest browsing history looks sketchy or questionable.
  • Someone is going to hold my feet to the fire when my resolve fades or starts to crumble.

And while all of these understandings may certainly hold true in specific situations, they all share the same two flaws.

  1. Accountability is seen as punishment or forced supervision.
  2. Accountability is something that is thrust upon you. 

In other words, once you invite accountability into your life, accountability drives the conversation and engagement, not you. It’s a reactive relationship.

But true accountability is not reactive at all. It’s proactive.

So yes, sometimes accountability means…

Someone may call you out when you mess up. But, it also and more importantly means that you will bring forward your struggles, doubts, and even failures when you need to, without having to be told to do so.

Someone may check on you periodically and ask for an update. But ideally you will provide regular updates on your own even if your accountability partner has been distracted or hasn’t asked for one.

Someone may insist on meeting up from time to time to ensure you’re sticking with your promises. But hopefully you will be initiating those conversations and meet ups because you’re eager to share your life experiences and hopefully progress.

Someone may call you if your latest browsing history looks sketchy or questionable. But if you are being proactive, you will encourage your partner to talk about your online struggles and have these conversations even if your software did not report anything. 

Someone may hold your feet to the fire when your resolve fades or starts to crumble. But healthy accountability also allows you to approach your support systems with these questions and frustrations without fear of condemnation or rejection. 

Which also means…

  • Accountability is not punishment or forced supervision, but rather something you enjoy because it makes you feel more connected and lessens shame.
  • Accountability is not something you are forced into, but it is a relationship that you welcome with open arms because it greatly benefits you and enriches your life.

When you understand and approach accountability this way, it not only puts the responsibility on you but also means you have the ability to be accountable on your own, without being pushed, prodded, or nagged.

At the end of the day:

Accountability is a relationship you foster and pursue.
Accountability is your decision to be open and honest.
Accountability is as available as you are.

Because accountability is a lifestyle choice, and it’s a choice only you can make.

By the way, if you are looking for a safe place or community where you are free to be accountable about your choices and struggles, check out the Live Free Community where over 1,100 other men have made the same decision and support each other daily.