How To Hold Yourself Accountable With Self-Love In 6 Simple Steps
Everyone talks about the importance of self-love, but what does self-love look like in a practical sense? The ability to hold yourself accountable in a loving way and have healthy boundaries with yourself is one grounded, actionable application of self-love.
Self-love is about unconditional love and being able to meet yourself with love even when you disappoint yourself. However, it may not be about giving yourself a free pass but rather using self-love to help you face your fears, seek out support for self-sabotaging behaviors, push yourself to take healthy risks, dig deep to bring out your best, and be honest with yourself when you regret an action or make a poor decision. That all falls under the accountability category.
With self-love, holding yourself accountable can be accomplished without shame or judgment. Instead, simple awareness and a sense of loving responsibility toward yourself are key—and these tips should help:
Develop a healthy relationship with self-discipline.
Accountability and self-discipline go hand in hand. Many people think of discipline as having a punishing quality, but it doesn't have to. When you view self-discipline as an ally to accomplishing your goals, bringing out your best, and taking good care of yourself, you can think of self-discipline as the helpful inner coach or loving inner parent who enforces discipline only because they want the best for you.
Make discipline playful by giving your inner coach or inner parent a fun name or personality...just make sure they are kind and also know the value of taking a break and being lazy!
Learn how to talk to yourself about hard or painful things in a loving way.
My new book of self-love affirmations, mantras, and reflections, Love Notes to My Self, is written in the first person for a reason—because that's how we talk to ourselves with our inner dialogue.
Talking to yourself in kind and gentle ways is something most people have to practice. You may have grown up in a culture, household, or educational system where adults didn't know how to hold you accountable in a loving way. Instead, they talked to you in the way it was modeled for them when they were young—via judgment and shame.
The next time you disappoint yourself, use the experience to practice radical self-love and talk to yourself in a soothing way, even as you hold yourself accountable.
Cultivate compassionate honesty with yourself.
We often realize we need to make a big change in our life that's intimidating—like getting sober, separating from a partner, or changing our parenting style—via a moment of startling clarity. Like when you check your bank balance and see that you're short again due to a late-night, online shopping spree you didn't even remember. But this time when you look at the numbers on the screen, you know in your gut you need to hold yourself accountable to change or get help for this behavior.
You can honor that honest insight in a compassionate way, like being proud you've had this realization or reading articles on shopping addiction to better understand your behavior, or talking to your counselor about it for support.
We often won't be honest with ourselves regarding what we need to be accountable for, because we fear the harsh condemnation that comes along with it. You actually bring out the best in others and yourself when you are compassionate, even when holding others and yourself accountable.
Take ownership and control what you can.
There's so much in life we cannot control. Yet there are often numerous elements of your own personal life you can exert more healthy control over. Ask yourself, "What can I control in this situation?" when facing a tough or daunting issue with your job, health, or living situation.
Taking ownership is about empowering yourself to make your life work even better for you, not about blaming yourself for your circumstances. De-emphasize being perfect or hypervigilant. Emphasize self-love by celebrating any attempt to take more ownership of a situation and control what you can—which will build confidence and momentum!
Have your future self's back.
Holding your present self accountable in a loving way is showing up for your future self. Paying extra on your mortgage each month today could be something your future self thanks you for 20 years from now, for example, if you need to make a career change and can pay off your loan early.
We have to live with the consequences of our actions today for years to come. Instead of shaming your present self for poor choices, reframe with self-love by encouraging your present self to lovingly take care of your future self!
Show up for the collective to show up for yourself.
Being a mindful steward of your community, living green to help the planet, and sharing your resources with people like refugees who are struggling to attain the basics are actually acts of self-love.
Activating the noble part of yourself that longs to be accountable as a force of grace and mercy in the world is self-care. That's because we are all connected, and taking care of the world is actually a way to provide a nourishing community, a healthy planet, and a stable global environment for you to live, love, and breathe in each day.
The bottom line.
With self-love and accountability, it's all in the approach. Find loving ways to hold yourself accountable, and accountability can actually become a nurturing—and even fun—experience.
Tanya Carroll Richardson is a professional intuitive, giving readings to clients all over the world. She’s also the author of seven nonfiction books including Angel Intuition, Are You an Earth Angel?, Self-Care for Empaths, Zen Teen, and Forever In My Heart: A Grief Journal.