I like to make a small difference between holding myself responsible for something or holding myself accountable.
The former means I am to be blamed for the situation. But the latter means I wish to do even better next time, even though I did nothing wrong.
I had a young mentee for a few years. He dealt with deep insecurity and bad faith. He would be triggered by every little thing, even the mildest criticism. He often had something bad to say about everybody. People who had been good to him were often easily attacked for little friends. And friends I have easily moved away from if they didn’t act in a way that put him at the center.
I worried for a while because I know that when a person acts with bad faith towards others, they will ultimately do the same to you. It has become part of their nature, difficult to divorce from their actions, even if it hurts them.
But I took this situation as a personal practice. Perhaps my life would help shine a path. Perhaps my words would help pave the way. Perhaps our constant interaction would make both of us better.
And eventually, it happened. I became the target.
I wasn’t surprised of course, but I was saddened. It’s easy to say ‘I did my best, this person was unsaveable, I owe him nothing’. But that would only make me feel better, but not do better. Because it’s not true. Everyone can be helped.
So I don’t blame myself for not being able to help a person I couldn’t help. But I wish for myself that I continue to build the capacity to help this person and as many people as come my way.
I don’t hold myself responsible for helping everyone I meet. But I like to hold myself accountable so that I can go as far as is possible, without losing myself.
For instance, maybe in a time of weakness, I triggered a reaction and a fear that caution might have helped with (part of why you don’t blame yourself is because you remember you are human, and not being 100 percent all the time comes with the makeup), or maybe I didn’t have the capacity to help this person at this stage of my journey, and it was slightly conceited, or perhaps naïve to have done so. So now I have learned that and when the opportunity roles back again, I can do better.
It’s like the famous affirmation says: Everyday, in every way, I want to be better, and better.
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