As children, we needed someone else to hold us accountable. Ever wonder why or how a child can look you in the eye and say with a straight face, “No, I didn’t eat the last cookie.” with chocolate all over their mouth? Or how your teen can say, “I didn’t break curfew; I was home at 11PM sharp!” when you heard their soft footsteps at 1AM?? That is, in part, because their conscience is underdeveloped. As we now know, the part of our brain that houses our conscience does not fully develop until around the age of 25:
For more about brain development written for lay persons, please see:
Therefore, we ALL needed someone else to hold us accountable in order to behave according to what was expected. For the most part, this system, when properly applied works. That is, if both sides were consistent and straightforward, generally speaking the child did what was asked. It is as if children are hard-wired to please.
With increasing age came increased responsibilities and privileges. If caregivers were truly interested in raising independent, self-sufficient adults, part of this preparation was “loosening the reins” as we grew. This allowed us to “try out our wings” with a safety net to catch us if we strayed too far. In a healthy home environment, one day we no longer needed that accountability as we had internalized the laws of society and rules and expectations of our families. Decision-making was now placed squarely upon our shoulders. Ready or not!
What happens if this development is not nurtured or we weren’t permitted to make age-appropriate choices? Our ability to rely on our own decision-making abilities may be so impeded, that we habitually seek the advice or validation of others. It is as if we cannot trust ourselves to make healthy decisions, especially on important matters (important being decided by us, of course.) This has an impact on all of our relationships. At work, it is unlikely to find this individual in any supervisory role; at home, this person does not know how to “be the adult”, continually seeking approval.
If this is the case all is not lost!! Yes, you can learn these skills later in life. In fact, holding others accountable is one of the primary reasons to hire a life or business coach. They will give you specific goals, and assist you in designing ways to meet these goals. If they are effective, in a relatively short time you will be ready to hold yourself accountable.
If you’re thinking, I’ve tried and I still can’t accomplish what I intend!, or, whenever I think I’m on the right track, things go “haywire”, there could be a very valid reason why! Some people are better served by entering short-term counseling before considering if coaching is the next step. How do you know which category you fall in? Honestly look at your level of satisfaction in your relationships. Also, consider how you responded the last time(s) you were faced with a decision. How easily did you choose between options? How satisfied were you with your choice after you made it?
Fortunately, we live in a time when seeking help, whether counseling or coaching, for the most part no longer holds the stigma it once did. The key is to be willing to take the first step!