Don't Ask Me to Be Your Accountability Partner
Every single one of my friends has, at some point, been a victim of me trying to make them healthier. I would almost bet that the majority of them snort-laughed at that first line because they understand how true it is. Some days, I think I started a health-focused blog and career so that my friends wouldn't be the objects of my undying affection and insatiable need to reform. What can I say? I'm like the world's best accountability partner...that you never asked for.
As most of you know, I am a 1 on the enneagram, a personality typing system. If you want to learn more about the enneagram, you can see my post here. 1s are often called "The Perfectionist" or "The Reformer", and we can easily become obsessed with doing everything the right way and sacrificing our wants to accomplish what we must do. Lucky for me, I also have an extremely strong 2 wing (if you're unfamiliar with enneagram speak, thing of a wing as another facet of my personality), which explains the level of importance I place on my relationships. 2s, or the "Helpers", have a tendency to give help when help is not wanted, if they are living in an unhealthy emotional space. This explosive combination of traits in my own life leads to something like this:
If you tell me about a health struggle you are having, be it a lack of productivity, organization, sleep, nutritious food, or exercise, be prepared for a long-winded response, full of ideas for you, a grocery list, about 10 supplements, no less than 5 podcast episodes, and maybe a referral to my favorite fitness classes or light reading. I understand that you just wanted a listening ear to complain, but I wasn't cut from that cloth.
In all seriousness, I can joke about this because it's something I really try to work on. Sometimes, I just need a listening ear without a laundry list of suggestions, and I don't want to be the friend that drives everyone insane with my good intentions. But, one reality of my persona is that, when I have a friend who genuinely wants my advice and accountability and directly asks for it, I really struggle when they don't follow through. In turn, they feel the pressure to meet my "impossible standards" that I don't even realize I'm projecting. It's not a good place to be for either party.
Instead, I have learned that, just as I can't offer advice to those who don't want it, it's also not beneficial to ask for accountability when you're not ready to act. Your accountability parter isn't your drill sergeant; they're your coach. Your champion. Your support. Too often, we assume that asking for help or accountability means that someone else is going to fix our problems, but we still have to do the work.
When I'm teaching Pure Barre, I often find myself saying, "I can push you, but you're the only one who can make this happen." That's accountability. I'm not kicking them out of their space and jumping in to do the workout in their absence. So, whichever end of the spectrum you fall on, the advice giver or the one in need of accountability, we can both do a better job of participating in this conversation. Some of us need to reign in our reformation, while others need to learn how to take action before asking for that outside support.
What side are you on? I'd love to hear it in the comments!