Accountability can be useful. Scolding and punishment? Not so much.
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Now then. People often say they want accountability. But I'm not so sure.
Here’s what I see a lot of: “accountability” that looks like public shaming. For example, announcing your new diet and how much weight you plan - no, commit - to lose on social media. Once in a while we see someone do it on their own daytime show. There could be millions of witnesses.
Public declarations do work for some people - mostly the ones who are a little shameproof. Living with the dread of public shaming (and the rejection and the tomatoes and the onlookers making bets), well, that might be worse than actually being held accountable.
We have long known that punishment doesn’t work. We also know that stress hormones aren’t good for weight, and threats and abuse only create fake change. (Fake change = the kind that doesn’t last. The kind we reverse at the earliest opportunity.)
So when clients say they have to have accountability - and I hear this a lot - I don’t ever want to put deadlines or watchdogging or disapproval on them. (I barely even give “homework.”)
I prefer to set up a safe, sane, kind and approving space for us to talk. A space where we can look together at what’s really going on, without shaming or scolding or any judgement beyond figuring out what’s not working.
And what would actually make things better.