How to do accountability well: Part 3

In Part 3 of ‘How to do accountability well’, we’re looking at questions.

They are vital to accountability and recovery, so which ones should you be asking?

When I started the journey of letting someone in on my struggle, I wanted accountability for more than my porn use. I wanted it for life: for financial wisdom, relationships, prayer and my anxiety levels to name a few areas.  My accountability partner made us each a cute journal where we wrote a list of questions to be asked each week.  We were all set to go!

…It didn’t work.

There was a simple explanation. Our list was too long!

It allowed space for tangents and conversations that pulled away from the hard-hitting questions we truly needed. We weren’t making progress in our recovery, but using the other topics to subtly and subconsciously nudge away from true vulnerability. At least, I know I was! In How to do accountability well: Part 1 I wrote about our natural tendency to fade out and skimp on real accountability. This is what we were facing, because the idea of real honesty was frightening. We used our massive question list as an easy way out. For others it may be simply having no structure or clear expectation. There is an unlimited number of ways we can weasel out of sharing our shame.

We came to realize the need to ask and be asked The Big Questions. These were the ones that made our hearts quiver and lips fight for lock-down. They became anchors for true accountability and honest discussion.

We had The Big Three. They were obvious and simple questions, but they made us squirm. Try implementing similar questions in your accountability:

  1. Have you looked at porn?
  2. Have you masturbated? (We used the euphemism ‘killing kittens’ to break the awkward)
  3. Why & How?

Asking ‘why?’ and ‘how?’ isn’t about sharing gory and sexual details.

Discussing why is about identifying your triggers. You may also ask a question such as ‘what negative emotion or stress were you feeling the week or day you acted out?’ or ‘what sexual temptations were available at the time?’

Explaining how includes noting what actually happened and how you worked around accountability software or other boundaries. This question also applies to celebrating victory! If you resisted temptation, explore what you did to achieve that- and repeat!

Good self-awareness takes time to develop, but will give you the control you need to break free and cut temptation off at the root. We certainly developed a grasp on what our triggers were. With this knowledge, we could be on our guard as soon as they popped up.

As obvious as it may sound, it is worth saying that you need questions. Accountability doesn’t come naturally, so when you first catch up with your partner, make sure you script out the questions you don’t want to answer; then, ensure they get asked and answered honestly every time. It’s worth it. And it gets easier with practice!

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