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August 1, 2013

As a college student studying psychology, I never really understood the whole nature versus nurture debate. It is true that we are born with predisposed traits, such as our personalities, but every personality can be applied for the purpose of helping or hurting others. Regardless of our inherent traits, we all come into the world devoid of experience and remain at the mercy of those who raise and guide us.

One Monday, I posted a blog post on Psychology Today about the story of a Black Fourteen year old, who was shot in the yard of a Thirty- Two year old White home owner he did not know. As of the time of writing the post, the boy remained in the hospital fighting for his life. The home owner was arrested and charged with attempted second degree murder and reading some of the articles on line about the story, it appears that most people consider that the shooting had a racial bias towards it.

From my perspective, the story is very unlike the case of Trayvon Martin where you have a teenager being confronted on public grounds. In this story you have a teenager being confronted at around two o’clock on a Friday morning, in the front yard of someone he does not know. Some questions come to mind with this story, for example, did he sneak out of his home? Was he trying to break into the man’s home? Even worse, it was revealed by the boy’s own family that he already has a history of juvenile convictions for robberies. According to the report I read, his mother insisted that he had never used a gun in any of his robberies, perhaps indicating that the use of a gun by the home owner was excessive.

Perhaps the use of a gun by the home owner was excessive, perhaps the home owner would have shown more mercy had the kid been White. The reality is that we would never know and more importantly, the fourteen year old placed himself in a detrimental situation by entering uninvited and unannounced into a property he did not reside in.

One of the biggest mistakes people tend to make, is to readily place expectations on others, regarding how they expect others are supposed to treat them, regardless of their own actions. This mindset is not only based on an illusion, but it is detrimental. The reason is because we live at the mercy of each other, so regardless of what the laws of the land are, rest assured that there are going to be others willing to break those laws.

It becomes even more ironic when we break laws and in the same token we expect that others are going to honor laws put in place to respect our rights as human beings. As ironic as it may seem, you will be surprised with how many people hold on to this double standard attitude, that is, until they run into trouble.

The key to experiencing any level of content and prosperity in life is self accountability. Regardless of whatever opportunities you have or have not been afforded, accountability remains the most effective tool that affords people all over the world significant power in their lives.

If you get into the habit of self accountability, it becomes easier for you to make better decisions, learn new skills and subsequently create more opportunities for yourself. It is a really simple concept that requires a lot of hard work in regards to putting into practice.

The process of taking accountability involves making two lists, the list of things you do well, and the list of things you do poorly. Chances are when you look at the things you do well, these are things were you have received some measure of training for, in addition to significant time you have invested in practicing this skill. For the list of things you do poorly, chances are that you are attempting to get a need of yours met, without prior training or guidance from someone who knows better.

The solutions for the things you do poorly is this, find or research someone who does what you are attempting to accomplish well, or rather someone who does a good job at getting a need you are trying to get met, met in a healthy and productive manner.

It all boils down to taking accountability of your habits and replacing the bad habits with healthier habits. There are even apps for this in the mobile market place like Habit Streak Pro and Healthy Habit Tracker

Further, there are even good books on changing your habits for the better, like The Habit Factor: An Innovative Method to Align Habits with Goals to Achieve Success and The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change

Sometimes, when people are informed or reminded of their flaws, they become angry and resentful because they feel judged, or feel that they are being made to feel inferior. The truth is that no one is perfect and for better or for worse we are all trying to do the best that we can. However, for whatever you don’t know, it simply means you don’t know. The good news it that for you don’t know how to do or accomplish something, there is always someone who does and is willing to share that information with others.

Ugo is a psychotherapist and owner of Road 2 Resolutions PLLC, a professional counseling and life coaching practice.

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