Above the Line


Being healthy emotionally is hard work.  It’s easy to fall into a victim mentality and feel like everyone is against you.  In their book The Oz Principle, Roger Connors, Tom Smith and Craig Hickman give some clues on when we are stuck in the victim cycle or living below the line.

  • You feel “held captive” by your circumstances
  • You feel you have no control over your present circumstances
  • You find yourself blaming others and pointing fingers
  • Your discussions of problems focus more on what you cannot do, rather than what you can
  • You fail to confront the toughest issues you face
  • You find yourself being “sought out” by others so they can tell you what someone else did to them this time
  • You find yourself unwilling to ask probing questions about your own accountability
  • You repeatedly find yourself in a defensive posture
  • You site your confusion as a reason for not taking action
  • You avoid people, the meetings, and the situations that require you to report on your responsibilities
  • You find yourself spending valuable time crafting a compelling story detailing why you were not at fault
  • You repeatedly tell the same old story about how someone took advantage of you
  • You view the world with a pessimistic attitude

So how do we avoid this victim mentality?  How do we get unstuck from these destructive patterns and habits.  The keys are taking responsibility for your own actions and bringing accountability into your life.

According to the authors you can improve your own ability to remain “above-the-line” by watching for the following clues that indicate accountable attitudes and behavior.

  • You invite candid feedback from everyone about your own performance
  • You never want anyone, including yourself, to hide the truth from you
  • You readily acknowledge reality, including all its problems and challenges
  • You don’t waste time or energy on things you cannot control or influence
  • You always commit yourself 100 percent to what you are doing, and if your commitment begins to wane, you strive to rekindle it
  • You “own” your circumstances and your results, even when they seem less than desirable
  • You recognize when you are dropping “below the line” and act quickly to avoid the traps of the victim cycle
  • You delight in the daily opportunity to make things happen
  • You constantly ask yourself the question, “What else can I do to rise above my circumstances and get the results I want?”

Whether at work or at home staying above the the line of accountability is vital to emotional and relational health.  When we are below the line we ignore or deny reality, we say it’s not my fault or my job, we point fingers, we say we are confused, we cover our tails and we wait & see.  When we are above the line we see the issue, we own our part, we work on a solution and we take action on what we can control.

Make a commitment today to be more accountable and responsible in all your relationships.  Work at staying above the line and don’t focus on things that are out of your control.  Focus on your own thoughts and behaviors and own your part of the problem.  Get help and counsel from others to help keep you above the line.  If you do that you will grow in character and leadership and be much healthier all the way around.


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