Taking Ownership of Your Actions

Picture of Matthew (CJ) Gainey

Matthew (CJ) Gainey


Embracing Accountability and Growth

Taking ownership of your actions is a powerful step towards personal growth and responsibility. It’s the acknowledgment that our choices and behaviors have consequences, and it involves accepting the outcomes, both positive and negative, that result from those actions. This is something that I still work on today. Recently, the times in my relationship with my wife seem gloomy and unhealthy. And quite honestly, it’s becoming more frequent. But, if I’m being honest, this has been slowly building up over the past 11 years of our marriage. What makes matters worse is when things become escalated, I’m consistent at manipulating any issues of concern presented to me and blame-shift the focus on the issues I currently have with my wife. I have a disgusting habit of sending her the “you” messages… you know the demeaning words that consist of, “Well, you do/did this…” or “You aren’t doing this.” I’ll even go as far as to say, even when I know I’m in the wrong, I still shine my pride refusing to accept that I was the culprit. I’m sure you’ve heard the token statement that when you’re pointing a finger at someone, you’re also pointing the other four back at you. I don’t know what it is about us boys, who claim to be men, that we think we must “be right.” A good friend and mentor of mine would suggest that as men we need to quit focusing so much on being right vs. getting it right. What does this mean? It means that it’s time to shift our focus from belittling our spouses simply because we want to be right and win a fight. Additionally, it means that even if you are right in each circumstance, that there’s an appropriate way to “fight fair” by having mature adult conversations about the problem. Let me restate that, having mature adult conversations about the problem. Fellas, do yourself a favor and listen to your spouse more than you speak. God gave us two ears and a mouth for a particular reason… so that we will listen twice as much as we speak. Another huge problem throughout my marriage has been the consistency of invalidating and failing to understand her feelings and or emotions. This is because I simply don’t listen. I’m too busy trying to formulate my response instead of just taking a moment to listen. A little bit of validation and understanding goes a long way to covering your bride and making her feel safe, and generally I fail at this because we are more focused on winning the fight. I get it, this characteristic is engrained in us from our creator. However, I don’t believe that God created us to be in constant battle with our spouse. I know from experience that when we are so focused on winning against our spouse in the moment that we are losing long-term. And men, taking ownership over this subject in all areas of our lives, not just in our marriage, will help you live a life full of more peace and less strife. So let me give you some suggestions as I’m currently working through them myself, on how you can take ownership over your life.

Acknowledging Responsibility

Taking ownership begins with recognizing that you are responsible for your actions. Whether the outcomes are favorable or not, understanding how your decisions played a role is crucial. This acknowledgement lays the groundwork for learning and growing with your loved one… Acknowledging responsibility also involves admitting any mistakes made and expressing a commitment to correct the situation or to make amends. We must become aware of the impact of our actions on others and show a genuine willingness to address any consequence(s). This can be verbal, written, or demonstrated through actions that reflect accountability.

I’ve taken responsibility for the current season of my marriage. It’s not about who’s right or wrong, rather it’s about asking myself what I am willing to work on internally that no external environment can change. One of the consistent themes of the Men’s Mindset Architecture Zoom call I talk about frequently is “when the man gets better, everything gets better.” I have seen this play out many times. It is true fellas that when you get better everything in your home will too. Amongst other things, two of the most important issues I’ve recently acknowledged is 1) that I’ve failed to create a safe space for my wife to express her concerns without me taking offense or feeling attacked. 2) I also need to improve at simply listening to her, validating her, and being intentional at understanding her emotions and feelings.

Embracing Accountability

Owning your actions involves being accountable for their repercussions. It’s about stepping forward, admitting mistakes without blame-shifting, and being willing to face the consequences. Realize that where you are right now is most likely a direct correlation to your action(s). Taking ownership and accountability starts the building phase of developing trust and integrity within yourself and with your spouse and others. It also involves becoming proactive, taking initiative, and being transparent about your responsibilities. One must create a new culture of trust, integrity, and reliability by being accountable not just for successes but also for mistakes. Most importantly, learning from those mistakes ensures you improve and grow.

Embracing the hard truths about the way(s) I’ve treated my spouse throughout our marriage allows me to accept where things are currently. Understanding this piece right here, accepting where you are currently, is so important because if you don’t have an accurate picture of where you are you can never build from there appropriately. So, instead of focusing on playing the blame game for example, I must instead shift focus from taking offense and feeling attack to fully understanding how I make her feel. I’ve been more intentional at diving into scripture to learn how to be a better husband for my wife. Afterall, marriage was created by God so why wouldn’t I learn from where it all originated.

Learning from Mistakes

Ownership isn’t solely about admitting faults; it’s about learning from them. Viewing mistakes as learning opportunities is key. Learning from mistakes is an invaluable part of our ow personal growth and development. It involves reflecting on what went wrong, understanding the reason(s) behind the mistake, and identifying what can be done differently in the future. It’s about turning setbacks into opportunities for learning, gaining wisdom, and improving oneself or processes to avoid similar mistakes in the future.

I put myself in my wife’s shoes and although they were a lot smaller and harder to walk in, I found myself fully immersed in how she felt for most of our marriage. I saw myself from her perspective and I had to be willing to accept that I wouldn’t like myself much at all. I saw myself not following through with things that I said I would do. I find myself now understanding her not feeling safe in our relationship from a mental, emotional, spiritual, and financial point of view. What I previously viewed as offensive, I now turn into learning lessons to see how things can be done differently thus prevent the complete destruction of our marriage so that we can both heal and move forward. This leads to my next point.

Communication and Integrity

Taking ownership requires open communication and integrity. Being transparent about your actions, especially when they affect others, demonstrates respect and fosters trust. It shows that you value honesty and the impact of your choices on those around you. Communication involves effectively conveying thoughts, ideas, and information while actively listening to others. Remember, listen twice as much as you speak and truly seek to understand. Having clear, transparent communication encourages understanding, teamwork, and a healthy exchange of points of views. Integrity is about maintaining honesty, ethical principles, and being consistent in your actions, while aligning your behavior with your values. Keeping integrity builds trust and credibility in all relationships which form the foundation for successful interactions and working with others.

Communication: In regards with the two issues, I stated earlier, I’m super intentional at creating a safe space for my wife. This means being willing to listen attentively and communicate with safety… fight fair if necessary. What does it mean to fight fairly? It means both parties should be able to express their current issues, even in anger, and still feel safe and confident that a solution can be made together.  Fighting fair also promotes the security in which each person can still know they love each other.  to be able to listen to her voice her concerns with me and not offense or feel attacked because, I know she’s trying to help me. It also means that I can voice my concerns to her in truth and love without being this manipulating, demeaning boy who calls himself a man.

Integrity: I’m striving to simply do the things that I say I’m going to do. I’ve communicated how I’ve wanted to change on numerous occasions throughout the course of the marriage. But there comes a time when you must do what you say you’re going to do. I’m letting my actions speak. I’m more focused on changing her environment and situation which will then change her reality. Too many times, we speak the change without installing the change.

Moving Forward Positively

Once you’ve owned up to your actions and learned from them, it’s essential to move forward positively. The last thing you want to find yourself doing is consistently feeling sorry for yourself or having a “woe is me” mentality as this can be dangerous to you and others around you. I’m not saying to simply brush everything under the rug either and not deal with it. What moving forward means is making amends where necessary, committing to making better choices, and applying the lessons learned to future situations. Utilize this simple but powerful process when moving forward:

1. Learn from the Past: Acknowledge the lessons from past experiences, whether successes or setbacks, to inform future decisions.

2. Set Clear Goals: Defining achievable, meaningful goals that align with personal values or organizational objectives.

3. Take Action: Implement steps, small or large, toward those goals, and utilize learned lessons and insights.

4. Maintain Optimism: Cultivate a positive mindset, embrace challenges as opportunities for growth, and stay resilient in the face of obstacles.

5. Adapt and Grow: Embrace flexibility, be open to change, and continuously evolve based on experiences and feedback.

Moving forward positively is a blend of reflection, proactive planning, perseverance, and adaptability to navigate towards a brighter future.

Benefits of Ownership

Taking ownership of your actions is empowering. It allows you to take control of your life and make conscious decisions aligned with your values. It builds resilience, as it teaches you to navigate challenges and bounce back stronger. Taking ownership also results in gaining more accountability, learning and growth, an increase in problem solving skills, and better leadership. Moreover, it fosters respect and trust in your relationships, both personal and professional.


Taking ownership of your actions is a transformative journey. It’s about being responsible, accountable, and willing to learn and grow from every experience. Embracing ownership empowers you to shape your life, create positive change, and build meaningful connections with others. I must say that no matter what your current circumstances may be, it’s never too late to change. My great friend and mentor, Dr. Rousawn Dozier would suggest that, ” your current situation doesn’t have to be your final destination.” Realize that you have the power to make change happen. It will take massive willingness and authentic inspired action. The question is, are you willing to put in the work? I cannot answer that question for you. It’s time for you to take a long look in the mirror, be real with yourself, and make the decision to change from the inside out. You’ll most likely hear me say this from time to time… “No one is interested in a weak change or a week change.” Be willing to take ownership of your actions and be excited as you see the trajectory of your current circumstances change.

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