When you wake up each morning, do you feel as though life is happening to you?
Or do you feel like YOU are happening to life? Do you view each day as an opportunity to play the game of life; an opportunity to rise to the challenges that mortal existence throws your way?
Your answers to these questions determines your locus of control.
What is locus of control? How big of a role does it actually play in your daily life? Let's discuss it...
Locus of Control refers to the extent to which an individual believes they have the ability to influence the outcome of their life.
People have varying beliefs about their locus of control, and this manifests in the decisions they make each day, and the extent to which they try to adjust or improve their situation in life.
For anyone who is interested in personal development, the topic of locus of control is an important one to understand and explore.
Because an important part of personal development is seeking to control the sources of input in your life, in order to be able to influence the output.
When it comes to locus of control, there are two main perspectives that you can have:
Let's define what each of these two perspectives on locus of control are, and at the end we'll have a discussion about which one, if any, is better.
If you have an external locus of control, it means that you view the things that happen in your life as being out of your control.
People with an external locus of control de-centralize the role of their own actions in their life.
An external locus of control could be described as viewing yourself as a little ship that is at the mercy of the vast, tumultuous oceans of life.
Things happen to you and you react to them.
Whether or not things go your way, it's a result of external factors.
Such external factors could include things such as: the government, your friends, your family, your genetics, the weather, a higher power, the list goes on...
When you have an external locus of control, much of your time is spent watching and waiting.
A common phrase that reflects an external locus of control is:
"Nothing I do matters, so I might as well do nothing!"
Here are examples of statements that demonstrate an external locus of control:
"There's nothing I can do to change my weight."
"There's no point making friends."
"I can't get a good job because I don't have the right connections."
"No one notices what I do anyway."
"There's no point in preparing or setting goals."
Read on to the end of the next section see the above narratives flipped, to demonstrate an internal locus of control.
In contrast, if you have an internal locus of control, it means that you view things that happen in your life as being largely in your control.
People with an internal locus of control take full responsibility for their actions.
An internal locus of control could be described as viewing yourself as the main character in your life.
If life is a play, you are the protagonist.
Granted, those with an internal locus of control might still accept that there are external factors they cannot change, such as the weather.
However, for such events that you cannot control - like the rain - those with an internal locus of control believe that you can still be prepared for them, i.e. by carrying an umbrella.
It's about being proactive, and making things happen or at least anticipating things that might happen and being ready, rather than waiting for things to happen to you.
A common phrase that reflects an internal locus of control is:
"If it is to be, it's up to me!"
Here are examples of statements that demonstrate an internal locus of control:
"I can improve my health!"
"I'm going to take the initiative to make friends."
"I can get whatever job I want, as long as I put the effort in."
"I work hard for myself!"
"Planning and preparation are keys to success!"
Based on what we've discussed so far, which one would you say is better - an external locus of control or an internal locus of control?
Having an internal locus of control will generally help you achieve better results in life, compared to having an external locus of control.
Because if you believe that you can control the outcome of events in your life, you are more likely to change your situation and act when needed.
Conversely, if you think that the outcome is out of your hands, you may be less likely to work toward change.
As Brianna West, author of 101 Essays That Will Change the Way You Think observes, an internal locus of control keeps us from falling into the trap of indignant passivity: Where one believes that because an external factor has done wrong, an external factor will ultimately have to correct it.
Of course, as with everything, balance is needed.
I think it is important to acknowledge that there are certain things that may be out of our control at times.
If you seek to control every single element of your life, you may end up overwhelmed and disappointed.
The happiest people are people who control what they can, but don't worry about the things they cannot control!
So, yes, in some contexts, an external locus of control can be a good thing.
For example, if you believe in God, you may decide to do your part to make the best of a situation, but leave the rest in God's hands, knowing that there is only so much you can do.
When you find a balance between an internal and external locus of control, you can enjoy success without damage to your self-esteem.
When you have a balanced viewpoint, your self-esteem does not take a hit when things don't go your way, because you know that some things are simply out of your control!
I hope you've enjoyed this article on the concept of locus of control and how much it can affect your life.
Maybe you had not specifically heard of this specific term before, however I'm sure you've come across the idea!
Our locus of control determines the decisions we make everyday, whether or not we are aware of it.
It's the difference between complaining when life gives us lemons, or making a delicious lemonade with free lemons!
What are your thoughts on this? Can you think of any other benefits of either an internal or external locus of control? Comment below!
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