Too Controlling or too submissive – what’s your locus of control?

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Are you the master of your destiny or the follower of your life’s authorities? Do you feel you are in control of your life, or outside forces are driving your life? These questions make you ponder about how deliberate you are in living.

In this post, if you haven’t heard of it yet, I would like to introduce to you to a concept called locus of control. Hopefully, this post will make you learn something new about yourself and what you need to adjust to achieve happiness and contentment in life.

The locus of control is a psychological term which refers to your belief or perception about who controls life and the environment (Lefcourt, 1976). It reflects your belief as to whether the things that are happening in your life are within your control or beyond it. The locus of control is a continuum where the opposite end are represented by people who have internal locus of control and the other with external locus of control.

Here are some descriptions of people with internal and external locus of control:

Internal locus of control:

  • They believe that the outcomes of their actions are a result of their own personal efforts , abilities, or permanent characteristics
  • They believe that hard work and personal abilities lead to positive outcomes
  • They believe that they are masters of their fates
  • They value control
  • They tend to react against people who are tryung to influence their decisions.

External locus of control:

  • They believe that their own actions are dependent on factors outside their personal control
  • They do not take credit for their personal successes, but attribute it to the ease of task, luck or on a helpful hand by a powerful other
  • They are more prone to conforming to external pressures

The cost of being at the extreme

As with other continuums, being either of the extreme, all the time, will take a toll on you. If you are leaning more onto the side of internal locus of control, you might suffer from stress by assuming too much responsibility, anxiety due to lack of trust in your environment and other people, and deep fear of loss control.

If you have a strong external locus of control, you might lack satisfaction and happiness due to following what others want for you — these others might be your parents, your spouse, and other important authority figures in your life. Thus, you may not be able to be true to yourself and carve your own path as you are being dictated by the outside forces.

Learn to adjust and balance
There are instances in your life where being personally responsible is more appropriate, and instances when having faith in outside resources is needed.

If you are an internal, it will be better if you know when to keep pressing on and when to let go, and simply trust. If you keep on controlling the things that are beyond your control, you will just end up disappointed, frustrated, and stressed. As they say, “learn when to let go, and to let God.”

If you are an external, it is good to learn when to stand up for yourself and for what you believe in. Be strong and take courage. Learn to say ‘no’ if in your heart you mean saying no.

To achieve peace and contentment, the challenge is to learn how to become a bi-local whenever a certain situation calls for it. One must learn how to balance the two opposing forces, between personal responsibility (internal locus of control) and faith in outside resources (external locus of control) such as God and other people.

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