Do you know anything about the idea of having an internal locus of control? Have you ever given any thought to why you should develop your internal locus of control? Now’s your chance!
If you are a person with a strong internal locus of control, you tend to believe that you can influence your life events and their outcomes. If, on the other hand, you believe you are at the mercy of outside forces, you are more likely to have an external locus of control; one where life happens to you.
Internal Locus of Control
The belief that events in one’s life, whether good or bad, are caused by controllable factors such as one’s attitude, preparation, and effort.
I like to think it’s the difference between being a very active participant in your life, versus taking a more of spectator role. Where life happens to you.
Here’s the thing – everyone has ‘stuff’ to deal with.
In fact, if you’re reading this, there’s a pretty strong chance that you have more than your fair share of health ‘stuff’.
But no matter what your ‘stuff’ is, developing your internal locus of control helps you to build your resilience and further enables you to deal with that ‘stuff’.
With grace and ease, even.
“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honourable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.” ―
After our weekly visit the farmers market on Saturday mornings, our habit is to enjoy a leisurely breakfast on the balcony while reading the weekend papers. Recently, there was an article by Shelley Gare in the Good Weekend – How Phonies and Self-Promoters Came to Rule the World. It was all about how our obsession with materialism and sensitivity to celebrity, over-confidence and surface gloss have driven us into a time where pretence, bias, deceit and nonsense have become our new normal.
It was a bit of an uncomfortable read if I’m honest. I’m someone who is active on social media – professionally and personally. But, it also reaffirmed for me why I appreciate the evidence-based research provided by Dr. Sarah Ballantyne – in her books and over at The Paleo Mom.
And, it got me thinking about just how important it is for each us to foster a sense of purpose, and to align ourselves with our personal values, which are related to developing your internal locus of control.
When we have a strong sense of purpose and intentionally make decisions that align us with a clearly identified set of personal values, we protect ourselves from some of the external influences life throws in our direction. And, we worry less about the opinions of other people.
Developing your internal locus of control is a good strategy when it comes to managing stress.
Need some tips to help you develop your internal locus of control?
- Take responsibility for everything in your life – the good, the bad and the ugly. You will find that when you own responsibility for an outcome, it leads you to think critically about what you might have done to determine a different result.
- Identify people in your life – direct or indirect – who have an internal locus of control. Use them as a role model. Watch how they behave in situations that may perhaps frustrate or upset you. Learn from them.
- Dwelling on things that are outside your control causes an increase in your stress levels and takes up mental headspace that could be better used seeking solutions. Rather than attempting to control your environment, situation, or even other people, focus instead on what you can control – your thoughts, feelings and behaviour. One of the lines that has stuck with me since studying psychology a bazillion years ago is this: You cannot change the behaviour of others. You can only change your behaviour, which in turn, may influence them to change. I have found it a very useful tid-bit to remember over the years!
- Develop a goal setting practice for yourself. Start small if you need to – with seemingly easy-to-achieve goals. Over time, you will build your sense of control and confidence.
- Work on developing your problem-solving skills. As those skills improve, you will enhance your ability to make better choices, too. I once had a wonderful manager who taught me this valuable skill. When I would go to him with a question or a problem, rather than give me an answer, he would respond with, “How do you think you should do this?” We would then critically assess my response together. I remain grateful to him for this.
Do you have a strong internal locus of control, or is this something that needs a little work?