Locus (or Locust) of Control?
Do you have a healthy Locus of Control… or are you being Ravaged by Locust?
Your Locus of Control is your perceived source of control for events within your life. It’s the extent to which you believe you have control over events in your life, or power over things that affect you.
Someone with an external locus of control believes that external factors influence what happens in their lives. They consider events that happen in their life as the consequence of stuff that’s beyond their control. On the other hand, someone with an internal locus of control believes that they can directly influence things that happen in their lives.
I think I get it. Can you show me what you mean?
A great illustration is someone who’s failed an exam. Someone with an internal locus of control might reflect and consider they didn’t revise as well as they could. Someone with an external locus of control might consider the exam waaay too hard or the teacher spiteful in their marking.
Another illustration is someone who’s just got through an interview and been accepted for a really great job. The external locus of control person might be thinking that they’ve got really, really lucky; that at last destiny is playing them a good hand. The internal locus of control person might be thinking that at last, all their hard work, effort and interview preparation has been rewarded with the job that they really wanted.
Okay, so I get it. What next?
An individual’s locus of control will have affect their daily life, as well as their psychological well-being. Compare someone who’s continually experiencing things they believe to be “outside” their control. Their life is merely a sequence of lucky strikes or strike outs – there’s nothing they can influence, other than to sit back and hope for the better hand. Compare that to someone who’s experience is accompanied by feelings of influence and control. They feel that they have a direct impact on things that affect them. Passive versus interactive experience at it’s finest.
Psychological studies don’t demonstrate a black and white case of “internal = good, external = bad”, but it doesn’t take much to appreciate that as a rule having an internal locus of control is a far healthier and happier position to be in. By shifting your locus of control to internal, you acknowledge and reinforce that:
- Situations are adaptive – you can influence them.
- You can improve your current situation – you don’t have to passively sit back and let it continue.
- You do have control over many of the things that affect you and impact your life (even if it’s not the events themselves, you have control over how you react or respond to them).
- Your personal attributes and qualities, coupled with your hard work, can result in you achieving your goals and realising your dreams.
So, what about you?
So, what about you? Where is your Locus of Control right now? Is it robustly internally embedded, assuring you that your situation and future can be adapted and influenced according to what you invest in it? Or is it firmly focussed on the external, ravaging your life and accomplishments like a locust as it sweeps past?
If you have a locust in your life, all is not lost. Simply remain mindful across all situations and ask yourself: “where is my locus of control right now?”. Drag your locus back kicking and screaming to internal if you must. Do your best to identify the choice available to you – even if it’s only a choice about your attitude or how you react – there is always a choice there to be grasped. Remind yourself of the things you have no control over and consolidate that separation in your mind.
Defeat that locust… and go forth to achieve your dreams!
If you want to find out more about Locus of Control, why not check out these resources. Please note, I’m not affiliated with these in any way and cannot vouch for their accuracy.
Taking Control of Our Lives – Miami University
Locus of Control – Wikipedia