Locus of Control (from chapter three of Joyful Soul: A Promise Worthy of Trust, copyright 2013)

Locus of Control

            Locus of control is a psychological term to describe one’s sense of responsibility for his/her own life and behavior.  Those who believe forces outside of themselves are responsible for their ill or good fortune or current life situations have an external locus of control, while those who view their life situations or fate as a result of their own doing have an internal locus of control.

Healthy, responsible adults adopt an internal locus of control.  They are able to make life changes if necessary in order to flourish and progress in life.  These individuals are able to acknowledge their own efforts and choices as key to accomplishing life goals and situations.  In other words, they have a sense of their own power.

Alternatively, those who do not accept responsibility for their own actions (perhaps by blaming others, making excuses for their circumstances in life, or their “bad luck”) exhibit an unhealthy external locus of control.  They give up their power.

Are there times when external forces do indeed have an affect on our lives?  Yes, it is possible. For example, if a natural disaster strikes or if we are coping with other tragic or traumatic circumstances that many of us experience at one time or another in our lives, we are not responsible and do not have the power to change what has occurred.   Rather, these are trials which compel us to use the coping strategies and skills we’ve learned in order to pull us through them.

However, when referring to locus of control for living a balanced and healthy life, I am not referring to these extraordinary situations.  I am referring to how an individual approaches life in general.  It might help to think of it as an overall philosophy of life and attitude or “way of being” in the world.  Additionally, it is helpful to recognize that even when circumstances that we cannot control manifest in our lives, we do have the power to choose how we deal with and manage the adversity and trials that come our way.

So where is your locus of control?  Do you need to be truthful and honest with yourself and others about your current situation in life?  Are you blaming others or life circumstances for the choices you have made?  Would you describe yourself as “powerful and loving”?  Knowledge is power.  If you believe that you have taken a victim status (not in control) and would like to make the transition to a life of power, you can do it!  All it takes is practice and a willingness to change. ~Dr. Laurie Mattera

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