Shards of Consciousness

The Locus of Control

Who's in charge here?


In psychology there is a concept called the locus of control. People with an internal locus of control believe that their own actions and thoughts determine what happens to them and how they feel, while people with an external locus of control feel that what they do or think doesn't matter much and that what happens to them and how they feel is determined by events in the outside world. There is a test you can take to find out where your locus of control lies here.

Why Does It Matter?

It matters because where your locus of control lies makes all the difference in the world in how you order your life, how you pursue your goals, and even in your emotional state. Your locus of control answers the question, "Who's in charge here?" If you have an internal locus of control, you are telling yourself and the world that you are in charge of your life. You are an actor. If you have an external locus of control you are telling yourself and the world that the world is in charge of your life. In essence, you make yourself a victim. Now, who is going to do better at making changes in their life, the actor or the victim?

The answer to that question is self-evident. If you are a victim, if you believe the external world controls you, you won't even try to change the things in your life with which you are unhappy. You will continue to live as you always have lived because you can't see that trying to change anything will have a positive outcome. Being a victim is a hard way to live. You guarantee that what you do will be ineffective.

If you are an actor, though, if you believe you are in control of what happens in your life, you know that you can make changes in your life. You know that what is in your life, you brought in, and so you can make it different. You feel in control, and so, even if you are in the same life situation as someone who feels powerless, your attitude is better and you can do more to change the circumstances of your life.

So What Can I Do?

There is nothing objective showing that an external or internal locus of control is the way human reality works, that one or the other is correct or incorrect. Pragmatically, though, it is no contest. People with an internal locus of control are more effective, and can be happier than people with an external locus. Would you rather be happy or depressed?

Where your locus of control lies is not determined genetically. It is not innate. It is a belief, a very important belief, but a belief nonetheless, and like all beliefs it can be changed if you want to. This is the first step to changing your life Stop telling yourself "I can't help it." and start telling yourself "I can help it."

Take charge of yourself, and take charge of your life.

3 Pingbacks to The Locus of Control

  • [...] The Locus of Control [...]
  • [...] I wouldn’t waste my time or space here if the belief that free will doesn’t exist wasn’t so destructive individually and culturally. The problem with not believing that free will exists relates to the locus of control. People can have an internal or an external locus of control. If you have an internal locus of control, you believe your thoughts and actions influence your environment. You have some control over your life. If you have an external locus of control, you believe outside circumstances control the events of your life, including your thoughts and emotions. Unsurprisingly, an internal locus of control is correlated with higher cultural and economic status and increased happiness, while an external locus of control is correlated with lower cultural and economic status. An external locus of control also correlates with increased depression and other emotional problems. [...]
  • [...] Change can be hard, though, especially if you don’t believe that you are in control of your own life. In this episode, based on The Locus of Control. I ask an important question - Who’s in charge of your life? [...]

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