“Maybe it’s just not meant to be. Time and again I have tried to make it work out for me. But success seems to be my enemy.”
I have felt this a lot of times in my life, and I am sure that this is not an unfamiliar feeling to many of you as well. It is completely fine to feel this way, however, it is not fine to lose your motivation and give up because of this feeling. Considering this feeling as a matter of fact and choosing to believe that you did it all and that it just wasn’t a fair game is what comes under the concept of ‘Locus of control’
Julian Rotter developed the concept of Locus of control. It is an individual’s belief system about the degree to which they or an external force is responsible for the outcomes of the events in their lives.
There are two categories in this concept: external and internal locus of control. When a person attributes his/her failure to factors like fate or luck, or any external forces acting in a situation have an external locus of control. They tend to believe that they do not have control over their lives, which becomes a cause of anxiety which is more commonly seen in people in this category. Coming to the other category people with an internal locus of control believe in their effort that they have put in into their work. Regardless of whether its success or failure they would rationally analyze and attribute it to their own strength and effort or the lack of it.
Differentiating between the two
External Locus of control- People with an external locus of control would usually attribute their own success to fate or luck. They might suffer from a higher amount of stress because they believe their life is not in their control. This might happen because they feel extremely helpless in difficult situations and strongly believe they are too powerless to bring about any change.
Internal locus of control- People with an internal locus of control usually take responsibility for their actions. They tend to have a strong sense of self-efficacy, which helps them deal with a stressful situation better. They tend to have more confidence in their ability and usually trust themselves to get success instead of relying on external factors. They may have higher self-esteem too.
Bringing about the change
Having an external locus of control is not the worst thing in the world. The internal and external locus of control is on a continuum and a balance between the two is the healthiest thing one can have. More often than not it becomes easier to have an external locus of control because we can push the blame of our failures on someone or something else. Even though at times it makes sense that certain things in life are beyond our control, coping with these situations becomes easier if we can refocus our attention to things that we can work on. Developing an internal locus of control aids us to explore and work on things that would be in our control and help us to move on to things that we can do something about rather than dwelling on things that are not in your reach yet.
Practicing Internal locus of control is not easy but there are a few things that we should rethink and change. We should remember it is our choice –
- how to react to a certain situation.
- what action plan to build up.
- how much we want to get influenced by other people.
- whether to blame ourselves or others for our success or failure.
- to develop skills that are required to achieve certain things in our life.
- to choose and learn from a role model that has an internal locus of control.
- to believe that only an external source can help you feel better.
As I would like to see it. It is not easy to have a higher internal locus of control but if you think about it, it is all about the perspective. It just that one little change that would make a big difference. Make an attempt here only to see how empowering it might feel to know that it just a matter of choice you make at every step that will take you wherever you want to go.
Take it easy,
(M.A. Clinical Psychology, PGD Counselling)