Internal vs External Locus of Control
One of the biggest factors in someone achieving their goals or not is something that, for the most part, is deeply ingrained in their personality and, therefore, can be very difficult (if not impossible) to change. But nevertheless you need to be aware of where you fit into this spectrum when pursuing your goals. It is your Locus of Control.
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Put simply, locus of control is a phenomenon in the field of personality psychology and it refers to your view of yourself in relation to the rest of the universe. Do you view yourself as “in control” of your life? Or, do you view yourself as the victim of fates, the gods, bad karma, or the rest of the world? Do you wake up every morning with the belief that you can seize the day? Or, do you wake up every morning with the fear of wondering what horrible thing the universe is going to throw at you today?
Locus of Control refers to your view of yourself in relation to the rest of the universe. Do you view yourself as “in control” of your life? Or, do you view yourself as the victim of fates, the gods, bad karma, or the rest of the world?
Neither Optimism Nor Pessimism
When I talk about locus of control, it is important to make the distinction that I am not simply talking about being an optimistic person or a pessimistic person. It is much more fundamental than that—though optimism and pessimism are usually the result of one’s locus of control.
The most important aspect to thinking about locus of control is the “control” part. In essence, the difference between an external locus and an internal locus is that the person with an internal locus of control views themselves as in control of their own life. They view the choices they make every day as theirs to make. Situations surrounding them are either of their own making or are within their power to escape.
By contrast, the person with an external locus of control views each of those earlier examples as completely the opposite. They view themselves as not having any (or little) control over their own life. They view their choices as either non-existent, severely limited to lose-lose outcomes only, or just outright forced upon them. The circumstances surrounding them everyday are the result of a “cruel world” or society that oppresses them, or a universe that always sends them “bad luck”. And worse, they view their lives as being in a “prison” and unable to escape.