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A dose of inspiration

"Though no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending." - Carl Bard

"We tend to forget that happiness doesn't come as a result of getting something that we don't have, but rather of recognizing and appreciating what we do have. " - Frederick Keonig

"Stress is the trash of modern life- we all generate it but if you don't dispose of it properly, it will pile up and overtake your life." -Terri Guillemets

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Is It Me or Is It Them? Internal vs. External Locus of Control

As John F. Kennedy proclaimed many years ago, "...Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country..." Are you a DOER or a VICTIM?
It is easy to fall into the pattern of thinking where you feel like everything bad happens to you, or that you have no control over your life. Ever said to yourself, "Why me?" Sure--we all have! If you are always stuck in this way of thinking, it can lead to feelings of helplessness, anxiety, even depression. Some people look to outside sources, such as a higher power, to lead their lives and make decisions for them. Not to say that believing in a higher power and surrendering some of the control of your fate is bad, but often people get stuck in a "victim mentality" and tend to put the blame on other people, events, circumstances, etc. For some more information about victim mentality, please check out
You could say that they have an External locus of control, as the control in their life is perceived as being outside of themselves. On the other hand, some people feel that they determine their own destiny, make their own decisions, and feel in control of their fate. If they take responsibility for what happens to them and take action proactively to reach goals and achieve their dreams, that would be considered an Internal locus of control. For further information about the definitions of both types of loci of control, check out .
It would be extremely rare to find a person who does not exhibit both ways of thinking at some point or another, but if your thinking is mainly that of an external locus of control, you could come across some problems. I would definitely be lying if I told you that I have never had an external locus of control, and have always taken responsibility for what has happened to me. To come to the realization that I have done this, and sometimes still catch myself doing it, is very empowering and helpful. Wait a second, so I DON'T have to sit on the coach with a box of chocolates feeling sorry for myself all the time? I can actually get up and make things happen? I can fix what is not right in order to make myself happy? Oooooooooh!!!! (Sorry for the sarcasm, but sometimes these sort of lightbulbs going off in our mind are what it takes to put us into action and feeling in control).
So now what? Maybe you have finally put two and two together and realized that you can relate to what I'm saying and you actually have been feeling sorry for yourself. You are probably meeting a need for yourself, such as receiving attention that may come from complaining and being down about life, but in the end it is not getting you what you want, which is probably happiness. We all want to be happy but sometimes we just have no idea how to get there. It seems like walls are constantly going up around us and every possible lead comes up to a dead end. Well try some of these tips to get yourself out of the rut that makes you feel that you have no control over your life or reaching your goals:
  • Take care of your basic needs first: eat healthy, get exercise, sleep a sufficient amount, stay connected with friends and family, do things that you enjoy.
  • Figure out what has helped you in the past and what has worked for you. Have you achieved a goal or felt good about communicating your needs to your partner? Have you spoken up to your boss and felt empowered and proud as a result? Did you receive any help from a professional?
  • Continue to do those things that have worked for you in the past, such as being assertive, or being able to say "No" sometimes.
  • Make a list of short and long term goals. Write down ways in which you are going to achieve your short term goals in small steps and write deadlines for yourself to provide structure and motivation. Keep long-term goals in mind so that you are striving for something bigger.
  • Reward yourself for a job well done! Acknowledge that you have acheived a goal and let yourself feel great about it! Go out for a night on the town, or just tell those that support you and your goals. Do whatever makes you feel good about your accomplishment (healthy and legal things, of course!) and relish in your achievements.

Before long, you will realize that you have actually gained control of your goals and made them happen. Yes, there will always be obstacles in life but that is what makes us stronger. If you see them as opportunities to grow and learn something new, then you are off to a GREAT start!

Good luck!

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