The concept of locus of control was coined by psychologist Julian Rotter. According to his theory, people fall somewhere on an external versus internal spectrum, and where they fall generally predicts the way they interact with their environment.
A person’s locus of control is 'the extent in which the individual believes s/he has power over events in their lives,' according to PsychCentral.
If someone has a strong internal locus of control, they tend to believe that their success or failure is their own doing. They push themselves to achieve big accomplishments and believe that if something goes wrong, it’s due to their own actions.
Someone with a stronger external locus of control believes that their success and reward comes from influences outside of their control.
Rotter believes that someone who might be more internal can act external in a given situation and vice versa. Nobody is solely an 'internal' or an 'external'—rather, they exist on a spectrum and act according to their environments.
Studies have shown that having a stronger internal locus of control can work in our favour. People with an internal locus of control often have better stress coping skills, more satisfaction with their work, and are more goal-oriented.
But don’t completely fret, externals—it’s healthy to understand that sometimes things truly do exist outside of our control. If someone’s internal locus of control is too strong, they can take on too much personal responsibility and deal with anxiety, among other things.
Basically, it's not that internal is good and external is bad—you need to find a balance between the two.
Here are a few tips that will help you gain balance:
* When you feel out of power, it’s helpful to remind yourself of your personal rights. You can write them down or say them out loud in front of a mirror if that helps you.
* Take stock of how your actions contribute to the outcomes you experience. Events tend to stem from decisions you have made in the past. Reviewing the series of events can help us find small ways to take back control.
* Finally, remind yourself that you can control your attitude and mindset about how you approach uncontrollable situations. You have the power to focus on your reaction rather than the stressor.
When you remind yourself of your control, your remind yourself of your power. And it can help you know the right places to put your energy.