DreamCatcher Part 1: Are You in Control?
Do you often feel like you are out of control? Are your actions, beliefs, and thoughts all over the place? Do you lack boundaries with yourself and other people notice? Same.
In 1954, Julian B. Rotter developed a concept called, Locus of Control. He defined locus of control as, the degree to which people believe they have control over the outcome of their lives. This locus of control can be external or internal. This means that you either attribute control to the environment or to yourself. Being balanced is ideal but many of us tend to attribute our control to one or the other. Maybe you would like to know if your locus of control is internal or external. You can take Julian B. Rotter’s test that he developed in 1966 here. https://www.mccc.edu/~jenningh/Courses/documents/Rotter-locusofcontrolhandout.pdf
When I started thinking about my locus of control, I was in counseling. My counselor told me my locus of control was here, there, and everywhere. I wasn’t dead set on any of my ideas or values. I was what you would call, a kite. Literally. My locus of control was the slightest breeze and therefore, external. I didn’t really have any plan for my life and any person could come in and change the plan of my life if I ever made one. I believed that there was nothing I could do to change how I was feeling and that I just was the way I was. An ideal I am still fighting to this day.
Where are you on the spectrum?
We may feel out of control when our locus of control is misplaced. Whether you attribute control to only yourself or only the environment, can both be damaging. When you find where your control comes from, you can begin to find ways to balance it. Finding stability in only ourselves or only the environment can often make us feel powerless. The choices we make, may not have as big of an effect on our lives as we imagine. Situations that occur at random, are often out of our control, but that does not mean our power is totally gone. Defining the outcome of your life because of something that was out of your control may result in feelings of inferiority. Believing that we have control over everything will diminish our personal power because the fact is, we don’t. Taking information from an unbalanced locus of control can build narratives that are false.
Some examples of narratives from an internal locus of control are: People who are in need ended up there because of their own mistakes. If you want to be a better person, you must work at it.
Making a plan is the only way situations turn out fine.
Some examples of narratives from an external locus of control are:
People who are in need ended up there because of socioeconomic inequality. If you want to be a better person, it depends on your genetics to define your capabilities.
Making a plan is useless as it never turns out the way you planned anyway.
Finding a balance between external and internal has nothing to do with what we can control, but about where we put our focus. Maintaining a balance of your locus of control comes from sustainable thoughts, beliefs, and actions.
1. Thoughts Question: How can you control your thinking? Our thoughts are truly under our control as fleeting as they may seem. If we have an undesirable thought, we need to believe we have the strength to dismiss it. These days I’ve found that I’ve had, “intrusive thoughts.” These are thoughts that live up to their name and intrude. They may try to sabotage your life and what you know to be true about yourself. It takes so much energy to fight them off every day. What I’ve found works best for me, is playing a good old game of true or false. I sit down in silence so the thoughts flow in slowly so I can notice them. As I notice them, I can take each one and ask myself, “Is this true to you?” True to who I am. True to who I want to become. True to what I want. If not, I call that thought, “false” and I toss it away. I know this is a bit abstract, but realizing that not every thought we think is true to us, was a big step for me and I hope it can help you if you suffer from intrusive thoughts.
Action: Meditate on this image: Pieces of fabric flowing in the wind. In a calm breeze, it may be easy to catch or avoid one. Imagine your mind as a calm breeze. Imagine your thoughts are fabric. These fabrics are soft, silky and light. They flow in the breeze very easily. Some may come in your favorite color and it may come with the thought, “I am enough.” This one is true. You can say, “True.” Imagine you take it in your hands gently and it fills your body with peace, joy and warmth. Some may come in black or red. Any color that alarms you. These say, “You will never be good enough.” These are false. You can say, “False.”
Allow it to continue to flow out of your conscious breeze and await the next beautiful fabric.
2. Beliefs Question: What do you believe? Your narratives and beliefs drive your behavior. If you are someone who does not know or see your own power, you may have written a narrative in your mind that you have none. If you are someone who puts all the power on yourself you may feel too much pressure in uncertain situations. I am the type of person who will see the power in others, but not give myself credit for my own power over my life. This has led me to believe that I have no control over my thoughts, beliefs, and actions. My excuse is, “I am the way I am and I won’t ever change.” The reality is, if something is weighing heavily on me in my life, there is always a cure. There is always healing to be found in the world around us or within ourselves. All we have to do is seek and we will find.
Action: Mantra: (You can speak this aloud or write it somewhere you’ll see it.)
I am not all-knowing, but I am enough. I am not always in control, but I can control myself. I may have power, but I do not always need to use it. Situations may change, but I can choose to remain or grow.
3. Actions Question: How does your emotional stability reflect your locus of control? Emotional stability comes heavily from our locus of control. If you find yourself with an internal locus of control, you may find yourself frustrated, overwhelmed and exhausted most of the time. If you have an external locus of control, you may be feeling; lazy, powerless, and depressed or apathetic most of the time. Creating stability within ourselves will reveal a more stable personality. When we can differentiate between situations we can and cannot control, we can feel more confident. Taking action when necessary and taking a back seat when life is out of our control, are skills that take time to develop. Like all things, practice makes perfect.
Find a source of stability in yourself.
For me, it is God. I know that God is in control and that He has my destiny in His hands. He has promised me the desires of my heart so anytime I feel out of control and lacking in power, I go to Him. Another source of stability is knowing how sufficient we are. We must know that we have the ability in this life and we have the power to change the course of our destiny. This freedom was given to us. We often forget how sufficient and powerful we are.
I hope you all have learned more about your locus of control after reading this article. Please let me know in the comments below how you have applied this knowledge to your life. Remember, always take your own advice and I will see you next time! Gabby