Posts tagged ‘Internal Locus of Control’

July 7, 2012

Locus Of Control

In 1954, Julian B. Rotter created the personality psychology theory of Locus of control. This concept referred to the extent individuals believes they can control their life circumstances. The term “locus” is derived from the Latin word for “place”.

As with many of our discussions about either/or concepts, one’s internal locus of control is not absolute. Some may adopt an internal locus of control for some situations and an external locus of control

If one has an “internal locus of control”, that person believes that they have the ability to control their lives since their life events are a direct result of their behaviors and actions.

If one has an “external locus of control”, that person believes that the causes of their life circumstances are a result of external factors such as other the actions of others, the environment, luck, fate, or a higher power.

Some reported benefits of an internal locus of control include better control of one’s behavior, more attempts to influence other’s behavior, assumption that actions will be successful, and actively seeking information (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Locus_of_control). According to About.com, (http://stress.about.com/od/psychologicalconditions/ht/locus.htm) research has shown that those with an internal locus of control-tend to be happier, less depressed, and less stressed.

I feel that it is reasonable to extrapolate that people with a greater internal locus of control will assume more responsibility for their beliefs, thoughts feelings and actions. I feel that it is very important for someone with a strong internal locus of control to  adopt an appreciative view of the world and commit to positive self talk. If we believe that we are responsible, do poorly on a task and then deride ourselves on the outcome of the task, we would surely be depressed.

There are also some benefits of an external locus of control. For example, if there were a situation that you cannot control directly, it would be beneficial to emotionally “let go” of the situation and “give it up to fate”. For example, we working on an academic paper it is valuable to adopt and internal locus of control of all the steps that you need to perform in the data collection and writing process. Since you cannot control the results of your experiment, you need to let go of your exceptions. It is also beneficial to “let go” when you send the article for peer review since you cannot control the opinion of others.

There are many tests of “Locus of Control” online. Psychology Today has such a test at http://psychologytoday.tests.psychtests.com/take_test.php?idRegTest=1317

Like most things, one’s “Locus of Control” is not black and white. There are times where we feel we have a much greater control of our destiny and other times where we may feel blown around by the winds of fate.

It is my belief that it is best to have a strong internal locus of control for all of those elements that can only be controlled by ourselves including thoughts, habits, beliefs, actions, attitudes and chosen responses to our life events. There are many elements of life, from the weather to the stock market, that we can not control. However, we can do our best to own our responses to our outlook on life as well as our responses to live events.

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May 28, 2012

Other People’s Stories – 2

Welcome to the continuing saga of “Other People’s Stories”.

Since our last episode, I have had a few interesting conversations about this issue. I was informed that there was more to tell with regards to responding to complaints as well as co-dependency. I also realize that I did not cover other people’s expectations or the danger of continually comparing your life performance to the lives of others around you.

Problem Solving versus a Complaint Driven Life

Complaints are all around us. Every day we hear people complain about the weather or about some political issue. One main tactic to addressing life complaints is to consider if the complaint was just stated to “let off steam” or if the complaint was an indirect (or even direct) request for problem solving. Most of the time, it is easy to determine if someone is complaining to “let off steam” since this complaint focuses on their feelings and contains statements such as “well, whatcha going do?” If you have the feeling that the complaint is a request for problem solving, it would be valuable to run it through a few questions:

–       Is this something I have the influence to change?

–       Is this something that is important to me?

–       Is it my job or responsibility to change?

In my work, it is my professional responsibility to sift through other people’s complaints on a regular basis. When I am interacting with a staff member who is talking about a work issue that is negatively impacting their ability to perform his or her job, it is my professional responsibility to act on it. However, if someone is talking about an issue that I have no influence to change, I will listen compassionately and do my best to encourage the other person to consider their emotional response to that situation.

Co Dependent Directors

There are many co-dependents that do not see themselves as either “co-dependent” or as someone prioritizing someone else’s issues. Co-dependents can identify themselves, as caring are responsible people. One possible red flag for co-dependency is becoming a “director” of another person’s life. This is the tendency of setting situations up so that other people act or feel a certain way or expecting others to act or feel a certain way. If you constantly find yourself feeling a great feeling of dis-ease when someone is not feeling/acting the way you want, you may just be a co-dependent.

Other People’s Expectations

Remember, you are in control of your own character and your own life’s path. Own this responsibility! If we do not firmly take responsibility of our own thoughts, feelings, beliefs, habits or actions, we are prone to undue influence of other people’s expectations. The expectations that I am referring to are not the common social expectations that we are all subject to. I am talking about the expectations of others that lead us into action that we may not want. For example, if you know deeply that you are intrinsically an artist, but your father always though of you as a great candidate for medical school, you will most likely be fulfilled if you followed your true passion instead of donning the role of “doctor” to meet your dad’s expectations.

Healthy Comparison

There is an element of comparing yourselves to others that can serve a purpose. Most of the time the tendency of comparing ourselves to others in our peer group offers us a form of social feedback. However, once we establish a pattern of habitually comparing ourselves to others, we can lose our internal locus of control and begin to define ourselves by others’ around us. We are NOT the other people around us! We are our unique personality. If Johnny is better at basketball, that’s good for Johnny. We should not view ourselves as inferior if our performance at basketball is not as good as Johnny. If we are looking at our own performance, it is best if we measure our current performance versus our past performance. Otherwise, we are in danger of losing important aspects of our own identity.

It is wonderful to have other people in our lives. Other people can have a positive influence. It is beneficial to remember to remain in charge of our own identity and to be the best that we can be.

April 29, 2012

Responding to Life Events

One of the most influential equations that I have learned in my life has been:
E + R = O
For this equation;

  • E = Events
  • R = Your chosen response to an Event
  • O = The overall outcome

In the model, the “Event” is neutral. It is not “good” or “bad”, it is just a life circumstance. It is our Response to an event that will shape how we label or perceive the event in our minds. How we choose to respond to an event directly affects the overall outcome.

For example, imagine you are a school-aged kid being called a name by one of your classmates. You choose to respond by calling the other kid a worse name. The outcome is that the other kid hits you.

Imagine this scenario with a different response. You are a school-aged kid being called a name by one of your classmates. You ignore the other kid and move to the other side of the playground to be with a group of your friends. The outcome is that you have moved on with your day without conflict.

Let us look at this equation from an “Influence versus Control” perspective

  • E = Events – These are things that you typically can’t control. You may be able to influence factors leading up to events, but the event would have happened without you. Life events can be the small events such as being cut off in traffic or misplacing your house keys to major life events such as your house burning down or losing a family member.
  • R = Response – This is where you have some control. You can choose your response. When a life event happens, you can remember that there are multiple ways to respond to any situation and you can practice taking the time needed to evaluate your response. Since your response has a strong influence on the outcome, it is important to take personal responsibility for your responses to all life events.
  • O = Outcomes- This is an areas where we have influence. If we react “positively” to a situation, we are more likely to experience a “positive” outcome.

One Saturday, I experienced an opportunity to reflect on my responses to a common life situation. While playing with my children at the beach, I noticed that I no longer had my car keys. I could not use my phone to call my wife since my phone was locked in my car. My kids had just come out of the water and they were cold. There was a storm coming and rain was just minutes away.

In the past, this situation would have freaked me out. I would have become extremely frustrated and my blood pressure would have risen. Most likely, I would have started using expletives at an increasingly frequent level.

When I reflected on the fact that the only thing that I could control in this situation was my response to this situation, I was in a much better place for problem solving. I knew that there were just a limited amount of possible actions. First I unpacked all of our stuff to look for the key. Then I backtracked everywhere that we had been at the beach that day. Once I felt that I had just about exhausted all my options. I asked a fellow beach goer to barrow their cell phone. I called my wife to see if she could come pick us up. My wife’s phone went straight to voicemail, so the option of being “rescued” appeared off the table. While the kids played on a play structure, I went back to an area of the play area  that we had been playing before the key was lost and I started a grid search of the sand area looking for the key. After a while of searching,I found the key.

In this scenario, if had chosen to respond with anger, I could have “ruined” the day for my children and myself. By remaining calm, our family fun day continued on without incident. The next time “life happens”, remember you have the ability evaluate your response before you take action. When we chose to remain calm in a problematic situation, we are more likely to consider all of our options and problem solve effectively.

April 13, 2012

Finding your Rhythm

When changing a habit or when adding a new activity to your lifestyle, it is helpful to find a time for this new habit/routine.  If we do not know where to place this new habit/routine into our schedule, it is very easy to forget to perform this activity. Once you habit becomes a part of your daily rhythm, it is a lot easier to maintain.

For my own “habit change challenge”, I found that that only way that I could be consistent with implementing my target habits was to find a regular place for them in my daily schedule. Since I have two young children, I found it was best to add my new activities during times of the day when my children are asleep. In the morning, I exercise, meditated and listen to positive meditation podcasts. At night, I blog, journal my successes and list the things for which I am grateful.  Having this structure in place has helped immensely. I have been waking up early and exercising for over a year. After exercising, I have just enough time to shower, get dressed, make lunch, eat breakfast, kiss the family goodbye and leave for work. I have found that I needed to meditate and perform my affirmations before my workout since it was better to have a slightly shorter workout than to miss the opportunity to perform these activities all together.

What works for you! Please share your ideas of ensuring that you have time for some positive time for yourself.

February 2, 2012

Summary of Main Points

 

In this blog, we have reviewed some Psychological concepts important to the discussion of what we can personally control and what factors we can only influence.

 

In “The First Step” we discussed that you will experience more success in attaining your live goals if you take full responsibility for where you are in your life. This concept is supported by research in Intrinsic Locus of Control that people who feel that the have the ability to control their lives tend to be happier.

 

When discussing locus of control, we also stated that there are some elements of life that we cannot control such as the economy or weather and for these factors we should adopt an external locus of control. Although there are elements of life that we cannot control, we are in control on how we choose to respond to these situations. In the blog post E+R=O we discussed that our chosen response to a given situation has a direct impact on the overall outcome.

 

If “The First Step” is accepting full responsibility for your life, the second step should be “Find your Passion”. The research suggests that for situations that require problem solving and creativity, people do better when they are intrinsically motivated.

 

If we have identified some life goals that are challenging for us, we may benefit from extrinsic rewards to help get us motivated.

 

Once we have reflected on our passions and considered what activities help us “go with the flow”, it is beneficial to reflect on our belief systems. In the blog post “Icebergs Ahead” we discussed that many of our beliefs are unconscious, yet still have a significant impact on our internal dialogue. In “Identity” we discussed that what we typically think of as ourselves is the voice in our head. Once we realize that a “me is a story I tell myself”, we can start to evaluate which recurring thoughts are serving us and which thoughts bring us down. In Judgment – Part 2 we discussed that there is a difference between the processes of evaluation (“does this serve my interests”) versus devaluation (finding something or someone to be “inferior” to us). In reviewing our beliefs, it is valuable to evaluate if a belief serves us and to “root out” beliefs that devalue our selves or the humanity of others.  Similarly, in “Appreciation” we discussed that it is helpful to review our beliefs to see if we are appreciating the world around us as well as our own value.

 

In future blogs, we will be exploring emotions in more depth and considerations for turning around our emotional perspective.

 

For the topic of actions, we reviewed how to set goals.

 

In future blogs, we will explore some pragmatic action plans in the areas of weight loss as well as finances.

 

So far, this blog has been posted daily. To ensure quality of writing and to tackle topics in greater detail, I have decided to start posting weekly. If you prefer the daily posts please let me know.

 

If you have any feedback about the content so far, please feel free to contact me at otbikesurf@yahoo.com

 

Thank you for your time and attention!

 

Andrew Gilbert

January 24, 2012

Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation

Yesterday we discussed internal and external locus of control. In summary, it was suggested that it is best to own what we can control such as our actions, beliefs, thoughts, feelings and our reactions to what we cannot control. We also discussed that there are some circumstances where we need to “give it up to fate” such as circumstances we can’t control such as the weather, the stock market and people driving recklessly.

Another related topic is that of  “intrinsic” and “extrinsic” motivation. Intrinsic motivation comes from within such as doing things we love or have an interest in. Extrinsic motivation comes from the outside environment such as getting paid to do a job we are not that excited about or by the fear of being yelled at by our boss for coming in to work late.

Most often we experience intrinsic motivation when performing those things we choose to do on our spare time. As a surfer, I am intrinsically motivated to get up a dawn and drive to the beach before the wind textures the surf. As a runner, my wife gets up early every day to ensure that she gets her run in.

The most common experience of extrinsic motivation is that of working for a paycheck. If you do not intrinsically love what you do, then the only way that you are going to drag yourself to work is for the promise of tangible reimbursement.

Tomorrow we will discuss the benefits of intrinsic motivation.

January 23, 2012

Locus of Control

In 1954, Julian B. Rotter created the personality psychology theory of Locus of control. This concept referred to the extent individuals believes they can control their life circumstances. The term “locus” is derived from the Latin word for “place”.

As with many of our discussions about either/or concepts, one’s internal locus of control is not absolute. Some may adopt an internal locus of control for some situations and an external locus of control

If one has an “internal locus of control”, that person believes that they have the ability to control their lives since their life events are a direct result of their behaviors and actions.

If one has an “external locus of control”, that person believes that the causes of their life circumstances are a result of external factors such as other the actions of others, the environment, luck, fate, or a higher power.

Some reported benefits of an internal locus of control include better control of one’s behavior, more attempts to influence other’s behavior, assumption that actions will be successful, and actively seeking information (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Locus_of_control). According to About.com, (http://stress.about.com/od/psychologicalconditions/ht/locus.htm) research has shown that those with an internal locus of control-tend to be happier, less depressed, and less stressed.

I feel that it is reasonable to extrapolate that people with a greater internal locus of control will assume more responsibility for their beliefs, thoughts feelings and actions. I feel that it is very important for someone with a strong internal locus of control to  adopt an appreciative view of the world and commit to positive self talk. If we believe that we are responsible, do poorly on a task and then deride ourselves on the outcome of the task, we would surely be depressed.

There are also some benefits of an external locus of control. For example, if there were a situation that you cannot control directly, it would be beneficial to emotionally “let go” of the situation and “give it up to fate”. For example, we working on an academic paper it is valuable to adopt and internal locus of control of all the steps that you need to perform in the data collection and writing process. Since you cannot control the results of your experiment, you need to let go of your exceptions. It is also beneficial to “let go” when you send the article for peer review since you cannot control the opinion of others.