Internal or External Locus of Control

Inside or Outside of Yourself

Internal or External Locus of Control. What’s the difference?

Tracie holds her past responsibility for who she is and doesn’t work toward being the person she says she wants to be. She walks away from anything, anyone, and any situation that threatens a change of perception. Her upbringing continues to shape her as a person. She doesn’t hold herself accountable simply because she believes things aren’t in her control to change. She isn’t self-aware nor does she analyze how her attitudes and behaviors affect others. When Tracie’s treated in a way that’s unsatisfactory to her, she fails to realize it’s because of how she’s pushed them away. She refuses to discuss problems, stating it’s too emotional for her to help find a resolution. The result is her friendships and relationships remain stagnant and slowly move toward estrangement. She doesn’t realize her push-pull emotional behaviors end up deterring people from wanting to communicate with her. However, she complains people she desires to be bonded with aren’t emotionally available to her. Tracie genuinely doesn’t understand the cyclical patterns evident to others in her friendships and relationships. You may have gathered by now that Tracie has an external locus of control, which is a person’s belief that things outside of themselves control their lives.

Harriet acknowledges her past helped shape her into who she presently is. Although, she’s built on that belief and changed her perceptions to reinvent herself into who she currently wants to be. She listens to what others say and thinks about their words, even if they say something negative about her. She sometimes agrees with them, after self-reflections, and makes internal changes so as not to intentionally offend others. Harriet holds herself accountable for her behaviors and the outcomes of both positive and negative situations. She’s aware of how her actions and attitudes affect others. She analyzes her thought processes and behaviors and acknowledges how they’ve dictated her situations. She makes internal changes to foster the life she desires and to cultivate the types of friendships and relationships she wants. Harriet chooses who she’s going to be. She has an internal locus of control. She holds herself accountable and takes responsibility for her life and the choices she makes.

There are some discussion topics that may help you figure out if someone has an internal or external locus of control, such as asking:

About their life, what they like about it, and how it got to that point. If they answer with negative points and blame others or their background, don’t accept responsibility for their life … they have an external locus of control.

If their answer includes negative factors and includes how they learned from their mistakes or realized how to improve things in their life, this person has accepted responsibility and has an internal locus of control.

I’d love to read your thoughts on internal versus external locus of control. Which do you believe you have?

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I journeyed from GED to a PhD in Psychology. I decided to focus on my writing once I retired from the clinical field. I write in various genres and have several WIPs for publication once edited. I post articles on this website for intellectual and entertainment purposes.

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