Mind Excellence: Fine Tuning Your Locus of Control

Self-Actualization
Mind Excellence: Fine Tuning Your Locus of Control
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God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can and wisdom to know the difference.

~ Reinhold Niebuhr (The Serenity Prayer)
We’ve all heard the shocking statistics concerning human beings and worry.

In the now infamous study conducted by Dr. Walter Calvert, it was found that only 8% of the things people worried about were actual legitimate matters of concern. The rest comprised of things that either never happened (40%), had already happened (30%) or things that were in some way already out of their control (22%).

While you could argue that adopting an over-pessimistic attitude may give you the motivation to take right action and contribute to the 40% statistic, there is definitely no benefit to be gained from worrying about things outside of your control – and astonishingly these account for over half (30% + 22%) of the things people worried about in the study. That’s a lot of wasted energy that could have been used for something they can control.

In general, someone with a healthy locus of control will only concern themselves with things which they are capable of influencing.

Let’s take a look at some of the things that are outside of our control that many of us tend to struggle accepting the most - and how we can start directing them in a more psychologically healthy way.

1. Dwelling on the Past & Adopting a Victim Mentality

If something goes wrong, take a step back and objectively try to see what you could have done differently to change the outcome.
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Never identify with being a victim, even if you are one. Realise that this is always the workings of your ego – it tries to derive a false sense of self by thinking that you were more unfairly treated by life than others.

Don’t pass blame on to others or anything external. Never identify with being a victim, even if you are one. Realise that this is always the workings of your ego - it tries to derive a false sense of self by thinking that you were more unfairly treated by life than others.

Rather, appreciate those experiences (good and bad) and embrace that they have shaped who you are today and who you are capable of becoming.

Similarly, don’t pass off the responsibility by blaming it on being sick, or that you were tired. Objectively look at your situation or experience, and determine how you could change the result for the better next time. Wipe the rest out of your memory and move on.

Think Win-learn, not win-lose. There is always a hidden opportunity for any adversity you experience and oftentimes you will be led to a much more successful outcome after being forced to take on a new route.

2. Worrying About People Liking You

This ultimately comes down to making the choice to value your own opinion of yourself higher than anyone else’s opinion of you.

After all who knows you better than you know yourself?
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[To stop worrying about what others think of you] comes down to making the choice to value your own opinion of yourself higher than anyone else’s opinion of you. After all who knows you better than you know yourself?

It might not even necessarily be that you don’t care what other’s think of you, but it’s that it doesn’t matter. You realise that trying to micromanage people’s perception of you is impossible so it’s best to avoid wasting energy doing it. This goes for both negative and positive social feedback– you don’t put any value on either.

Of course this doesn’t mean you go through life blithely forcing your worldview, with zero emotional attunement towards the objective reality of others. Somebody with a healthy locus of control will generally care about how they make people feel, but not what others think of them.

3. Trying to Change Others

Which makes you happier?...

To try to change what somebody else is doing,

Or to work on yourself to the point that you embody those things that you feel strongly about – and as an added benefit this may inspire others to change themselves (although that shouldn’t be the primary motive).

The former will lead to insanity; the latter will make you happy knowing you've done everything you possibly can to actualize your own values. This is all that should matter.
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”BE the change you want to see in the world”
~Gandhi

Very often when we go out of our way to preach to others we are (usually unconsciously) gaining some kind of ego gratification from telling people what to do, the pretence being “you’re doing it wrong, I am better.”

Like Ghandi said, "BE the change you want to see in the world" - don’t verbalize it or even demonstrate it to others - actually become it.

4. Worrying about Failure and Future Outcomes

Most people are afraid to get anything wrong. Their fear of failure leads them to play to avoid losing (or to avoid negative emotions) - rather than playing to win.

Their fear of “looking bad” results in them second-guessing themselves and the natural instincts that have been hard-wired into their DNA - instincts that have been continually error-checked for literally hundreds of millennia.

…This is not some abstract over the top statement, this is fact. Humans have existed on this planet for roughly half a million years. During that entire time, evolution has ruthlessly weeded out the "unfit," generation after generation. Yet we are all somehow here today. That means that every single one of your ancestors was able to survive and reproduce successfully in a ruthless, dog-eat-dog world, going back to the dawn of the species.

What does this mean?

It means the blueprint for success is hard-wired into every single one of us – all that is required of us is to execute the program and our natural instincts will do the rest.

The problem is that we don’t execute. And even when we do we invest in the outcome and use the process as a means to an end to get there, when the process itself should be the means to the end.
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Start shifting your criteria for success away from something results orientated (which is by definition outside of your control) to something you can actually control i.e. whether or not you on a path to make it happen.

Start shifting your criteria for success away from something results orientated (which is by definition outside of your control) to something you can actually control i.e. whether or not you are on a path to make it happen.
  • Usual perception of failure/ success = negative/ positive result
  • More useful perception of failure/ success = not executing/ executing.
Stop being so concerned with results and start focusing instead on what you are doing right now.
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