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Finding a Work Balance That Works for You Internal vs. External Locus of Control

If you believe that you have control over what happens, then you have what psychologists refer to as an internal locus of control. If you believe that you have no control over what happens and that external variables are to blame, then you have what is known as an external locus of control.

Your locus of control can influence not only how you respond to the events that happen in your life, but also your motivation to take action. If you believe that you hold the keys to your fate, you are more likely to take action to change your situation when needed. If on the other hand, you believe that the outcome is out of your hands, you may be less likely to work toward change.

Internal vs. External Locus of Control

It is important to note that

.No one has a 100 per cent external or internal locus of control. Instead, most people lie somewhere on the continuum between the two extremes. These are characteristics of people with a dominant internal or external locus of control.

What Role Does Your Locus of Control Play in Your Life?

Internal locus of control is often used synonymously with "self-determination" and "personal agency." Research has suggested that men tend to have a higher internal locus of control than women and that locus of control tends to become more internal as people grow older. Experts have found that, in general, people with an internal locus of control tend to be better off.

However, it is also important to remember that internally does not always equal "good" and external does not always equal "bad." In some situations, an external locus of control can be a good thing, particularly if a person's level of competence in a particular area is not very strong. For example, a person who is terrible at sports might feel depressed or anxious about their performance if they have a strong internal locus of control. If the person thinks, "I'm bad at sports and I don't try hard enough," they might feel stressed out in situations where they need to participate in athletics, such as during a physical education class. If this person takes an external focus during such activities ("The game is too hard!" or "The sun was in my eyes!"), they will probably feel more relaxed and less stressed.

Your locus of control can have a major impact on your life, from how you cope with stress to your motivation to take charge of your life. In many cases, having an internal locus of control can be a good thing. It means that you believe that your actions have an impact. If you tend to have more of an external locus of control, you might find it helpful to start actively trying to change how you view situations and events. Rather than viewing yourself as simply a passive bystander who is caught up in the flow of life, think about actions you can take that will have an impact on the outcome.

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