“Locus of control” is the extent to which individuals believe that they have control over an event in their lives.
Having a more internal locus of control means we believe we have more control over the event.
Having a more external locus of control means we believe that outside forces (other people, the environment, God, etc.) have more control over the event.
Usually our locus of control depends on the event – it lies on a spectrum between “complete control” and “no control.”
When our locus of control is mis-attributed, it can cause a lot of unnecessary harm and suffering in our lives.
When we overestimate our control in a situation, we may become unnecessarily stressed out and anxious over events we have no power over. We can think and fret about them all we want, but nothing we do can change those circumstances. Focusing on these things does nothing but drain our energy. And the less we accept them, the more we seek to change them. Despite being powerless.
And when we underestimate our control in a situation, we may unnecessarily settle for things in our life that we actually have the power to change and improve. So instead of changing the situation for the better, we actually settle for something much worse. Clearly, relinquishing our power in such situations decreases our well-being.
Living a more satisfying and happy life is directly dependent on how accurate our locus of control is. When we exert effort over the things we actually have power over, we maximize our happiness and well-being in the best possible way, given our circumstances.
Unfortunately, I can’t define your locus of control for you. That is for everyone to determine for themselves, given their abilities and situation.
The extent to which we have power over our lives can be hard to distinguish. Our world is vastly complex and it is built on a matrices of different factors. Fortunately, by living more mindfully and consciously in the present moment, we can better determine where we have power and where we don’t.
We can do this by watching our daily choices and actions, and then witnessing first-hand how they affect our lives. The more aware we are, the better we can distinguish which actions are fruitful and which aren’t.
Discovering our locus of control is a constant work-in-progress. It is something that can be continuously refined, so long as we choose to live more consciously. Day in and day out.