Control freaks, psychology has you sussed.

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Do you ever find yourself thinking or worrying about things in your life, like: “I should exercise more” or “Ugh, why are all my workmates so hopeless when I work so hard and achieve so much?” or maybe “Why won’t Gorman put that black tote on sale so I can afford it?”

Of course you do!

Now think about which of the following categories your thoughts about life fall into:

1. Within my control and influence (internal locus of control)
2. Outside my control or influence (external locus of control)

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Category 1 people

If you tallied up your thoughts and found that most of them fall into category 1 then you are possibly somebody who has a strong internal locus of control.

Why are we suddenly talking about insects, you ask? No sorry, locus not locusts. This means that you probably feel like you control loads of stuff that happens to you.

This can be a good and a bad thing, for example if you do well on a test you’ll toast yourself with a glass of bubbly and congratulate yourself on your terrific abilities.

Look out if you don’t do so well on that test though because you will give yourself merry hell about about it. You have a need for achievement and can feel you’ve let yourself down if all doesn’t go your way.

Category 2 people

If your answers tallied up nicely in category 2 you will be much more likely to have an external locus of control. In other words that test was ridiculous!

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The questions were dumb – it was the stupid teacher’s fault you failed! Sounds better right?

It isn’t though, because if you have an external locus of control you are at greater risk of clinical depression. This is because you believe that you have little control over things around you. You might be quicker to blame those you perceive to have all the power, like your boss, politicians and police, instead of believing you have any power to influence change.


More after the gallery of control freaks...

Locus of control can also influence your health outcomes. People who perceive they have a lot of control – internal locus – tend to find it easier to give up smoking. They have better health outcomes because they believe they have some control over their health. Better still if you place a high value on your health at the same time (she types as she dips her Tim Tam into her coffee).

Interestingly, a study found that women with high internal health locus of control (category 1s) were less likely than men to be compliant. In other words, these women didn’t tend to follow their doctor’s advice like the blokes did. This may be because self-efficacy also plays a part also – you may have strong internal locus and feel like you control your health, but you may also lack a sense of efficiency in carrying out a particular treatment. More layers in that than an opera cake from the Great British Bake Off.

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Change your locus of control

The good news is you can change your locus of control from the stressed out, no power external to the ‘I got this’ internal with a little effort. Here are some tips:

1. When you’re feeling defeatist, brainstorm ideas to see that there can be a range of answers – not just one way but many.

2. Change the language you use – stop talking in absolutes! Catch out that negative self talk and get some positive thinking all up in there.

3. Understand more about personality factors that will influence negative thinking. Attitude is everything!

Try this pop psych quiz to see where you fit.

Remember, you can take responsibility for your choices and your life.

Listen to Ryan.

Reclaim your power and use the extra energy you used for worry and blame on the fun stuff. Now, excuse me while I check if Gorman has that tote at half price yet.

Where did you fit in the pop psych quiz? Do you find it hard to let go about things outside of your control?