Locus of Control (LOC) is a psychological concept of personality that refers to what we believe is control of our lives. LOC is a spectrum with one end being external factors like luck and fate and the other end being internal factors such as personal choices and effort. Where a person falls on the LOC spectrum is believed to tell a lot about the person's character and how he/she sees life. Let's look at a real life example.
A few years ago I set out on a weight loss journey and was able to lose close to 50 lbs. I kept the weight off for about three years but over the past two years I've gained most of it back. If I fall on the external end of the LOC spectrum I blame my co-workers for bringing treats to work, my family for my genetic makeup, and the high cost of healthy foods and gym membership for my weight gain. If I fall on the internal end of the LOC spectrum I attribute my weight gain to my own poor food choices and not exercising enough. My position on the LOC spectrum determines what I believe to be the cause of my dilemma and what measures must be taken to resolve it. On the external end I am a victim of circumstances so there is little I can do to control the situation; on the internal end I am in full control of the entire situation and no one else has influence.
In reality we fall somewhere in between the two ends of the spectrum and it is possible for us to fall on different places on the spectrum for different situations. I may feel I am in total control over my weight loss but out of control over my finances. Or I may feel more in control over my relationships than my career, or my personal development than my spiritual growth, or vice versa. Ultimately, like everything, LOC is a function of our own beliefs; the thoughts that we maintain in our daily lives. And we know that we CAN change our thinking so, in essence, we can change our LOC as well. So take a moment and think to yourself...
Who's at the wheel?
Over the years I have learned that life can teach you things in the most inventive ways and that, if you are open to it, you can learn from almost anything. I recently had an experience when I saw life in one of the most obscure places: a cartoon. Here is a Life Lesson Revealed.
Netflix recently added Animaniacs, a cartoon series I loved when I was a child. If you’ve never seen the show before, here is the premise: When the Warner Brothers studio first opened the artists were pressed to create new characters and thus created the Warner Brothers Yakko and Wacko, and their sister, Dot. The Warner Brothers and the Warner sister prove to be a fail as they were uncontrollable and their movies made no sense. To recover from the mistake the studio decided to lock away all the Warners’ movies in a vault, to hide the Warners themselves in a water tower, and to deny their existence to the public. The plot of the show is that the Warners escape from the water tower and are chased by the security guard to be hidden once again. During each episode the show features skits of other characters doing whatever it is they do then suddenly the Warners come running across the screen as they are chased by the guard to remind you of the real plot of the show and that the show is really about them.
Where’s the life lesson? Let me explain.
Hopefully by now you have some vision or goal you are working towards whether big or small. If you do, you will find that challenges arise that hinder your pursuit of that vision or goal. When we experience those challenges we are often put in a place where we feel like we have to make something happen. We need a solution to a problem and we need it right away. Herein lays the analogy…
When we are pressed to make a decision, sometimes we don’t quite think it through and end of making a decision that not in our best interest (creating the Warners). After we find that the decision is causing more problems, instead of bringing resolution we try to get things under control and cover our tracks (hiding the Warners and their movies away). Then, we try to act like the decision never happened and to move forward with our lives (denying the Warners’ existence to the public and showing skits of other characters). Sometimes, however, our poorly-made decision has had so much impact that the residuals pop up in our lives when we least expect it (Warners escape) and, when left unresolved, we find ourselves trying to catch the lingering negative effects so we can hide them away again (Warners being chased through skits). We are able to get a hold of things most times and save face but when we continue to let things go unresolved eventually “the Warners” escape again.
Now, think about a poor decision you’ve made in the past and that still affects you today, can you see the parallel? As I watch the show I can even see traits that impact our decision-making in the Warner characters themselves: Yakko who talks way too much, Wacko who eats everything and leaves nothing for others, and Dot who thinks she can get away with things just because she’s so cute…WOW!
Click on your Netflix and check it out for yourself.
If you follow this blog you’ve learned by now that we all have a legacy. Your legacy is who you are. It is everything you have shown yourself to the world to be, whether good or bad. It is the example you set; your words, your actions, the lessons you’ve learned and the lessons you’ve taught. Your legacy is how you will be remembered and the pieces of you that will be left behind. But, did you know that your legacy have eyes? Both figuratively and literally, let’s consider this idea.
The figurative eyes of your legacy are pretty simple to understand. We know that everything starts in the mind where, hopefully, you can “see” yourself being all the things you want to be. It is with the figurative eyes of your legacy that you cast the vision for your life and you begin to draft the plan for how it will be done. Whatever your goal you must first it with your figurative eyes. You see yourself healthy, successful, famous, or even 30 pounds lighter. You see your children grown up, your career advanced, or your life better than it has ever been in the past. Whatever the vision, you “see” it first then you walk towards it. Those are the figurative eyes.
The literal eyes of your legacy are twofold. The first is your very own physical eyes. After you’ve seen with your figurate eyes also seeing with your physical eyes can keep you motivated. So you may have a vision board or post pictures of the things you aspire to be and have. You may look to people who have already obtained what you desire to examine their lives and how they got to where you want to be. As your physical eyes become exposed to the reality of your dreams your legacy continues to build and to grow and everyone around you can see it. That is the second part of the literal eyes of your legacy: people. If your legacy is how the world sees and remembers you then the eyes of those around are essential. It is their interpretation and understanding of who you are and why you do what you do that shapes the memory of you that will be left behind. These are the eyes that we can’t control because behind them lies the experiences and agendas of others. We can, however, ensure that we stick to the vision with an expectation that all will work for our good.
With all these eyes involved it’s evident that someone is always watching. There is always a set of eyes observing and evaluating what you do. At this very moment as you read this blog post your very own eyes are evaluating the impact of what you’ve read. Do you believe it? Will you apply it? Do you really understand what’s been written? Can you actually see what it is you really want to see or does negative thinking cast a shadow that blinds you? Eyes are always there, everywhere, and it is up to you to determine what they see.
The old saying goes “The best things in life are free” with regards to things like love, joy, peace, and happiness; things that we all seek but that money cannot buy. While it is true that these qualities have no monetary value and we cannot use our financial resources to obtain them, life has taught me that they do indeed come at a cost. There is a price to pay for these “free” things we all seek and, I believe, if we learn to understand what it costs to have them we are more likely to actually obtain them.
As with everything, the cost to obtain these “freedoms” starts in the mind. It starts with a decision that we want the thing and that we will pursue it by any means necessary. It requires that we be vigilant in our quest to obtain something without knowing how long it will take to obtain it. When we are buying something we know how much it costs and can calculate accurately how much work we must do to purchase it. But, in a quest to find peace, for instance, we really don’t know how long it will take for it to appear.
The cost of things that are “free” is far greater than money. The cost includes efforts that cannot be recovered such as time, energy, and our emotions. And the most amazing, and frustrating, thing to understand about these “freedoms” that we seek is that it is only after they have been taken away that we realize we have (or had) them. Think about it. We never realize we have peace until there is chaos. We never realize we have love until it is gone. We often don’t enjoy our happiness until we are sad. And joy is only appreciated in times of pain. Yes, my friends, these things do come at a price.
The cost of these “free” things is relentless determination to hold on to them. Fixing our thoughts, our actions, and our intentions to the idea that, regardless of our circumstances and what is presently occurring in our lives, we WILL have love, or joy, or peace, or happiness, or whatever it is that we need. The cost is pressing through life when you feel like giving up. It is acting as if everything is okay when, to the natural eye, it is not. It is overlooking the failures in pursuit of victory, pushing away negativity and focusing on the positive, approaching each day as if this is the day that everything you’ve be hoping and waiting for will come to fruition. That’s the cost, ladies and gentlemen, of the BEST things in life…
Can you afford them?
Recently I read a blog post on CurlyNikki.com entitled When you Trust Amazon more than God that really hit home for me. The blogger compared how we feel after ordering something online to how we feel after we pray for something. The bottom line of the post is this: when we order an item from Amazon we actually expect it to arrive but when we pray for something we lack that same confidence that what we asked for will be fulfilled. The writer presented several reasons why she thinks we lack confidence in God fulfilling our “orders” and not Amazon. A common thread in the reasons was clear to me: our thoughts.
For Amazon we know we can actually have what we ordered because we paid for it. And, if it’s hasn’t arrived when we expected we can wait a little longer without really being too stressed about it. If the item is late we can track it to check on its shipping status and location and can get a refund if something has happened. For God, though, we’re not always sure if we will get what we ordered and, if we are sure, that certainty starts to fade if it hasn’t arrived when we thought it would. Of course we can’t track God’s answers to our prayers so when they are delayed we think all kinds of things. Maybe God doesn’t want to help us or He didn’t hear our request. Maybe what we asked for is too big. Maybe we don’t deserve it and we haven’t gotten it because we didn’t “pay” for it by always doing the right things. Maybe we should settle for something less.
Well, do we ever settle for something less than what we ordered from Amazon? Absolutely not! We expect what we ordered to be delivered and we won’t settle for anything less because it was paid for, we made a sacrifice of our money in exchange for the goods. Let us take this same approach in faith. The next time you fix your mind to make a request from God (or of yourself even) do so with the expectation that your request will be fulfilled as ordered. After all, it was paid for; you didn’t pay but it there WAS payment. And when there is a delay think of it this way: Amazon delivers what you ordered with no concern for how it will affect you. It makes no difference to Amazon if the item will help you or hinder you as long as you pay the fee. God, however, is concerned about you so the delay in delivery of your order may simply be that something (or someone) else is better fitting to meet your needs. Expect the best and accept nothing less!
Romaine A. Wright