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Your Locus Focus: Who’s in Control of Your Life?

Who’s in control of your life?

Is it you or do you allow forces outside of yourself to make decisions for you and determine your path in life?

Being convinced that other people or circumstances in your environment control you – called external locus of control – can lead to feelings of helplessness, passivity, and depression.

Feeling like you have control of your life – known as internal locus of control – increases self-confidence and your ability to problem-solve effectively, both important skills in learning to bounce back in life.

What’s your locus focus?

What happens if I have no choice?

Now, I know what some of you might be thinking: “I really don’t have control. My decisions are made for me by my boss (caregiver, mother, guardian, conservator, etc.)”

I’m going to argue with you a bit on that point, though. You still do have control over some things.

You can choose to stay in your job or leave it.

You can choose to speak up to your caregiver about your treatment.

You can choose to see your mother or not (if you’re an adult.)

And, as the people at the career skills website, Mindtools, say:

Recognize the basic fact that you always have a choice. Making no choice is actually a choice in and of itself, and it’s your choice to allow other people or events to decide for you.

Increasing your sense of control and effectiveness

The folks at Mindtools have some great ideas for learning to have an internal locus of control.

1. Set and achieve goals for yourself.

When you achieve your goals, notice how you did it. It was because you did it, wasn’t it? No one else, just you.

2. Learn problem-solving skills.

Figuring out how to solve problems increases feelings of effectiveness and mastery over problems that arise in your life. And the lesson again is that you did it!

For a helpful problem-solving framework, check out this article by the Mayo Clinic.

3. Monitor your self-talk.

When you hear a voice inside you saying, “I have no choice. There’s nothing I can do in this situation,” remember what was said above: you always have a choice.

4. Get some feedback

This is not from Mindtools, but I suggest that talking with a therapist or life coach can help you receive valuable feedback that will help you see how much control you really do have in your life.

Wondering what your locus of control is? Take the test within the article at Mindtools and see where you can make some improvements in your life.

Make the choice to take control and bounce back faster and stronger than ever!

Your Locus Focus: Who’s in Control of Your Life?

Bobbi Emel, MFT

Psychotherapist Bobbi Emel specializes in helping people face life’s significant challenges and regain their resiliency. In addition to seeing clients in her private practice, Bobbi is a well-regarded speaker and writer. Check out her other writing at The Bounce Blog.

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APA Reference
Emel, B. (2012). Your Locus Focus: Who’s in Control of Your Life?. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 26, 2019, from


Last updated: 4 Apr 2012
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