Internal Locus of Control

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Locus of Control means where people see their feelings as
coming from, what they see as the cause of them.  Most
people have an external locus of control.  They wrongly
believe that what others say and do, and what happens,
makes them feel the way they do.  This makes how they
feel depend on events and people they can't control.  It
makes feeling better dependent on those events and
Locus of Control Defined
The formula for feelings
The ABC Theory of Emotions
The Cognitive Choices we all have
Your last freedom is your Attitude
Power and Control
Promises revisited
What we control, what we don't
Don't take unnecessary responsibility
It's our choice how we want to feel
However, it's our thoughts about what happens that really
causes how we feel.  The formula for feelings is:


One way to summarize this relationship is "Thoughts
cause feelings, not events".  Sometimes there are
imagined events that follow from a real event.  But it what
Dr. Ellis created the ABC Theory of Emotions, where A
stood for an Activating Event (or Adversity), B stood for
the automatic and irrational Beliefs someone has about
We all have a host of COGNITIVE CHOICES we make
all the time, usually without realizing it, that determine
how we feel.  Our choices include:

How we LOOK AT things
MEANING we attach to what happens
What we
What we
COMPARE things to
What we
REMEMBER about the past
What we
IMAGINE will happen
What we
EXPECT in the first place
How much
IMPORTANCE we attach to things

We have a choice because there is always more than
one way to look at anything, more than one thing that
Logically, if how we think or look at things really
determines how we feel, and we have a choice as to
how we look at things, then it's also true that

It's our choice how we want to FEEL

Sometimes people will take this the wrong way when
they first hear it, especially if they are in the middle of
making themselves more upset than necessary or
helpful.  However, it simply means that:  

1)  There is always more than one way to look at
     anything (that's a fact of life)
2)  Whatever way we pick will be understandable
     given our unique life experiences
3)  But some will make us feel better, others will
     make us feel worse
Dr. Victor Frankl survived the Nazi death camps of the
Holocaust.  When asked how he did, he famously said,

  "Everything can be taken from us but the last of
   human freedoms.  To choose one's attitude in
   any given set of circumstances.  To choose
   one's own way"

What Dr. Frankl taught us is that people can't get inside
our heads unless we let them.  We all have people living
inside our heads.  It can be a good or bad thing.  
However, many of us have people who have been living
in our heads who haven't been good tenants, and we've
allowed them to live there rent free for much too long.  
Technically, we can't evict them but we can become a
much better landlord over them.  We can neutralize their
voices.  It's takes practice, but it's doable.

When I was young, many children used strategies like "I
know you are, but what am I?" or "I'm rubber, you're
glue, what you say bounces off me, and sticks to you".
When I work with students who are already being
bullied, I typically start by asking them some simple

  "People always do things because they get
   something out of it.  If they didn't they either
   would never have started, or would stop. What
   do you think they get out of doing this to you?  
   What does it allow them to think they have
   over you if they think they can hurt your feelings,
   make you feel bad, or get a rise out of you when
   ever they want to?"
On the home page, I noted that there are a number of things I promise to teach students when I speak:

1)  To have REAL power and control in their lives
                                             a)  To be able to feel the way they'd like to feel about themselves
                                             b)  To keep people out of their heads
                                             c)  To defend themselves against people who are already there
                                             d)  To have the kind of life they'd really like to have
                                     2)  To be
SMARTER than most other people in important ways

Teaching young people to have an internal locus of control is the main way to do so.
Developing an Internal Locus of Control also means:

  1)  Recognize what we do or don't have control
       over in life
  2)  Focusing on and working with what we have  
       control over

We can't and don't control what others think, feel, say or
do.  When we try, they simply become more motivated to
Too often, those being bullied blame themselves for
what's happening to them, as if somehow they brought it
on themselves.  Developing an Internal Locus of Control
also means
learning to not take unnecessary
responsibility for how others make themselves feel, let
alone what they do because of the way they think or
.  The way they think and feel will be
understandable given their life experiences.  However,
like us, they have a host of cognitive choices to make,
that they alone can make, that determine how they end
up feeling, and what they end up doing.  We can't
people changing for the better, and they may not. This
causes them to feel worse than necessary, for longer than
they need to.  It can also cause them to feel like a victim,
like they are at the mercy of events and other people, with
no apparent way to feel better, and with no hope doing so.  
That's never a good place to be.  Most importantly, it can
cause them to miss many opportunities to feel better.
we think about the real or imagined event that really
determines how we feel.Remember one of the first
algebraic formulas you were taught?  
 a  +  b  =  c   Where
a is a constant, and b is a variable.  If a stays the same
and you change
b, c changes too.  Likewise, If an event
stays the same, and you change your thoughts about it,
your feelings change, for the better or worse, depending on
what your new thoughts are.
Activating Event  +  Beliefs  =  Consequences (feel, do)
the event, and C stands for what someone feels and does
as a Consequence of their Beliefs about the Activating
something could mean, more than one thing to focus on or
compare things to, more than one thing we could expect or
imagine ahead of time, and varying degrees of importance
we could attach to what happens.  When we pick one of
those many ways to the exclusion of others, we've
technically made a choice.  The way we choose often
tends to be automatic and the choice we make is one
we've made the same way many times before.  That's why
we tend to be relatively unaware that we've made a
choice.  However, the way we make these choices is not
"cast in stone".  We can learn to make them differently, and
with practice and rehearsal, making them in different ways
can become as automatic as the old ways were

"Life is MIND made"  Dr. Chris Eisenbarth
4)  Some will make it easier to deal with things, others
     will make it harder
5)  But we always have a choice as to how we want to
     look at thing

These choices give us power and control over our
emotional destiny.  The reason is that no one else can
make them for us, unless we let them.  When you're young,
it's easy to let that happen.  However, like anything else,
with practice, young people can learn to keep control over
these choices for themselves.

Eleanor Roosevelt summed this up well when she
famously said:

       "No one can make you feel bad about yourself
        without your permission"
And they worked.  At least as long as they kept repeating
such things out loud.  However, if for even a moment they
started to think "How dare you call me that?" or "You can't
call me that!", their suit of armor evaporated.  The adult
version of these strategies would be something like the

  "You can think or say whatever you want about
   me.  That's YOUR choice.  But it's MY choice
   how I look at myself, and how I feel about myself,
   and you don't get to make those choices for me,
   unless I let you.  And I choose NOT to."

This is where I believe we should strive to help young
people get, and where I strive to help them get to when I
speak or run workshops.  However, like everything else, it's
a choice they alone can make, and it will take practice and
rehearsal for this new way of looking at things to be able to
compete with their old ways of looking at things that puts
them at the mercy of other students and people in their
It never takes long for them to answer POWER and/or
CONTROL.  So my next questions are always:

 "How would you like me to teach you how to take
  that away from them?  How would you like me to
  teach you how to keep that power and control for

That typically gets a smile, sometimes for the first time in a
long time.
prove to us that we don't.  Too many people spend too
much time trying to control things they can't, like what
others think, feel, say and do.  The more they do that, the
more out of control their life starts to feel.  To have more
control over our lives, we need to focus on and work with
what we DO control - what we think, feel, say and do.
Home page                                                                                Recognize irrational thinking
control how they make those choices any more than they
can control how we do.  They could disturb themselves a
great deal over what most people would consider
nothing, or they could choose to look at things in a way
that causes them to not get upset about something most
others would.  And there's always a multitude of things
they could say or do.  We're responsible for what we say
and do, but not how they choose to look at it, what they
choose to think it means, what they choose to focus on or
compare things to, and so on, and not for how they end
of feeling, and definitely not what they choose to do.