When I was in school studying to become a therapist, we joked about the psychological phenomenon that Julian Rotter named “locus of control”. “What kind of locust do you have?” we teased each other, snickering. For brevity’s sake, let’s call people with an external locus of control ELs and people with an internal locus of control ILs.
Extreme ELs are acted upon by the outer world. They tend to blame other people for everything and scapegoat anyone handy. In order to maintain a sense of self worth, riding roughshod over others’ feelings is excusable in their thinking. Backhanded power and “poor me” passive aggressive tactics are common. ELs’ god is Fate and Fate can smile upon them or not. Lizzy breaks down on the side of the road and they kick tires. They blame running out of gas on high gasoline prices, spouses, children or the President. Evil lurks everywhere but inside. They are immune to mistakes. At worst, they are professional victims who wallow in fatalism, rarely ‘risin’ above their raisin’. Gifted with good luck, they become stars and megalomaniacs. Others are left behind in the detritus of their undertakings unless they develop a bit of IL.
Extreme ILs operate from the inside out. They hold themselves responsible for everything that happens to them (and often to others). “Self-made men”, they are the captains of their souls. They take things personally when it’s not about them. They self-examine to the nth degree. “What is the universe trying to teach me now?” they ask themselves in times of trouble or confusion. Know thyself is number eleven of the Ten Commandments. At worst they are pariahs in hair shirts, do-gooders or martyrs. Whey they succeed, they self-congratulate and take full credit. ILs’ god is Magical Thinking. They do good and expect God to reciprocate. Job was eventually rewarded, so IL’s expect God to come through in the end showering them with recompense for their suffering. Reflection and self-knowledge can result in better health and peace or becoming self-absorbed and hyper vigilant for “signs”. The steady drip of disappointment can corrode their bravado like hydrofluoric acid and result in depression unless counterbalanced by a bit of EL.
Rain falls on the just and the unjust. ELs and ILs explain rain variously and carry different colored umbrellas. So, what does one do given downpours that will not abate? Life lived in psychological and spiritual sync is about faith-based reality. Childlike faith holds that the universe is a friendly place (Jesus loves me). Adult reality guarantees that there will be plagues of locusts but also honey. Both.
CommentsPlease feel free to react to these essays and poems and offer suggestions, including potential topics. Thank You, Katie