As I’ve been confined to working from home, I’ve experienced a collision of two perspectives. While doing online professional development training in: suicide prevention, behavioral regulation, minimizing school violence, working with children with ADHD, etc. I’ve been reminded of the resilience found in an internal locus of control. Individuals who have an internal locus of control, tend to use their sense of power and agency to bounce back from and process adverse experiences better than those who believe they are subject to what the world dishes them.
Higher power will save you
At the same time, a family member has started going through the twelve steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. In the twelve steps, there is a request (requirement?) to offer up personal difficulties to a higher power. Individuals with addictions are supposed to admit themselves helpless to the powers of their vices and turn to something greater than themselves for recovery. This looks like appealing to an external locus of control to me. Someone who manages an addiction seems rather resilient to me too.
I will save me
Now as a more introverted person who dwells deeply in my internal world, I digest the internal locus of control perspective fairly easily. I like to believe I am in charge of my life. I lead. I make decisions and take action based on my own proclivities. It also makes sense to me that we are responsible for our own happiness, achievements, love life, etc.
I do not want to believe I am helpless. Period. I also have a hard time accepting others who play the helpless card.
Letting go is good
That said, I do see the value in giving up the reins occasionally. Striving to maintain control in all situations, exhausts us. Letting go and allowing things to unfold, is something I have to consciously remind myself to do. Often, I do not get to that level of consciousness. I simply keep pushing my way through knots that could loosen on their own if given time and space.
Knowing I can solve my problems, gives me a sense of peace and strength. Resilience, I guess. The more I know and work through, the stronger and more powerful I feel. There is definitely a solid streak of self-reliance in me. Sometimes that gets in the way of connecting with others., but often it makes me feel proud. I do not need outside help, kudos or attention from others to feel good.
We’re all dependent
But then, there is this “we are social animals” thing. Like it or not, we are often quite dependent on others. We have to be humble enough to ask for help. We all need help at some point.
A coaching client mentioned how a friend of hers often turned to her instagram account when she needed soothing. Posting a few pictures and getting positive responses boosted her mood. This is a small example of external locus of control. I understand that boost but it also seems precarious to me, relying on others attention to make me feel good. Ah!
Although, as I spearhead my life, I engage with the outside world. My goals, pleasures and work occur while mixing with the environment and others. No matter how independent and internally driven I am, I am still subject to outside forces.
Which is more resilient?
With regards to resilience, the key questions are, which force — internal or external — dominates and how well do we handle obstacles?
Do you have an internal or external locus of control? Which do you believe offers more resilience?