Categories: Gettin The Mind Right

Locus of Control

Happy Monday!

After Bikram yoga one day this past week, I took a dip in the ocean. I got out and within seconds I found myself frantically itching. It was awful and the most uncomfortable I’ve felt since I can remember.


I tried the beach shower…no difference.


I took a regular shower…still itching.


Then I drove to CVS to speak to the pharmacist. Unfortunately he was on break so I sat waiting, miserably itching all over. Finally the pharmacist came out, I told him what happened and he said it was likely sea lice.


It turns out sea lice are very common in Florida. Sea lice are not like head lice—so stop scratching your head, LOL! They are actually tiny jellyfish larvae that get trapped in your hair or between your bathing suit and your skin. When you get out of the ocean, the water drains off you, but the larvae stay behind and sting you with a highly irritating toxin.


The itching can be relieved with over the counter treatment.The pharmacist suggested applying hydrocortisone cream, but to first wipe down with plain vinegar. Fortunately, after I applied the vinegar I felt much better and the itching subsided.


Important Note: If you encounter sea lice and get stung, the WORST thing you can do is what I did and take a shower! Fresh water makes the sea lice sting again! Instead, take off your bathing suit as soon as you can and rinse your entire body with white vinegar. It is sold by the gallon and is a cheap addition to your emergency medical kit if you frequently swim in the Atlantic.


So this sea lice “incident” really got me thinking:


I was having a typically good day–nothing out of the ordinary then all of a sudden that “little” situation happened unexpectedly. But as bad as it was in the moment (and it was miserable!), it was just temporary good ole sea lice; not permanent, no scars!


I was walking our dog Buddha later that night and started to think about the people who were just going to work as normal or traveling as normal on 9/11; people who worked in the world Trade Centers or who were on one of the flights that were held hostage. None of them had any idea what was going to happen that day when they got up, nor did their families.


Everything was completely normal until it wasn’t. Without warning or doing anything wrong, their lives (and lives of their families) changed in seconds.


Then my thoughts went to all the random, unfortunate events that happen to good, unassuming people day to day across the world…


In Buddhism, there are four noble truths comprise the essence of Buddha’s teachings. One of those truths four is that Life is suffering. Throughout everyone’s lives, small and big events will happen—which seem unfair and even punitive—that are completely out of our control.


Your Locus of Control


In the psychology field, there’s something called “Locus of Control. It is how we decide, based on our personal belief system, what is within our control and what is not. Several factors can influence your locus of control, from childhood experiences to random life experiences & influences.


  • People with an external locus of control believe that their lives depend highly on fate, luck or destiny. They are the people who believe “Whatever’s meant to be, will be.”


  • People with internal locus of control believe they have complete control of their future. They take responsibility for all their successes and failures, from personal to financial to health.


Researchers have found that the maximum level of happiness is achieved when people have a balanced locus of control, called “bi-local expectancy,” It occurs when people understand they can control their efforts and take steps to improve their lives while also recognizing there are limits to that ability & control.


People who have bi-local expectancy are generally happier than people who have an internal locus of control. Those people spend too much time and energy trying to exert power and control over all events that touch them.


I’ve been studying successful people for almost two decades and have focused a lot on philosophy in recent years. And no matter the person or the school of thought there’s one commonality: for best results in anything you must only focus on what you can control and let go of that which you cannot.


This is something I battle with daily, especially as someone who is deeply rooted in an internal locus of control but is actively practicing bi-local expectancy.


While trying to change your outlook, you will inevitably stumble. You will find yourself upset about “first world” problems” and try to force outcomes. When you do slip up, forgive yourself; you are human. Mistakes are inevitable and it’s impossible to become perfect enough to avoid them. Instead, your goal is to quickly become aware of yourself in those moments, apply rational thought, and change your process.


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