Internal Locus of Control
by Brad Miller
Internal and external freedom is predicated on the fact that you have internalized the knowledge that you own yourself. Part of this realization that you own yourself is that you are also responsible for yourself. This is the key principle behind the concept of having an Internal Locus of Control. Your own desires, your own wants, your own needs, your own abilities, your own experiments of action, determine how you are going to live your life. By having an Internal Locus of Control you are throwing off the last of the mental shackles that can keep you from living a life of a free person. Your fate is in your hands.
The opposite of having an Internal Locus of Control is having an External Locus of Control. This is when others determine what you think, how you act, what your priorities are and what you have and experience in life. Part of having an External Locus of Control is giving up your inherent right of self-ownership and allowing others to make decisions for you. This can mean that you place your External Locus of Control within family members, the church, your peer group or the government. All of these choices create the shackles of helplessness that destroy internal and external freedom.
External Freedom only exists when Internal Freedom is realized. If you allow your mind to remain shackled by the will of others and you believe that your fate is in their hands or that external events determine the outcomes of your life then your will never be free. Don’t give people that power. Decide today that you and you alone determine your course in life. That you have control on how your life turns out. That you are the captain of your ship. You are the motive power as Ayn Rand was found of saying for your life. You have more of a capacity to create, to invent, to persuade, to communicate, to build and to love than you can imagine. You alone are best able to determine how your life should be spent and how to achieve what you desire.
Freedom can be a scary thing at first. I remember when I stopped believing in god. My first thought was what’s going to happen when I stop praying? Will horrible things start occurring? It didn’t. Life went on. In fact I was happier because I wasn’t waiting around for some invisible bearded man to find me “worthy” to grant my wishes. I was free to use my abilities to improve my life instead of waiting on an outside force to intervene. It also freed me from the guilt of “sinning” as well and the fear of hell. You don’t know how these concepts distort your thinking and how you interact with others and see the world until you throw off these mental shackles.
Along with religion I also through off the shackles of the belief that government was a force for good in the world. For me as my internal locus of control increased and became stronger I became more and more suspicious of all the authoritarian constructs. The concept of government is based upon the concept of Collectivism. Ayn Rand in her short essay “Textbook of Americanism” broke down the difference between “collectivism” and Individualism”.
The basic issue in the world today is between two principles: Individualism and Collectivism.
Individualism holds that man has inalienable rights which cannot be taken away from him by any other man, nor by any number, group or collective of other men. Therefore, each man exists by his own right and for his own sake, not for the sake of the group.
Collectivism holds that man has no rights; that his work, his body and his personality belong to the group; that the group can do with him as it pleases, in any manner it pleases, for the sake of whatever it decides to be its own welfare. Therefore, each man exists only by the permission of the group and for the sake of the group.
These two principles are the roots of two opposite social systems. The basic issue of the world today is between these two systems.
Not only are these two concepts at the roots of tow opposite social systems they are also key components of the two competing ways of thinking. Individualism is associated with having an Internal Locus of Control and Collectivisms demands that your will be subjugated by the government and thus is a key reason why most people today have an External Locus of Control. Their life choices are largely determined by others. They allow others to determine the direction and the limits of their life.
Religion and government are the two biggest reasons why most individuals have an external locus of control. If you want true Internal and External Freedom you have to avoid that. Only when you have an Internal Locus of Control can you being to be free. Having an internal locus of control encourages you to seek out solutions, to be kinder to others, to enlist your full mental machinery, to build your network, to increase your knowledge, and to grow as a human being. When we accept we are the captains of our ship and the masters of our fate then we pour all of our mental and physical energies into creating the life that we desire.
When we believe that our actions don’t have meaning and that our fate is determined by our environment, the majority, by those smarter than us, by our bosses, by the economy, by the next election, by an invisible bearded voyeuristic man, we are giving up our power and sinking into apathy, fear, and hopelessness. Having an Internal Locus of Control simply means you understand that you own yourself, you are capable of taking care of yourself and that you wouldn’t have it any other way.
Individualism and having an Internal Locus of Control doesn’t mean that you don’t cooperate with others to accomplish things that benefit all involved. It doesn’t mean that you use force to compel others to do what you say or that you are a loner who doesn’t need the help of anyone. Having an Internal Locus of Control doesn’t mean you live as a hermit or as a tyrant. The recognition that you own yourself also informs you that others own themselves as well. So the only self imposed shackles that you place upon yourself is to restrain the use of force for self-defense only. All actions that are peaceful are permissible in the achievement of your goals. If you deny the self-ownership and Internal Locus of Control of others than you deny it in yourself as well.
What do you believe? Do you want to be internally free? Do you want to have more external freedom? By having an External Locus of Control gives people excuses why their life isn’t what they want. They can sit around and complain to others like themselves about how everyone is against them and how the world is screwing them over. But they fail to realize they have given up the steering wheel of their life to others. The world is full of preachers, policeman, corporations, and politicians who profit greatly from telling people what to think and what to do. They benefit from stealing your money and your life. But in reality their not stealing because you are willingly giving your Locus of Control to them. Don’t let fear destroy your freedom. Don’t let fear keep you from trying to improve your life. Don’t let fear keep you stuck in a rut that makes you want to turn over your life outcome to someone else.
If you live in a country that is overrun with a dictatorship or massive government intervention in your life you have choices. Unfortunately the trend around the world is for government to take more property and more freedom from individuals no matter where you live. Most people think they have no choice or they applaud the take over of their lives by those in power. If you are reading this you are not one of those people but don’t fall into despair. Remember your life and your fate are in your hands. Visualize a better life. Take actions each day to improve your life. Don’t fall into the trap of complaining or arguing over surface issues. Dig deep to the root of the issues in your own life and the issues in society. I guarantee you they all boil down to the two competing concepts of Individualism vs. Collectivism and the difference between having an Internal Locus of Control vs. an External Locus of Control.
No matter what circumstances you have going on you can improve your life. You have the power to do this. When you confidently move in a direction opportunities open up. Be ready for them. If you are not feeling well or have health issues take a step today in improving that, if your finances are troubling you make a plan today to increase your income, if you are lonely begin a program of self improvement. It is our thoughts and our actions that determine our fate. Don’t give power to those who want to oppress you. Throw open the locked door in your mind where your Internal Locus of Control sits. Hit the start button and watch it come to life. Soon your whole being and existence will be filled with its power coursing through you like lightning. As your mind becomes more and more free, you’ll begin improving your life more and more and thus creating your own external freedom without waiting on others to provide it for you.
Freedom Begins in the Mind