Control – I Am TOO Handsome

I am too handsome.

That’s the only thing I can think of as to why my 11th grade study hall teacher thought it would be a good idea to never see my face again. It must have been too big of a distraction … COMPLETELY understandable, of course. I was also wildly misunderstood academically, so I needed to bulk up on credits to assure my timely departure from the hallowed halls of James Madison High School. To pad my GPA, I took a class called, Theater Production.

In the ceiling of the school auditorium was a catwalk. One of the responsibilities of Theater Production class was going up there to set the lights for whatever event might be taking place. The spotlights were my favorites. There was one at each end of the catwalk and they rotated on their bases so they could follow the action on stage. It was a thrill to cast that powerful beam of light down.

However the crock-pot-jumble of one’s life experiences stews together to form their perspective, the jumble is distilled into one of two orientations. The fancy-pants term for this is Locus of Control. Locus means point or location, so I am talking about where an individual decides control lives. If one imagines the powerful spotlight of control being cast down, does it fall on the individual or the world around them?

When an individual’s perspective projects the spotlight of control on themselves, they are the authors of their stories. Control for these people is internal.

If the spotlight of control illuminates the world around an individual, then control is external.

Many external control people are sure the world is out to get them. Sometimes it is. The more external a person puts their locus of control, the more likely they are to be in situations where control is external. I once listened to woman complain about how a particular judge was out to get her. She said that every time she had this judge, he was extra hard on her. To her way of thinking, the judge having it in for her is the problem, not her choice to neglect her children.

It is important to understand that locus of control is perception, not reality. For the woman I just mentioned, control became external because of consistent bad choices. She still had choice, however. She could chose to comply, keep her head down and move forward until control was hers again. I would challenge folks that can’t seem to get their shit together, to think about how against them, the world feels. If it is a significant amount, maybe it’s not the world, where the problem lies.

I like the idea of describing locus of control as a spotlight because it involves the idea that the focus can be changed. For those individuals constantly mired in problems with friends, family and outside systems, I would encourage a switch of the focus of control in their lives. Read Control Theory, by Glasser, call me, call another therapist. Get after it.

I love you, but if you and Tom Brady both fell out of the boat, you would have to swim for it.



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