Where is Your Locus of Control?

I have the bad habit of blaming the world for my mishaps and problems. It’s easy to fall into self-pity than take responsibility. Unfortunately, I’m not the only one who does this.

You’ve probably heard about the UCSB killer and his rampage, but his anger and thoughts aren’t unusual. From scanning his manifesto, he had bouts of inferiority, envy, jealousy, and low self-esteem. I’ve had these feelings before, and had similar thoughts of violence. I never acted on them because prison is not a viable option. Also, murder is something that would never leave my mind.

The theme that stuck out in his manifesto was his external locus of control. An external locus of control is the belief that the events in an individual’s life, whether good or bad, are caused by uncontrollable factors such as the environment, other people, or a higher power. In contrast, someone who has an internal locus of control is the belief that one’s events, whether good or bad, are caused by controllable factors such as one’s attitude, preparation, or effort.

work hard be nice

photo courtesy: from positivelypresent.typepad.com

Individuals who have an internal locus of control are able to take responsibility for their mistakes, are self-starters, and are able to deal with criticism.

It was difficult to develop an internal locus of control because I was used to getting what I wanted, and I liked being right. A few humbly events here and there forced me to understand that there will be always be someone better. It was a hard truth to swallow, but it made my personal and social life better.
Ala University Shooting

P Photo courtesy of http://media.nola.com/   

There are other stories where the perpetrator felt like the world owed them something. Do you remember the 2010 University of Alabama in Huntsville shooting? It was the case where Amy Bishop, a biology professor, shot six faculty members because she was denied tenure. Three professors died and three others lived.

I bring this story up because I’ve felt rage and violence over positions I was passed over. Similar to her, I thought if something bad happened to the person that received the position I wanted, then my life would be better. In hindsight, moping about the position I didn’t receive added unnecessary stress and depression to my life. I learned that I wanted the position for egotistical reasons, not because I liked it.

The UCSB shootings and 2010 University of Alabama-Huntsville shootings are horrific. It’s obvious these people had mental issues and no effective coping skills. The unfortunate part of these events is how did we let these people fall through the cracks? Granted, it’s hard to force adults to receive help or enter mental institutions, but what does this say about our society? Are we gun freaks? Do we stigmatize mental illness? Do we live in a society where things are given without being earned? Are we spoiling our kids? Do we pressure males to be ideals of masculinity? Do we overlook women violence?

There are many questions and so few answers.

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