Is your life under your control or that of other people?

Is your life under your control or that of other people?

Believing that you have no control over your life can be a major source of stress and unhappiness. It’s difficult to see how to proceed when everyone else appears to be forcing the pace and pushing you along.

This may not be what really happens, although you may feel as though it does. It all depends on where you think the power of control lies. Some of you will feel that it always comes from the outside — from external forces and other people.

For you, your life is only rarely subject to your control. Most of what happens relies on external events, other people, luck or fate.

For others, control is mainly an internal affair, driven by choice and personal beliefs. For you, there is a much greater chance to take things in the direction you want them to go.

Belief in external control

If you believe all control is in someone else’s hands — or in the hands of fate — you will likely feel that you have very little power over your own life. You have to submit to fate — wait and see what happens. “They” — whoever “they” are — are in charge. Nothing you do will influence what happens.

The result of this is a feeling of fatalism. Your goals will tend to be short-term. You look for quick results, look to others for guidance and leave the rest to a god or some higher being to sort your life out for you.

Belief in internal control

If your view is that your own efforts and choices affect what happens to you, then you will be concerned to make as much of your life as you can. Having this viewpoint will encourage you to look at whatever happens, even a setback, as a problem to be solved. You will likely want to use it as an opportunity to explore and see what you can make of it.

You won’t want to wait for the world — or fate — to bring you opportunities, or success. You prefer to go out and look for them. Believing in yourself and using your own abilities to improve your life means that you are able to achieve more. You are not so easily put off by setbacks and will practice again and again to make your life better and get what you want.

Choosing your viewpoint

No one is born with a view of where control lies. As infants, we are all equally helpless and dependent on other people. Sometime in our lives, we seem to pick up one of these two basic attitudes. Perhaps it comes from parents, perhaps our community or society. In any case, we choose to follow it and make it our own; it becomes so normal to us, we cannot see any other possibility.

Belief that you are totally reliant on others, the hands of fate, powerful forces, gods, big business, or whatever, may be extremely common, but it’s not at all useful. It leads to passivity, frustration, alienation, and feelings of hopelessness.

The endless whirl of change and short-term efforts provides continual distraction, while leaving you powerless to effect where it’s taking you. Only by choosing to view your world as at least able to be influenced by what you do can you make the effort to try to improve your life.

It appears as a harsh choice, but life is a challenge and challenge can be invigorating. So — you need to make up your mind. You can give up control of your life to external factors and other people, taking no responsibility for errors and blaming others when things go wrong. Or you can claim your own power of choosing and do whatever possible to send your life where you want it to go.