It’s so easy to blame others for our current state of affairs:
I don’t have time to work out because of work.
I don’t have time to eat healthy because I’m always on the go.
I am the way that I am because of ___________________.
And some of that is completely valid. And, honestly, I’ve been saying of these things myself lately. But I can only hold onto this mentality for so long. Instead, I’ve realized that I am responsible for a lot of the things I would rather blame on others. Even if they’re responsible for 90% of it, I can still own my 10%.
Last year, I stumbled upon a podcast that taught me a new phrase and gave me a new perspective on how I blamed others.
Do you ever have phrases or concepts that run through your head over and over and over again? These are the things that become like a broken record that won’t stop playing. Recently, I listened to the Building a Storybrand podcast during which Donald Miller interviewed Charles Duhigg, best-selling author of The Power of Habit and Smarter, Faster, Better. During the interview, they discussed a concept that immediately grabbed my attention: locus of control. And, since I listened to that podcast, I’ve had opportunities to talk about it at every turn.
“Locus of control” refers to the degree to which we believe we are in control of our lives. When we have an internal locus of control, we believe that we can make decisions and can take control of what we’re doing. If we have an external locus of control, we believe we are powerless and influenced by external forces for our decisions.
I was able to apply this concept on Sunday on my way to church. I was running late and I said to myself, This is why I never go to later services! I always run late when I do! I began blaming everything else for my lateness: how far away the church is, the fact that I had to go to the second service instead of first, the traffic all around me—I wasn’t taking responsibility.
I caught myself in the midst of my complaining and changed my thought pattern: I am late because I didn’t keep track of the time, I watched a show on Netflix instead of getting up when I should have, I checked my email while eating breakfast instead of focusing on eating.
What I find so powerful about our locus of control is that it reinforces something a very wise person once said to me: I am only responsible for me.
This idea, while obvious, can be life-changing! I can only control me and I’m only responsible for controlling me. I don’t have to try and control others because I can’t. And, even in the face of external forces and bad decisions around me, I can still control my reactions. I can still choose to love in the face of hate, worship in the midst of crazy circumstances, radiate peace in utter chaos, and be joyful no matter what.
The great thing is that we are only responsible for us and no more because God is control of it all. I don’t have to make myself responsible for everyone else’s actions and I don’t have to be a victim: I can occupy my God-given space in the world and take responsibility for what’s been entrusted to me. I’m still figuring this out, but I’m choosing to embrace the freedom that comes with it!
Have you ever heard of the locus of control?
Do you struggle with your desire for control?
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