There are two types of people in this world: the one has life happening to them and the other has life happening through them. One is the object and the other the subject of events in their lives.
Victim or victor
Psychologists refer to the “locus of control”: the measure of power people believe they have over their own existence. Individuals with an external locus of control consider outside forces to determine their lives and they view themselves as mere victims of their circumstances. On the other hand, people with an internal locus of control believe they can influence situations and that they are (at least to an extent) in control of their lives.
This difference in outlook has a profound impact on our reactions to life. The former inevitably leads to powerless passivity, bitterness, blaming, neediness or irrational behaviours. The latter has an empowering effect, urging people to “man up”, stay positive, forgive and take responsibility for their lives.
Subsequently, these actions and reactions have a ripple effect on our situations and the people around us. Acting and reacting negatively will lead to more negativity whereas positivity begets positive outcomes. In other words, our assessment of the amount of power we possess over our own lives will determine our responses to life, which will in turn greatly impact actual events and our experiences thereof.
Can you detect this attitude-action-after-effect chain in your own life?
Live by choice, not chance
As we all know, a can-do attitude will still not protect us from hardship. In this life we will face challenges, unfairness and discomforts over which we truly do not have control. These could range from major trials (like chronic illness) to minor irritations (like someone spilling red wine over your blouse). However, even in these instances, you can still control your reactions.
Rarely a day will pass without at least some small frustrations popping up, which means that every day – if not every couple of minutes – we have to choose a response to a situation and face the repercussions of that choice for ourselves and others. In short: life is an endless series of opportunities to act either positively or negatively. And the product of our lives is the sum of those continual choices.
Life on the inside determines life on the outside
The first step in changing our predisposition from bitter bystander to calm and confident charge-taker is to face our own hearts. If we overcome the enemy within, the external enemies will not be able to shape our lives.
Therefore, we need to ask ourselves why we are inclined to react in a certain way, as one’s response pattern has a profound effect on one’s condition. Start by evaluating your conviction about your involvement in your own destiny: Do you believe yourself to be the martyr or the author of your circumstances?
What could be the roots of a possible “victim view”? Is it a low self-esteem? Frequent disappointments? Overwhelming stress? Lack of competence to deal with situations and people? Or maybe the belief that you “deserve” the best in life and therefore struggle to handle it if things do not go your way?
However, the specific reason behind such an attitude is not as important as the damaging outworking thereof and you will need to be deliberate in transforming your life from the inside out. Deal with hurts. Do what you need to develop self-competence and foster an internal locus of control. Practice positive responses. Learn to laugh. Forgive.
If you feel like you need some help in order to change your mindset and start taking charge of your life positively, life coaching may be an invaluable tool. Consider attending a workshop or booking individual coaching sessions to get that positive springboard we all need at some point in our lives!