Want to be more resilient?
This concept is the key to greater resilience
Why should I care about resilience anyway?
You can spot a resilient person by their ability to recover from setbacks and challenges more easily.
Whether it’s a difficult working relationship, an unreasonable client, a project that’s falling apart, an economic crisis or a global pandemic, we encounter situations every day that require our ability to navigate through a challenge and recover. Ideally, we’ll learn something from it too.
The fact that we’ll encounter challenging situations is inevitable.
The most important question is: how will you deal with them?
Your ability to bounce back effectively has a huge impact on a range of emotional and mental health issues such as stress, anxiety, imposter syndrome and low confidence. It will also determine whether you’ll finally leave the job you hate or apply for that ambitious promotion you’re longing for.
The distinction I’m about to describe is something I’ve adopted as my own personal philosophy. There’s no way I could have left my legal career and started my own business without it.
Introducing…The locus of control
The locus of control is a model that describes the distinction between people who have an internal locus of control (ILOC) or an external locus of control (ELOC):
- ILOC people believe that their failures and success are a result of their actions and mindset. They believe that they are in control of their own destiny and take responsibility for how their life unfolds.
- ELOC people believe that their failures and successes are due to the hand of fate, luck or other people. These people can find themselves trapped or stuck while they wait for a white horse to rescue them. They’re more likely to feel disempowered as the winds of life and circumstance blow them around.
This model works on a continuum and it’s natural to move between ELOC and ILOC depending on the context and your resourcefulness in a given moment.
When you’re living from ILOC, you are in a place of empowerment. Yes, unexpected, challenging events still occur and those events may well be things you cannot control or influence. But with ILOC, you’re going to spend less time and energy getting sucked into the drama and upset of the difficulty.
Instead you more quickly turn your attention to the question of “what can I do about this?”
This question frees you up to take action, which in turn increases confidences and lowers anxiety as you become an active participant in what comes next. Most of us long to feel more in control of our lives and with ILOC, we can gain the sense of satisfaction that comes from taking charge.
“What can I do about this?” also allows for reaching out to other people for help. ILOC can also mean recognising the power of community and realising that we are stronger together.
What if there’s nothing you can do?
Then there’s nothing you can do. It’s time to surrender.
An ILOC perspective recognises that you are better off preserving your energy and attention on the things you CAN control or influence. Accepting this concept is one of the most powerful acts of self-care you can do, particularly if you suffer with stress and anxiety.
I remember grasping onto the notion of ILOC during the Covid pandemic in 2020. It ended up being my lifeline. I couldn’t stop the pandemic, lockdown, the actions, thoughts or emotions of anyone else. All I could do was cultivate the thoughts, behaviours, beliefs and habits that were going to keep me calm, grounded and hopeful. By doing so I was able to be a stronger leader for my family then I otherwise would have been during a deeply challenging time of isolation and fear.
The downsides of ILOC?
Research shows that living from ILOC brings us so many benefits including:
- Being a stronger leader.
- Improved mental health.
- Having a greater sense of autonomy and empowerment.
- Feeling more in control of your feelings, behaviour, and life’s direction.
All of these benefits are going to have a huge impact on your overall resilience.
Yet you’ll often witness people who are very reluctant to live from ILOC. Why?
Because it requires more from you. When you take responsibility for your failures and successes, you run the risk of fully owning mistakes. In case you didn’t know, humans really, really hate being wrong and making mistakes. Even though you may know rationally that mistakes are where we learn the most, we are usually desperate to avoid confronting our shortcomings and limitations.
I’ve also seen the principle of ILOC being used in a toxic way, particularly in the coaching industry. For example:
- Using ILOC as a way of justifying overwork and perfectionism (“it’s all on me so I need to kill myself trying”).
- Denial of very real oppressive or discriminatory systems or beliefs that negatively impact on people’s ability to take charge of their own lives (“you’re just using racism as an excuse for not being promoted”).
- An excuse to fuel their own ego, make everything about ‘them’ and de-value community and collaboration (“look at me, I’m 100% self-made”).
Living from ILOC should never be used as a tool to beat yourself or judge yourself with. If you’re having a mental health crisis, living through trauma, suffering financial hardship or your parents were strongly ELOC it’s going to take more effort and practice to cultivate ILOC (this isn’t an exhaustive list). Strengthening ILOC is going to be a life-long process for many of us. I firmly believe an important part of that process is responding to ourselves kindly when we sometimes can’t find the strength to do so.
Strengthen ILOC to walk your unique path
When it’s used as a tool for your empowerment, I believe living from ILOC is the key to resilience, emotional well-being, and career success. Just watch this video from the actor Sir Michael Caine if you don’t believe me.
One of the most powerful ways you can strengthen your internal locus of control is through therapy and coaching. With these incredible tools you can:
- Heal the trauma and emotional blocks that are holding you back.
- Gain clarity on what you can and cannot control.
- Cultivate the habits that will support your success most powerfully.
- Strengthen your relationship with yourself and your belief that you can create a life that truly inspires you, even when navigating setbacks or challenges.
Want to find out how? Book in for my free 45 minute Clarity and Confidence call and I’ll help you get clear what you want and how you can get there.
February 14th, 2023