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What Is Locus Of Control?

Do you believe that you have the ability to change your life and your circumstances?

Do you think that whatever comes up, you can rely on your resources to cope, figure things out and make it through?

Do you believe that you are responsible for your own success in life?

Or do you feel a victim to fate, luck , people in authority or the world around you?

Do you think that your success is mostly dependant upon things beyond your control?

Locus of control describes the extent to which we feel able to control and shape our circumstances and future. Locus of control effectively describes a spectrum and at one end of this spectrum sits people with a strong internal locus of control and at the other end of the spectrum sits those with a strong external locus of control. We will all sit somewhere along this spectrum and where we sit may shift and move throughout our lives.

Those with a very strong internal locus of control:

- Will often believe that they are responsible for their success in life.

- Will often be highly motivated because they believe that they have the power to change their lives and circumstances.

- Will often believe that they are able to plan for their future and make choices to control outcomes.

Whilst having this internal locus of control is often be a good thing (those with this internal locus of control are much more likely to set goals and achieve them and feel far more resourceful), it can be difficult for those with a strong internal locus of control to come to terms with things that are truly beyond their control e.g. accidents or unpredictable actions of others. They may feel the need to try and control, fix or change circumstances which they can't (or even turn to coping mechanisms such as controlling their food intake as they can't control other factors in their life).

Those with a very strong external locus of control may:

- Often believe that they are helpless and have little control over their life, circumstances or future.

- Think that factors such as fate, luck or the actions of those in authority are responsible for things that happen to them in their life.

- Find it hard to stay motivated as they don't feel responsible for outcomes in their life or give up when things don't go their way.

Of course, the reality is that in life there are many things that are within our control and sphere of influence and feeling empowered and able to change our lives can be a very helpful trait. However, having too strong an internal locus control which makes it difficult to accept the many things in life that are truly beyond our control can be unhelpful too. Some of us may have more of an external locus of control in some areas of our life (e.g. relationships or friendships) but then more of an internal locus of control in others (e.g. in our professional life).

When it comes to our relationship with food, locus of control is a very interesting topic. Those with a strong internal locus of control may find it much easier to bring about changes to their eating habits and feel empowered and able to do so. However, this strong belief that we can shape and control future outcomes can make it tough to deal with things beyond their control (where they may turn to controlling things such as food intake instead to cope). Those with a strong external locus of control on the other hand, may find it very difficult to change their diet and lifestyle, attributing their food choices to factors such as their genetic make-up, luck, those around them or those in a position of authority (all of which can of course influence our food choices, though those with an external locus of control may think that these factors have more sway than their own ability to make a change in their lives). Why we may have ended up with a certain type of locus of control depends upon a range of factors including how we were brought up, what we have experienced through our lives and our personality type. Our locus of control can also shift throughout our life too as we have new experiences or as we go through processes such as therapy or coaching. Often shifting your locus of control to one which is more internal, allows your to nurture that self-belief and feel empowered to change your circumstances and your life.

If you would like some help to feel more able to change your relationship with food and to nurture a helpful self-belief that allows you to build a healthy relationship with food, reach out to us at to book in a free consultation.

“When you get stronger everything in the world gets easier. Change yourself and you've changed everything.” ― Hunter Post


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