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Secrets To Finding Personal Control Over Stress


Updated November 17, 2007

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How An Internal Locus Of Control Can Lead To Stress Relief
Secrets To Finding Personal Control Over Stress

Those who feel in control of their circumstances (internal locus of control) experience less stress. ©iStockPhoto.com

The term ‘locus of control’ refers to whether you feel your life is controlled by you or by forces outside yourself. Those with an internal locus of control feel that they have choice in their lives and control over their circumstances; conversely, those with an external locus of control feel more at the mercy of external events. As you may have guessed, those with a more internal locus of control tend to feel happier, more free, and less stress. They also enjoy better health (likely because they experience less of the damaging chronic stress that can come from feeling powerless), and are more satisfied with life in general. Perhaps not surprisingly, those with an external locus of control are more susceptible to depression as well as other health problems, and tend to keep themselves in situations where they will experience additional stress, feeling powerless to change their own circumstances, which just adds to their stress load. Your locus of control can be shaped by events in your childhood or adulthood (whether you were able to have a strong impact on your environment can lead to a sense of empowerment or of learned helplessness) and perpetuated by habitual thinking patterns. If you feel your locus of control could use a shift, these techniques can help.

Myers, David G., Ph.D. The Pursuit of Happiness. Avon Books, New York.

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