How do you know if you’re using your power well to manage your health? Let’s look at this scenario.

You know that person you have to deal with regularly who you find annoying or downright difficult to deal with? Wouldn’t it be great if they would stop? If only they would change, your life would be so much easier and you would be so much happier.

It’s common to wish for and want that. We all have that person in our life we wish would change. You may find yourself wishing a fair number of people and situations in your life would change. If you also hear yourself often saying in exasperation, ‘If only they would…’ and ‘I wish…’, then it’s time to have a rethink about things. Because there can be that cloud of stress always resting on your shoulders and over time that can be a tough and miserable place to be.

A person is sitting down looking miserable because there is a cloud of stress on their shoulders. People near him are saying, 'I want you to... You should... Why don't you... You really need to...' When we focus a lot on what other people think and want of us, that can mean our locus of control is external. Over the long term, this isn't good for us. It can mean you aren't using your power well to manage your health and wellness.

An external locus of control and the stress it generates – B Babcock 2015

Across my coaching, charity work and research, I have found that to be a common theme among people living with a challenging health issue. It’s understandable. When you are living with ongoing health issues that can take their toll physically and emotionally, it’s no wonder you get into that place and can feel stuck.

Shifting that cloud of stress off your shoulders is possible

So you feel more free and able in yourself and in your relationships with others. You have the power to do that and ‘power’ is the key word. It’s about your personal power, holding on to it and standing in it. This means you know what you need and want and take action to get that and make things happen for yourself.

Important Tangent – When I say ‘stand in your power’, I do not mean that you are in power over others, controlling them so you are ‘greater than’ and they are ‘less than’.

So I’m going to share a way of thinking to help you identify when you are standing in your personal power and when you aren’t. Knowing this will enable you to take action to change things when you need to, to take control. It will help you manage unhelpful stress which is important within the context of a challenging health issue. In my own experience and with clients, I found that stress can exacerbate symptoms.

Using your power well to manage your health means knowing where your ‘locus of control’ is

‘Locus of control’ refers to the extent to which a person believes the outcome of their own behaviour is due to their decisions, choices, abilities, actions, personal characteristics, etc. versus it being due to others’ actions, behaviours, thoughts, etc., fate, luck or chance (Rotter, 1966).

So locus of control can be internal or external and is about what you are doing with your personal power.

If your locus of control is internal, you make things happen. You are standing in your personal power.

If it’s external, things are happening to you, others have the control and determine how you feel or everything rests with fate, luck or chance. You are actually giving your personal power away to others.

To check out where you are at any given time, listen to the language you use because that is where it is often readily detectable. Here are some examples.

Listen to your language to know where your locus of control is - B Babcock 2015

Listen to your language to know where your locus of control is – B Babcock 2015

Here’s an example

Another example can be found in the blog post on vicious circles. Look at step 3 of the vicious circle example – I wish someone would tell me I can go home. That is an example of a locus of control being external, a person relying on others to tell them what they can and cannot do.

The external locus of control wasn’t helping this person to look after themselves. When they learned of it during coaching, they found it empowering because they realised what needed to change so they could feel better and that the power to change it rested within them.

What’s it like for you?

What gets in the way of you using your power well to manage your health? Do you sometimes give your power away to others? In what situations do you find yourself standing in your power and making things happen? Feel free to share your thoughts below by leaving a comment.

If you are living with a challenging health issue or are caring for someone who is, and would like support on any of the issues discussed here, have a look at how we can work together and get in touch for a free no obligation consultation.

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This is the third blog in a series which focuses on the subtle psychological processes involved in taking control of yourself, your health and wellness, and your life. You can read the previous two blogs on the illusion of control when it comes to our bodies and what to do when life starts feeling like a vicious circle

© Copyright Barbara Babcock 2015


Rotter, J. B. (1966). Generalized expectancies for internal versus external control of reinforcement. Psychological Monographs, 80 (Whole No. 609).

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