The Goddess Weighs In

Living Large and Healthy

A Matter of Perception

on July 8, 2012

There are two general types of people in the world. Those people who perceive everything in the world as someone else’s responsibility are said to have an External Locus of Control meaning that the person feels that they have no effect on the world or its happenings.  These people tend to believe in fate or that life is somehow predetermined and that no matter how much they may want change if it is not “in the stars” then it isn’t going to happen.  There are times when I am jealous of people who think this way because if you have no control then nothing is truly your fault and you can just go with the flow.  Certainly this is an oversimplification since not having control over your life could create anxiety I would expect, but I’m sure there are times it’s kind of nice to say “not my problem” and wait for fate to take a hand.

Someone with an Internal Locus of Control feels that their actions do affect change and these people tend to be more effective in the world.  They don’t sit and wait for the outcome, rather they attempt to change it, hopefully for the better. In the weight loss battle I suspect that those of us who are “changemakers” will be more successful.  If we blame our parents or junk food distributors or bad genes then we can stew and bitch and moan and say that life isn’t fair and never really, truly take responsibility for our health.  However if we make the connection between our actions and our health and work to make better choices and exercise more then we will hopefully see results. It’s also not always an either or situation, we may affect change in our personal lives or at work, but feel hopeless about our weight issues at times.  I am guilty of this myself as I wish my doctors had thought to check me for sleeping issues 15 years and 100 pounds ago, but I also recognize that I never mentioned my severe snoring to my doctors and I was reluctant to go for a sleep test even when it was pretty clear I had an issue.

So, we need to take responsibility for our actions and we need to affect change. . .but there is one caveat.  If we perceive that everything and everyone is our responsibility then we are so busy looking out for everyone else that we don’t look after ourselves and frankly we do not have the power to affect everyone else and their choices.  While I become irritated with people who don’t take responsibility or don’t jump in and help when they see someone in need, I also have to admit that sometimes someone has to make a stand and look after themselves or they will become overburdened and burned out.  For me this is a big issue.  I have held jobs where I was run off my feet and couldn’t get everything done during normal work hours. I put in hours of unpaid overtime, but felt that I was somehow lacking, that it was my fault that I couldn’t keep  up with the demands of the job.  Then I would find something new and change positions and in a matter of weeks the person who took my old job was demanding additional hours and assistance because there was no way one person could do it.  Drowning in this way could reflect an overactive sense of responsibility or it could reflect a lack of self worth where we interpret not getting things done as our fault and not the fault of an impossible task.

– the Goddess


One response to “A Matter of Perception

  1. I agree that people have to take responsibility for their own actions, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t also try to affect larger changes, such as getting rid of vending machines in schools or uncovering the role that genes play in weight and health or whatever. Believing that there are societal or genetic factors to weight (or poverty or illiteracy or whatever issue) does not necessarily mean that you think people get a free pass to do what they want.

    I also hear you on the whole “man, why isn’t that person doing x, y, and z? when I am doing that and a,b, and c?” and then realizing (usually too late!) that, yeah, I am doing them but I am driving myself into the ground doing it and no one else expects it of me or cares if I do it, so why not take it easy?

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