Some people think God will take away their problems without any effort on their part. I think that is a passive way to view life and lends itself to lethargy. In psychology, we call it an “external locus of control,” which refers to the belief that the control over one’s life is outside of oneself.
The flip side is called an “internal locus of control”—the belief that one’s destiny is in one’s own hands. In counseling, we encourage people to have a greater internal locus of control, because it fosters independence and autonomy. Generally, people are happier when they feel they have more control over their own lives. (It is important to note that the opposite occurs when people try to control someone else’s life. That leads to stress.)
So, how might you picture life if you embraced a belief that external factors control your life, including your thoughts and feelings? Let’s say you are having a bad day and choose to believe that things just happen to you. You refuse to see that you have an active role. Instead, you think of yourself as a victim, passive and powerless. Not a very happy way to live, is it?
Now, let’s say you have more of an internal sense of control over your life. Difficulties are not bad, but are challenges to be met. You understand your limits and, when you need help, you are not afraid to ask for it. You take the bull by the horns and are assertive without being aggressive. You have the wisdom not to force things. You simply wait for opportunities to arise naturally and you see everything as an opportunity. Life is good.
The victim mentality is prevalent in our society. People with this mindset feel they have been victimized by circumstances and think life owes them a living. Their attitude is that if they are passive, they are safe from personal responsibility. If they don’t take any responsibility, then they cannot be blamed for anything. They gripe that someone else made the decision, rules, laws, elected that politician, or otherwise did something to them. Their defense is, “I didn’t do anything.”
I worked with a client years ago who demonstrated passivity to the extreme. She saw everything in her life as out of her control, so she did nothing. She had no job. She had no ambition or interests. She basically stayed in her apartment alone, watching TV all day.
She received a check from the government for mental disability, but she would not even make the effort to cash it. Her bills piled up and required intervention by a county social worker. As she relayed her story to me during a counseling session, she kept saying, “God will provide. The Bible says, ‘This, too, shall pass.’ I offer up all my problems to God.”
On the brighter side, let me share with you the case of a man who came to see me because of his alcoholism. He decided he had enough and sought treatment. He took an active role in his sobriety. His philosophy was that God helps those who help themselves, and he put an enormous amount of effort into his recovery.
If he had done nothing except wait for God to take away his desire for alcohol, he would probably still be sitting at home on his bony butt. There he would have remained, passive on his couch, trying to find God in the TV. I think it’s safe to say that God doesn’t live in the TV. (If you’ve found God living in your TV, please write me. I would like to hear about it.)
Today’s Loving Suggestion: When you find yourself complaining about something, realize you are resisting what actually is. You are not facing the reality of the situation. When you are unhappy with your life circumstances, you have three choices:
1) Be passive and surrender to your unpleasant situation. (Not recommended.);
2) Do something positive to improve the situation; or
3) If the state of affairs is dangerous or more than you can take, make a fast exit out of the situation.
Look at the three choices above and pick one. Make a decision and take charge of your own life.
If you have followed any of the suggestions in the Sir Rennity feature, I would love to hear your stories. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will keep your letters private unless you request that they be published.
The Sir Rennity feature is intended to provide gentle guidance for your life. These articles hold no intrinsic meaning. You give meaning to them based on the value you place on them, so the words here are meaningless unless you put them into practice.