INTEGRATION: LOCUS OF CONTROL
Let’s talk about Integration.
No one bothers to explain this one outside relationships. I see many who are fond of focusing on attachment as the cause of their troubles, and there is some truth to ideas such as codependence and fusion.
In fact, codependence is quite normal.
Couples who have been together a long time finish each other’s sentences, and when together their heart rates and blood pressure synchronize. They also report being happier and tend to live longer.
In the strictest terms, fusion refers to a baby who, having been grown and connected to its mother by womb and umbilical cord, arrives not knowing that she or he is, in fact a separate being until the second half of the first year of life.
Still, children experience families physically.
A child will attune to caregiver nervous system activation for survival.
This same mechanism broadly later gives you the capacity for empathy, compassion, and the mirror neurons that allows you to sense what others might be feeling or thinking by watching them carefully.
Clearly, remaining monogamous to mother is not good for men. The boy must leave the mother to become a man.
Furthermore, moms are supposed to be more anxious than dads. It’s an adaptation that helps her keep you alive. Kind of important.
Dad is there to counter this necessary negative emotion with leadership and reassurance. If dad is absent, or checked out, or too busy, mom’s influence will prevail.
Until a man confronts and transcends his early life influences to emerge as a separate entity capable of standing fully on his own, he will, in many ways, remain set back emotionally.
He will tend towards failing to control his own destiny.
I believe locus of control is essential to personal integration.
Locus of control speaks to where you place responsibility for what happens to you in life.
Is life happening to you or for you?
Is everything up to fate or luck?
Or do you create much of your own?
My own locus of control shifted considerably when I was in college studying behavioural sciences.
Growing up I had four sisters and four brothers, smack in the middle a family of eleven. But there was significant violence and passive aggressiveness and not enough love to go around.
God bless them all.
I felt powerless to do anything about the daily injustices prevalent in our household. In fact, the violence and pressure left my nervous system in the “fight” mode of freeze, fight, flight for many years… well after the old man tossed me out of the house at age fifteen.
He said there was room for only one rooster under a roof and since it was his house, I had to go. The rooster is now my totem animal.
I’m not proud of it but out on my own I fell in with a tough crowd of older drug dealers and assorted miscreants.
I spent almost two decades as a gangster thug during which, at one time or another, I was shot, stabbed, run over, hit with baseball bats.
I did time for shooting people and various other crimes against society.
I was an emotionally unregulated and disintegrated mess.
Something had to give.
Only now I had a wife and son to look after.
I got off the dope and the streets and took drug rehab… and then talked my way into college without even having a high school education.
Later, I graduated “with honours,” first in class, winning the Academic Council Award each academic year in the process.
In my first semester of studies, instead of the usual “Gulag Archipelago” type stuff I read when I was a crook, I picked up “The Power of Positive Thinking” by Norman Vincent Peale.
That’s when my locus of control changed.
I was walking between classes and thinking about things, trying to match what I was learning and my experiences to form a coherent and functional “model of the world” when it struck me (like epiphanies do).
“Happiness is a decision,” I said out loud.
I was free of victimhood there and then. If you come to my house today and ask my children what is happiness, they will tell you it’s a decision
Thereafter, my locus of control became more internal than external.
I realized my fate was in my hands and whatever powerlessness I had grown up to accept was all in my head (and heart).
I could choose to live a different life.
So, I did, and here we are.
Most of my pals from those days are dead and gone, many of them tragically.
Also, one hundred and eighty thousand people died around the world yesterday.
Not me. Not you.
About ten years ago after watching a clip online with a man exhorting other men on a beach to either memorize Invictus or get in the water and carry one of their comrades, out of curiousity I looked the poem up.
I have recited it out loud every morning since.
I recommend taking in a little Invictus every morning, like a vitamin.
Where are you on the Locus of Control scale?
Go to this link and take the free assessment. It’s the same one I use with my clients. (you can also get a PDF for under ten bucks)
Follow the advice and begin to integrate your locus control to a more internal orientation… and watch your life change.
Stay tuned, as we’ll cover more facets of male integration.
Stay powerful, true and free…