With my understanding of locus of control, I better realize the depth of the problems I faced last year. I strongly lean towards an internal locus of control. The pro of this is that I can be very driven in going after a goal I’m interested in and I take responsibility for my actions readily. The problem is I also tend to “inflict” responsibility on myself for others’ actions/responses (internalize negative responses).
I also have a bit of a fear of conflict, possibly related to this same issue. Things got really challenging last year because I found myself in a situation where I had lost control, and the only way I could get it back was via confrontation. I was afraid of conflict, because a probable negative response would have become internalized as a comment on myself…and so I choose to abstain, which only made the whole situation worse. I then started approaching the external locus of control, which in the extreme can lead to depression from feeling helpless.
It is no wonder I had such a hard time. This is why I have to face more situations in which there will be a negative response. I need to balance out my drive on being responsible for my actions against not taking responsibility for things out of my control. This will help me with facing conflict, and not beating myself up if things go wrong (and yet somehow still be able to learn what I can better from those interactions).
Being human is tough.
So I finished the game Celeste today. Well, not counting the free dlc anyway. It was a beautiful experience and one I’ll write about in more detail later. The main point the game makes is that anxiety and/or depression (insecurity) is an important aspect of yourself that is there for a good reason and shouldn’t be ignored just because it might be getting in the way of the thing you want (or the event you fear coming to pass).
In the game, due to the special properties of the mountain the protagonist is trying to climb, that insecurity gets a body and can communicate the way people do.
Real anxiety can’t talk to you. It has trouble understanding what you are doing. It lives in that primal part of the brain that considers your survival the first priority. Since it can’t talk, it uses your emotion to communicate it senses danger. That emotion translates to physical responses in your body. It varies from person to person just how that manifests.
In my case, one of those responses is feeling my body start to become cold. I remember talking about that before in an emotional intelligence class…
I got cut off while I was working on this post. Part of that whole trying to be social despite my anxiety…and somehow trying to find a way to work with it.
So in addition to that cold sensation, I have started to understand the tension I feel building up in my muscles. Like a coil getting ready to be unleashed. It gets bad when I’m in group situations with a bunch of people I don’t know. I understand better where it comes from. I was picked on and exiled from groups as a kid often. That stuff was traumatizing. That “part of me” is just trying to protect me. It is not an unfounded fear either. People in groups tend to be dicks. I mean just look at the political environment. Tribal political for the lose.
Somehow I need to figure out how to be ok with that anxiety. Maybe I just need to continue to build my self-effiacy in those social scenarios. I need to believe I can survive those situations, and even benefit from them. Small bits of exposure may be the best way. It’ll be slow going, and there will be some bad moments. But I can do this.