Category Archives: Health Psychology

Softainability

From the blog @ http://www.transcendbodywork.com/Blog… A quick tip on the Body Economy of sustainable comfort + tribute to the person I feel most greatly influenced my awareness of economy of motion: Bruce Lee. Thanks Bruce for teaching to be water.

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The Connection Between Stress and Weight Gain

Beat Stress, Weigh Less

The Connection Between Stress and Weight Gain
— By Jennipher Walters, Certified Personal Trainer and Fitness Instructor

via http://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/wellness_articles.asp?id=1482

These days, it seems that everyone is stressed. We all have too much to do and too little time to do it. Times are tough, money is tight, and deadlines are imminent.

What happens when you’re stressed? You tend to eat more, sleep less, skip the gym and feel rundown. Additionally, stress is linked to a number of illnesses, such as heart disease, high blood pressure and an increased risk for cancer.

No wonder so many of us are gaining weight. A study in the July 2009 issue of the American Journal of Epidemiology studied stress related work demands, difficulty paying bills, strained family relationships, and depression or anxiety disorders in a nationally representative group of 1,355 men and women for more than nine years. The overall result? Men tend to gain weight when unable to make decisions at work, learn new skills job or perform interesting job duties. More types of stress affected women’s waistlines, according to the study. In addition to weight gain associated with financial problems or a difficult job, women also gained weight when dealing with strained family relationships and feeling limited by life’s circumstances. Overall, this study found that people who reported increased stress gained more weight if they already had higher body mass indexes. In other words, if you’re overweight already, you’re even more likely to gain weight when under stress.

Click to read full article

Ageless Mobility – Scott Sonnon

Ageless Mobility Part 1

Ageless Mobility Part 2

Ageless Mobility Part 3

Ageless Mobility Part 4

Ageless Mobility Part 5

Intuflow Joint Mobility

Intuflow Joint Mobility Beginner Part 1

Intuflow Joint Mobility Beginner Part 2

Intuflow Joint Mobility Beginner Part 3

Intuflow Joint Mobility Beginner Part 4

Intuflow Joint Mobility Beginner Part 5

Intuflow Joint Mobility Beginner Part 6

Bust Your Bad Mood with Exercise

Use Fitness, Not Food, to Change Your State of Mind
— By Jason Anderson, Certified Personal Trainer

from http://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/articles_print.asp?id=1276

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–>Some days, I am just in a mood. I don’t know what you call it, maybe stressed, bored, lonely, angry, sad, anxious, or tired. I call it “getting into a funk.” When it happens, I have allowed my circumstances to dictate my attitude and my thinking and then—bam! Before I know what hit me, I’m in a full-blown funk. While I like to exercise when a bad mood rises, others turn to unhealthy habits like emotional eating or smoking. When you’re upset, stressed or otherwise not feeling like yourself, exercise—and the mood-enhancing endorphins it produces—can be the best thing for you. Don’t you believe me?

The next time you feel that mood coming on, identify what you’re feeling and why. Are you bored because your best friend is out of town? Are you feeling lonely since the kids have left the nest? Or maybe you are stressing over finances. Whatever it is, pinpoint it. Then use the specific ideas below to bust your bad mood with a feel-good exercise prescription.

Your Mood: Angry
Your blood is boiling! You want to take this anger out on someone before you explode!
Mood Busting Exercises: Kickboxing, boxing, shadowboxing, or martial arts.

Whether you follow a kickboxing video or take a group class, you’ll release anger with every punch, kick and jab. Imagine the target of your anger as you do a set of 12 front kicks! Besides getting your anger out you’ll blast calories with these cardio workouts. Any form of martial arts, often overlooked as a form of exercise, will also work. Besides actually making contact with pads, targets, and shields (a major stress and anger releaser!), you’ll gain gaining confidence, discipline, and focus.

Your Mood: Bored
You’re stuck in a rut and want to do something interesting, but you’re not sure what.
Mood Busting Exercises: Spinning class, step aerobics, or a new fitness DVD
Beat boredom (without food) by taking a high-energy Spinning class at your local gym. Set to great tunes, you’ll be surprised how quickly an hourlong class flies by. Step aerobics is another great workout when you’re bored because it’s always changing. You have to concentrate on the choreography—sort of like learning a simple dance that involves a step. You’ll build skills and feel really accomplished when it’s over! Lastly, head to the library or video rental store and pick up the first workout DVD that looks interesting to you. Do it at home or invite a friend over to try your newest exercise venture!

Your Mood: Lonely
When you feel lonely, throwing a pity party for one will only make it worse. Sometimes the best thing for you is to get out and socialize.
Mood Busting Exercises: Any group fitness class

Exercising with a group of people who are all following the same routine and all have similar goals can really make you feel like you’re a part of something bigger than yourself. No matter what type of class you choose, there are plenty of reasons why group classes are so popular: They offer social support, a friendly environment and an opportunity to meet people who have similar interests.

Your Mood: Depressed
Depression is no joke. Millions of people suffer from depression that is debilitating and emotionally painful, but exercise is scientifically proven to help treat depression. While finding the motivation to take the first step is the hardest part, the right activity can help.
Mood Busting Exercises: Outdoor walking, biking, or running

There’s something restorative about nature. Getting outside to breathe in fresh air and admire the scenery can make a world of difference in your perspective. Plus, regular exposure to sunlight can boost your mood and ward of seasonal depression, too. No matter what outdoor pursuit you enjoy (think outside of the box and try canoeing, climbing, or team sports, too), moving your body can help improve your outlook and symptoms.

Your Mood: Stressed
We’re all busy, often taking on more responsibilities than we can handle. When life gets crazy and you want to throw in the towel, you can wind down without giving up on your obligations.
Mood Busting Exercises: Mind-body exercises like yoga, Pilates, or Tai chi

Mind-body exercises take focus, patience, and attention. Because of the complexities of maintaining the correct form and breathing, which connects the mind and body, it’s almost impossible to think about your to-do list while you’re in the middle of a good yoga or Pilates class, for example. The quiet, meditative atmosphere in these classes (and videos) allows you to tune in to the present moment—something that the overly stressed should do more often! If you’re thinking that you’re too busy or overwhelmed to try a class, then take advantage of short video workouts that are often broken up into 10- to 30- minute segments.

Have you ever finished a workout and thought to yourself, “I wish I hadn’t done that! I really just wasted my time.” Probably not. Chances are you feel better physically and mentally. Regardless of your funk, exercise can be a useful tool to get you back to bust your bad mood and get back to your normal self. What are you waiting for?

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Rickson Gracie Workout

and here is an excerpt from:

Rickson Gracie – Exploring Genius

by Eddie Edmunds

@ http://www.grapplearts.com/Rickson-Gracie-Exploring-Genius.htm

Body’s Intelligence
Another source of Rickson’s skill is termed as Bodily/Kinesthetic skill. This talent defined by Dr. Howard Gardner in his book Creating Minds (also the author of the bestseller, Multiple Intelligences) is the ability to use many parts of the body to express ideas and feelings and to interpret and invoke effective body language. Michael Jordan, Wayne Gretzky, Lance Armstrong and Rickson Gracie would be individuals Dr. Gardner would designate as having extraordinary bodily/kinesthetic ability. I will always remember a seminar Rickson taught in Salt Lake City because Rickson told us over and over that the way we grapple reveals our personality. So, for Rickson, a way of understanding people is not through a verbal conversation but he was able to glean personality types through “rolling.” This information indicates that Rickson’s body, functions as antennae for the brain. And as Gardner states, this knowledge could only be acquired through the body. Bruce Lee may have had this same type of highly refined Bodily/Kinesthetic intelligence. I remember a statement by Dan Inosanto where he spoke about a conversation with Bruce Lee and Bruce said (paraphrasing), “Dan, the secret is in the body.” It is no secret the Bruce Lee was hyperactive and his emphasis on “swimming in the water” and experiencing true reality was foremost for him.

I hear and forget. I see and remember. I do and I understand. The operative word “do” suggests that learning something is not just through passive understanding (reading, conversation, watching others) but also through the physical act of doing.

Rickson Gracie doing a Yoga twist on the beachA noted Brazilian Yoga master, Orlando Cani who has trained numerous Brazilian sports champions (Rickson included), spoke about Rickson’s bodily/kinesthetic intelligence in this way:

Rickson is special. Rickson Gracie was the best student I had. He was the one to assimilate best the process. He’s a very special fighter. Everything he learns he has a strong ability to assimilate and develop it. He has a clever way to assimilate and protect anything he likes.”

In conclusion, an appropriate quote by Shakespeare states: “Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and others have greatness thrust upon them.” I would assert that Rickson’s path to greatness was that he had a father whose single-mindedness and fanatical attention to detail was passed directly to his son. And when speaking of Rickson Gracie’s extraordinary Jiu-Jitsu skills we might envision that when Rickson is grappling he sees Jiu-Jitsu in a three-dimensional world. This capacity allows him to spar, not only from his viewpoint but also from other viewpoints. Thus, a three-dimensioned view. And finally, Rickson’s supreme body-intelligence enhances his understanding of Jiu-Jitsu and is gained from the body having superb skills of sensitivity, adaptability and kinesthetic perception that are gleaned physiologically rather than cerebrally. This then is the difference between being great and Greatness.

High Intensity Road Work

by Tom Elliott

via: http://itsmandatory.com/2008/04/18/high-intensity-road-work/

Working out and taking care of your body should be a mandatory part of everyone’s life routine.  I’ve been working out in one form or another since I was 6 years old.  It’s become a part of who I am and I truly believe it has played a large part in all of my successes.

Whether it’s working out to relieve stress, to have fun, to rehab an injury or to simply push personal limits and barriers – it’s mandatory.  Within this blog I will be posting all of my workouts, each of which will have a unique name of sorts representing a unique aspect of the workout.

There can be many variations of High Intensity Road Work depending on the exercises you decide to plug in but the foundation will always remain the same.  The foundation is the running intervals – the exercises filled in along the road are up to you.

High Intensity Road Work – Variation One

The Warm Up

For me, I prefer a light 10 minute warm-up.  It usually consists of a short walk from my apartment to the Santa Monica boardwalk followed up with 5 minutes of full body stretching and core stabilization.  It’s a mixture of movements that flow from one to the next almost like a hybrid version of ashtanga yoga.  I never used to stretch as a young buck but after a few lower body injuries during HS sports and the military it’s now a mandatory part of my workout routines.

The Work Out

  • Using a watch to time your intervals and total time – I break into a steady jog and maintain that pace for 5 minutes.
  • At the 5 minute mark I pick up the pace to 90% full speed and maintain that pace for a minute.
  • Once that minute is up, I pull off the strand onto the grass or the sand and knock out the first exercise (Push-Ups) I always shoot for 50 push-ups on this first set – depending on the previous days workouts I’ll go over or fall short – either way I push to one rep shy of muscle failure to push myself but to also maintain energy to keep the intensity high throughout the entire 45 minutes.
  • Get up and pick up your pace to a steady jog.  even though it’s early in the workout, you should already be winded – the key is to focus on your breathing in preparation for your next minute sprint and exercise set.
  • Kick it into high gear again, focus on your form and pick something in the distance to get to by the end of the minute.  I find that by doing this the minute goes by faster and it gives you a visual goal to shoot for.
  • Hit the sand, grass, gravel, whatever you’ve got and begin your next exercise.  At this point I’ll typically break into a variation of burpies.  Make sure you have some room. Start standing > bend your knees til you can touch your hands to the ground > kick your feet behind you and knock out a push up > pull your feet back underneath you while keeping your hands on the ground and explode into the air like you’re trying to touch a basketball rim.  I’ll do 10-15 of these depending on my wind.
  • Get back into your light jog and get your wind back.  What’s funny is by the end of the 5 minutes you should have just gotten your wind back, then you’re back into a sprint. ) gotta love this workout.
  • Hit your sprint hard and focus on your breathing and form.
  • Next exercise: Power Squats – Get in position, keep your feet a little wider than shoulder width and point your toes outward enough so when you bend into a squat position the tips of your knees don’t pass the tips of your toes.  Ass out, head up and go down til the tops of your quads are parallel with the ground.  Knock out 75-100 of these as fast as you can.
  • Hit your steady jog in the opposite direction as it’s time to turn around.
  • Hit your sprint for a minute.
  • Next exercise: Bear Crawls – by far one of my favorite exercises.  One of the most painful at this point in the workout but definitely one of the most rewarding after a few months of work at it.  Depending on how fired up I am at this point or which song is on the ipod – I’ll do these on the sand or grass.  For these – I’ll go til my arms buckle down being it’s the second to last exercise of the workout.  The pump you feel in your arms, shoulders, abs, and thighs is truly incredible.
  • Hit your jog – after crushing the bear crawls your jog should be a true “jog” – the first minute you should want to puke from all the lactic acid built up but it will wear off just in time for your last sprint.
  • Hit the sprint and run through the jello feeling in your legs.  Don’t worry you’re almost done.
  • Last exercise: Walking Alternating Lunges. This is the last exercise so you should be blown out at this point.  Hammer it out til you feel like you’re knees are about to buckle.  Be smart – if you feel like you’re about to be hurt – stop.  You always have next week to do more reps.
  • Cool down.  Walk it out til you catch your breath entirely then head back to the pad for a plenty of water and a healthy recovery meal.

That my friends is High Intensity Road Work.  Throw this workout into your routine once a week and you’ll see drastic improvements to all of your workouts and over-all strength and cardio.

This workout is MANDATORY, not an option.

trained to be locked into a system

Learned Helplessnes

by Ken McLeod

From: http://www.unfetteredmind.org/articles/helplessness.php

Conversation I

“I can’t do it,” he said.

“What prevents you?” I asked.

Long silence.

“Do you know how to do it?”

“Oh, yes,” he replied, “but I can’t.”

“‘Can’t’ or ‘won’t’,” I asked, pushing a bit.

Another long silence.

“You don’t understand,” he said. “Everything you say makes sense. I understand how to do it. But I can’t.”

“So what prevents you?”

“A lot of different things. I mean, I was brought up to be a nice person, you know, someone who treats people decently, who doesn’t push, gives people a fair deal and expects to given a fair deal in return. I can’t believe what has happened. I feel totally betrayed. I feel like I’m a victim of my own naiveté. I feel helpless. Yes, I understand what you’ve suggested and, intellectually, I understand that I can take those actions, but internally, I’m very confused. I feel I’m being violent is I say, ‘No, I’m not going to accept that and here are the consequences.’ But the alternatives are terrible. I don’t want to give up my job and have to move. Decent people shouldn’t be in this position. I feel I’ve done something terribly wrong, but I haven’t, have I?”

Conversation II

“You’re kidding?! You’re not serious?” she asked.

“Yes, I’m serious. You said that you wanted to be clear and present. Being clear and present means that you serve what is true,” I replied.

“But what will my family think? What about my friends? They won’t understand,” she said.

“Yes, there are consequences. You have to make a choice. Do you continue to live the life defined for you by others or do you act on what you know to be true?”

Both these conversations are fictional. I made them up for this article. Yet I’ve had many similar conversations with different students (and with myself).

The common theme is an internal pattern called “learned helplessness.” Learned helplessness results from being trained to be locked into a system. The system may be a family, a community, a culture, a tradition, a profession or an institution.

Initially, a system develops for a specific purpose. But as a system evolves, it increasingly tends to organize around beliefs, perspectives, activities and taboos that serve the continuation of the system. Awareness of the original purpose fades and the system starts to function automatically. It calcifies. The beliefs, perspectives, activities and taboos shift in subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) ways, to ensure continuation. And those beliefs, perspectives, activities and taboos are trained into the people that comprise the system.

For example, the purpose of a family is to provide a nurturing environment that protects the children from the vicissitudes of the world while they are developing the physical, emotional and intellectually abilities to function on their own. Love, compassion, joy and equanimity are vital: love so that the child opens to the world; compassion so that the child learns not to fear suffering; joy so that the child feels confident in his or her own abilities; and equanimity so that the child can be free to go when he or she has matured.

All too often one or more of these aspects is distorted by the family system. Instead of love, the child experiences a demand for affection; instead of compassion, a fear of suffering; instead of joy, derision of his or her abilities; instead of equanimity, judgement.

And whenever the child says, “Hold on, there’s something wrong here,” the power of the family system comes into play:

“What? You don’t love your mother! Shame on you.”

“You can’t do that, you might get hurt.”

“You think you’re hot stuff, huh? Let me show you a thing or two.”

“You must be evil to even think that.”

Similar conditioning mechanisms operate in most systems. The system uses shame and the withdrawal of attention to instill a fear of survival. Simultaneously, the system presents the view that power resides in the system, not the individual. The combination creates a dependence on the system for survival. Gradually, the system is internalized and the person identifies with it — he sees himself the way the system sees him. His sense of who he is is defined by the system. (We see this tendency very clearly in the professions — “I’m a doctor, so I do x, y and z” or “I’m an attorney, so I do x, y and z.”)

One of the primary characteristics of learned helplessness is that the person feels passive with respect to the system. The passivity, however, is only half the story.

Whenever we are subjected to abuse, physical, emotional or spiritual, two patterns form inside us: the victim and the abuser. Our experience of being abused lays the basis for the victim pattern. Our experience of how abuse can be meted out lays the basis for the abuser pattern. Both give rise to learned helplessness, though the learned helplessness manifests differently. In the case of the abuser, learned helplessness might manifest as “Something just took over; I didn’t mean to say or do that.” In the case of the victim, it might manifest as “I don’t know why I put up with it but I can’t seem to do anything about it.” In both cases, we are expressing passivity with respect to the patterns operating in us. In both cases, we are confessing helplessness.

Can learned helplessness be undone? Well, that’s the big question, isn’t it? The answer is “Yes.” The cost, however, is high. We can only undo learned helplessness by severing our internal connection with the system that gave rise to it.

Our motivation must be clear and strong. We must really want to hear and respond to our own questions about life. We must really want to live our own life and not one prescribed by our family, society, culture, profession or tradition. Metaphorically, we must be willing to go north, the direction that takes us out of society. We must be willing to endure pain, know from direct experience, act on what we see and receive what happens. We must yearn to experience what is without relying on anything to confirm our existence.

How do we undo learned helplessness? Traditionally, three steps are described. One formulation, from martial arts, is:

Know what to do; learn the skills; remove the blocks.

We study to understand what’s involved. We then adopt a discipline that trains the necessary skills so that the skills become part of us. Then we work to remove the internal blocks that prevent us from using what we know.

An alternative formulation from Buddhism is:

Recognize the problem;
Develop a practice;
Continue until the problem is gone.

The first step is to recognize that there is a problem. Then we develop a practice that brings attention to the problem and, particularly, to the patterns that underlie it. Finally, we continue that practice regardless of what arises until the problem is gone.

These are difficult instructions. When we follow them, we come up against the power of the system as it has been internalized in us. Fairy tales are full of stories about the young prince or princess going into a castle guarded by dragons, demons, sorcerers and tyrants, inadvertently waking them up by asking an inappropriate question or breaking a rule and then having to fight to find a way out. These are “no holds barred” stories, in which the prince or princess uses skill and awareness to kill the apparitions and conquer the apparently overpowering forces arrayed in opposition. And there is a cost.

When the internal identification dies, we feel as if a part of us has died, and it has. When we violate the dictums of the system, we will feel that we are being violent, and we are. When the system dies in us, we will feel that we have killed something, and we have. We step outside consensus reality. We cease to look to the world to confirm our existence.

We come, instead, to rely on our direct experience of what arises and we act according to our observation of the needs of the moment. We may even choose to work in an institution, follow a tradition, or pursue a profession. But our choice is conscious and we knowingly accept the responsibilities and obligations that come with our chosen path.

The practice of Buddhism could be described as a way of dismantling learned helplessness. Renunciation, leaving society, and reliance on one’s own experience are central themes in the life of Buddha Shakyamuni. The practice of meditation requires the willingness to stand in the face of internal material and know we are not that material and to stand in the face of death and non-existence.

The four separations that Sakya Pandita received from Manjushri point the way.

If you are attached to this life, you are not a spiritual person.

“This life” means the life defined by society and culture — success and failure in the conventional sense. The primary practice for separating from “this life” is meditation on death and impermanence. When we know clearly we are going to die, we focus on what is truly important to us, not what we have been told is important.

If you are attached to the cycle of existence, you will not be free.

The cycle of existence (samsara) is the technical term for the whole collection of habituated patterns that confine us. As long as we are attached to any of those habituated patterns, we will never experience freedom. The primary practice for separating from such patterns is meditation on suffering and how it arises.

If you are attached to your own welfare, you are not an awakening being.

When our lives are based on protecting and defending our self-identity, we can never wake up to the totality of awareness and experience. An awakening being (bodhisattva) is one who is determined to wake up. So we have to separate from being concerned solely with our own welfare. The primary practice is taking and sending. It embodies the four immeasurables (loving kindness, compassion, joy and equanimity).

If you are attached to a position, you can’t see things as they are.

When we hold anything as real, we adopt a fixed position and can only see things in terms of that position. To see things as they are, we need to remove attachment to any position, particularly the notion that “I” exist is some fundamental way. The primary practice is meditation on insight, using attention to see into the way things are.

Finally, a more succinct formulation comes from the Korean master Seung Sa Nihm:

First kill the Buddha.
Then kill your parents.
Then kill your teacher.

In other words, we remove any idea that there is an ideal such as enlightenment or buddha that is going to save us. Then we remove all the habituations that we acquired from our family. Finally, we remove even the habituations we acquire as a student. Then we can stand in awareness and serve what is true.

Who’s in Charge of Your Destiny?

Locus of Control

Finding Out Who’s in Charge of Your Destiny

From: http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newCDV_90.htm

As the environment around you changes, you can either attribute success and failure to things you have control over, or to forces outside your influence. Which orientation you choose has a bearing on your long-term success.

This orientation is known as your “locus of control”. Its study dates back to the 1960s, with Julian Rotter’s investigation into how people’s behaviors and attitudes affected the outcomes of their lives.

Locus of control describes the degree to which individuals perceive that outcomes result from their own behaviors, or from forces that are external to themselves. This produces a continuum with external control at one end and internal control at the other:

People who develop an internal locus of control believe that they are responsible for their own success. Those with an external locus of control believe that external forces, like luck, determine their outcomes.

Benefits of an Internal Locus of Control

In general, people with an internal locus of control:

  • Engage in activities that will improve their situation.

  • Emphasize striving for achievement.

  • Work hard to develop their knowledge, skills and abilities.

  • Are inquisitive, and try to figure out why things turned out the way they did.

  • Take note of information that they can use to create positive outcomes in the future.

  • Have a more participative management style.

Managing the Drawbacks of a Strong Internal Locus of Control

People with an internal locus of control are generally more successful, for very good reasons.

However there can be times when having an external locus of control can be an advantage, particularly in situations where people need to be considerate and more easy-going. People with a strong internal locus of control tend to be very achievement-oriented, and this can leave people around them feeling “trampled” or “bruised.” And with a very strong internal locus of control, there is also a tendency to want to control everything, and this can lead to difficulties in taking direction.

If you have a strong internal locus of control, make sure you pay attention to the feelings of people around you – otherwise you’ll seem arrogant, and people may not want to work with you.

Also, make sure that you manage risks properly. Random events do occur for all sorts of reasons. While you can manage many of these with enough determination and hard work, some you can’t.

Note:
As people grow older they tend towards a more internal locus of control. This comes from the increased ability to influence things going on in their lives and the realization that much of what happens to them is a result of what they do.

Tips for Developing an Internal Locus of Control

Recognize the basic fact that you always have a choice. Making no choice is actually a choice in and of itself, and it’s your choice to allow other people or events decide for you.

Set goals for yourself and note how, by working towards these and achieving these, you are controlling what happens in your life. As you do this, you’ll find that your self-confidence quickly builds. (This is something we deal with in great detail within our Design Your Life goal-setting and life-design program.)

Develop your decision making and problem solving skills so that you can feel more confident, and in control of what happens. With these tools, you’ll find that you can understand and navigate through situations that would otherwise damage you.

Pay attention to your self-talk. When you hear yourself saying things like, “I have no choice” or “There’s nothing I can do”, step back and remind yourself that you do, in fact, have some degree of control. It’s your choice whether you exercise it or not.

Key points:

You locus of control says a lot about how you view the world and your role in determining the course of your life.

When you believe you have the power to control your own destiny and determine your own direction, you have a strong internal locus of control. In most cases, this is an important attitude to have if you want to be successful.

People with an internal locus of control tend to work harder and persevere longer in order to get what they want. This is not to say that having an external locus of control is always bad: There are some situations where this approach can work well. The key for your own personal development is to understanding your natural tendency and then adapting it to the situations you are faced with.

Take an interactive quiz to determine your current locus of control at . . . http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newCDV_90.htm