Control


Take it or give it.

By Paget Pizitz

I’m going to give a quick shout-out to Louis the cat because this column can’t seem to start without some mention of the feline. Last Monday, he ate the ears off my oldest teddy bear and threw them up in the corner of my bathtub. You know, I wasn’t even mad. I was actually impressed with the skill level required for a cat to complete such a feat. I don’t think he will be pulling any antics for a while as I’ve ball-gagged his mouth, tied his paws in a French bowline and left him in a small but adequate shelving unit in the guest bedroom.

I was talking to a friend of mine the other day over coffee (sure, it was actually wine), and she regaled me with a very interesting story. Because I don’t feel like dispensing advice this month, I’ll share it with you. She was at a business lunch at a local eatery. I won’t disclose the location, but for argument’s sake, let’s just say it rhymes with Baniel Porge. She was finalizing the details of a contract when she noticed a trio of lunching ladies at the table next to her whispering, glaring and sneakily pointing manicured fingers from under the table. She looked around to see who these social lionesses were glaring at and was shocked to learn it was her. For a moment, she began questioning what they were snickering about. Her immediate reaction was to flip through her mental Rolodex of guilt and bad decisions to see what she could possibly have done to wrong these women. Did she kiss someone’s boyfriend years ago in high school? Did she have a steamy one-night affair with someone’s husband? Did she tell someone who told someone that her kid was fat, ugly and dressed funny? Then she stopped and realized the absurdity of her thinking. She had just moved here three months ago for work and, besides co-workers, had not the time to make friends, much less alienate a table of ladies who lunch.

This brings me to my point. I’ve been doing a little self-discovery the past few months. Something that has really caught my attention is the Locus of Control. The Locus of Control is a theory in psychology referring to the extent to which individuals believe that they can control events that affect them. Let me dumb this down for you as it was done for me. A person with an External Locus of Control (ELOC) is more likely to believe that his or her fate is determined by chance or outside forces beyond their own personal control. Internal Locus of Control (ILOC) asks questions such as who controls your behavior? Are you the master of your own domain? Is your life already predetermined and everything that happens is fated? If you believe that you are in charge of your own destiny and that your behaviors are under your control, then you have an internal locus of control. People who are more ILOC take responsibility for their actions and regard themselves as being in control of their lives and, ultimately, their destinies. As such, they are able to make their own decisions rather than letting others or the environment do it for them. Those more prone to ELOC relinquish control to others and regard their successes and failures as being due to external sources. The lives they lead are not within their own control.  Instead they see it as being down to fate, luck and the actions of others. Generally, people are located between these two extremes, but it can also vary depending on the situation, and it can change as you mature. You might be asking yourself what this all has to do with relationships or the leering lunching ladies. To that I say draw your own conclusions. If you are single, married or somewhere in the middle, these theories apply. For me, it means you just can’t please them all. If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a million times, be the most authentic version of yourself that you can be. Sometimes you lose sight of this, and that is natural. Just recognize this and be willing to do the work it takes to get yourself back on track.  Unfortunately, this means not everyone is going to like you, and you may get whispered about when you’re simply trying to enjoy a nice Cobb salad. To this, I’ll dispense a little advice my sage father gave me way back in the day. “Cooter, f*ck ‘em.” (I’ll explain this nickname another time, another column).

I wish I had been in my friend’s shoes that day at lunch. With every inch of ILOC I had, I would have gotten up from the table, walked over to those women and whispered, “Whatever it is you think I did, you’re right. And I would do it again.” I imagine Julia Roberts in the distance, strutting over to Richard Gere in his Lotus on Hollywood Boulevard, and someone in the background saying,  “Work it, own it.”

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