My recent podcast interview with Rachel Marie Martin inspired me to think deeply. When I asked her how she had overcome so many adversities, she gave some interesting answers and tips. But I realized she had overcome her adversities by avoiding what I call the BED syndrome. When we place B (blame), manufacture E (excuses), and keep ourselves in D (denial), we get stuck. We don’t go forward when we are in BED. After the podcast, I asked myself, “Why is it that some people are forever in BED, and others move forward? Might it all boil down to having an internal locus of control?
What is locus of control?
I first learned about locus of control when I was in nursing school. There are two types of people: Those who espouse an internal locus of control, and those who have an external locus of control. In healthcare, we can see this all the time.
Some clients always take charge of their own health. Some even fend off any doctor who gives them bad news! They are determined to return to health, and often, they do. You’ve seen those patients who, despite all odds, seem to make a miraculous comeback.
Others take on an external locus of control. They are more likely to believe that the doctor, the nurse, the hospital, or some other person or entity is in charge of their health.
Examples of internal locus of control
Decades ago, I read a study that concluded that mothers who gave “I” messages were much more likely to succeed at breastfeeding. At the time, I didn’t know much about breastfeeding, and I didn’t know much about the concept of locus of control. But I was curious about the possible connection. And, I wondered if any of this made any sense in the real clinical world.
Then, I started listening more closely. People with an internal locus of control tend to voice their intentions as “I” messages. I noticed this when I heard these examples:
- I want to do the best thing for my baby.
- I am already looking forward to nursing the baby when she comes.
- I just hit a speed bump, but I know it will be okay.
Others gave “you” or “we” messages. They were more likely to say things like:
- They say it’s best for the baby.
- My husband (boyfriend, doctor) wants me to do it.
- My friend breastfed.
Hearing the “I” messages is not a sure-fire method of determining who will succeed. But it’s worth noting. Women who give the “I” messages are more likely to have an internal locus of control. They see themselves as being in charge of the situation, and they are very likely to succeed. However, women who give “you” or “they” messages are quite possibly displaying signs that they espouse an external locus of control over their health and well-being.
What about us?
All of us are faced with projects, responsibilities, adversities, and challenges. But do we perceive ourselves as being in charge of the situation? Or do we see luck, circumstances, or the environment as being in charge?
More on the BED syndrome
I don’t think it matters whether it’s breastfeeding, having a chronic disease, completing college, getting a credential, starting a business, losing weight, being in a bad marriage, climbing out of debt, or anything else. What matters is that we see ourselves in charge of the situation. Hence, blaming someone or something else keeps us stuck. Excusing ourselves keeps us stuck. Denying that we have a problem keeps us stuck.
Be sure to listen to Rachel Marie Martin, author of The Brave Art of Motherhood. If you have even the smallest amount of what I call the BED syndrome, you’ll find tips on how to overcome it.
Have you ever found a way to eliminate or reduce BED syndrome?