As part of my planning for life after transplant I’ve been taking a practitioner course in neurolinguistic programming, or NLP. This is a type of coaching or therapy that aims to move people from being stuck into pursuing some desired state (in a very brief nutshell). The section I’m in right now talks about internal vs external locus of control. This isn’t a new concept for me, but one that’s worth revisiting.
People who are feel they are in control of what’s going on in their lives, that feel they make an impact, have an internal locus of control. Those who feel the world is happening to them so to speak, like they have no control over what goes on, have an external locus of control (LOC). Internal LOC types are empowered to make a difference, they know that what they do will matter while those with external LOC tend to feel victimized and that what they do won’t matter so why bother.
It occurs to me that I’ve had an internal LOC regarding my kidney disease for many years. I didn’t roll over and give up. I did accept the disease, but knew my choices made a difference. My outlook on life, my dietary choices and my overall health matter. Twenty five years ago I was told I would need a transplant within 10 years. I’ve managed for 25 because I didn’t give up. It’s very easy to go into a place where you have no hope or feel that you’ve been dealt a hand that was unfair. From there you may think ‘what’s the use in trying’. The truth is, though, if I had given up then I might be 15 years on a transplanted kidney right now and likely looking at needing another one in 5 or 10 more years. I would have been on immunosuppressant drugs for all those years. Instead I took what control I could and was not impacted much at all until the last year with this disease. Essentially I bought myself 25 really healthy years.
When first diagnosed I did go into that place. I was an active alcoholic at the time, couldn’t care less about the disease or myself and felt that life was kicking me in the ass every time I turned around. It was through my journey to sobriety that I became more internally motivated and realized the impact I could have on my own health as well as all aspects of my life. I can’t say I always come from this place but for the most part I do.
We can wait around for our knight in shining armour to save us or we can become our own knight in shining armour. We really do get to choose.