Will and the Locus of Control

Do things happen to you, or do you choose them?

Locus of control is the degree to which people believe that they, as opposed to external forces (beyond their influence), have control over the outcome of events in their lives.

If you fail in an exam – do you blame your teacher or your pen, or do you think it’s because of something to do with you?

If you lack friends – is it because people don’t realize how awesome you are, or is it because you haven’t tried hard enough to make friends?

Locus to Beliefs to Actions

Your locus of control helps determine your beliefs, and your beliefs shape your actions.

When I wasn’t doing well in college, I initially explained it away. The professors sucked and couldn’t teach, I told myself. My courses were dull and pointless, not worth the effort.

In short, everything was at fault except me. Everything else determined my outcomes.

Or to be precise, only the negative outcomes. This is the self-serving bias. If it’s bad, someone else did it. If it’s good, we take the credit. So a boss might shift the blame for failure to the team, but take the credit for success.


This doesn’t mean that external forces don’t shape our lives.

No one’s denying that. Racism, sexism, casteism, the accident of birth – which country you’re born into, whether you’re born rich or poor, your genetic makeup – all influence our lives deeply.

The point is, we can always go on whining about these things.

Many people do choose to do that.

Countless hours and nights pass in discussions about what’s wrong with the “system”, what’s wrong with India or the government or society or “people” and everything else under the sun.

The same thing plays out on social media.

I don’t think it’s a great way to spend time, unless you get some catharsis from it. Or you’re interested in garnering likes and tweets for your views online.

Thus I willed it

To redeem the past and to transform every ‘Thus it was’ into a ‘ Thus I willed it!’ – that alone I call redemption!

Nietzsche – Thus Spoke Zarathustra

A classic “external” locus way to explain anything is “Thus it was”.

It simply was so. It wasn’t in my hands, I didn’t choose it, and I probably would have preferred it to be different.

It’s like the phrase “if circumstances were different”. But they never are. We can wish for it, but it’s not gonna happen. Resentment is pointless.

A complete internal locus of control would accept responsibility for everything that happens to it.

“Thus I willed it” is not just about accepting what happens, but actually loving what happens to you, being grateful for literally everything. To say that I “willed” it is to say that I chose it, that I want nothing else to be different.

This is the basis of what Nietzsche called Amor Fati, meaning “a love of fate”. It’s one of the most powerful ideas I’ve come across, which I’ve written about elsewhere.

In his own words:

“My formula for greatness in a human being is amor fati: that one wants nothing to be different, not forward, not backward, not in all eternity. Not merely bear what is necessary, still less conceal it—all idealism is mendacity in the face of what is necessary—but love it.”


“I want to learn more and more to see as beautiful what is necessary in things; then I shall be one of those who makes things beautiful. Amor fati: let that be my love henceforth! I do not want to wage war against what is ugly. I do not want to accuse; I do not even want to accuse those who accuse. Looking away shall be my only negation. And all in all and on the whole: some day I wish to be only a Yes-sayer.”

It is perhaps taking positivity to an almost delusional level. It is to say that I willed my injury that will keep me from sports for a year. Or that I willed losing a loved one or getting dismissed from work.

Not resent, not even merely bear, but actually love what happens to you.

It really ties very closely with what I think it means to be a Stoic. Except it goes one step beyond – not simply bear it, but love it.

And this is why I’ve always thought of Nietzsche as a Stoic and much more, regardless of what others classify him as.

Of course, it’s easier said than done. It’s extremely difficult to love everything that happens to you.

I think of it in similar terms to what I wrote about Stoicism in the post above. The smaller the incident that it takes to make us a Nay-sayer, to make us resent what happened, the further we are from loving fate.


Divya dixit

In your respective article hapiness has been told about, how we should accept our reality under any circumstances and love it, that it was not in my hand.
1year ago i had cleared the entrance of BHU, but due to some reason, i couldn’t take admission. For that we was vert upset that if someone had support me little bit, i would have got it.

Great snat tulsi das ji explain”-karm pradhan”.if we do not get that thing even after doing karma, should we believe in our destiny?


It’s good to listen something practical and directly meaningful . Keep writing would love to read this often.

The kid

Great write-up, as usual.


How do I change the locus of control from external to internal ?

Reena Singh

Amor Fati (a love of fate)
Fair enough!!

Nikita Bhandari

Sir I feel little awkward to ask this here but I was curious if you have experienced something similar and have any answer…. Question is– Its been time, say few years, I feel little uneasy sometimes as if I want an answer,, but to what?? I don’t know the exact question,,, I feel like something crucial is missing,, but what?? I am not sure…
I have tried experiencing different areas, googled different sites,, did find temporarily soothing ideas but nowhere could I find the right satisfactory answer..
Though my search is still on but if you can through little light on my this state of mind,, I would be obliged…

Nikita Bhandari

Thanks Ajeeta… But what I wrote was in a different context…. Its not about any unwanted problem or so…
What I asked was somewhat regarding the search of one’s true identity in the realms of Spirituality & Philosophy.. Though getting an answer here is uncertain but during the search knowing yourself better and feeling happy about the little things in life is obvious… The only thing that bothers is lack of patience i.e, one’s urge to get an answer sooner….
Haahaa now lets skip this topic & not discuss it further afterall its exclusively Sir’s blog and sir being mostly busy it might become another source of headache for him if we just come up with any query or anything that comes to our mind and write it here 🤭,,,
Also thanks again for your insights 😇

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