On Fate Vs. Destiny, and Locus of Control

It’s funny writing this; funny having had this blog for nearly eight years. Funny because I’m so different from who I was even a year ago.

I’m quieter now. More introverted. More at peace.

But I’m still a seeker, as an oft cited quote here evidences:

“I have been and still am a seeker, but I have ceased to question stars and books; I have begun to listen to the teaching my blood whispers to me.” – Herman Hesse

I have, indeed, ceased to question stars; for, now I know that the answers are not “out there”, but, rather, in here.

In fact, just last night, looking at the night sky from the beach, I said softly to Sarah, “I look at the stars, and all I can think is how far I’ve come.”

It’s a big difference from being twenty four and looking at the stars as if I expected their pity.

I am so grateful to be internally guided today, to trust myself. To live according to that invisible, intuitive, mythic substance pulsing within my blood, which whispers to me the promise of the oak tree in the acorn, of a guiding destiny within my soul. As someone once remarked of Walt Disney, “He had a sense of his own destiny.” And I loved that. For it is destiny, and not fate, which calls me.

Destiny coming from the Latin destinare, which means “to make firm” or “to establish”, and Fate from the Latin fatum, which means “that which has been spoken.”

In short, fate implies an externally determined course of events, whereas destiny places fate under a person’s control according to their own power to act.

Choice. Free will.

I, for one, do not believe all has been spoken according to a supernatural power – at least not according to any outside myself. I believe – I know – that I am capable of establishing and making firm my own fate; for nowhere else outside my own soul has my destiny ever been controlled.

And, at first glance, it may seem that making a distinction between fate and destiny is almost a purely semantical exercise, but I promise you I am not over here engaged in intellectual masturbation. This is actually one of the paramount questions every human being answers to – whether they know it or not: for who among us has not decided – consciously or unconsciously – whether or not we are actually in control of our own lives?

The extent to which we believe we alone are capable of controlling our own lives, this is the extent of our freedom.

In psychology this freedom is known as a person’s locus of control.

People who develop an internal locus of control believe they are responsible for their success and failure in life; however, those with an external, rather than internal, locus of control believe external forces, such as luck and chance, determine their life.

It’s a remarkable concept. A person’s locus of control is essentially their individual answer to the question of free will.

And even more interesting to me, is the fact that a person’s locus of control is so heavily determined by their family:

From wiki, Locus of Control

Familial origins

The development of locus of control is associated with family style and resources, cultural stability and experiences with effort leading to reward. Many internals have grown up with families modeling typical internal beliefs; these families emphasized effort, education, responsibility and thinking, and parents typically gave their children rewards they had promised them. In contrast, externals are typically associated with lower socioeconomic status. Societies experiencing social unrest increase the expectancy of being out-of-control; therefore, people in such societies become more external.[44]

The 1995 research of Schneewind suggests that “children in large single parent families headed by women are more likely to develop an external locus of control”. Schultz and Schultz also claim that children in families where parents have been supportive and consistent in discipline develop internal locus of control. At least one study has found that children whose parents had an external locus of control are more likely to attribute their successes and failures to external causes. Findings from early studies on the familial origins of locus of control were summarized by Lefcourt: “Warmth, supportiveness and parental encouragement seem to be essential for development of an internal locus”. However, causal evidence regarding how parental locus of control influences offspring locus of control (whether genetic, or environmentally mediated) is lacking.

Locus of control becomes more internal with age. As children grow older, they gain skills which give them more control over their environment. However, whether this or biological development is responsible for changes in locus is unclear.

To me, this is fascinating, fascinating stuff. Perhaps some of the very stuff a person’s internal security is built upon; perhaps the very question determining the trajectory of their lives.

And on this note, I will admit that I have flipped between the two sides in my life. I think I’m naturally an internal locus of control person. But I’ve also gone nihilistic and said, “fuck it” in the face of a life I felt I didn’t sign up for. That’s just part of my life. I can only assume I needed that time of resigned depression to get here now, because I’m in a different place, and I see things differently.

But a huge part of that is that I have made the shift. As Rollo May writes: “Depression is the inability to construct a future.”

I can, thank fuck, construct the future. Heaven knows I have constructed my present. From my dreams. From the things I held dear in the dark of the quietest nights.

And now I’m looking to the next Level – the myth still hiding in the man -the life I’ve yet to live; the person I am – but have yet to become.

And it’s really exciting. It’s really neat to feel you are at a place of health and progression. Of growth and peace rather than stagnation and unrest.

And I actually wrote tonight to talk about myth – the idea that we are all living our myth, and that we can make our myth conscious and shape it.

As evidenced above, I became distracted serendipitously, and ended up writing on fate vs destiny and the locus of control, instead of myth as a living religion, but I can only suppose that is just as well.

For I will not forget that I control my life. That I am me.
And so, I will choose to go to bed now. Saving the rest for another night.

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