Friday, August 21, 2015

Stoic Philosophy and Locus of Control

First a touch of humor: DoFo for PM 
The above video got me thinking, we can shift our locus of control internal or to the external if it does not work where it is. 

Epictetus said "some things are within our control, some are not". Those things within our control are our judgements, opinions, motivation to act, desires, and by extensions our beliefs, values, and all those mental actions. This is of course limited by reality of nature, our ability and the like. This is totally rational. Those things outside of our control, our bodies, the economy, even the consequences of our actions are just out of our control. Other may wish to make us responsible, but responsibility is not the same as control.

Locus of control is only looking at whether the function in question is internal or external. If in fact we have no control, then it must be external. Others may wish to make it our responsibility, and even try to say that we are in control, but I call bullshit on that. If our physical body has a craving, and we are unable to resist, it may be that the body has too much influence. Perhaps we need to understand that we need a bit of unprocessed carbohydrates on a regular basis to relieve the physical need. Perhaps we allow over indulgence, and that is within our control.

How does one differentiate between a craving and a physical need? Well, needs do not go away, while cravings do. Cravings are both physical and mental, while needs are physical, as viewed through the primitive part of the brain. But then so are cravings. When I try very low carb, I crave carbs, or do I need carbs? When I meter a few carbs in, that need/craving is manageable, so is it a need or a craving?    

Clearly, only that which is within our control can be under internal locus of control. It is those things like our beliefs and values that could be externally controlled, or were externally controlled in our youth. The real question is have we taken control of our beliefs or do we allow our subconscious to govern, that is to say what we learned from external sources, what we continued to echo, and may be still echoing? That is not to say those beliefs and values are wrong, but until we question them, we do not know if they are appropriate for the present time.

Trust is a value that can serve as a big example. In the time when we knew everyone we dealt with, where travel was difficult, we knew the neighbors, and were in a stable environment, perhaps the default was appropriately to trust until the trust is broken. Once trust is broken, our interactions become conditional. Now the default, at least on the internet is to trust no one. That takes care of the scams. It is all a scam until demonstrated that it is not. Look at it and examine it, test it, and if it holds water, perhaps use it. Be prepared to let it all go for it may be bullshit. Consider religion. All man made, some truth, but mostly story of no intrinsic value. Some values are good, but no caution nor evidence of the fundamental underlying assumptions.

In the Ashley Madison data, it has been suggest that over 80% are just profiles, and less than 20% are real, or have "real" people behind the profile. In the females, this number may be 95/05.  So what is real anyway, when it comes to the internet?

Now back to the locus, if it is ours to control, we had best make it internal if we are rationals, and if we are just drifting through life as we always have done, either will work to a point. Now if we have a problem we can either address the problem or plaster over it as with a 12 step program and ignore the problem and perhaps it will just go away or not.

Event, beliefs, reaction. The event does not cause the reaction alone. It is the beliefs that cause us to react. Change our beliefs and we can change our reactions.  

But then what do I know?


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