One of the most powerful, yet least publicized and understood psychological concepts, is Locus-of-Control (LOC). LOC identifies the various differences in how people experience the world, based on the extent to which an individual believes he has control over what goes on his life. People with low LOC may experience more depression and anxiety, as well as be more defensive and blaming of others for their misfortunes.
LOC isn’t fixed in stone and may be amenable to positive change. Certainly we can see the negative changes that often happen to high LOC people as they move through the life-span: It isn’t unusual for people who were high in LOC during their working lives, to become low LOC as they get older and experience various changes associated with aging such as retirement, illness, etc. The use of anti-depressants in later life is quite staggering, something the medical establishment likes to link to “chemical imbalance” because they can then prescribe their way out of a psychogenic predicament for which they really have no time, knowledge, nor alternative solutions.
Most of us function best with high, but not too high LOC, i.e. it is best to believe we have some control over our destiny, yet the maturity to also know that “bad things do happen to good people” as part of a normal life.
LOC is of particular significance to weight-loss and health. The overwhelming reason that all diets fail is that they externalize LOC to a “diet”, “program”, or other external tool such as calorie-counting, points, etc. The idea of using such tools in the first place makes some sense (at least intellectually), i.e. the tools may help us “learn” how to be more aware of what and how much we’re eating. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way, evidenced by the now absolute scientific fact that diets do not work at sustainable weight loss.
The problem is that the moment you allow a dietary “tool” into your life, your psyche automatically shifts LOC to the tool! The psyche says to itself, “Whew, what a relief, I no longer have to worry about losing weight because this ‘program’ will do it for me”.
There is no question that it is useful to have an eating and lifestyle philosophy or model that can serve as a platform for what and how you eat. The diabetic and/or cardiac patient needs to understand Metabolic Syndrome and how that affects his disease and how he must eat to control it. The vegetarian has made a commitment to a certain ethical or health paradigm and more power to him. Whatever floats your boat!
But at the end of the day, unless you develop the LOC to know when to start and when to stop eating…the game is over before it has begun. One thing is for sure: Unless your eating fits in with your environment, you are doomed to failure or to becoming a social pariah whom no one wants to be around. Then you’ll really be depressed and need anti-depressants!