Healthy Decisions Are Closer Than You Think When You Know How To Practice Making Them

Aug 06, 2022

Healthy decisions are closer than you think when you know how to practice making them

(Photo by Skitterphoto)

We talked a little bit about locus of control in a blog about whether or not the choices we make actually matter. But let's explore it again for a moment.

An internal locus of control will help you to recognize the ways your choices affect your life or the world. You make a choice and you see the results.

An external locus of control may make you think that everything is predetermined. That you can have no affect on your life or the world.

So how can you turn an external locus of control inward?

Learning to see where the choices are

To begin with, try making a list of choices that you know that you already make everyday. The clothes that you wear, what you have for breakfast. Things that you may not realize that you are choosing but you are. Can you pinpoint in your mind what that "choice" feeling is like? 

Exercise the muscles of your internal locus of control. You can do this by training yourself to recognize where and when choices come up. The easiest way to start is to try it with simulated situations.

Lower the stakes

Try out some of these practice exercises. Pay close attention to the way that you feel when you are asked to decide. 

As you learn to recognize this feeling, you will get used to reacting to it by making a choice. Then you can start applying what you've learned in real-world situations. Start with low risk interactions where you can comfortably make a choice and know that it won't be totally life altering. 


Visualization is a tool that has been shown to have significant real-world benefits.[166] Try to simulate a common situation in your life, such as a conversation about where to eat or what movie to watch. 

How does the other person present this choice to you? Do you normally say something like, "Oh, I don't care. Wherever you feel like going."? This is where the opportunity to make a decision is. 


Another exercise is to try to list as many options as possible to any given choice. Try not to argue against them. Something easy like, "Where are all of the places that I could eat on my lunch break tomorrow?" Then make a list of every place that you can think of that is close enough to be a possibility. 

Even if it is somewhere that you would never actually go to, it is technically possible to go there. I bet that you will be surprised how many options there are.

Buddy System

You can also ask a friend or a relative to help you practice. Have them do the listing exercises with you and compare your answers to the ones that they get. Ask them to simulate an encounter that comes up a lot for you. One where you may have difficulty making a choice or saying no. Have them set up a scenario and present you with an opportunity to make a decision.

Eliminating "I had no choice" from your vocabulary

You will find yourself in a situation where none of your available choices have desirable results. It sucks, but it will happen. These "unwinnable" situations are even challenging to those with a strong internal locus of control. No one wants to feel responsible for a choice that has a poor outcome.

Telling yourself that you had no choice is meant to try and absolve you of responsibility. Usually for a choice that came with a crappy outcome. But it has other effects on you as well. 

When you say that you had no choice, you are asking yourself to actually believe that. To believe that it was just bad luck or that it was written in the stars. This can be a step backwards. It works against all the work that you have done to increase your belief in the power that your choices give you. 

It is important to recognize that it is still a decision that you get to make. Even if you may not prefer any of the outcomes. This can reduce the "I didn't have a choice" mentality that reinforces the feeling of having no control. We must occasionally choose the least-bad option and own it.

Go forth and choose

Sometimes you have to choose the least-bad choice, but it is still your choice. You need to believe that you can make changes if you are going to make your life into one that you are happy to live. You need to believe that you can make a difference.

With a little bit of practice, you can start to make meaningful changes in your life. Lean on those close to you for help. Stand up confidently for what you believe. Remind yourself that you have some control over what happens to you. Your choices have the power to make change, you just might need a little practice.

Continue Your Journey