Sometimes it feels like it would be easier to blame others, or circumstances. It’s an option. But that also means it’s a choice. Actually, it’s one of the key choices in life – to be at cause or to be at effect.
To live at cause means to know you have a choice about what you do and how you react to people and events. It means to be decisive about what you will create in your life and taking responsibility for what you have or will achieve. If things are not unfolding as you would like, you take action and explore other possibilities.
To live at effect is to blame others or circumstances for your negative moods or for what you have not achieved. It is the tendency to feel powerless and to depend on others to create situations to allow you to feel good. If you wait and hope for things to be different, then you are at effect or a victim of circumstances.
From a psychology and science perspective, the term used is locus of control, either internal or external:
Individuals with an internal locus of control believe they are the masters of their own fate. People with an external locus of control believe their lives are determined by forces outside (external to) themselves. People who believe they control their own destiny are more likely to learn to do so, in part simply because they are more inclined to make the effort. (Westen, Burton & Kowalski).
I like to believe I spend the great majority of my life from the viewpoint of being ‘at cause’. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t times when I JUST WANT A MOMENT TO BE COMPLETELY AT EFFECT IN MY LIFE! These are times when I’m feeling a bit (or a lot) fed up or tired and I’d like to just whinge about it.
If you ever feel like that too, I say don’t fight it. It is often more productive to move through it. Here’s what I mean…
I have a good friend who I chat with regularly. We tend to keep a similar perspective about life and the need to be at cause in our lives. We also have a mutual understanding that in order to get to ‘cause’, it can sometimes be effective to explore being at ‘effect’ or, in other words, have a whinge!
Here’s how it works.
I first say (request) to my friend: “Permission to be at effect?”
My wonderful friend knows what that means, and responds with: “Permission granted.”
I then proceed to completely let loose all unhelpful and unproductive thoughts, getting them out of my head via my mouth. The venting will probably include phrases like “I shouldn’t have to do this” or “Why can’t it just work out for once” or “Why does he always have to do that” or “It’s not fair” or “I’m tired of having to do that” or “Why does life have to be so difficult?” or [insert any one of a thousand possible complaints about your life].
All of these kinds of thoughts are unproductive and mostly (if not entirely) untrue. And yet sometimes that doesn’t matter. The point here is to let yourself get a bit irrational. I’ve even gone so far as to complain “Why can’t it just work out for once” in relation to my life. Anyone who knows me knows how ridiculous that statement is and how much I love my life. But sometimes I JUST WANT FIVE MINUTES TO BE AT EFFECT!
If you ever feel this way too, I say “permission granted”. Choosing to be at effect in this way (i.e. choosing your moment and asking a friend for permission, and, most importantly, acknowledging that you are choosing to be at effect) is actually a means to getting to being at cause.
If I have a whole lot of unproductive thoughts swimming around in my head, they can prevent me from moving forward effectively and as efficiently as I might if there were less negative energy in my head. Having a ‘permission to be a cause’ moment tends to do two things for me…
Firstly, it brings me back to the reality that ‘being at effect will not solve the issue’. I get to the end of my vent and, in the silence that is left in my head, have to face the fact that being at effect did not get me any closer to my desired outcome.
Secondly, it processes all the unproductive thoughts that were floating around in my head; like filing them and allowing some brain space for coming up with some new ‘at cause’ ideas and the energy to move in that direction.
So again, if you feel like you need to vent, permission granted. From a place of acknowledging that you are choosing to be at effect, you bring yourself back to cause.