Psychology

Empowering your patients through the 'Locus of control'

It struck me recently how most of my work with patients these days is centered around using herbs for improving a patient’s perception of their situation and the control that they can take back in reclaiming a power within to move forward with their illness. Far too often i see people who suffer with mental or physical illness yet seem incapable of recognising how disempowered they are with their situation and how much of that disempowerment is a part of their own mind.

In psychology there is a concept known as the ‘Locus of control’. Locus of control is defined as an individual’s belief system regarding the causes of an experience and the variables to which that person attributes success or failure. Sound confusing? The concept is divided into 2 categories: Internal and external. If an individual has a more internal locus of control then that person is more likely to attribute personal success to their own individual abilities. An internal locus of control empowers individuals to experience themselves as able to influence outcomes that affect them. In a therapeutic context this is an important tool as it gives an individual the ability to recognise that when they make a mistake or something negative happens within their life that they take a courageous outlook to make sure it doesn’t happen again or learn from it to become wiser or better equipped for next time. I would term this psychological resilience.

Persons with an external locus of control will be more likely to attribute their success or failure to luck or fate. External locus of control disempowers people to engage with learning as they see so much of their current success or failure as something outside of themselves. They are essentially hopeless in situations that they perceive as negative or hurting as they lack the knowledge of responsibility that would run through an internal locus of control individual. People with a more external locus of control will be more prone to anxiety disorders as well as other mental health problems as they fall into constant negative cycles of social or romantic situations where they are reminded how life is ‘unlucky’ or ‘cruel’ and their is nothing they can do about it.

The ever rising rates of mental illness in our teenage generations is, in my opinion, a result of us losing the value in teaching our children how to recognise the power that can be found within making a mistake, having something ‘bad’ happen to you or experiencing something cruel. It is in these moments that an internal locus of control finds the courage in taking action to learn, to bolster their defences, to engage with life by improving one’s physical and psychological abilities so that you essentially mature and grow as an adult. Lets be clear, this isn’t about denying any emotional response to pain, hurt or suffering. Emotions need to be expressed, but once they have come and gone the hurt individual would do well to be taught that they have a power within themselves to learn from this event.

Picture of a man walking in a forest confronted by a ghost

So much of therapy is in engaging an individual with the sense that whatever horrific things have happened to them that their is something valuable to learn, maybe even something valuable to give back to the world to hopefully stop that situation or cruelty happening again.

Within my clinical practice i use talking therapies to analyse an individual’s circumstance and then write prescriptions using herbs that not only deal with the underlying physical issues but also engage a patient to take action within their life so that they develop an attitude that control can be regained. It can be quite amazing to behold when patient’s begin to learn the momentum that exists within their own bodies when they start to view life with an excitement again and really self-develop.

Often the clues for how or why an individual may suffer more with an external locus of control is due to childhood experiences. Especially when parents or care-givers are the abusers as these are the people who are often the first ones we look to for support in reminding us we have a power, we have a responsibility. The message in those situations is that you have no power and you might as well always give up as that is always what you have known, so why change?

The truth is that you can change at any age, no matter how powerless you think you are. The fear of bad things happening again diminishes as the locus of control switches from external to internal. Anxiety, depression and mental illness begin to improve and vitality returns as the patient faces life with a stronger attitude and conscious approach towards the inevitable sufferings of life. They have hopefully become wiser, more resilient and clear about the way forward. So ask yourself right now….. what are my core beliefs surrounding negative circumstances? Do you recognise how this may be holding you back in life? Maybe even making you sick? Research shows us that moving towards a more internal locus of control is better for our health and vitality, you might need some help getting there.

Jonny Woodall
Medical Herbalist and Flower Essence Therapist
BSc (Hons) Herbal Medicine
National Institute of Medical Herbalists

Contact me for help with your health problems and illness

PHONE: +44(0) 7525827558

EMAIL: jonnyapothecary@gmail.com

SKYPE: jonnysapothecary

Men's work - My journey so far

I started engaging with men’s self development approximately 2 years ago. My first steps were with a non-affiliated organisation in Manchester that would meet monthly for food, a talking circle and some sort of workshop led by a member of the group. Many workshops ended up being incredibly rewarding as we shared meditations, lectures and interactive body movement sessions that involved us stepping out of the ‘mould’ and challenging ourselves a little bit. I even led a workshop on herbal medicine.

I started to really look forward to these meetings as I realised how rewarding it felt to be heard by other men when I shared what was happening in my life. I also became aware of how important it was for me to spend time with older men who had gone through challenging life experiences who I could ask to help me with feedback on situations that were current for me.

Overall I was happy with my first steps into men’s work but the truth was I yearned for more. Within the group I noticed men who had become drawn to an organisation called the ManKind Project (MKP). This involved men traveling to a centre to go through an initiation that meant they could then access their local MKP group that meets weekly or every other week. I was quite fascinated by the sound of the initiation even though those who do it swear not to talk about the intricacies of the weekend with others. Fortunately I was lucky enough to see men from the non-affiliated group go to complete their initiation and return. It was upon witnessing their return that my desire for deeper men’s work really began to burn.

I instantly noticed a difference in the men who were involved with MKP or who had returned from their initiation. Their demeanour, language, communication and presence was infatuating. They clearly looked and felt different to me. It wasn’t too long after sharing space with these new MKP men that I knew I had to take that journey into the mystery myself. I could feel the fire burning within and I couldn’t rest until those deeper steps were taken.

Fast forward to June this year and I finally made my trip to Droghada, Ireland to attend my initiation with MKP. Before traveling I had stuffed my mind with some classic men’s development books. The most helpful being ‘King, Warrior, Magician, Lover: Rediscovering the archetypes of the mature masculine’ by Gillette and Moore. This book really laid down the foundation of how men’s work with MKP really takes hold. The theory is that men have 4 innate archetypes that have perpetuated history, art, culture, media and psychology since men were men. Within each man the archetypes take shape in certain ways that can be immature or mature with a shadow element attached to each one. If men do not develop their souls then each archetype can be an immature manifestation with darker shadow aspects that will exhibit themselves in negative behaviour patterns. This theory was part of the psychologist Carl Jung’s work on male psychology. This book lays them out in a clear and concise pattern for men to understand the foundation of men’s work. I experienced a lot of identification with descriptions of each archetype and how I felt each one within me was more mature or immature than the others.

With a basic understanding of the archetypes I attended my initiation and have never looked back. The initiation is centred around the warrior archetype and gives all men who complete it the same foundation or footing with which to engage in MKP circles or trainings. I have since attended numerous local MKP weekly meetings and further training with the organisation.

ManKind Project Logo

My personal growth has been quite unbelievable to behold. Working on darker elements of my psychology that hold me back or sabotage myself and others around me. I feel that MKP and the archetypes have given me a map or compass with which to become aware of how my mind can be a source of power but also a source of darkness. This is becoming a powerful project where I have already seen an incredible amount of growth in just 6 months. I feel like my confidence has improved, my relationships with friends and family, I feel like I am more honest and also more on time to events or meetings. I have even noticed that my food intolerances have improved. Coffee is now something that really elevates me and doesn’t make me anxious and even gluten is now something I eat at the dinner table. I believe all of these reflect a more balanced, integrated and developed growth within me to become the man of integrity I have now seen in older men who are part of MKP.

My clinical work has also improved as i begin to notice the archetypes at play in my male patients. This has been crucial to helping me understand more about addiction, self-harm, mental health problems and male psychology.

Overall this path of men’s work has become something far greater than I could have imagined when I first took those steps 2 years ago. I have my brothers by my side and the bond I feel with these men grows deeper with every week. Men’s work is here to stay and will only grow as men discover that the way to change the world and yourself is to fully empower and integrate your psyche, your emotions and your vision for a better life and world.

More information about MKP UK and Ireland can be found at: https://mankindprojectuki.org

Jonny Woodall
Medical Herbalist and Flower Essence Therapist
BSc (Hons) Herbal Medicine
National Institute of Medical Herbalists

Contact me for help with your health problems and illness

PHONE: +44(0) 7525827558

EMAIL: jonnyapothecary@gmail.com

SKYPE: jonnysapothecary