In 1954 Julian B. Rotter came up with the idea of people having a locus of control. Locus is Latin for location. People either have an internal or external locus of control. What that means is a person is swayed by what is going on externally or internally. A ship being blown in the direction of whichever way the wind blows will not make it to its destination. In needs a helmsman at the wheel telling the ship where to go.
A person with an external locus of control believes his emotional state is based on what others outside of himself do or say. For example, he believes he would be happier if his wife would change. He would enjoy work if his boss would do something different. He could feel better if he just got a break financially. The problem with the external locus of control is that he has no control on what these other people do. It is a set-up for failure and results in being tossed back and forth by events like water being blown by wind.
In SFT we use the four steps to help people develop an internal locus of control. A person with an internal locus of control realizes that his happiness and contentment are directly related to his own attitudes and beliefs. He also knows that his own thoughts and actions are the only things he can control. The person with an internal locus of control is able to be content in no matter what circumstance he is in. (Phil 4:11) The apostle Paul said this while in prison. A person with an external locus of control would assume that being in prison automatically means he must be discontent while Paul recognized that his own attitude and beliefs determined his feelings about prison. Another important note on what Paul said is that he learned it. He was not born with an internal locus of control, but it was something he had to learn throughout his life.
Finally, one of the most important results from an internal locus of control is responsibility. People who are waiting for others to change give up their responsibility and gain the result of not growing. Where there is an internal locus of control there is freedom from having to expect others to change, and where there is freedom we gain control over our results in our own personal growth.