2. Personal Control
For many of us, we think of “control” as a bad thing. We think of controlling people as bossy, overbearing, and aggressive. We may fear or dislike controlling people. Yet, from the beginning of the course, we’ve encouraged you to take control. In fact, the central theme of taking charge of your personal finances and your feelings about money requires you to become more in control when it's needed. How do we reconcile this apparent contradiction?
First, it’s important to understand that it’s possible to be firm, direct and honest in a kind and loving way, and to understand that the payoff to you is a healthier financial life. Not being honest with yourself or others means that something or someone else is in control of your life.
Second, we are speaking of controlling yourself, your own emotions, habits and thoughts, not those of others.
Third, when we speak of becoming more controlling over yourself, we are referring to what psychologists call, self-efficacy (Bandura, 1986). Self-efficacy means you have the belief that you can “organize and execute the sources of action required to manage a prospective situation,” that is, you can make things happen. Making things happen for you doesn’t mean you’re walking over the rights of others. In fact, organizing and acting to manage a situation can be more helpful to others than acting as if you aren’t responsible.
Fourth, not only is personal control a good thing, it’s a necessary element to good mental health. That’s right; you can’t live well without self-control. Self-efficacy can lessen hopelessness, depression, anxiety, distress, and irrational beliefs. People high in personal control are more confident, achieving, have higher grades in school, are more optimistic, show great persistence with difficult tasks, and are more successful in financial planning and carrying out their plans.
Have we convinced you that control is a good thing? We hope so!