How to Create Lasting Change Within Yourself

Eli Straw
How to Create Lasting Change Within Yourself

Is there an aspect of your performance you wish to change? Maybe you can’t pinpoint what it is, but you know there is something not quite right. Within your performances, are there certain blocks that are keeping you from performing your best?

What about habits? Take a look at your life and see if there are any habits, that if changed, would lead to more happiness and success for yourself.

If there is any part of yourself right now you wish to change, I say go for it! But here comes the next question…how do you make that change happen?

How Do You Think Change Happens?

Where do you think change comes from?

Once you decide on something in your life to change, maybe a habit or a certain behavior, where do you then look for that change to occur?

Understanding how change happens is crucial to you actually making that switch within your life. Holding onto a faulty idea of how to generate change will leave you spinning your wheels, ultimately feeling frustrated.

That’s why many people give up. I’ve experienced this in my life on many occasions. There was this way of thinking or behavior that I knew my life would benefit from me changing. Yet, I never seemed to make that change stick.

Why? Because I was looking in all the wrong places.

Has this ever happened to you? You see something you wish to change, and then you look outside of yourself for that change to occur. Whether that be looking for other people to change, the environment you’re in to change, or anything else.

Sure, all of these will be affected by change, but that is not where true change originates. A good example of looking for change in all the wrong places comes from when I was in college.

At the time, I was dealing with a lot of self-doubt around baseball. My confidence was down, and this led to both the fear of failure and significant anxiety surrounding my performances. Well, I knew change needed to happen.

That was great. I had made the first step towards progress. A realization had occurred where I understood the necessity to do something about the way I was feeling. But here’s where I went wrong.

My belief was something outside of myself needed to happen in order for my confidence to grow.

An External View of Change

First, I thought my performances had to go up in order for me to see myself as successful. This would result in higher levels of self-belief.

Well, in order to string together consistently good games, confidence was needed. I had this one backwards. Next, my thinking was, if my coaches and teammates thought highly of me, my confidence would skyrocket.

Once again, this was not the recipe for appropriate change. Truth be told, my coaches had been telling me repeatedly how good I was and that they were grateful I was there. What more was I looking for?

I’m not sure. What I do know, is that thinking a change in my self-confidence would come from the admiration of others left me in a desperate state of people-pleasing.

That’s what will happen when you look to others for change. They hold the power (in your mind), so you become a slave to their emotions and judgments.

Waiting for an experience to happen or looking to others in order for change to occur within yourself is not going to get you the result you desire.

On top of these two, there is a third way of thinking that will equally leave you feeling frustrated and short of change, though it does have more positive attributes than the ones previously mentioned.

This comes from environmental change. Now, on the surface, changing your environment may seem like a wonderful way to generate change within yourself. However, the change will be brief and not long-lasting if the environment is the only driver.

At first, altering your outside environment may have some positive effects. That is why it can be a more positive way of viewing change than the other two. However, only if you couple environmental change with the true change we will discuss later on.

If you only rely on the change in your outside world, what happens when that environment becomes familiar to you? What happens when old situations pop up within your new surroundings?

By only looking externally, you will not be getting to the root cause which allows for long-lasting change. Sometimes changing environments is necessary, as it can help create immediate change. Though you must remember such change is likely impermanent.

Only when you take on the necessary ownership, will true, lasting change take place.

True Origins of Change

Where should you look when wanting to change something about yourself? Well, as we’ve already covered, the answer is not something external. It is not to wait for others to change, or for something to happen before a shift within yourself can take place.

So, what options are left? Only one, and that is to look within. You must seek change from within yourself. Only then will something permanent take form.

Why must change happen from within? The answer lies in our thoughts. When discussing how to change a way of feeling, such as low confidence or anxiety, or a type of behavior, the origin is going to be a cognitive reaction.

Even if you think that someone else is making you feel a certain way, or a certain situation leads to you acting in a specific manner, it’s still your own mind’s reaction that is the true cause. That’s why changing environments only provides momentary relief.

"If you do not shift the way you think and how you respond, you’ll soon find yourself in another similar situation. Since you did not get to the root of your problem, it will find other ways to surface again and again."

If you do not shift the way you think and how you respond, you’ll soon find yourself in another similar situation. Since you did not get to the root of your problem, it will find other ways to surface again and again.

A great example is an athlete who is dealing with anxiety and low self-confidence in his sport. Let’s say he is a starter on his college basketball team. He’s been there for two years, with each leading to worsening feelings of anxiety and self-doubt.

This is frustrating to the athlete, and he desires to change. If only he could perform confidently and relaxed, then he would be successful. Knowing such change needs to occur, he begins to look for the cause of his negative feelings.

Without the understanding of where change comes from, he fails to realize the true cause of his problems. Seeking answers he lands on his coaches. They are admittedly not the greatest, often criticizing the players more than focusing on their success.

Aha, he feels as though an answer has been found. The coach’s negativity is leading him to feel anxious and to play with low self-confidence. What do you think he’ll do next?

He can’t change the way they coach, so he decides the best solution is to transfer. After finding another school to attend, he begins his junior with high hopes. As the season starts, to the young man’s surprise, feelings of anxiety and doubt start to form.

Now he is frustrated. Why did he leave his old school with all his friends only to once again feel such negative emotions?

In the beginning, the athlete felt some reprieve. He thought that everything had been solved once he transferred. However, he failed to attack the true causes of his anxiety and self-doubt, which allowed them to reveal themselves in this new environment.

This goes to show how environmental change can be helpful, only if you combine it with work on your mindset. Had he transferred, felt some relief, and then gotten to work on his mind, maybe the change would have been permanent.

But he did not. The responsibility did not fall on his shoulders. He believed that someone else was to blame for his anxiety and low confidence. By removing them from his life, all would be cured.

We’ve all fallen victim to this type of thinking. I have struggled with the idea on many occasions. It’s easy to push blame and think everyone and everything but ourselves is the reason we feel the way we do.

However, change does not come from easy. If you truly want to alter the way you feel, you have to begin recognizing who holds this responsibility.

"However, change does not come from easy. If you truly want to alter the way you feel, you have to begin recognizing who holds this responsibility. "

What it Means to Take Responsibility

What does it mean for you to take responsibility for change? It has to do with power. Who has the power to do something about the way you’re feeling?

In the example I gave above, the athlete first thought his anxiety and self-doubt were due to his negative coaches. While it may be true their coaching style played into him feeling that way, it proved not to be the true cause.

Once he transferred schools, the feelings formed once more. This all has to do with responsibility. While he did take responsibility to remove himself from the negative coaches, he failed to realize another key piece to responsibility, ownership.

Taking Ownership for How You Feel

The only way you can make a change within yourself is to first take ownership. You must own the way that you think, feel, and behave. This is much easier said than done.

In order to take ownership, no longer will you be able to push blame. It will not be someone else who is causing you to feel a certain way. It won’t be the situation that forces you to behave a certain way.

It’s you who is choosing the way you think, how you feel, and the actions you take in response to your surroundings. Of course, the environment and those around you will play a part. But the part they play is that of a stimulus.

You then have the power to choose what your response will be. That is what it means to take ownership. Now, at first, this might not seem like a fun thing to do. Until you realize the power it provides.

Once you own your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, you come to the truth that you are the one who can change them. No longer must you wait for others to change or for your environment to be altered.

You hold the power to change, with that comes the responsibility to make it happen. The question now becomes, what are you going to do about it?

How to Generate Lasting Change

Ownership comes first, after which you must decide how you’ll make the change happen. We often get scared when it comes to ownership because we don’t move forward.

We dwell on the fact we feel a certain way and beat ourselves up since we are the ones responsible. Such ownership leads to self-pity if you do not take the next step.

After deciding you are the one responsible for your thoughts, feelings, and behavior, you now have to decide what you’ll do to change. Maybe you don’t want to change, and that’s okay. But if you do, know it must come from within.

When you’re thinking about how to make this change happen there are two steps you want to take.

First, identify the why. Why are you feeling anxious? Why are you feeling scared? Why are you lashing out and getting angry? Look within yourself and these answers will become clear.

Second, once you’ve identified why, begin work on that area of yourself. Going back to the example of the basketball player, let’s say he looked within and realized he held a lot of perfectionist tendencies.  

These were resulting in him putting incredible amounts of pressure on himself. That drove his anxiety, which worsened his performance. The worse he played, the lower his confidence dropped.

What he must do is work through that perfectionism. He could become more process-oriented or set a clear picture of what it will mean for him to be successful. The key is, he’s recognized a true cause within himself that is the driving force behind his feelings.

From there, real change will occur. For you, what is it that’s wanting to be changed? Be sure to look within for the real cause, and then take the necessary steps to implement change.

"After deciding you are the one responsible for your thoughts, feelings, and behavior, you now have to decide what you’ll do to change. Maybe you don’t want to change, and that’s okay. But if you do, know it must come from within."

Final Thoughts

Real change can only come from within. As long as you hold to the belief that others are to blame, you will never get to the true causes of your thoughts and feelings.

By taking ownership of your life, how you think, how you feel, and your actions, you will be in a powerful position to enact lasting change.

What parts of your life would benefit from taking ownership? Is taking ownership and responsibility a scary subject for you?

If you really want to make a change, you have to adopt the idea that all change comes from within, and you are the one who holds the responsibility to make that happen.

Thank you for reading and I wish you the best of success in all that you do.

Contact Success Starts Within Today

Please contact us to learn more about mental coaching and to see how it can improve your mental game and increase your performance. Complete the form below, call (252)-317-1602 or schedule an introductory coaching call here.

Contact Us
Thank you! Your message has been sent!
Oops! Something went wrong while trying to send your message.

Mental Training Courses

Learn more about our two main mental training courses for athletes: Mental Training Advantage and The Mentally Tough Kid.

The Mentally Tough Kid course will teach your young athlete tools & techniques to increase self-confidence, improve focus, manage mistakes, increase motivation, and build mental toughness.

Learn More

In Mental Training Advantage, you will learn tools & techniques to increase self-confidence, improve focus, manage expectations & pressure, increase motivation, and build mental toughness. It's time to take control of your mindset and unlock your full athletic potential!

Learn More

Master Your Mental Game With One-On-One Coaching

Get one-on-one mental performance coaching to help break through mental barriers and become the athlete you're meant to be!