Creating notches…

Driving home from work last week listening to Rich Roll Podcast (episode 630) with Mel Robbins, I had a little insight that I wanted get down and share.

During their conversation, the phrase, “creating notches” was used. It wasn’t meant as anything too significant in the context of the conversation but inadvertently, it did “create a notch” within me. I’m pretty sure the context of the conversation related to how certain experiences in your life have lasting effects and create near permanent notches within your psyche.

It occurred to me that during the years I’ve been reading and listening to various self development related materials, certian ideas, tools and models have stuck with me. In other words, a notch has been etched within me as a permanent reference for me to return back to.

This concept isn’t something I’ve ever really paid any mind to and I’m not sure how or why these notches are created.

Some things just seem to stand the test of time and stick with you. Quite often it will be part of a set of ideas / model and very rarely the whole thing being sold. As a result, I’ve ended up with a patchwork of different ideas and tools that are frequently added to, switched up and taken away.

One of the goals with any kind of learning, especially from a personal development perspective is to create these kind of notches. The rub so far as my own experience is that the creation of notches isn’t something that can be forced. Time plays a big part in this too as certain ideas and theories can take a little while to settle and germinate in your mind.

Below is a breakdown some the valuable tools that have stood the test of time for me:

1) GRATITUDE:

Practising Gratitude on a regular basis is something that I’ve found to be a really rewarding exercise. I don’t always manage to keep it up as much as I’d like to but I always come back to it.

Quite often it’s just as simple as writing down five things that I’m grateful for, whatever comes to mind at the time.

Doing this has a real impact on shifting my perspective for the day ahead, even if only for a few moments. It helps to give me a real grounding of appreciation.

2) BREATHING EXERCISES & COLD WATER EXPOSURE

These practices are primarily based on the The Wim Hof Method. There are lots of variations on breathing exercises but I tend to use 3 – 5 Round of 30 breaths with breath hold intervals as my go to.

This is the free guided breathing session that I use most often

The effect of these exercises definitely helps to calm me down and is almost meditative. For the moments you’re engaged in the breathing and breath holds, my mind doesn’t tend to wander and my focus aligns to the exercises.

As for the cold water exposure, this takes the form of cold showers or ice baths. I don’t tend to know the ins and outs of the science behind this but there’s something about this practice that really clears your mind and gives you clarity of thought.

After an ice bath for example, I really do feel more switched on and my mind feels so much more alert and ready.

3) EXERCISE

It’s probably becoming obvious that the tools that I find useful are not exactly new and ground breaking but they definitely work for me.

During the initial Covid lockdown, exercise became more of a staple of my life than it ever had before. During this period, exercise went from something I did fairly regularly, to something that now see as an essential, almost non negotiable part of my life.

The fact that I actually enjoy exercise in different forms, definitely helps me fulfil this new found obligation.

The benefits of exercise have been written about by more people than I care to imagine, but all I know for myself is that it works. It works to keep me feeling physically fit, it works to clear my mind, it works to de-stress, unclutter and ultimately make me feel at my best.

4) THOUGHT RECORDS

Loosely based on Cognitive Behaviour Techniques for managing thoughts. I use this tool as a way to make sense of things that I feel the need to unravel and clarify in my mind.

The main aim for me when jotting thoughts using this format is to identify what are called ‘Hot Thoughts’. Looking for evidence to support or negate these thoughts is also part of the process and helps me to obtain a more balanced and rational view of a situation.

My thinking and application of Thought Records was further developed in conjunction with some of the concepts from The Chimp Paradox by Dr Steve Peters. A favourite book of mine that I’ve revisited many times.

5) JOURNAL WRITING

This has taken many forms for me over the years but it has been very consistent.

I treat journal writing as a way to ’empty my mind’ and occasionally work things out. I’ve recently started to date my journal entries and bookmark any particular pertinent points or ‘mini breakthroughs / insights’ that I feel I have unearthed so that I can refer to them at a later date.

In terms of the format, I find that typing the written word flows much easier from mind to page than pen and paper. Having said that, I do have a place for pen and paper, especially when I feel as though I want to take more time to make sense of what I feel are more complicated issues.

Good old fashioned To Do Lists also have a place in my journal routine too.

I’m sure there’ll be more to add to this list as time goes on, but as it stands, these are the grooves in the record of my life that have been etched for a good while now.

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