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Shane Kempton: A wiser approach to mental fitness

Last week, Shane Kempton revealed the seven 'little voices' inside your head that narrate, analyse, critique and cheer you on through your life and career. But he also pointed out they don't always tell the truth. In today's feature, Shane explains the WISER approach and how it can not only help you quell those voices, but improve your mental fitness in the process.

Life will always present challenging times.

They are unavoidable.

Therefore, it’s important to remember that it’s not the event that triggers our emotions, rather it’s our interpretation of it.

Often our immediate reaction is not a well thought out or logical one, but emotionally charged, based on a past memory or experience that seems similar to the current one, but may be completely contextually different (refer to Part 1).

This immediate response to a situation is an ancient defence mechanism that has helped the human species survive for 1000’s of years.

However, it may not be as relevant today, as there are less dire situations in the office and home, compared to our more primitive history.

Therefore, to continue to adapt, we need to evolve our mental processing from less reacting to more responding.

The first step is to catch yourself and not react impulsively to these events and experiences, but to respond to the thoughts and feelings they evoke.

To guide our responses, we can follow the WISER approach (which I adapted from the Secular Buddhism WISE approach).

The WISER approach is an acronym and a more skilful response to reacting.

WISER stands for:

Wait – When we wait, pause and refrain from reacting immediately to our initial emotions.

Interpret – By waiting, it gives us time to interpret the situation or event objectively, focusing on facts rather than the narratives created by our inner voices.

Select – Now we can select the most skilful and healthy response to the situation at hand.

Execute – Implement the chosen action or words mindfully.

Review –Finally, we become wiser in our responses in life by reviewing, reflecting, and learning from the outcomes of our actions.

The WISER real estate agent

Consider the agent who starts prospecting and gets an aggressive “No” and hung up in their first call.

Their initial reaction might be one of rejection, conjuring up feelings of self-doubt and questioning if phone canvassing works, and so they quit doing it.

If they apply the WISER approach, they will WAIT after that first call and invest the time to self-reflect and INTERPRET why they felt so rejected.

They recalled this felt like a time when they tried calling a potential person for a date and they laughed and hung up on them.

That experience left them feeling embarrassed, rejected, and convinced phoning for a date doesn’t work.

They then discern this is a totally different context and understand many agents make calls successfully.

Therefore, they SELECT a response more appropriate to this situation and EXECUTE by continuing to call other prospects.

They REVIEW the outcome after each call and adjust their approach where required.

Fostering mental fitness requires acknowledging, understanding, and taming the inner voices that shape our perceptions and thoughts.

By cultivating mindfulness practices and employing the WISER approach, we can react less with past unskilful reaction, and respond more skilfully, creating new opportunities within life’s challenges.

By doing this, not only do we increase our chances of success, but we can also reduce unnecessary conflict and stress, and gain a better alignment to what’s actually happening, and not what ‘seems’ to be happening based on our filtered perceptions.

Finally, this is an ongoing process, an infinite game, with no finish line, and like physical fitness, unless you use it, you lose it, so adopt a regular healthy mental fitness routine, to maintain your WISER approach to life.

  • You can read part 1 – Shane Kempton: It’s not you or true here.

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Shane Kempton

Shane Kempton is the CEO of Harcourts WA and the network high performance coach.