Wise mind is a concept and practice that allows for us to acknowledge and sort through challenges and distress with the goal of arriving at a balanced response. It is also the place where our emotional mind and our rational mind overlap. Typically attributed to Dialectical Behavior Therapy, the notion of wise mind has a rich history connected to ideas about moderation, spiritual contemplation, intuition and the middle way.
In order to practice wise mind, it is important to understand both the emotional and rational sides of our experiences. Emotional or emotion mind is the subjective state when your logical thinking becomes more distant or unclear and your emotions are primary. You are likely experiencing strong emotions and your brain is functioning at a core level of emotion. You might have access to factual information, but it is common to distort or misinterpret facts while you are in this emotional state. Nevertheless, this state of mind is important to acknowledge and embrace as part of our experience as it has something important to tell us.
Rational or reasonable mind is the subjective state when you feel engaged in a thoughtful or deliberative process, reviewing and planning based on concrete facts. You may feel somewhat detached from the situation as you are engaged in higher levels of cognitive functioning. This state of mind is important to acknowledge and use as we navigate challenges and reason through our options.
Wise mind is the place of overlap between our emotional and rational states of mind. To arrive at this state of mind, it is helpful to give voice to both you emotional and rational states of mind by reviewing emotion-driven thoughts and rational thoughts.
Review emotion-driven thoughts by asking yourself, “What is making me feel or react this way? What is the worst thing that could happen?”
Review rational thoughts by asking yourself, “What would be the most reasonable thing to do and what are the facts? Is this as important as it feels?”
Finally, work towards the balance of wise mind by asking yourself, “What is the bigger picture? What will be most helpful right now?”
It can be helpful to write a few answers for each of these questions or incorporate these questions into your day-to-day experience. You can also simply practice asking yourself, “What is the bigger picture?” This can help you access a state of wise mind by gaining distance and putting things into a balanced perspective.
There is a wisdom of the head, and… a wisdom of the heart.” – Charles Dickens
Dr. Thomas Lindquist, Psy.D.
Licensed Clinical Psychologist
Visit us at lindquistpsych.com
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