Author: Katie Leoni, Psy.D.
DBT presents three basic states of mind: Reasonable Mind, Emotion Mind, and Wise Mind. In this post, we will look at the idea of Wise Mind and ways to practice Wise Mind in your daily life.
Reasonable Mind is logical, rational, and task-focused. Facts and reason are the foundation of Reasonable Mind, emotions and values do not live here. When in Reasonable Mind you are able to plan and evaluate things pragmatically and engage in such behaviors like figuring out Muni, creating a budget, or building a house. This is helpful as it allows you to learn and synthesize information to complete tasks and helps in your ability to call forth said information when needed. It is much easier to access Reasonable Mind when you are not emotionally triggered or experiencing acute emotional distress. However, it can become a problem to solely be in Reasonable Mind because it does not account for emotions, needs, or desires. It can feel cold and almost robotic to be in Reasonable Mind.
Emotion Mind is reactive, mood-dependent, and emotion-focused. When in Emotion Mind you are likely to act impulsively based on intense feelings and a strong sense of urgency and engage in such behaviors like using drugs or saying something hurtful to someone you love. Your mood dictates your actions, logical and reasonable thinking are hard to engage in while in Emotion Mind. Experiencing intense emotions allows for passion, intense love, and an ability for a person to strongly connect to various interests. On the flip side, it can make a person feel out of control, flooded by their emotions (anger, anxiety), have a lack of energy (sadness, hopelessness), and create a failure to look at a situation clearly.
Wise Mind is the the integration of Reasonable Mind and Emotion Mind. As you can see in the picture, it is the overlapping region of a venn diagram that has Reasonable Mind and Emotion Mind existing together. It allows a person to tune into and see the value of both logic and emotion in order to form a balanced view of the world, our approach to living in it, and our capacity to cope. Wise Mind has a certain calmness about it and is similar to intuition, which makes it advantageous to experience and live in. It should be noted that the majority of people do not live in Wise Mind as depending on the situation and person, emotion or rationality can reign supreme. It takes continuous deliberate practice to be in Wise Mind. Below are some helpful ways to practice Wise Mind.
If you are interested in learning more about Wise Mind and ways to access it, please reach out to schedule a free phone consultation.
Diana Gordon, Psy.D., Kari Kagan Psy.D., and Katie Leoni, Psy.D.
Drs. Gordon, Kagan, and Leoni practice psychotherapy in downtown San Francisco and Oakland. Their areas of expertise include anxiety, sleep, stress, depression, and addiction. They blog about these topics to provide research-based information about common problems and strategies to help manage them.