“There is a wisdom of the head, and… a wisdom of the heart.” – Charles Dickens
Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is an evidence-based therapy that was originally created to help people who feel overwhelmed by the intensity of their emotions. The DBT concept of Wise Mind, can be beneficial to anyone.
Usually people with emotional regulation issues flip-flop between emotional reasoning and overly rational thinking. These opposite ways of thinking are described in DBT as emotion mind and reasonable mind. These states of mind are extremes and over-applying them to most situations can lead to a lot of poor decision making and emotional suffering.
Emotion Mind + Reasonable Mind = Wise Mind
Emotion Mind is “hot” because it’s passionate, extreme, and intense. Reactions in emotion mind make reasonable, logical thinking difficult. In this state you may notice the facts but find yourself distorting them based on your emotional state.
Reasonable Mind is “cool” because it’s objective. In this state you think logically and rationally using facts, numbers, equations, or cause and effect. Values and feelings are not important.
Wise Mind is the meeting of emotion mind and reasonable mind. It’s being able to see the value in both reason and emotion and choosing the middle path. When we access our inner wisdom, we say we are in Wise Mind. It creates a feeling of “knowing” what’s right, a felt sense or a shift in the body—bringing with it a sense of greater presence, openness, peace, and clarity.
With some practice, mindfulness skills can help you access your wise mind. Being mindful simply means to be in the present moment as best we can, to pay attention to what’s happening right now. Like any new skill, mindfulness requires practice.