Wise mind can be a difficult concept to understand when you first think about it. As a logical thinker myself, my tendency is to think about thinking about what I might possibly be feeling while standing with both feet firmly planted in my rational mind. Most of us feel more comfortable sitting in either rational mind or emotional mind. It is hard to make sense out of what it might be like to sit in the middle. Therefore, I want to address some of the common questions or concerns that I hear when talking about wise mind.
If I feel emotions, I will be weak.
Or, If I feel my emotions, they will get out of control and I won’t be able to reign it in again.
Stepping into the world of emotions can be scary and daunting if you have spent a good portion of your life living in rational mind. Yet, it’s not like those emotions don’t exist. Just as we talked about last week, they often show up unannounced or cause you to feel numb from both positive and negative emotions.
Wise mind can be a great tool when first stepping into the world of emotions because it gives you an anchor, something to hold onto as you feel your feelings. Often times, feeling your feelings means that they go away or transform into something that feels more manageable than the feelings initially felt. Yet, it often feels scary to leap, like there’s no safety net beneath you. Imagine the safety net of wise mind. Imagine knowing that those logical thoughts are still there, safely tucked away until you need them.
If I consider the facts, I’m ignoring what I’m feeling and it will just get worse.
In DBT, we talk a lot about dialectics (heck, that’s where the therapy got its name). A dialectic is often described as the juxtaposition of two seemingly opposing thoughts. I think it fits nicely when thinking about considering the facts when they appear to contradict your emotions. Both sources of information are important and paying attention to both of them does not require you to negate one in order to look at the other.
Sure, wise mind sounds great in theory but what the heck does it actually feel like?
Marsha Linehan, the founder of DBT and the concept of wise mind, likens it to your intuition or your gut feeling. One can imagine what that feeling deep in your stomach might be saying in a situation. Some people find it easier to reach this gut feeling by using mindfulness practices or by imagining what a wise teacher may say to them in this situation.
That’s great but how is really going to help me get better.
Wise mind gives you access to both emotional and rational informational. By listening to all the sources of information, you get a greater understanding of what is going on and how to resolve it.