Wise Mind

Wise Mind

30 July 2020

Wise Mind is a very helpful distress tolerance skill. Following on from their recent article, our Psychologist Chris describes Wise Mind and how you can improve your ability to make wise mind decisions.

Following on from my recent article about coping ahead, another skill which is very helpful is that of Wise Mind. This is a distress tolerance skill from dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT). Wise mind describes the balance between emotional mind which is driven by feelings and reasonable mind which is driven by logic.

Marsha Linehan who is the developer of DBT highlights that we all have the capacity to be wise when making decisions. I want you to take a moment to reflect on a time where you have made an emotional or reasonable mind decision. When we make reasonable mind decisions we focus only on the facts. We neglect what is important to us. When you are in emotional mind you may find it hard to remain objective and logical thinking becomes distorted.  This is characterised by an intense subjective state.  

When we make wise mind decisions, we find a balance between the emotional and reasonable mind. We may experience a desire to do the opposite of what is wise but making wise mind decisions will help us live a meaningful life. Like with any skill, wise mind requires practise. With time, wise mind decisions will become easier and require less effort. Lets now explore an example of a wise mind decision.  

Purchasing a new shirt for work. I have $100 to purchase a new shirt for work. I go to my local shopping centre and I find the work shirt I want in my favourite colour (emotion mind). The shirt I want cost’s is $150 and as I am already in emotion mind, I purchase the shirt. Shortly after purchasing the shirt I may experience some form of discomfort. I realise as I am walking to my car, I will not be able to pay for the train to get to work this week as I went over my budget.  

In the same scenario I go to the store, but I make a reason mind decision. I find a shirt in my budget. Its not the colour I like or the style, but I can afford it. I purchase the shirt and leave the store. I feel somewhat dissatisfied an empty. I was able to stay within my budget but at the expense of my wants and desires. To make a wise mind decision in this scenario there are a couple of possibilities. Firstly, I could find the shirt I want and layby it to avoid blowing my budget. Secondly, I could try and find the shirt I want at an alternative store or online while remaining within my allocated budget. 

One way to improve your ability to make wise mind decisions is to practise mindfulness regularly. Mindfulness “Paying attention in a particular way, on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgementally” (Kabat-Zinn). When we practise mindfulness, we are focusing on being present. This provides us with a sense of control and clarity in relation to our emotional mind.  Remember there is no one way to practise mindfulness and it is not always pleasant. This is the same for wise mind decisions; they are not always comfortable.  

Written by Mates4Mates Psychologist, Chris McIntyre 

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