Wise Mind is a core concept in DBT. It means that you are using both facts and emotions to make wise decisions and responses. You are choosing what is most effective for you.

Emotion mind wants what it wants and it wants it now! In addition, emotion mind is pretty sure it’s doing what is necessary–there’s a sense of urgency. Imagine that someone you love disappoints you. Maybe they lie to you about something important. For example, imagine that you and your spouse or significant other were considering moving to a new city for a new job. Your spouse had agreed to ask the employer for certain agreements, but he didn’t ask and he didn’t tell you that he didn’t ask. How upset would you be?

If you and your significant other made any sort of plans together, and he didn’t follow through and didn’t tell you because he didn’t want to upset you, you would likely be over the top angry. That’s a betrayal and your trust is broken. Trust and relationships are built on open communication, after all.

The other person is clearly in the wrong. He or she blew it and it matters. It’s not an insignificant thing. Your emotion mind wants to blast them, punish them, pull away and maybe even leave the relationship. You want the other person to grovel, undo what was done, and/or pay for his or her mistake. You want the relationship to get back to where it was when he was willing to ask the employer for the things you had agreed he would ask. Why should you wait?

Acting in emotion mind will only make the situation worse. The emotions are yours. Your first step is to manage your emotions so you can see the big picture and act in ways that are helpful, not just condemn the person you love, even though you’re not so fond of that person in the moment. The act was wrong, your loved one made a mistake.

Of course, the issue needs to be discussed. It’s not about letting the other person off the hook. It’s about being constructive not destructive. It’s about discussing why you are upset and why the other person didn’t follow through, and agreeing together on what should be done next.
It may take some time to get into your Wise Mind. It is worth the wait.

Live a skillful life. By, Karyn Hall, Ph.D., May 3, 2020

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