Waiting for Wise Mind

Written by Karyn Hall

May 9, 2021

Wise Mind is a core concept in DBT. Wise mind includes rational mind and emotion mind. In many ways It’s a simple concept. You want to use facts and emotions to make decisions and responses in order to act wisely and be effective. Both facts and emotions contribute to making wise decisions. When you are in wise mind, you are not letting emotions take over or only relying on factual information. you are thinking through what is effective for you. There’s a calmness when you are in wise mind. If you feel urgency, you are probably in emotion mind.

The problem is emotion mind wants what it wants and wants it now and is pretty sure it’s doing what is necessary. 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 made plans to move to a new city for him to take a new job. You’re sacrificing for his career. In order to support you and the family in making the big move, your spouse agreed to ask his employer for certain agreements, but your spouse didn’t ask and didn’t tell you. 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 trust is broken. Trust and relationships are built on open communication after all. 

Based on the information given, the other person (your spouse) 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. You want the other person to grovel, undo what was done, and/or pay for his or her mistake. 

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, though you’re not so fond of that person in the moment. The act was wrong, your loved one made a mistake, but acting in emotion mind will only make the situation worse.

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 may take some time to get into Wise Mind. It’s worth waiting for. Live a skill-full life!

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