Wise Mind: Incorporating Emotion and Logic

As human beings, we each have moments where our emotions get the best of us, and also experience times where we ignore our emotions entirely and let logic guide our decisions. A person’s state of mind impacts how they interpret triggers, themselves, and the environment. Thus, the state of mind heavily influences our thoughts, feelings, and behavior. In Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, the Wise Mind skill entails the belief that humans have three state of minds: rational, emotional, and a wise mind. When an individual’s feelings are too intense and dysregulated, they tend to be in emotional mind. When an individual solely uses logic to make decisions, their logical mind is operating. The goal is to healthily use our wise mind. This blog will explore in more detail the three states of mind as well as tips to help you navigate using wise mind more often.

The Three States of Mind

Emotion Mind

In emotion mind, one’s emotions are in control, impacting their thinking and behavior. We may feel anxious and so we avoid. Or perhaps we may feel happy and so we dance. Emotion mind feels like you are being in the emotion and identify with it. It is neither good nor bad. Acting primarily out of emotion mind leads one to make impulsive decisions that are often not thought out. Emotion mind can be exacerbated by lack of sleep, poor nutrition, drugs and alcohol, and environmental stressors. If you only rely on emotion mind, it can be difficult to be in a healthy relationship, hold down a job, be present for your children, and function daily.

Reasonable Mind

The reasonable mind refers to your rational, logical, and thinking mind that is in control when making decisions. No emotion is involved. There are times when the reasonable mind is helpful such as planning a family road trip, following your favorite baking recipe, or being a scientist. However, there are times where being robotic is not helpful. Let’s say you are on a first date or at a child’s wedding, you would not want to display this state of mind only. There is a time and place for the reasonable mind.

Wise Mind

The wise mind is the integration of the emotional and reasonable minds. When utilizing wise mind, one is usually able to slow down, stop and think before doing anything, thereby reducing painful emotional states. Wise mind is similar to our intuition, and so-called gut feeling. When making a decision from Wise Mind, it may be helpful to think of the following two questions. First, ask yourself, is this in my long-term best interest? Second, ask yourself can I buy into this emotionally? If the answer is no, you are probably in reasonable mind.

How can one practice being in Wise Mind?

  1. Mindfulness– engage in regular mindfulness to cultivate awareness of the present moment. Try to observe your thoughts and emotions without judgement.
  2. Stop and Reflect- before making any decision try to pause for a moment and simply reflect on the emotional and logical aspects of the situation. Try to gather all relevant information before making a decision. Consider both the emotions and facts to achieve a balanced perspective. It may be helpful to visualize a stop sign. If you were driving and arrived at a stop sign, without thinking, you’d probably press the breaks of the car and stop. Having done so, would ensure your safety. Thinking before doing is always the smarter route to take.
  3. Acceptance- accepting emotions as part of the human experience is crucial. Accepting your emotions enables a path to wise decision making.
  4. Mind-body Connection- pay attention to how your body responds to different situations. Physical cues provide insight into one’s emotional and logical states.
  5. Consider your current state of mind- before making a decision, get into the habit of asking yourself, “what state of mind am I in right now?” If you notice your emotions are pretty intense, you probably are in Emotion mind, and making a decision in such a state may not lead to the best outcome. Wait till you are in a better state to make a more informed decision.

Wise mind is a concept from DBT which allows you to integrate your emotions with the facts of the situation. By incorporating the tips above, you can enhance your ability to navigate challenges with a wise approach, promoting better mental health and effective decision-making. Because one’s reactions typically happen instantly, it can feel difficult to obtain this state of mind. Working with a therapist who specializes in DBT may be helpful. Feel free to reach out to us for support. We would love to support you in leading a life full of joy, satisfaction, and meaning.

Dr. Aryeh Berlin is a New Jersey licensed clinical psychologist and founder of Aspire Psychological Group. Dr. Berlin has vast clinical training experiences including a residential adolescent addiction treatment center in Israel, community mental health centers, and youth detention centers. Dr. Berlin has lectured on parenting children with emotional and behavioral difficulties, child development, helping children with school-related challenges and trauma. Audiences included attorneys, mental health professionals, parents, and educators.

Wise Mind: Incorporating Emotion and Logic