The Wise Mind
"I've been reading through a bunch of helpful and informative resource guides that our Head of Wellbeing, Dr Josh Symes, shared with our team this week. As a new father (my son is 15 months old at the time of writing this), I am fortunate to be 'learning on the job' (literally and metaphorically) when it comes to parenting, family wellness and wellbeing. I plan to on-share some of the resources I'm reviewing, and today want to highlight a document sourced from TherapistAid.com, called The Wise Mind." - Dane Sharp (CMO & Community Admin)
There are three states of mind: The reasonable mind, the emotional mind, and the wise mind. Everyone possesses each of these states, but most people gravitate toward a specific one most of the time.
The wise mind refers to a balance between the reasonable and emotional halves. They are able to recognize and respect their feelings, while responding to them in a rational manner.
The emotional mind is used when feelings control a person’s thoughts and behavior. They might act impulsively with little regard for consequences.
A person uses their reasonable mind when they approach a situation intellectually. They plan and make decisions based on fact.
"Super interesting stuff, right? I'll admit, it's the first I've heard of it, and while I understand that emotions such as anger, sadness and fear live in the emotional mind, and logical reasoning driven by research and past experience fuels the reasonable mind, I needed to know (and understand) more. Looking deeper into the what and how of the wise mind, the following quote on psychologycompass.com resonated with me:
'The Wise Mind is a rare psychological state that a person occupies in their day-to-day life. It is the quiet, optimal mode of acting/thinking that is flexible, adaptive, and holistic. Success and confidence flows out of this mental state.'
The two parts of this quote that jumped out at me are the use of the word 'rare' and the final sentence; 'Success and confidence flows out of this mental state.' This is powerful information, but locating and using our wise mind doesn't sound easy... Thankfully, the DBT Center of Orange County offers the following comprehensible advice..."
How to access the wise mind:
- Observe by watching your thoughts and feelings without pushing them away. Let them happen even when they are painful. Label what you observe with words. “I am having an urge to drink………”; “I feel angry!”
- Describe without interpretations (judgments) by sticking to what you observe. Just the facts. For example, “She is speaking with a loud voice!” rather than “She has a bad attitude!”
- Participate by throwing yourself into the present moment by not focusing on yesterday or tomorrow. Fully experience What Is in the Now! Experiencing negative emotions fully will help you get to Wise Mind.
- Take a Non-Judgmental Stance by not evaluating anything as GOOD or BAD. Stick to the observable facts. When you find yourself Judging, don’t judge your judging!
- Stay focused on THIS MOMENT so that past and future distractions don’t get in your way. Focus your attention on one thing in the moment.
- Be Effective without allowing emotions to control your behavior.
"Seeking some more tangible advice, I spoke to our wellbeing team and asked for their guidance and direction. They shared that breathing and meditation are two physical practices we can use to help prepare ourselves for this access.
They also shared with me that it's important to parent and help your children from a 'wise minded' approach. It's then we can engage our emotional side to empathize with them and their feelings."
Breathing and meditation can be labelled as distractions, which are key to Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT). Distractions come in many forms and DBT splits them up into several categories: Activities, Contributing, Comparisons, Emotions, Pushing away, Thoughts and Sensations.
'Activities' can be things like going for a walk, playing cards or cleaning a room in your house.
'Contributing' can be helping a friend or family member, or volunteering for a local charity.
'Comparisons' could be looking at how you are feeling right now versus a time when you felt differently (eg. today versus yesterday) or considering how people (who may be going through something similar, but may have things more difficult) are feeling.
'Emotions' challenges you to choose an activity that elicits an emotion different to what you're currently feeling. (ie. If you're sad, what a comedy movie or read an exciting book).
'Pushing away' refers to pushing away sad and stressful thoughts. This doesn't mean ignoring or neglecting your feelings and emotions, it's challenging you to push them to the side for the minute so you can address them at another time and re-focus your mind on the present.
'Thoughts' challenges you to think and use your brain on something other than the trigger. Count to 10, recite lyrics from a song, or voice the foreign language words you know.
'Sensations' drives you to physical action, activity and distraction. Squeeze a stress ball, take a hot/cold shower or pick up a pointing stick. Find a way to immerse yourself in your senses.
"I think the wise mind looks, feels and sounds a lot like what the concept of mindfulness does (and should) deliver. Presence, patience, peace and awareness. A level head, and a sense of appreciation (in my layman's terms). With a wise mind, it's my interpretation that we'll not only do right by ourselves and our children, but we'll parent and act in the best interests of our family.
Thanks for letting me share my thoughts."
- Dane (CMO & Community Admin)