Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), by Dr. Marsha Linehan, emphasizes the importance of using our ‘wise mind’ to assist with distress.
Our wise mind is the combination of our emotional mind and reasonable mind.
When a person uses their emotional mind, they make their decisions based on their emotions. They allow their thoughts and feelings to guide their decisions, which may result in them not having enough foresight into potential consequences for their actions.
- You receive a text message from your friend that says something came up last minute and they will not be able to go to see a movie with you. They apologize, but you are furious. You tell yourself that they are inconsiderate and you cannot believe that they would do this to you.
- You respond by telling them, in a long text message, that they need to be more thoughtful when they agree to do something, that they are being disrespectful, and that you do not think you want to see movies with them anymore.
- They do not respond and you feel guilty later about how you responded, particularly because you are not sure if something really bad came up for them.
When a person uses their reasonable mind, they rely on facts and may overly intellectualize the situation.
- You receive the same text message, but tell them it is ‘fine’. You go to see the movie by yourself, reminding yourself that you already planned to go.
- When you are in the theater by yourself, you remember how much you had been looking forward to seeing the movie with them and begin to feel a little sad that you did not try to reschedule.
The goal is to use our wise mind, which is a combination of both out emotional mind and reasonable mind. Here, we are able to balance the facts of the situation while recognizing our thoughts and feelings.
- After receiving the text message, you feel disappointed and frustrated. You love going to movies with this friend.
- You remember that your friend has always been reliable in the past and it is not like them to cancel last minute.
- You tell yourself that something may have come up for them and you reach out to check in to see if they are okay. They respond and say “Something really tough just came up at home. Can’t talk now, but will tell you more later.”
- You are now worried about them, but are relieved that you did not respond immediately based on your emotions or without additional facts.
It can be a struggle, particularly in the moment, to decide which approach you are using. After practice, you may find that it becomes easier to use your wise mind.