When I think of someone who is void of emotion and interested only in facts, I think of a CEO who lays off hundreds of workers because it’s cheaper to exploit people in a third world country. I think Kevin O’Leary.
In DBT Marsha Linehan identifies three states of mind that people experience; emotion mind, reasonable mind, and wise mind. We all have each of these minds within us, but we tend to have a dominant mind. Kevin O’leary, at least his television persona, is the epitome of the reasonable mind; all logic, no heart.
There’s a time and a place for reasonable mind, but if we’re in reasonable mind the majority of the time, ourselves and our relationships will suffer. The goal is to find our wise mind; a balance of reasonable mind, emotion mind, and intuition.
Too Logical Appears Unfeeling
As you can imagine, a person who operates from a purely logical perspective is cold and unfeeling, cut off from his emotion mind. He has learned not to look closely inside himself or inside another person.
In other words, a person who lives predominantly in reasonable mind lacks empathy and insight.
What is the Point of Emotions?
I pointed out to a client one day that he lacked empathy for others and didn’t spend much time reflecting on his own behaviour. He agreed, then said, “But why would I want to? That just causes unpleasant feelings.”
He didn’t appreciate that emotions give us vital information. Emotions tell us what’s important to us, what feels good or bad, what we value, and what we need and want.
Emotions deepen our experiences and give us a sense of connection and belonging to others.
Reasonable mind keeps us from experiencing emotional pain, but it robs us of positive emotions like joy, happiness, love, and belonging.
We can’t choose which emotions to blunt; if we blunt one, we blunt them all. It’s important to experience all of our emotions, but they don’t have to overwhelm us.
The beauty of wise mind is that it calms emotions, listens to logic, and tunes in to intuition so that emotions are manageable. Our choices become thoughtful, we experience peace, and we connect to others in a meaningful way.
DBT Skill: Wise Mind
Wise Mind is the inner wisdom that each person has. We are in wise mind when we use our skills, knowledge, experience, and common sense to help us deal with every day situations. Everyone has a wise mind, but if we let our emotions get too high, or if we blunt our emotions with too much logic, we block our ability to access it.
Wise mind comes easily to some people and for others, they must fight hard to find it. It’s easy to confuse wise mind with emotion mind. You will know you are in wise mind when you have a certain level of peace. Wise mind is not in conflict. Meditation, deep relaxation, and focused breathing can help get to wise mind.
To learn more about understanding and managing emotions, check out the links and additional posts below. For specific DBT skills go to DBT Skills in the menu bar.
If you have an experience you’d like to share, add a comment at the bottom of the page. I’d love to hear from you.
“It is unwise to be too sure of ones own wisdom. It is healthy to be reminded that the strongest might weaken and the wisest might err.”