Wise mind

Jiminy cricket was the little guy on Pinocchio’s shoulder, steering him and reminding him to “always let your conscious be your guide”. Jiminy was teaching us all to pay attention to the bigger picture – our conscious – not just our emotional self – or perhaps put another way, our values. 

When something tough is going on can almost feel as if there are different parts of us feeding into how we think about what’s happening and, in turn, how we react. Psychologist Marcia Linehan developed dialectic behaviour therapy which, in part, encourages us to understand we have different “minds” or mindsets that inform our reactions and at different times we have a tendency to sit in one or another. 

“Reasonable mind” is just the logical facts of a situation, devoid of any emotion and this mind can feel detached. “Emotional mind” is as you would expect, intensely emotional, with little or only cloudy logic, and thinking is distorted by emotion and reactions driven by emotion. “Wise mind” is a balance between the two or “the middle way”.   

When you are acting in wise mind you might be more mindful. You might be slower to react, more considered and ask yourself, is this action in keeping with my values? When you act from wise mind it can “feel right”. 

We can become more skilled at noticing these different “minds” and more skilled in acting from wise mind. We can notice when we are devoid of the emotion completely or when we are acting from our emotional mind with no reason. The trick is first to notice.

Tarnya Davis is a clinical and forensic psychologist and principal of NewPsych Psychologists.