What is a Wise Mind?

In DBT it is considered that there are three primary states of mind;

1 – Reasonable Mind

2 – Emotional Mind

3 – Wise Mind

A person is in “Reasonable Mind” when they are thinking rationally (acting so as to achieve one’s goals, given one’s beliefs) and logically. They base decisions by observations and experience rather than theory. They can focus attention and remains “Cool” in an approach to problems.

A person is in “Emotion Mind” when their thinking and behavior are controlled primarily by their current emotional state. Thinking in a reasonable or logical way is very hard. Facts are amplified and can be distorted  and any approaches to the problem are “hot” being driven by the current emotional state.

“Wise Mind” is the integration of both the “Reasonable and Emotion Minds” In fact it goes even further than that. “Wise Mind” adds intuitive knowing to emotional experiencing and logical analysis.

So how do we create our own Wise Minds?

We have to implement the skills required to balance the “Emotion and Reasonable Minds”

Mindfulness skills are the vehicles for such balance. Becoming Mindful requires a number of skills (all of which we can implement in our lives)

There are three “What” skills

1 – Observing

2 – Describing

3 – Participation

There are three “How” skills

1 – Taking a non-judgemental stance

2 – Focusing on one thing in the moment

3 – Being effective

“Wise Mind” is that place where “Reasonable and Emotion” mind overlaps. One could call it, the integration of the “Reasonable and Emotion” mind. It is that part of all of us that can know and experience truth. Where we know something to be true or valid. Wise mind is not Hot or Cool, it is almost always quite. This place is a special and rewarding place and has peace of mind. It is where the person knows something in the centered way.

Think of how we all have a heart, but some of us do not currently experience things “from the heart” Having a wise mind is very similar to experiencing things from the heart.

Wise mind is like a deep well in the ground. The water at the bottom and the vast underground river linked to this water is our wise mind. Sometimes though it is difficult for us to reach that water. There are things that are blocking the descent to the water. Sometimes there are trap doors and these doors are so cleverly built that one can believe there is no water at the bottom of the well. In fact, the trap door could look like its the bottom of the well, but its not. It might be that you just need a key to unlock the door, or maybe its nailed shut and you need a hammer to remove the nails.

Finding the way to opening that trap door allows us to reach our wise minds.

Wise Mind “AHA” Moments

You can experience “Wise Mind” moments when you listen to someone else describe their behavior. You may find yourself thinking ” Yes I have experienced that too” or “so that’s why I do that”

Wise mind is sometimes experienced in the center of the body (gut feeling) or in the center of the head or between the eyes.

Sometimes a person can find their wise mind by following their breath in and out.

When someone has to make a decision and they know that their decision is absolutely the right thing to do and their decision is not influenced by any sense of fear, dread or anxiety, they are experiencing wise mind. They “just know” they are doing the right thing, there is absolutely no doubt of mind.

Wise mind can often follow after a crises or chaos. Have you ever experienced clarity of thought following a crisis? For example, when we have had a big bust up with our partner there can be a period after, when we get to the heart of the matter and we see or know something with clarity.

We can make better choices for the dilemma, when the feeling comes from deep within rather than from a current emotional state.

Therefore if we can generate “Wise Mind” moments when we are faced with dilemmas, conflict or chaos, we are in a much better position to tackle the situation as opposed to allowing our emotional mind to override the situation. This can be especially beneficial for anger management, addiction concerns and well being.

In my next article, I will introduce the basic skills for Mindfulness. Skills that you can adopt and integrate into your everyday affairs. Being Mindful will allow entry to your Wise Mind and promote a more positive and healthy lifestyle for you and those that you care about.

If you would like to talk to me directly about your concerns, please reach out here.


(Research and some wording recited from Core Mindfulness by Marsha Linehan)


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