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  • Writer's pictureKim Gibson, MS, ATR, LPCC

Tuning into One’s Wise Mind

Updated: Mar 19, 2020

Have you ever had the experience after you’ve made a decision & you just knew it was the right choice for you? Even if others were doing something completely different? or suggesting you do things in a different way?  The knowing and confidence that comes with this experience is an example of Wise mind.

Decisions made by one’s wise mind feel good; they just feel right.  It’s that wise inner part of us that just ‘knows’ what is true or valid. Wise mind occurs when you are balanced between a reasonable & emotional mind. Some refer to their wise mind as their ‘clear mind’ or ‘kind mind’.

Wise mind is where one’s Emotional mind and Reasonable mind meet. Please see the image below.  The concept, wise mind was created by Marsha Linehan, founder of DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy).  She wanted a way to help clients better understand how to stay balanced and stay centered when making decisions or taking actions.

Linehan (1993) suggests that the best way to achieve and maintain Wise Mind is through Mindfulness. Mindfulness can be difficult to practice.  It often feels really hard to do at first. It is hard to slow down and to focus on one’s breathing and not react to whatever thoughts, feelings, or sensations that pop up.  But research tells us that once you start practicing regularly it can be one of the most effective strategies in managing emotional deregulation, depression, anxiety and chronic stress.  It can lead to improved relationships and feeling overall more contented with life.

One free way to get started with Mindfulness Meditation is to start with a free app.  There are several good ones out there. But the one that I often recommend is “UCLA Mindful”.  Here is a link to it:

UCLA has a Mindful Awareness Research Center & its website lists classes, free events & meditations.  Here is the link:

Another way to stay in Wise Mind is by checking in with your self. 

Take the following steps and ask yourself the following questions:

STOP.  and PAUSE.  Then, take a deep breath before taking action

Ask your self the following questions:

- What does Wise Mind make of this?

- What’s the bigger picture?

- What will the consequences of my reaction be? (short and long term)

- What’s going to be the best response to this situation – best for me, for others, for the situation.

- What will be most helpful and effective, all things considered?

The key here is to stop or slow down and really take a moment to reflect on what will be the best course of action.  Ask yourself, "How can I take action that is in line with my values & the type of life I want to live?"

Art Therapy Technique: If you want to explore your Wise Mind using art materials, consider drawing three circles overlapping like the image above. Label the circles "Reasonable Mind, Wise Mind, and Emotional Mind." Next, recall a time when you made a difficult decision or took action, was it from your reasonable, emotional or wise mind? Color in that circle using lines, shapes & colors that represent how it felt when that part of your mind was activated. Was it comfortable? Was it calm? Was it overwhelming? Was it filled with tension? Was your actions or your decision in line with your values? Did your actions help you reach your goals?

After creating your artwork, take some time to reflect...what is your art telling you? Are there any shifts in your life that need to be made?

I hope this was helpful info. Please reach out if you would like to learn more about how to tune into your Wise Mind. This seems especially important right now with all that is going on in our world with the Coronavirus. The majority of therapists, myself included, are continuing to provide therapy. Instead of meeting in person, most sessions are now being conducted via video sessions, a surprisingly easy and effective way to have a session. Please let me know if you would like more info.

With kindness,


*Adapted from Linehan, 1993 p. 63-65 Skills Training Manual for Treating Borderline Personality Disorder. The Guilford Press, New York, NY

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