The mind is considered to have three states: a rational (or reasonable) mind, the emotional (or reactive) mind and the wise mind.
When in stressful or challenging situations, we can use any one of these states of mind, but we mostly tend to adopt one over the others or respond with a default state. Other times, it can feel like a genuine battle.
The emotional mind is when our feelings or urges dictate our behaviours or choices; this can look and feel like an impulsive reaction where the consequences are not well-considered or regarded. For example, saying hurtful things to a loved one or buying expensive things on credit.
The rational mind is governed more by intellectual thought, reasoning and planning; situations are approached by using a decision making process or weighing up of pros, cons and expected consequences. Emotions are pretty much ignored. For example, making a budget of your finances before spending or reading the reviews of a new restaurant you would like to try.
The wise mind is the middle-ground between the emotional and rational minds; the point of intersection where both feelings and rational thoughts are balanced.
This means that whilst feelings are still recognised and validated, the way we respond to them is given some careful thought. For example, the strong urge to accept an invite to go out with friends for a long night of eating and drinking, when you have an assignment due to the next day. Another example might be wanting to 'lash out' at a co-worker who made a passing insult, but you pause and step away to consider the best way to manage the hurt.
Image source: Therapist Aid LLC (2015)
The wise mind strategy has the power to manage distressing emotions, avoid or reduce potentially negative or harmful consequences in our life and can develop our communication and interpersonal skills. Go, and be wise.
By Katherine Hurrell, Ph.D.
Clinical Psychologist, Sydney, Australia