Have you ever felt like you were hijacked by your emotions? Like your emotions were in the driver’s seat and you were just riding along as a passenger? You’re in good company.  

DBT calls this Emotion Mind. In Emotion Mind, a person’s thinking and behavior is controlled by their feelings in a given moment to such an extent that facts, logic, and long term consequences are overlooked.

There are actually three “States of Mind”, and we all experience each of them.

Reasonable Mind is when a person pushes their emotions to the side in favor of facts, logic, and prioritizing long-term consequences.  While this can be useful in certain situations, emotions provide us with important information that we do not want to dismiss!

Wise Mind is that balanced place between Emotion Mind and Reasonable Mind. When in Wise Mind a person is able to identify and validate their emotions while at the same time being able to keep reason and logic in sight. It is in Wise Mind that we are able to prioritize both short term and long term goals and consequences and see the whole situation clearly, not just one piece of the puzzle.

Here at CCDBT we often refer to Wise Mind as our “forever” skill. This is because getting into Wise Mind is not something you do once in your life, or even 50, or 100 times. It is a state of mind that we are constantly working towards, over and over again. Any situation when emotions are involved is a perfect time to practice.

So how do I move from Emotion Mind towards Wise Mind? Here are some helpful first steps:

  1. Pause – find a way to stop and take a step back. When we allow ourselves time to accurately observe and describe the world around us we then have the power to CHOOSE how to respond rather than to REACT emotionally
  2. Name it to tame it – try naming to yourself or aloud what emotion you are feeling in a given moment. When we are able to do this we are less likely to be “hijacked” by our emotions
  3. Identify facts or truths about a particular situation – when we add in factual information to an overly emotional picture, we begin to shift towards wise mind
  4. Catch judgments –judgements about ourselves and other people tend to fuel our emotions. Try to notice your judgements when they happen and try describing your reaction in more fact based and observational language to reduce the intensity of your emotions