Tuning into Wise Mind Amongst Life Changes

I’m sitting here at my computer trying to come up with just one time recently where it was difficult for me to access wise mind. It can be so difficult sometimes, that I’m having a hard time even coming up with a specific example to share. Also trying not to be judgmental about that #trying

What is coming up the most for me at this moment is what makes practicing wise mind feel impossible at times. For me, I often know what the wise mind decision is in a situation, but I struggle so much with following through on it. I want to talk more about red flags for me and things I have had to stay aware of, but first I want to back up.

DBT in general loves a few things:

  • Acronyms
  • Taking big skills and breaking them down into smaller step-by-step guides
  • A visual (flow chart for example) and
  • My focus for today → Balance.

Tuning into Wise Mind Amongst Life Changes

Wise mind is the balance between emotion and logic. Wise mind acknowledges and respects that both extremes are important and have value, so much so that we take both into consideration when we are faced with some type of decision. Wise mind is also referred to as your gut instinct, or inner wisdom. Have you ever been in a situation or in a particular place and just had a *feeling* that it was or was not right, but it was hard for you to explain exactly why? I had a feeling just like this the moment I stepped on the campus at West Chester University my senior year of high school. I just knew that I had to go there in the fall. That’s your gut. Sometimes our body just knows.

Back to the red flags – it’s not always as easy as it sounds to just listen to your gut feeling, or identify rational and emotional factors of a situation and act skillfully. For me, I need to catch the factors ahead of time and know exactly what to look out for. We know that vulnerabilities make it so much more difficult to be skillful (see my blog post from March 2021 – Help Me Out PLEASE). I’ve learned these past few months that I am sensitive to changes, and multiple changes happening at once, even if they are for the better and I’m excited for them.

In the past month or so, DBT of South Jersey opened up a second location in Moorestown (iconic) and I transitioned to that location full time. I started going into the office four days each week rather than two, and I decided to transition to a four day work week instead of five.

All of these things are exciting changes and my commute is so much shorter, but it has been a lot to adjust to in a short period of time. I’m still adjusting. I’m more tired, my workflow is completely different, my schedule is different, I have to prepare meals ahead of time. I have a lot of different wise mind decisions to make each day and it has been a lot of work!

When do I need to leave my house? Not when do I want to, when do I need to so I can be sure my computer is set up, I’m not rushing, I can check my phone and respond to an email if I need to, etc.

What time do I need to go to sleep tonight?

What do I need to pack for lunch tomorrow? Can I pack lunch in the morning? Will I have the time?

When do I need to complete my paperwork? Where can I fit that in my schedule?

I could go on.

I use the word “need” intentionally, because my emotion mind has many wants that I know are not effective for me:

I want to leave my house with 2 minutes to spare because I’m tired.

I want to put off packing lunch so I can order something at work.

I want to go to sleep later so I have more time to scroll on my phone or pinch my dog.

Knowing me and what I need for an effective day, I have to be mindful of the wise mind need instead of the emotion mind want.

I’m still working on the balance and I’ve been finding it so helpful to lean on the support of my supervisor and coworkers, be gentle with myself and be patient. With the changes, I have a lot of new habits and decisions to make, and it’s okay if it takes me some time to figure it all out.

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