What Is A Dialectic?
One of the main concepts in DBT is the goal of balancing opposites. That’s actually the “D” is DBT, “dialectical.” A dialectical stance incorporates multiple – even potentially conflicting – points of view. It’s a both/and versus either/or way of thinking.
One of the primary dialectics in DBT is acceptance and change. We balance these two, seemingly opposing, points of view in thinking about ourselves, others, and our lives.
I accept who I am, and I would like to change certain things about me.
Another dialectic in DBT involves how we think and act. Wise mind is a synthesis of different states of mind. The concept of wise mind assumes that we each have innate wisdom that can guide us in our actions and pursuits. It is a balanced, aware perspective that helps us move toward our goals, using knowledge and experience.
Wise mind is a synthesis of reasonable mind and emotion mind. Reasonable mind is our rational mind, the part of us driven by logic and facts. Reasonable mind might be in control when you are driven by facts and logic at the expense of considering your feelings (or the feelings of others). You might be in reasonable rind when you push through to complete a task, ignoring body sensations such as pain or fatigue. While emotions are valuable phenomena that we don’t want to ignore, emotion mind is your state of mind when your feelings are in control of you. We sometimes see problem behaviors or interactions occur when emotion mind is in control, governing our behavior, with reasonable mind “going offline.”
The goal, then, is the synthesis of reasonable mind and emotion mind, wise mind. Here, we take into account reason and pragmatics and we consider our (and others’) emotions. But wise mind is more than just the some of its parts. In addition to synthesizing reasonable mind and emotion mind, wise mind adds the valuable input of intuition and gut feelings.
You might know you’re in wise mind if you’re balanced, clear, and in control. You might have a sense of knowing and calm in this state. You’re attentive to your emotions and your reason, but you aren’t controlled by them. Some folks are able to locate their wise mind as a place in their bodies, perhaps in their upper abdomens, chests, or their foreheads.
There are several meditations that might help you access your wise mind, including the stone on a lake meditation and the spiral staircase meditation. Here’s another mindfulness exercise that might be helpful to access this state of mind.
If you’re facing a problem or decision in your life, sometimes it helps to identify how your reasonable mind wants to approach the issue, what your emotion mind is saying, and what your wise mind knows to be true. We can sometimes access wise mind with a little space/distance from the problem and with sufficient time to relax and reflect. To access wise mind another way, you might ask yourself, “What do I know deep down inside of me to be true?” While reasonable mind and emotion mind help us function and inform us in different ways, wise mind is often the goal, synthesizing our thoughts and feelings and adding our intuitive knowledge and experience to the mix.