The Wise Mind

- By Santhoshi Bhadri

Do you often find yourself acting or making decisions based on what you are feeling at that particular moment? Or are you that kind of a person who makes decisions by paying attention to the observable facts and focusing more on what’s right or wrong? They say too much of anything can be injurious. Those of you who agree with the first question, are most likely to be operating out of ‘The Emotional Mind’. This means that your feelings control your thoughts, behaviour, and decisions. This does not mean that you are not aware of the facts of the situation. You do notice them but will most likely avoid them because you are giving more power to your emotional state. Those of you who relate with the second question more, are most likely to be operating out of ‘The Reasonable Mind’. This indicates that you view the world rationally and give more importance to factual information. You focus on what is right or wrong according to the rules and approach situations intellectually. 

Brain is a physical organ, mind represents thoughts that resides in the brain and mindset is the process that moulds the thought process. Our mindset is the byproduct of the circumstances and experiences that we are in and have been in the past. So, the glass that seemed half empty yesterday might seem half full today. But these extreme fluctuations may many a times hamper our decision making capabilities. Relying too much on Reasonable mind may prevent you from being empathetic as you will be more calculative of what you  would gain or loose from the act. Relying too much on the emotional mind may push us into helping anyone and everyone which many a times may lead to people take advantage of your emotional mindset. Both these mindsets have their own importance, so removing either is not a solution. Now, the question is: which is the right mindset that should be used when you approach any situation or a problem? Both the above-mentioned mindsets have their own pros and cons, but, they’re both also on the extreme ends. The solution always lies in striking the right balance.  So, when the two mindsets are mixed , there comes out ‘The Wise Mind’ that also is instrumental in nurturing your Emotional Intelligence. The dictionary defines emotional intelligence as the "capacity to be aware of, control, and express one's emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically".

The Wise Mind helps you to recognize and respect your feelings (The Emotional Mind) while responding to them in a rational way (The Reasonable Mind). One can say that they are operating out of The Wise Mind when they are aware of their emotions and what they’re feeling in that particular situation while being able to deal with those emotions in a mature and rational way. The Wise Mind allows you to avoid acting on your emotions. It also helps in avoiding focusing on right or wrong and makes you more understanding. You become more insightful, truth focused, understanding, and reflective of situations you are in. A conscious effort to keep your emotions in check and employing self assessment methods to ensure you are incharge of your body and mind is what is required to strike a balance and develop a mindset that always relies on the wise mind. 

Now the question is: how can you nurture and develop your wise mind? It needs time, effort, and patience. These are few tips that can assist you in developing the wise mind:

1)  Mindfulness: Mindfulness is the practice of purposely focusing your attention only on the present moment—and accepting it without judgment. It is a form of meditation. It develops your ability to observe what is going on within yourself in any situation. The goal here is to reflect on your thinking and feeling, independent of the circumstances, observing what is going on in one’s mind like watching clouds drift through the sky.

2)  The bigger picture: Once you encounter a situation, do not jump to conclusions. Take a step back and see the bigger picture. Consider your emotions, the observable facts of that situation, your experiences, and the outcomes. After analyzing all of them, go for the most viable option.

3)  Strong sense of self: Think about your core values, your strengths, and your weaknesses. Build deep knowledge of your beliefs and those areas which you would like to develop further. Once you are clear about what exactly it is that you want, it will be easier to make decisions that won’t entirely be driven by either your emotions or your rationality.

4)  Be non-judgmental:  Stick to only what you observe, not what you’re interpreting from the situation. For example, many times, when we are discussing something with a friend, and she/he is speaking in a comparatively louder voice, we conclude that they are trying to argue with you. That interpretation triggers our emotions. Do not evaluate without any concrete evidence.

Using The Wise Mind is like learning to ride a bicycle without wheels. It needs balance, effort, and steering. Just as we learn to ride through experience, we learn to use The Wise Mind too through experience.

Think and Reflect:

Let us start practice using our wise ming by dwelling into few of our past experiences. It will help us train our brain to be prepared to act wisely in the present.  

Think about any recent situation where you were required to make a tough decision. Analyze it and describe the situation with the three mindsets discussed in this article. 

About the Author

Santhoshi is a psychology student. She believes in empathy as the greatest gift we, as humans, can possess and that it can elevate humanity. Her life mantra is "to find beauty in the humblest things."