Welcome to the Wise Mind Living blog!
I’m Dr. Erin Olivo (Oh-leave-oh), a licensed clinical psychologist and Assistant Clinical Professor of Medical Psychology at Columbia University.
I’m also a mother, daughter, wife, best friend, sister and New Yorker. Like you, I wear a lot of different hats throughout the day.
I’ve been treating patients for more than 18-years, and during this time I’ve taught numerous adults and teenagers how to regulate their emotions, tolerate and manage stress, and achieve a more balanced approach to life that I call Wise Mind Living.
But it’s not just my patients that need to learn this—everyone, including myself, needs to learn to live in Wise Mind!
During the many phases of our lives, we’re all confronted with opportunities to approach life from Wise Mind: whether you’re starting a new relationship or a new job, getting married or divorced, having children or sending them off to college.
But it’s not just the big things that we need Wise Mind for—it’s the everyday stuff too. Like deciding whether to work late again or to go out with your friends as planned. Or making the choice to purchase those gorgeous black boots now or wait for them to go on sale. The list is endless, but you get the point.
Wise Mind Living is when you live in balance between your emotions and logic. It’s when you have the confidence to deal with difficult decisions or situations because you’re in charge—not your emotions.
Learning how to manage your emotions is key to Wise Mind Living.
And learning to do this is a skill. Like any skill, mastering your emotions takes practice, but just like driving a car or learning to play piano, the more you practice the better you’ll get. And I’ll be here to help along the way.
Everyone has the capacity for Wise Mind Living because we all have wisdom within us. However, to fully understand this concept, you need to understand Logic Mind, Emotion Mind, and Wise Mind—the three states of mind coined by Dr. Marsha Linehan, the founder of Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT).
Logic Mind uses logic and cause and effect reasoning to guide the individual. Although Logic Mind is crucial to dealing with reality, many of life’s problems have an emotional aspect. Remember Dr. Spock from Star Trek? He only made choices in Logic Mind, and that proved to be very awkward, to say the least.
Emotion Mind is characterized by your emotions guiding how you think, feel, and behave. If Logic Mind runs cool then Emotion Mind runs hot.
When Romeo drank the poison because he thought Juliet was dead, he was making a decision in Emotion Mind. If he had taken a few deep breaths and calmed down before doing anything rash, the messenger would have arrived and the story would have had a very different ending.
The synthesis of Logic Mind and Emotion Mind is Wise Mind.
It brings together the rationality of Logic Mind and the sensitivity of Emotion Mind to create a balanced state of mind that results in Wise Mind Living.
So how does this work in real life? A decision I have to make about Halloween plans offers the perfect example.
This year Halloween falls on a Thursday, and as a therapist I tend to work into the evenings so I can see patients after they finish with work. Late afternoon into early evening also happens to be the same time you would go trick-or-treating if you have a 3 ½-year-old son who plans on being Iron Man and wants you to be Iron Mommy.
I have a dilemma and need to make a choice.
In Emotion Mind, I feel guilty about having to cancel my sessions with my patients because they count on me and I care about their well-being. I also feel guilty about the idea of not going trick-or-treating with Grady because he’ll see all the other kids with their mommies and miss me if I’m not there.
And it makes me sad to think that I would miss Grady’s third Halloween because I really want to be there with him (even though I’m not sure what an Iron Mommy costume looks like). I can’t even make a choice while I’m in Emotion Mind because I feel guilty with either decision.
In Logic Mind, I feel completely different. If I cancel my sessions on Thursday to go trick-or-treating I won’t get paid. And if I don’t get paid I won’t have money for things like food, and gas and taking care of Grady. If I make a decision purely from Logic Mind, I would work—but that doesn’t feel right to me.
We make better, more balanced choices when we make them from Wise Mind.
In order to get to Wise Mind, first I have to regulate my emotions—observe them, label them, identify the thoughts associated with them—then step back and take perspective. Is my guilt justified? Yes. My thinking is not over blown and I haven’t added anything catastrophic to the situation that isn’t real, like I might lose my job if I cancel a few sessions.
So now I need to problem solve. If this were Grady’s weekly play date that he has all the time with the same friend, then I’d be putting too much pressure on myself to be there, and I’d work.
However, Halloween only happens once a year but there are a lot of Thursdays in a year. I know I can reschedule my patients so I can see everyone, and although the downside to that might mean having to work a few 12-hour days, that’s the choice I’m going to make.
Wise Mind tells me that this is a choice worth making because three months from now my patients and I won’t remember that we had to reschedule one session. But in three months, and even three years from now, I would definitely remember that I had missed Grady’s third Halloween.
I hope this has been a good introduction to Wise Mind Living, and that you’ll continue to check-in with my blog and share this article if you liked it.
Remember, the very first step towards Wise Mind Living and managing your emotions is to notice and label what state of mind you’re in.
Sometimes just identifying that you’re in Emotion Mind is all it takes to start moving you toward Wise Mind.
So here’s your homework assignment: Try to pay attention to what state of mind you’re in at various times throughout the month and label it. Taking a moment to do this will help prevent you from reacting without thinking the problem through.
I’d love to hear about your own Wise Mind Living situations and how Wise Mind has helped you make better choices in your life. Please leave your comments in the section below.
And now, I’m going to start working on my Iron Mommy costume. Don’t forget to do your homework!