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DBT: Wise Mind -Walk the Middle Way

Updated March 20220

Cultivate Wise Mind

Wise Mind is a foundational DBT skill.

The last post was about the DBT foundational skill of Radical Acceptance, a concept borrowed from Buddhist philosophy and develop to use as a tool in modern psychology to help tolerate the ups and downs of life.

Learning how to use Wise Mind can help keep you out of the physiology of fight or flight mode, which of course can hijack your body and mind and trigger emotional distress.

Consciously making decisions from Wise Mind can help you live from a place of emotional balance. It’s not about being perfect, it’s about stopping, thinking and giving yourself breathing room to assess your thoughts and feelings from both a logical and emotional perspective before you make a decision or before you act.

Bring in all parts of yourself

Living from only your logical place or only your emotional place, means you leave out parts of yourself. Pull in all parts if yourself by blending in your logical and emotional sides.

Wise Mind

Marsha Linehan, Ph.D., (1993) developed a model of balanced emotional health she calls WISE MIND. Linehan (1993) describes three states of mind: “Emotional Mind,” “Logical Mind” and “Wise Mind.” When a person is in “Emotional Mind” his or her emotions are very intense, and s/he may be using emotional reasoning, foregoing logic. When a person is in “Logical Mind,” s/he is using logic to inform his or her decisions, but is avoiding or denying his or her feelings. When a person is using “WISE MIND,” s/he is allowing for both logic and emotion, allowing for personal choices to be made based on individual wants and needs, in a reasonable manner (Linehan, 1993).

Of course, we humans are not always operating in WISE MIND!! All of us weave in and out of EMOTIONAL MIND, LOGICAL MIND and WISE MIND during the day, within a broad range of normal feeling and expression. For example, for all the talk about road rage, MOST of us responsibly drive our vehicles in WISE MIND most of the time, or there would be a lot more trouble on the road! What are some things we can do to help us achieve WISE MIND during the challenging time of cancer diagnosis, treatment, and ongoing management?

One way is to become aware of thought patterns that feed fear and anxiety (that background patter that continuously runs like a playlist in our heads!!) and replace these patterns with Positive Counter-statements and Affirmations! It has been clinically proven that our thoughts can positively affect our feelings, and our behaviors (Seligman & Peterson, 2003; Linehan, 1993)!! Listed below are some helpful counter-statements and affirmations for use during trying times.

Negative Self-Talk Positive Counter-statements

This is unbearable. ===== > I can learn how to cope better with this.

What if this goes on without letting up? ===== > I’ll deal with this one day at a time, I live in the present.

Why do I have to deal with this? =====> For whatever reasons, at least for now,

I’ve been given a steeper path- a tougher curriculum. In fact, adversity develops qualities of strength & compassion.

I shouldn’t be angry!! ====== >Anger is an appropriate response to a situation when a real threat exists; I acknowledge and work through the emotion and let the anger become a positive force to help me care for myself.


I love and accept my uniqueness.

I am willing to forgive.

It is safe to look within.

I am calm and capable.

I am strong and able to cope.

I get the help I need when I need it, from various sources.

My support system is strong and loving.

I trust my intuition. I am willing to listen to that still voice within.

I enjoy the foods that are best for my body. I love every cell of my body.

You might like to read:

Other DBT Skills Training articles:


Linehan, M. M., (1993). Cognitive behavioral therapy of borderline personality disorder. New York: The Guilford Press.

Marra, T. (2004). Depressed & anxious: The dialectical behavior therapy workbook for overcoming depression and anxiety. Oakland, California: New Harbinger Publications.

Peurifoy, R.Z. (2005). Anxiety, phobias, & panic. New York: Warner Books.

Rossman, M. L. (2001). Fighting cancer from within. New York: Henry Holt & Co.

Seligman, M.E.P., & Peterson, C. (2003). Positive clinical psychology. In L.G. Aspinwall & U.M. Staudinger (Eds.). A psychology of human strengths: Fundamental questions and future directions for a positive psychology. (pp. 305-317) Washington, DC: American Psychological Association


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