#Askingforafriend: Applying wisdom to decision-making

July 21, 2021 / by / 0 Comment

By Christine Pemberton
GCU Office of Student Care

Decisions are hard! I hate making them, and yet my role requires me to make decisions regularly.

Some decisions come easily because there is a clear path or choice. Others, however, are more difficult. These more difficult decisions normally involve situations that include some level of risk or emotion.

The risk involved can have big or small impacts on me, but it is still risk. And I don’t know about you, but when emotions are involved it makes it harder to see clearly what the “right” decision might be.

So, what do we do?

I teach my clients, friends and anyone who asks a DBT (dialectical behavioral therapy) skill called Wise Mind. This skill helps us to sort through our emotions regarding a decision and balance it with what we know to be true – the facts.

Reacting solely out of emotion (impulsively) or only out of facts (reasonably) can leave us regretting our decision, either because we made it too hastily or because it isn’t meeting our emotional needs.

In Wise Mind, we are asked to give equal time to both our emotions and the facts. It can look like …

  • Emotion Mind: Dictates action; thoughts and reasons rarely considered
  • Reasonable Mind: Deals primarily with facts; focuses on solving the problem
  • Wise Mind: Integrates both emotion and logic; avoids judgment

When we use Wise Mind to make decisions, we allow ourselves to acknowledge the emotions of the decision but avoid allowing the emotions to determine the outcome. Here is an example:

I’m being asked to go to an event on campus, and I’m new and not sure if I should go.

  • Emotions might be anxious and say, “I don’t know anyone and it’s hard to go by myself.”
  • Facts say, “If I don’t go, then how will I meet new people?”
  • Wise Mind: I could ask a roommate to go with me or go for a little while and then decide to leave if it’s too overwhelming.

This response acknowledges that I can still feel anxious about going. But instead of avoiding the event because of anxiety, I allow myself to give it a try.

Utilizing wise mind doesn’t always mean we will feel comfortable with our decision, but it does give us a more balanced foundation from which to make our decisions. Where will you apply Wise Mind this week?

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