By Kate Bennett, PsyD
Over the weekend, I had the fortunate opportunity to come across a lecture about free will and personal responsibility. What struck me most was the speaker’s final remark; he noted that when people make choices based on how they feel, they become slaves to their emotions and closed with the comment that “slaves are not free.”
That statement sparked the intention of this post: Learning to develop a Wise Mind. Typically, when people think about wisdom, their minds immediately jump to elders with life experiences to draw profound knowledge from. While it is impossible to rush the process of drawing wisdom from life, it is possible to develop a Wise Mind and, subsequently, develop emotional freedom.
Let’s start by breaking the mind down: Rational Mind + Emotional Mind = Wise Mind
Rational Mind: The rational mind executes behaviors based on factual information. Remember the Scientific Method from seventh grade? That is the rational mind at its best. It is logical, analytical, and intellectual by nature. The rational mind is what allows people to accomplish goals, attend to details, and prioritize tasks. The downside of the rational mind is that it avoids risk-taking, is cold, calculated, rigid, and rule-bound, and leads to boredom. As a result of the lack of passion and calculated approach, rational minds can hinder relationships.
Emotional Mind: The emotional mind is fueled by emotions. It is exciting, passionate, and creative. The emotional mind improves relationships by creating intimate connections through emotional sharing. However, it distorts facts and lacks personal responsibility which may lead to interference with goals, damaged relationships, and impulsive decisions. The emotional mind is risky by nature.
Wise Mind: The Wise Mind is a healthy balance of the rational and emotional minds working together cohesively. It is the true meaning of the sum being greater than any of its individual parts. The Wise Mind is non-judgmental and intuitive by nature. Described as spiritual transcendence by some, it allows people to see the big picture, balancing logical analysis with emotional needs.
When people engage their Wise Minds, they assume personal responsibility not only for satisfying intrinsic needs and values but also develop healthier and more fulfilling relationships. Regardless of age and life experience, the Wise Mind exists. Once people are mindfully grounded in the moment, they have the opportunity to connect with their Wise Minds.
How would your experiences in life and sport change if you intentionally practiced integrating your rational and emotional minds? All individuals have strengths and weaknesses, which means that some people are more prone to engage their rational minds while others are naturally driven by emotions. Take a moment to explore how you can balance your strengths and weaknesses to develop your Wise Mind.