How to Access Your Intuitive Knowing, or “Wise Mind”

The “wise mind” is a core component of Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) created by Dr. Marsha Linehan. Understanding our wise mind, or intuitive knowing, can help us better manage our behaviors and cultivate a sense of assurance when solving a problem or navigating conflict.

If you’d like to feel cool, calm, and collected the next time you’re making a decision (like, should I sell my house and travel cross country in an RV?), keep reading to learn more about Linehan’s three mind states and discover a strategy to tap into your wise mind.

Reasonable Mind

Our reasonable mind – or, as I often refer to it with clients, “logic brain” – operates from a place of facts, previous experience, and research. If you find yourself approaching a situation from a purely intellectual or pragmatic perspective (like directing your friend to the nearest Portillo’s), you’re likely working from your reasonable mind.

Sounds reasonable (pun intended), right? But, here’s the catch: when we approach situations from our reasonable mind, we tend to let logic and statistics guide all planning and decision-making, letting important emotions, like joy and love, take a major back seat.

Emotional Mind

As you might’ve guessed, the emotional mind comes from navigating situations with your – drumroll, please – emotions. When making decisions, our emotional mind allows us to connect with our psychological needs and check in with how we’re really feeling…like when we’re falling in love!

However, when only emotions are in the driver’s seat of problem solving, we tend to act with a sense of urgency and can be moody and/or reactive. Without the help of logic, the emotional mind’s impulsivity can lead to unintended outcomes (like saying something hurtful to a partner during a heated argument).

Wise Mind

Like most things in life, It’s all about balance. Our wise mind is guided by the *chef’s kiss* combination of reason and emotion:

“I feel___ and know ___, so I will do ___.”

For example, instead of buying an RV without consulting with your partner or dismissing your vision entirely because it feels too impractical, you and your boo might rent an RV and dream about future possibilities on your way to Sedona.

If you’re thinking “nope, there’s no reasonable bone in my body” I have some great news: we ALL have a wise mind! Promise. Just like the Chicago skyline during a cold, foggy day in March (read: third winter, following spring of deception), our wise mind can occasionally be obscured by our reasonable or emotional minds, but it’s there.


How might I go about accessing my inner wise mind, you ask? I’ve got you. By using one of DBT’s core skills: mindfulness. Try the following practices and see if any resonate with you:

  1. Take a deep breath.
  2. Pause.
  3. Now ask yourself, “is this action, thought, idea, plan, etc. my Wise Mind?”
  4. Listen for the answer.
  5. Check for any imbalance of reason or emotion.

Check in with your body. Many people experience their Wise Mind in the center of their body (belly) or in the space between their eyes. Intentionally bring awareness to these parts of your body and simply notice any thoughts or feelings that arise.

Imagine your Wise Mind as a powerful symbol (like an ancestor, mythical creature, or even yourself at the end of your life). Allow yourself to enter a meditative state and imagine yourself on a journey to meet your Wise Mind. Give yourself the time that you need to really visualize your journey – how you might get there (fly, walk, row), what you might see along the way (dense forest, lush garden), how it might feel (grass under your feet, wind in your hair) – then introduce yourself to your Wise Mind. Express your hopes, desires, and fears. Perhaps tell your Wise Mind that you’re having difficulty trusting them. Then, when you’re ready, ask your Wise Mind what you need. Allow them to respond. Be patient and know that you can always come back to visit them if you need to hear more. When you’re ready, tell your Wise Mind goodbye, then make your voyage back to reality, hopefully feeling more calm and connected with your intuitive knowing.

Want to learn more about DBT? Check out our post on radical acceptance.