Sasha, Interrupted

Allow me to share a brief lesson in DBT, aka Dialectical Behavioral Therapy. I’m pretty well-versed in this modality, mostly because in both treatment programs I’ve been in for various mental health concerns, this is what I was taught.

So, all of us have three states of mind: Reason Mind, Emotion Mind, and Wise Mind. 

Reason Mind is where your logic lies; all of your objectivity, fact-based thoughts/evidence resides here. As you can imagine, Emotion Mind is on the other end of the spectrum- it’s the part of you that hold all of your emotions, your gut instincts, your subjectivity. And finally, Wise Mind is the intersection of both Emotion and Reason Minds. This is the headspace you should primarily reside in, though not completely. When making a decision about moving to a new city or selecting the college you will attend, maybe your Reason Mind takes the reins a bit. When you’re working on a passion project that you’re excited about, your Emotion Mind might jump in. The thing is, if you spend all of your time living in Emotion Mind, you become mood dependent, impulsive, or reactive. Same with primarily being in Reason Mind, you might be disconnected in relationships, be more rigid, or ignore your feelings.

Wise Mind is where you get your intuition. It’s the happy medium where you are the most aware and effective. For folks with mental health struggles- and even those without- Wise Mind can be particularly difficult to access. Wise Mind was first described to me as being deep in a well. And that well is full of trauma, grief, financial stress, relationship struggles, etc. so your Wise Mind is harder to access. And sometimes, using your Wise Mind doesn’t always feel good initially. At the same time, it’s usually the most effective, even if your Emotion Mind tells you it’s not.

This is also tricky because your Emotion Mind is really good at impersonating your Wise Mind. It thinks it’s telling you what you need to hear, when really it’s just telling you what you want to hear. In the end, your Emotion Mind tricking you into thinking it’s your Wise Mind is more reactive than responsive. I had a therapist who helped me with this a while back. She said, “Your wise mind would never tell you to hurt yourself.” Boom. Life changed.

Now, with the lesson out of the way, I wanted to share a bit about my personal journey with the three states of mind. As many artists tend to do, I often reside more in Emotion Mind. She’s a sly one, that Emotion Mind. And she’s gotten so used to being in my head, she set up her own personal bedroom there. Because of this, I personified her, to help myself separate my Emotion Mind from my Wise Mind.

Her name is Sasha. She’s a badass- usually dressed in black with long dark hair, with sass and swag that goes on for miles. Sasha often thinks she is protecting me, or caring for me, when in actuality, she’s creating unhealthy coping habits, difficulty managing mood, and dependency upon things like perfectionism and people-pleasing. In fact, Sasha had a pretty good handle on me tonight; I almost didn’t write a post for today. She told me that no one cared what I had to say, and staying in bed with Netflix was the best thing for me. It took me a while to realize it was her. She loves disguises, that one.

So, here I am, telling Sasha to go back to her bedroom and knit herself a sweater, because I’ve got a life that’s worth living, and a blog that I’m excited about.

Our brains are pretty wild, as are our emotions. Now that I’ve identified Sasha, she’s become a bit easier to spot. And if all else fails, I can always remind myself that my Wise Mind would never tell me to hurt myself. In whatever capacity that may be.

Thanks for trying to protect me, Sasha. But I got this.

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