What are the three states of mind and what do they mean? The three states of mind are emotional mind, rational mind, and wise mind. These states of mind are important because individuals can progressively move through these states of mind into a life that is effective, fulfilling, and peaceful. The Meehl Foundation residential DBT treatment program guides clients through a process of accepting and validating emotional mind, teaching the client to use rational mind, and maintaining wise mind through this process. It is a crucial factor to know that we can actively make a choice to be in any one of the states of mind. How powerful and enlightening it is to know that each individual has the free will and ability to gain emotional freedom through personal choice.

Emotional mind engages when individuals become upset. The raw emotions and emotion-driven thoughts begin to cause the individual distress emotionally, psychologically and behaviorally, and we call this chaos and drama. Studies have proven that in an emotional state of mind that the prefrontal cortex (logical mind) becomes inactive (turns off). When raw emotions and emotion-driven thoughts are discussed here they will indicate negative and/ or self-destructive emotions and thoughts. Melanie Gordon Sheets, PhD explains it well by stating “In a difficult situation, were bombarded by many troubling feelings. That’s why we become so overwhelmed and we feel so pressured, crazy-like, and out-of-control”. She also explains that “There are many emotions and experiences, both past and present, which influence how we feel at any given moment”. While in emotional mind individuals tend to behave in ways that reflect their negative emotional mind which leads to behaving destructively to either self, others or both. An individual can change this pattern of behavior by engaging the rational mind which also reactivates the prefrontal cortex.

Using rational mind is the key to stepping out of the emotional mind experience. According to Melanie Gordon Sheets, PhD “Rational mind uses reasoning, it respects rules, it’s guided by truth, it deals with how things really are, and it’s the calm, cool, intellectual, unemotional part of us”. To initiate rational mind one must confront and challenge emotion-driven thoughts and irrational beliefs to create new positive behaviors. A residential dialectical behavioral therapy treatment program can aid an individual in moving to a rational mind state. By practicing core mindfulness, emotional regulation, distress tolerance, and interpersonal effectiveness, the individual can maintain a rational mind state which then engages wise mind.

Wise mind develops when rational mind is added to emotional mind to turn on the wise mind. In wise mind the individual can participate effectively and respond to situations or people in a positive manner. When individuals respond from wise mind they behave mindfully, wisely, and effectively. DBT treatment programs are concerned with keeping the person in wise-mind. Maintaining wise mind is done through the active practice and implementation of the dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT treatment) skills.

Emotional, rational, and wise mind are states of mind that are incorporated in each individual. So which state of mind you choose still comes down to making a choice. Will the choice be achieving a fulfilling life of balance, happiness, and joy that is created by participating effectively through the wise mind and DBT skills? Wise mind is about creating a life worth living. Which state of mind do you choose?