If you ask 10 people “What is wisdom?” you will likely get 10 different answers, but connecting them are underlying themes, such as having a wealth of knowledge, but knowing the limits of that knowledge, taking different perspectives into account, being compassionate, or having self-awareness. Often, we decide who is wise by observing the outcomes of the decisions they make in their lives and the quality of their relationships. We see the wisdom they hold through their actions and by the level of well-being in their lives.
Often wisdom is used synonymously with knowledge or insight, but if you dive a little deeper, you will find that knowledge and insight are aspects of wisdom.
Knowledge is the accumulation of facts that you have learned or information you have gained through experience. Knowledge is about study, research, investigation, observation- about taking in new things. As a culture, we are good at obtaining knowledge, and fact-based, left-brained, intellectual information is revered.
Insight, the other aspect of wisdom, takes knowledge to a deeper level. It is an awareness of the interrelated nature of that which you are knowledgeable of; something that is not so easily taught. Insights can come suddenly and can feel like a piece of the puzzle just dropped into place. They come from inside, rather than from outside. This deep-seated intuition comes from an integration of “direct experience, immediate cognition, and the grasping of the meaning, significance, or truth of an event without relying on intellectual analysis.” Insights can feel like a gift, bestowed upon you from an invisible giver.
We refer to that space within the mind where one’s knowledge and insight come together as the Wise Mind. The phrase comes from Dialectical Behavior Therapy’s (DBT), where they conceptualize the Wise Mind as the sweet spot between the rational (fact-based) part of our minds and the emotional (feeling-based) part. DBT is a mindfulness-based behavioral therapy that focuses on balancing the tension between acceptance and change, which can enable the synthesis of opposing thoughts, emotions, and behaviors.
The core of the wise mind involves a deep sense of intuitive knowing (insight). The wise mind is insight in action. It is the fruit of knowledge and experience. The integration of these 2 “minds” creates insightful thinking, and insightful thinking put into practice is wisdom.
As with any new skill, getting into a state of wise mind (or cultivating wisdom) requires practice. Sadly, many of us humans can gain a lifetime of knowledge but never derive insights from it, and never move towards practicing wisdom. In modern times, we look at knowledge as power; a resource that we can use to gain status, authority, and financial security. We are overwhelmingly rationally minded, and when we do leap over to our emotional mind, it is often so chaotic and foreign feeling that we can’t wait to jump back out.
The idea of learning how to act from the wise mind is that with enough practice, it will become natural. Once you practice new skills consistently and persistently, they become second nature. Obtaining knowledge, being open to insights, and then living (acting) from the truths you discover is practicing the skill of wisdom; which leads you to live from a wise mind more often than you are living weighted towards either a rational or emotional mind.
The familiar association between wisdom and old age is connected to the idea that first, one must have knowledge and insight before they can practice the skill of wisdom, but even young people can be mindful of discerning which aspects of knowledge are true, right, lasting, and applicable to their life. What other pieces of knowledge might I be missing, and what insights can I continue to draw from that which I know? How can I encourage insights in my life and use them to direct my actions?
These are just a few of the questions that you will learn to ask yourself through Wisdom Coaching. You will learn how to use the wise mind to transform knowledge into insight, and then use those insights to practice wisdom in your daily life.
Comfort with Uncertainty
Ability to Adopt Multiple Perspectives
Desire Towards the Good of the Whole
Meet the Coach- Aimee O’Neil MSW
My name is Aimee, and I am the founder of Wisdom Cultivators and the provider of Wisdom Coaching. I believe that our culture is drowning in knowledge while starving for wisdom. It may sound dramatic, but I believe wisdom will save us. Wisdom is vital to keeping our evolution as humans in balance, and that is why I do this work.
I am a Social Worker, and although I have worked as a therapist, Wisdom Coaching more closely resembles life coaching, than psychotherapy. I do not diagnose or treat mental illnesses in my role as a coach.
There is growing interest in the study of wisdom among social scientists. The most recent research points towards the idea that wisdom is a skill that can be learned and needs to be practiced.
I believe there are many forces in our culture that make it difficult to learn and practice those skills. Counteracting those forces, by teaching tools for stepping into the wise mind, is what Wisdom Coaching is all about.