1-Sentence-Summary: Mindsight offers a new way of transforming your life for the better by connecting emotional awareness with the right reactions in your body, based on the work of a renowned pyschologist and his patients.
Read in: 4 minutes
Favorite quote from the author:
Here’s a tip: If you really want to make something stick in other peoples’ minds, come up with your own word. It not only shows creativity and allows you to claim the phrase, because of its novelty, people will perk their ears up and curiously ask for more. Once you’ve given them a good definition, they’re much more likely to remember it than if you just describe something to them in regular terms.
Dr. Dan Siegel did just that. He coined the term mindsight to describe the skill of being able to reflect on the connection that exists between your body and your mind – combining emotional intelligence with self-awareness and stoicism.
Done right it can help you deal with trauma, uncertainty, improve your relationships with loved ones and of course, control your emotions. I think it’s a great concept.
Here are 3 lessons that help you develop mindsight:
- Think of yourself as a river to cultivate a balanced, harmonic self.
- Practice the three pillars of mindsight: observation, objectivity and openness.
- Be receptive, not reactive in your relationships.
Out of all the possible jedi mind tricks you could learn, mindsight is by far the best one, so let’s get to it!
Lesson 1: Imagine yourself as a river to stay calm and balanced.
This is it. If I could only ever give you three lessons to live by, this would be one of them. It’s been one of the core things that’s allowed me to live a very happy life so far. Ready for it?
Be balanced and harmonic. I believe in the golden mean. Always have, always will. Staying away from extreme thoughts and ideologies has helped me get along with most of the people I’ve met in my life, constantly adapt to my circumstances, yet never completely veer off the path I intended to pursue.
Whenever I’ve abandoned this and gone too extreme in one direction or the other, for example by slacking off too much or too little, I’ve become unhappy.
Finding the right balance means being able to adapt to changing, external circumstances, while staying stable and true to your own values. How can you do that?
Think of yourself as a gently flowing river. You won’t clash with the people in your life and your environment, but just embrace them, make room for them, flow around them and continue on your original course.
This means accepting that it’s normal for your actions, emotions and thoughts to fall into different places on a big spectrum and trying to balance emotional and rational thinking, so that neither completely takes over.
Lesson 2: Practice the three key aspects of mindsight with different exercises: observation, objectivity and openness.
The reason the above exercise helps is that it shows you that your emotions aren’t character traits – they’re fleeting experiences in your life, nothing more. This is great because it gives you control and makes them much less frustrating to deal with.
A similar exercise you can do is to imagine your mind is an ocean. What you think and feel comes in ripples, waves or even storms, but it always just moves across the surface of the ocean – the bottom deeply beneath it is always calm. The feelings on top are always temporary, but it’s still up to you to find the calmness deep within.
With exercises like these, you’ll practice the three key pillars of mindsight:
- Observation – learning to notice when distracting thoughts pull away your focus.
- Objectivity – following the flow of your thoughts without judging, noticing how you feel and learning from it.
- Openness – accepting your emotions at every turn and not letting them turn into a source of stress.
Keep practicing these and you’ll become the most balanced human being you know!
Lesson 3: Try to be receptive, not reactive in your relationships with loved ones.
We all fight with our partners. Whether you’re married, in a relationship, or even single and still waiting for someone special, you know that arguing is a natural part of any (not just romantic) human relationship.
One of the main distinguishing factors between letting those fights pile up, grow and ultimately destroy the relationship and dealing calmly with new ones to resolve them without hassle is whether you’re receptive or reactive.
If you’re reactive, every complaint your partner makes feels like a threat. You instantly go into freeze-fight-or-flight mode, trying to pretend nothing happened and ignore the problem, run away or attack your better half – none of which are good responses and ultimately lead to a big communication problem.
But if you manage to stay receptive to your partner’s feelings, you’ll always find a way to talk things through. Even if you don’t agree with them, you’ll always listen first and show them that you value and acknowledge their perspective and emotions.
And if things get really heated, you can try taking a time out from the fight, practice some of the other exercises, and return to the conversation with a fresh attitude.
My personal take-aways
What a beautiful book. I had no idea this’d turn out to be that important. But I think it outlined some of the most important ways in which you can develop mindfulness – and stay mindful. Again, lesson 1 has been one of the best things I’ve learned in my humble, 25-year old life, making this one a must-read, if you ask me.
What else can you learn from the blinks?
- How mindsight helps you in other aspects of your life
- What some of Dan’s patients did to implement these tactics
- How re-enacting events in your brain makes your mind stronger
- Which side of the brain mindsight practice trains and why
- How you can use mindsight to overcome negative childhood experiences
- Why mindset can help with past trauma and present uncertainty alike
Who would I recommend the Mindsight summary to?
The 16 year old nerd, who feels isolated at school, and is getting more and more frustrated with his peers, the 31 year old sales manager, with a tough time regulating her temper, and anyone who’s lost a relationship because they were reactive, not receptive.