Transformation: Mindsight

Posted on September 25, 2015

We have followed our hero through the acquisition of the mind, which we’ve defined as a relational, environmental, and biological emergent phenomena that has the power to regulate the flow of energy and information. Mindfulness brings awareness into the hero’s life. It is this awareness that allows the next stage of transformation, Mindsight. Here we see transformative changes and healing arise from understory, or soul, of our hero.

Mindsight is a word created by Daniel Siegel to represent, “…a kind of focused attention that allows us to see the internal workings of our own minds.” I tweak this slightly, to “Utilizing mindful awareness to apprehend the inner nature of things and see them intuitively.” Mindsight is insight that is connected to the values and soul of the hero. Whereas insight might help one see a problem in a different light, Mindsight is insight with the motivation needed to transform oneself and one’s existence.


In the abyss of spiritual and emotional death, the hero loses connection with spirit and with who they are as a person in relation to others and the world. The mentor, counselor of the mind, not only shines the light of hope into the abyss but helps the hero reconnect with their very being as a person. This reconnection with self and spirit is the energy of the transformational process.

hero transformation

This is a powerful process and key to our work with clients. In the practice of Motivational Interviewing, we have long understood the power of values in the change process. If you have not read the post Maximizing the Importance Question, I really suggest you take a few minutes to review, as it gives a practical approach to maximizing the type of Mindsight we are examining here.

I want to add to this approach by putting forth five steps that can help clients unleash the power of Mindsight. The first step is one we discussed in the last post: mindfulness. Mindfulness brings awareness to the situation and brings online the brain areas that are critical to insight. Without the calm and presence of mindfulness, Mindsight will not be able to occur.

CDThe next step is awareness that a dilemma exists. This is why values are critical, as they provide a shared understanding of the rules that the client lives or strives to realize in their lives. Creating a shared understanding of the client’s values is one of the most, if not the most, critical tasks for any helper.

Values provide the baseline in which behaviors and future aspirations can be considered. Without bringing their values into consciousness, the client might not realize that their behaviors (or life) is out of sync with what they value. While it might seem obvious to us that they are not living their values, few clients have had a chance to fully consider and discuss this reality with an empathetic helper. In my Motivational Interviewing trainings, I have participants go through a similar values process and witness the power of this exercise, even with someone considering small changes they are trying to make in their own lives.

Once the values are established, the next stage of Mindsight, cognitive dissonance, soon follows. Cognitive dissonance is the stress created when someone becomes aware that their actions or lives are not aligned with their values. We can all deviate from our values to some extent without experiencing a great deal of stress. This is what is called the Zone of Tolerance. However, the more behaviors stray from alignment with our values, the more likely it is that the client will experience anxiety and a pull to change the situation.

This anxiety, or cognitive dissonance, is where motivation lies. It is also critical for the helper to help the client see hope, which is the fourth stage of Mindsight. Here, hope gives a path for motivational for action and can result in change and healing. It can be harmful to realize that behaviors are not aligned with values if there is no way to correct this dilemma. The helper, through support and resources, helps bring tangible steps for the client to take towards the life they want to live.

The final step of Mindsight is motivation, or the commitment and movement towards actions to resolve the dilemma. This is the action stage in the stages of change, and is the realization of the transformative process. Step by step, the client hero takes back control of their life and world. It is important to remind ourselves that this journey is never easy or smooth, as there will be setbacks and relapse, but every step in a positive direction is a reason to celebrate.

This week, I want you to think about how you might utilize the steps of Mindsight with your clients or in our own life. Please share your insights in the comment section.

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