SOLUTION: Ashford University Mindfulness Discussion

Copyright 2007. Information Age Publishing.
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CHAPTER 9
CONSCIOUSNESS AND
COMMUNITY
Up to this point we have limited our discussion of consciousness primarily
to the individual: what you or I or any other person experiences “inside
the head” during our waking hours. But since we are all social beings, the
reality of living is that each conscious individual is necessarily part of
some larger grouping—partners, spouses, friends, relatives, coworkers,
family, team, club, organization, company, neighborhood, community—
comprising two or more conscious beings. Since most of us belong to several such groups, a good deal of our conscious experience is shaped by
our contacts with other group members. Our consciousness can also be
substantially affected by the manner in which we experience the many
other “unaffiliated” people we encounter in our daily lives. Indeed, it is
probably no exaggeration to say that the quality of your life is determined in large part by your relationships with other people. For this
reason, the main goals of this chapter are to encourage you to reflect on
your typical ways of relating to others and to provide you with some tools
for clarifying and understanding your relationships with the important
people in your life.
As we saw briefly in the initial discussion of feeling states (chapter 5),
there are certain types of feelings that are uniquely connected with your
interactions with other people. In this chapter we will discuss these different states in some detail and explore the different types of beliefs about
Mindworks: Becoming More Conscious in an Unconscious World, pp. 173–204
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173
174 A. W. ASTIN
others that can cause you to experience many of these “interpersonal” feelings. Following this we will suggest some exercises that can help you to get
a clearer picture of your emotional relationships with significant people in
your life. Next, in a section titled, “Getting to Know You,” we will pay special attention to how your beliefs can affect the way you experience people
you do not know well or people you are meeting for the first time. We will
conclude the chapter with a discussion of an age-old dilemma: how to reconcile the “conflicting” needs of the individual and the community.
“INTERPERSONAL” FEELING STATES
The dictionary analysis identified more than 150 terms that can used to
describe how you feel toward others. These terms can, in turn, be organized into 39 different “interpersonal” feeling states. Like most of the
other feeling states already discussed, many of these interpersonal feelings can be paired together as “positive” and “negative” polar opposites
of each other. However, in the case of interpersonal feelings, the negative
feeling states substantially outnumber the positive states (25 to 14). Let us
now examine these interpersonal states under three general headings:
feelings of “relatedness,” “comparative” feelings, and “reactive” feelings.
Feelings of Relatedness
Many important aspects of your conscious experience are shaped by
the emotional relationships that you have with others. What are the emotional connections that you have with other people in your life? How close
do you feel toward your friends, family, neighbors, and coworkers? How
do you typically relate to strangers?
Probably the most fundamental of all such relatedness feelings are the
polar opposites, loving and hating. Since love and hate are both complex
feelings, they can assume several different forms. In the case of loving
feelings, there are at least three different versions: romantic love, nonromantic love, and caring. For example, when you experience a feeling of
romantic love in relation to your spouse or partner, you might say that
you feel “in love with,” romantic, adoring, smitten, infatuated with, or
enamoured. Such feelings of romantic love are also often connected with
sexual feelings. (Since sexual feelings are not necessarily interpersonal
and are almost always accompanied by physical sensations, they have
already been discussed under “physical” feelings in chapter 6.) On the
other hand, if your loving feeling is nonromantic, it might be captured by
words such as like, fond of, cherish, or affectionate. You can, of course,
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Mindworks: Becoming More Conscious in an Unconscious World 175
experience both romantic and nonromantic loving feelings toward the
same person. (Since the word “love” has a number of different meanings
and can be an emotionally loaded term, some people are uncomfortable
using it to describe their feelings in friendships that are nonromantic and
non-sexual; for such people the preferred term is usually “like.”) Finally,
caring refers to the way you feel when you are inclined to act on your loving feelings. Variations on feeling caring toward another person would
include feeling kind, warm, nurturing, tender, protective, maternal, or
fatherly toward that person. Note that you often combine these different
types of loving feelings, since you usually “like” or feel “loving” toward
those you “care about,” and vise versa.
The negative or polar opposite feeling to loving is, of course, hating.
Alternative ways to describe hateful feelings would be to say that you feel
hostile or antagonistic toward the other person or that you have feelings
of malice, enmity, dislike, animosity, or loathing toward that person.
Closely related to hatefulness is to feel “angry” or “mad” at someone, a
“bodily” feeling state that was also discussed earlier in chapter 6. Whereas
angry feelings arise rapidly in your awareness and tend to last for a relatively short time, hate tends to be much longer lasting. Indeed, it is possible to carry hateful feelings toward particular people over a period of
many years. These long-lasting feelings of hatred can be directed at particular individuals, but they also often involve groups, as evidenced in
places such as Northern Ireland, Africa, and the Middle East, not to mention our own country (e.g., the infamous “Hatfield-McCoy” rivalry). Figure 9.1 shows the “enriched” love-hate continuum.
It should be noted that caring also has another negative polar opposite, feeling vengeful, which will be discussed below under “reactive” feelings. In a sense, “vengefulness is to hate as caring is to love,” since
feelings of caring and vengefulness both incline you to take action in relation to the other person; in the case of caring, the feeling is associated
with wanting to help, while with vengefulness the feeling is associated
with wanting to hurt the other person.
It goes without saying that these two bipolar continua of feelings—loving/hating and caring/vengeful—are closely related. That is, you will find
it much easier to feel caring toward someone else if you also love or like
them, and you are much more likely to feel vengeful toward another person if you also feel hateful toward that person.
How do your beliefs relate to feelings of love and hate? As already suggested earlier in Chapter 2, most if not all of your negative feelings
about other people are based on your beliefs. In the case of hate, you
usually feel hateful toward someone because you believe either that they
have hurt or harmed you in some way or that they represent some kind of
threat to you (i.e., that they might do harm to you.) In the latter case,
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176 A. W. ASTIN
Loving (romantic)
(in love with, infatuated,
smitten, adoring, enamoured)
Liking (nonromantic loving)
Hating
(fond of, cherish,
(antagonistic,
affectionate)
hostile, malice,
loathing
animosity,
enmity
Caring (warm, nurturing, tender,
protective, motherly, fatherly)
Figure 9.1.
The “enriched” love-hate continuum.
there is usually also an element of fear involved—which is why many psychologists contend that feelings of anger or hate are often based on fear.
While this helps to explain why fear is often regarded as one of our most
primitive and basic feeling states, it should also be noted that fear is also
based on beliefs, that is, the belief that something or someone can or will
do you harm. Similarly, feeling hurt—another emotion that can generate
feelings of hatred—is based on a belief that someone has rejected you or
otherwise done you harm.
In the case of positive interpersonal feelings such as loving or liking,
the role of beliefs is not as clear. While it could be argued that you could
come to like or love somebody because you believe that they are beautiful
or good or because you believe that they have treated you well, it is usually
much more difficult in any individual instance to trace the emergence of
such positive feelings to particular beliefs. Most people, for example, do
not like or love everyone whom they see as either good or beautiful, and
most people do not necessarily love or like another person merely
because they believe that person has treated them well. Romantic love, in
particular, is very difficult to “explain” on the basis of particular beliefs.
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Mindworks: Becoming More Conscious in an Unconscious World 177
EXERCISE
Think of a person for whom you have recently felt loving feelings.
(a) Write down at least two related beliefs that you hold about that
person. Repeat the exercise with two other people: (b) one for
whom you have recently felt caring and (c) one for whom you felt
hateful or vengeful.
Even though love and hate probably receive more attention in psychology and in literature than do most other feelings of relatedness, there are
a great many much more subtle relatedness feelings that govern most of
our emotional relationships with others. Like loving and hating, many of
these more subtle feelings can be viewed as either “positive” or “negative.” On the positive side, these subtle feelings of relatedness can take at
least three different forms: connectedness, trust, and empathy. When you
feel connected to another person—a good friend, for example—you
might say that you “feel a strong connection” or “have rapport” with that
person. Other ways to describe such a feeling would be to say that you feel
like minded, related to, in tune with, allied with or identified with, or feel
a kinship with that person. A milder version of positive connectedness
would be to feel friendly or “neighborly” toward the other person. It is
important to note that when you feel both strongly connected and loving
toward someone else, several other feelings are likely to arise: intimacy,
trust, vulnerability, and possibly sexuality.
On the negative (disconnectedness) end of this continuum there are
two different types of feelings that we shall call “passive” and “active” disconnectedness, respectively. When you feel passively disconnected from
others—that is, when you believe that it is not something that you have
chosen to do—you might say that you feel alone, lonely, forlorn, left out,
ignored, excluded, or like an outcast, a pariah, or an outsider. This feeling
of passive disconnectedness can occur in relation to another person, but it
most often arises in relation a group: “They make me feel like an outsider.” When you feel actively disconnected—that is, when you believe
that the disconnection is something you have chosen to do—you might
say that you feel aloof, distant, isolated, separated, or alienated: “I’ve distanced myself from them.” Note that while passive disconnectedness suggests a feeling of helplessness—“Those people don’t connect with or care
about me”—, active disconnectedness is to a certain extent a matter of
choice: “I’ve disconnected myself from those people (that person).”
A close cousin of connectedness is trust. Here again we have a bipolar
continuum with trusting at the positive end and suspicious at the negative
end. Alternatives to trusting someone else would be to “believe in,” “rely
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178 A. W. ASTIN
on,” or “have faith in” them. There are even more variations on being suspicious of another person: you can also feel guarded, leery, defensive, distrustful, doubtful, unsure of, mistrustful, or “on guard” when you are
around them. When it comes to your relationships with others, these negative feelings are extremely important, not only because of how they affect
the way you treat other people, but also because of how their behavior
toward you is affected. Obviously, people will tend to treat you one way if
you trust them, and quite differently if you are suspicious of them.
A third subtle feeling state that is closely related to connectedness and
trust is empathy. Empathy basically has to do with putting yourself mentally and emotionally in the other person’s place, imagining how it would
be to be feeling and thinking what the other person is feeling and thinking. In addition to feeling empathic toward another person, you could
also feel “compassionate” or “understanding of ” that person. On the
negative (nonempathic) end of the empathy continuum is intolerance.
Besides feeling that you have “no tolerance for” someone else’s views or
actions, you could also feel “unsympathetic” toward them, “offended” by
them, or that you have “no use for” them. (Terms like “judgemental” and
“self-righteous” might also apply, but you would ordinarily use these
terms to label or judge another person’s feelings or behavior rather than
to describe your own feelings.) And just like suspicion and trust, empathy
and intolerance are feelings that others are likely to “pick up on.”
These three continua of subtle relatedness feeling states are obviously
related, since you are better able to trust someone or to feel empathic if
you also feel connected to them, and you are more likely to feel defensive
or intolerant toward another person if you also feel disconnected or distant. These same three continua, in turn, are also related to the “lovinghating” and “caring-vengeful” continua. That is, if you have feelings of
love or caring toward another person, it is much easier to establish rapport and trust and to feel empathic. At the same time, feeling disconnected from someone else or feeling suspicious or intolerant of them
EXERCISE
Complete the following sentence:
“I feel an emotional distance between myself and______________.”
(b) Think of at least two other feelings that you have toward this
person or group.
(c) When was the last time you felt really alone, like an outsider,
like you did not belong? Can you think of any beliefs about yourself that might be associated with this feeling?
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Mindworks: Becoming More Conscious in an Unconscious World 179
makes it easier to feel hateful or revengeful. In other words, when you are
experiencing any one of these positive or negative feelings toward
another person, it is easy to “slip” into one of the related feelings.
We will conclude this discussion of “relatedness” feelings by considering two additional states that, at first glance, do not appear to be particularly associated with each other: jealousy and dependency. They are,
however, closely connected. Another feature of these two unique feelings
is that it is difficult to find alternative terms for them. While jealousy can
be used to mean “envious” (see below), the sense in which it is used here
involves feelings of possessiveness directed at someone whose affections
and loyalty are extremely important to you (that “someone” is frequently
a spouse or lover, but he or she could also be a close relative,1 friend, or
even a child). This feeling of “jealous possessiveness” is often accompanied by a feeling of insecurity or uncertainty about the other person’s
affections or loyalty toward you. The feeling of jealousy is thus based on
the belief that you are in competition with other people or with other circumstances in that person’s life (their work or hobbies, for example). This
belief (which may in turn be based on negative beliefs about your own
attractiveness or desirability) gives rise to the fear that you might “lose”
the affections or loyalty of that person to someone or something else.
Typical situations when such feelings are particularly likely to arise are
when a partner, lover, child, or close friend (a) has strong positive feelings
toward people other than you or (b) invests a lot of time and energy in
pursuits—job, hobby, and so forth, —that do not involve you.
Since jealousy is frequently associated with fears that arise from negative beliefs about your own adequacy or attractiveness, jealous feelings are
particularly likely to appear in your consciousness when you believe that
the person in question might be sexually or emotionally interested in
someone else. Jealousy is thus an especially potent feeling when it is associated with sexual feelings (see chapter 6) and with two negative feelings
that also carry “high energy”: fear and anger. The power of jealousy, of
course, is reflected in the large number of assaults and homicides involving spouses and lovers that are committed every year.
The final “relatedness” feeling state is dependency. This is a very
subtle feeling that may be difficult for many people to recognize and
label. Thus, while you might be able to look back on your relationship
with someone else and say that you acted in a “dependent” fashion, can
you describe what is it like to feel dependent? Other than a feeling of
“attachment to” or the feeling of “being able to rely on” another person, I was not able to find other words for describing such a feeling.
Another way to look at a feeling of dependency is that, much like jealousy, it may involve feelings of possessiveness and insecurity that are
associated with a belief that you would “not be able to get along with-
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180 A. W. ASTIN
EXERCISE
(a) Complete the following sentences:
“I really feel connected…”
“Jealousy and possessiveness…
“I have little tolerance for…”
(b) What beliefs do you associate with your answers?
out” the other person and a consequent fear of “losing” that person.2
In this sense, feelings of dependency can often be accompanied by feelings of jealousy.
“Comparative” Feelings
How often do you compare yourself with others? How often do you
judge others in terms of your own characteristics? There are at least two
different continua of feeling states that can come into play when you evaluate someone else’s experiences or qualities in relation to yourself. The
first continuum—admiration versus envy—applies to a situation where
you believe that another person has something that you lack but that you
value highly or that you might want for yourself: “I wish I had his money
and good looks.” “I’d sure like to …
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