Subjective Awareness

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—Knowing how you feel

Introduction[edit | edit source]

Introspection can reveal subjective experiences.

Within every human doing, is a human being. Our subjective experiences are our only experiences, yet they are private and often difficult for us to access, interpret, or describe. Sensing, identifying, and describing our subjective experiences can help us enjoy life more fully, flourish, and connect more closely to others.

Objectives[edit | edit source]

The objectives of this course are help students:

  • Become more aware of subjective experiences,
  • Identify the elements of subjective experiences,
  • Describe subjective experiences by reviewing vocabulary relating to subjective experiences.

This course is part of the Emotional Competency curriculum.

Characterizing Subjective Experiences[edit | edit source]

Subjective experiences refer to individual and personal feelings, perceptions, and interpretations of the world that are unique to each person. These experiences are internal and can vary widely from one individual to another. They are shaped by emotions, thoughts, sensations, and personal perspectives.

Subjective experiences are not directly measurable or observable by others; they exist only within an individual's consciousness.

It is useful to become aware of your subjective experiences and to be able to identify, name and describes those subjective experiences.

An Assortment of Subjective Experiences[edit | edit source]

A variety of subjective experiences are described below, along with relevant vocabulary.

Bodily Awareness[edit | edit source]

Perhaps various bodily sensations are the most salient and familiar subjective experiences.

These include pain, hunger, thirst, uncomfortable temperatures (hot, cold), fatigue, itchiness, headache, upset stomach, and others included in this list.  

Assignment[edit | edit source]

  1. Find a quiet place where you can relax.
  2. Welcome introspection and interoception.
  3. Become aware of your bodily sensations.
  4. Perform a body scan meditation.
  5. Identify any subjective bodily experiences you become aware of.

Emotional Awareness[edit | edit source]

Emotions are colorful, dramatic, fascinating, and essential dimensions of every person’s experience. These primitive mechanisms send a constant stream of powerful signals that can guide us along the difficult path of survival, or quickly send us off on destructive and painful tangents.

Emotions are experienced as feelings that often occur simultaneously along with our cognitive (conscious) thoughts. The emotional feeling may be subtle and go almost unnoticed, or it may be strong enough that it clearly divides our attention, or it may be so strong that it overwhelms our decision making and leads us directly to immediate action.

Although emotions are ubiquitous, many people are unable to recognize, interpret, and respond constructively to emotions in themselves and others.

Emotions may be the most pervasive, yet poorly identified subjective experiences.

As a starting point to identifying emotions, consider if you feel good or feel bad. Positive emotions include joy, love, gratitude, and satisfaction. Negative emotions include fear, anger, hate, sadness, disgust.

Assignment[edit | edit source]

  1. Complete the Wikiversity courses Recognizing Emotions and Mapping Moods.
  2. Identify each emotion as you experience it. Take special care to notice feelings of embarrassment, guilt, shame, humiliation, or other assaults on your dignity.
  3. Improve your skill to recognize, interpret, and respond constructively to emotions in yourself and others.

Cognitive Awareness[edit | edit source]

What is going on in your head? What are you seeing, hearing, touching, smelling, and tasting? What are you recalling from memory considering short-term, long-term, autobiographical episodes, and semantic (factual) information? How clearly and vividly are you thinking bearing in mind the roles of rational thought, irrational thinking, abstract thinking, and concrete thinking? Are you thinking clearly or is your thinking cloudy, foggy, altered, or impaired?

Consider this list of cognitive thinking modes and identify those you are experiencing.

  • Are you able to concentrate and focus your mind, or are you confused?
  • Are you ruminating?
  • Is your thinking clear and organized, or are your thoughts muddled, unclear and disorganized?
  • Are you able to make clear decisions, or are you vacillating, unsure, muddled, indecisive, or confused?
  • Are you able to solve problems, or are you having difficulty formulating problems, considering alternatives, and creating solutions?
  • Are you thinking creatively, or are you stuck without new ideas?
  • Are you curious, or have you become disinterested and uncurious?
  • Are you mindful, fully present in the moment, or are your distracted with your mind wandering and drifting off in many directions?
  • Are you dreaming, hallucinating, delusional, drunk, high, stoned, or wasted?  
  • Are you mentally alert or mentally fatigued and exhausted?
  • Are you engaged in a task requiring you to process information, solve problems, or complete tasks that impose a significant cognitive load, or are you free to assimilate new sensory information?
  • Have you just had an epiphany, a sudden and profound realization or understanding?
  • Are you able to recall memories, and retrieve information from both the recent, and distant past.
  • Are you learning, gaining new knowledge and skills through reading, listening, study, experience, or teaching?
  • Do you feel motivated or are you apathetic?
  • Are you bothered by unwanted intrusive thoughts that enter your mind, or are you enjoying inner peace, tranquility, serenity, and equanimity?
  • Are you able to think analytically and break down complex problems or situations into smaller components for examination?
  • Are you able to create mental images?
  • Are you able to think critically to evaluate information and arguments using logical reasoning and sound arguments, or are you gullible, naive, unquestioning, conforming, dogmatic, uncritically accepting, blindly obedient, closed minded, ignorant, prejudiced, simplistic, unreflective, or shallow?
  • Are you capable of metacognition, having an awareness and understanding of your own thoughts?

Motivational Awareness[edit | edit source]

Motivation is an internal state that propels individuals to engage in goal-directed behavior. It is often understood as a force that explains why people or animals initiate, continue, or terminate a certain behavior at a particular time.

Which of the following terms best describe your motivational status?[1] Contented, complacent, motivated, activated, on the warpath, unsettled, discontented, restless, bored, enthused, invigorated, inspired, determined, driven, passionate, ambitious, empowered, focused, eager, ambitious, optimistic, dedicated, energized, committed, hopeful, challenged, proactive, adventurous, tenacious, resilient, hungry, purposeful, satisfied, fulfilled, unstoppable, pumped up, optimistic, innovative, creative, engaged, enthusiastic, daring, relentless, self-assured, confident, spirited, perseverant, disciplined, unstoppable, inquisitive, dynamic, proactive, relentless, steadfast, daring, fearless, empowered, purpose-driven, driven, dynamic, visionary, fired up, zealous, self-driven, self-motivated, relentless, intrepid, or pioneering.

Social Awareness[edit | edit source]

What is going as you involve yourself with others? Do you feel included? Have you found some community that makes you feel you belong or are you isolated and lonely? Do you have friends you enjoy being with, or are you alienated? Do you feel understood?

Consider this list of social and interpersonal experiences and identify those you are experiencing.

  • Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another person. Are there people who you feel empathy for? Are there people who feel empathy for you? Alternatively, indifference, apathy, coldness, disregard, insensitive, selfish, cruel, and egocentric all describe conditions that are opposite of empathy.
  • Do you feel lonely and isolated or are you connected to others in satisfying ways? The words companionship, connection, closeness, friendship, intimacy, togetherness, warmth, included, community, socially connected, and belonging all describe conditions that are opposite of loneliness.
  • Do you feel included, or do you feel rejected and isolated?
  • Are you trustworthy? Are you trusted? Are there people you trust? Alternatively, are you experiencing distrust?
  • Are you respected? Are there people you respect? Alternatively, are you disrespected?
  • Are you feeling jealous? Are people jealous of you?
  • Do you feel guilt, shame, or embarrassed? Alternatively, do you feel proud?
  • What do you feel grateful for? Do you enjoy feelings of gratitude? Alternatively, are you indifferent, complacent, inconsiderate, ungrateful, apathetic, self-centered, or feeling entitled?
  • Do you love? Are you loved?
  • Do you feel powerful or powerless?

Assignment[edit | edit source]

  1. Find a quiet place where you can relax.
  2. Welcome introspection and interoception.
  3. Become aware of your social experiences.
  4. Consider guided mediations for gratitude, compassion, and lovingkindness.
  5. Identify any subjective social experiences that you become aware of.

Aesthetic Awareness[edit | edit source]

Where is there beauty in your life? Where do you find beauty, awe, inspiration, fascination, harmony, tranquility, emotional resonance, wonder, adsorption, elevated moods, sensory stimulation, discovery, timelessness, and reflection? How do beautiful encounters make you feel?

Assignment[edit | edit source]

  1. Find a quiet place where you can relax, or a beautiful scene you can behold..
  2. Welcome introspection and interoception.
  3. Become aware of beauty in the many places it can be found.
  4. Cherish awe.
  5. Perform a guided visualization meditation.
  6. Enjoy beauty wherever you find it.

Temporal Awareness[edit | edit source]

How do you experience time? Are you patient or impatient? Are you relaxed or rushing and in a hurry? Are you concerned with the past, present, or future? Do you reflect on past experiences? Do you enjoy present experiences? Do you plan for, anticipate, and look forward to the future? Do you fear the future? Are you nostalgic for times that have passed? Can you enjoy this moment?  Are you in the zone and experiencing flow?

Romantic Awareness[edit | edit source]

Romantic experiences— a feeling of love for, or a strong attraction towards another person, and the courtship behaviors undertaken to express those overall feelings and resultant emotions—are common.

Romantic adventures can elicit strong emotions, both pleasant and unpleasant.

Which of the following are you experiencing? Infatuation, nervousness, adoration, desire, passion, limerence, yearning, devotion, romantic bliss, heartache, intimacy, tenderness, contentment, serenity, closeness, security, longing, euphoria, mutual understanding, rejection, or jealousy.

Dislodging Shame[edit | edit source]

Guilt, shame, and humiliation are powerful moral emotions that may lie hidden beneath your conscious awareness.

Guilt is a moral emotion that occurs when a person believes or realizes—accurately or not—that they have compromised their own standards of conduct or have violated universal moral standards and bear significant responsibility for that violation. Guilt is closely related to the concept of remorse, regret, as well as shame.

Shame is an unpleasant self-conscious emotion often associated with negative self-evaluation; motivation to quit; and feelings of pain, exposure, distrust, powerlessness, and worthlessness.

Humiliation is the abasement of pride, which creates mortification or leads to a state of being humbled or reduced to lowliness or submission. It is an emotion felt by a person whose social status, either by force or willingly, has just decreased. It can be brought about through intimidation, physical or mental mistreatment or trickery, or by embarrassment if a person is revealed to have committed a socially or legally unacceptable act. Whereas humility can be sought alone as a means to de-emphasize the ego, humiliation must involve other person(s), though not necessarily directly or willingly.

What guilt, shame, or humiliation have you experienced? What residuals from these experiences remain unresolved? What are you still holding on to? What is the pain you are carrying? What is unfair? What makes you angry? Who do you blame for your pain? What is causing you stress and anxiety? What causes you suffering?

Assignment[edit | edit source]

  1. Find a quiet place where you can relax.
  2. Welcome introspection and interoception.
  3. Recall any experience that evoked guilt, shame, or humiliation.
  4. Seek professional help if recalling these incidents causes significant distress.
  5. Write a detailed description of each. Take care to recall details of how you felt, who you blame, and your role in the event.
    1. Keep this private and destroy the written description soon.
  6. Study the Wikiversity course on Forgiving.
  7. Forgive yourself as best you can.
  8. Consider these other suggestions for resolving shame.  

Dislodging Grievances[edit | edit source]

What grievances are you holding on to? Who do you hold a grudge against? What’s bothering you? What is the pain you are carrying? What is unfair? What makes you angry? Who do you blame for your pain? What is causing you stress and anxiety? What causes you suffering?

Assignment[edit | edit source]

  1. Write down a long list of your grievances.
  2. Write down a long list of things that make you angry.
  3. Write down a long list of people who have harmed you.
  4. Write a list of people you have harmed.
  5. Complete the Wikiversity course on Attributing Blame.
    1. Decide how to accurately assign blame for your suffering.
    2. Find constructive solutions beyond blame.
    3. Let it go.
  6. Complete the Wikiversity course on Resolving Anger.
    1. Find constructive ways to resolve your anger.
  7. Complete the Wikiversity course on Forgiving.
    1. Forgive, one step at a time, as best you can.
  8. Complete the Wikiversity course on Apologizing.
    1. Apologize to those you have harmed.
  9. Complete the Wikiversity course What you can change and what you cannot.
    1. Change what you can and accept the rest.
  10. Practice guided meditations on compassion.
  11. Resolve your grievances constructively and let them go.

Unmasking the True Self[edit | edit source]

Studying the Wikiversity course Unmasking the True Self can provide more answers to the question “Who am I?”; the question that uniquely defines us as individuals and as humans.

How do you feel?[edit | edit source]

Perhaps the next time someone asks you: “How do you feel?” you can answer confidently with a narrative something like:

I am hungry, tired, my back hurts, and I am angry about the many senseless conflicts in the world; however, I am thinking clearly, and I feel safe and welcome here. I enjoyed seeing this morning’s sunrise, I have patience, and I am grateful to be enjoying so much in life! Thanks for asking.

So, I ask, “How do you feel?”

Summary and Conclusions[edit | edit source]

Although all our experiences are subjective experiences, many people have difficulty identifying, naming, and disclosing these subjective experiences.

One of the ways we can connect and know another person deeply is to describe and share our subjective experiences.

This course provides suggestions, including a review of subjective experience vocabulary, that can allow students to sense, become aware, identify, and name their subjective experiences.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. ChatGPT generated this list of words responding to the prompt: “Extend this list of subjective motivational states: contented, complacent, motivated, activated, on the warpath, unsettled, discontented, restless, bored”