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Discomfort as a Pathway to Well-being: How befriending and mindfulness contrast in coping with discomfort

Hanckmann, Hannah (2021) Discomfort as a Pathway to Well-being: How befriending and mindfulness contrast in coping with discomfort.

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Abstract:This study examined the distinctive elements of befriending discomfort. Befriending aimed to come to terms with distressing emotions that an individual previously rejected. Different conceptualizations divided the research base of the befriending approach. Some studies asserted that befriending would be similar to the mindfulness approach, for instance, by becoming accepting. Other studies referred to befriending and mindfulness separately. Such distinctions indicated that befriending entailed attaching to and learning about one's discomfort, while mindfulness taught an individual to experience the present moment without reacting to it. Conceptualizations of befriending were thus ambiguous. In a qualitative study, befriending was compared to mindfulness to understand what unique elements pertained to befriending and what did not. Participants (N=5) applied befriending and mindfulness techniques to cope with a self-chosen feeling of discomfort. Narrative journal entries and structured follow-up interviews assembled subsequent data. Inductive intra- and inter-thematic analyses were used. Results indicated that integrating discomfort as part of the self, inquiring oneself to draw meaning from discomfort, and actively trying to improve the discomforting situation were distinctive elements of befriending. These elements were unique to befriending, as becoming mindful entailed detaching oneself from discomfort, putting discomfort into perspective, and creating awareness. Similarities between befriending and mindfulness pertained to becoming accepting and connecting with bodily symptoms of discomfort instead of unrelated negative cognitions. Results also pointed to the possibility of alternating befriending and mindfulness approaches. Finally, befriending led to feeling complete, while being mindful led to feeling free from discomfort. While the unique elements of befriending and commonalities to mindfulness were mostly contemplated, identified differences between befriending and mindfulness contradicted previous research. Although overall results pointed to befriending being distinctive to mindfulness, further research should still examine the unique elements of befriending to arrive at a unanimous conceptualization of the approach.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:77 psychology
Programme:Psychology MSc (66604)
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