Tuesday, April 01, 2008

What happens when you pull up a pew..

I'm not one to blog about religious beliefs, but I've had some very enlightening moments sitting in Mass over the years, due to belonging to a parish where the priest doesn't really discuss religion so much and what we should believe, rather he discusses human nature and the challenges we face and draws from philosophy, sociology, current politics and literature, which makes for very lively discussion. Over the years I have seen people take a pen and paper to Mass and jot down notes (yes, I am guilty of this too), it is that interesting to me. And no, I'm not writing this to encourage anyone to change their beliefs or become a Christian.

Last Sunday's sermon was about doing something you know is morally wrong (eg stealing), and the effects of it on your wellbeing in the long term. He spoke about shame and guilt being associated with the event and then he spoke about a term called "concupiscence".

Here is the definition:
The propensity of human nature to actual sin as a result of the original sin, which darkened our intellects and weakened our wills.
Specifically, concupiscence is the spontaneous movement of our sensual appetite toward what we imagine as pleasant and away from what we imagine as painful.
Concupiscence of the eyes is an unreasonable desire to see, hear, and know what is harmful to our virtue, inconsistent with our state in life, or detrimental to our higher duties. An example would be the desire to accumulate material possessions irrespective of the means employed, satisfy our ambitions, or nurture our pride.

In other words - once you go down a path of moral wrong, you are more likely to reoffend as patterns are laid down in your brain (eg through neurotransmitters etc) and this is where challenge lies.

He specifically spoke about eating well and exercising - and said that when you go down the path of overindulgence, you literally set up a pattern or a script in your head that makes it easier for the event to happen again, even though you feel intense shame and guilt at the time. You can FORGIVE yourself but the issue of concupiscence still remains.

Of course this issue pops up repeatedly with my clients - the "I've overdone it" email. You can feel the shame and guilt oozing out of the communication ... "I've let you down, ", "I can't be trusted", "I'm never doing this again" (except it happens exactly a month later - funny how that is with us ladies :) ) . However, to be successful at weight loss and maintenance and to have a healthy relationship with food we must learn to deal with the concupiscence issue - what can we do to short circuit the unhealthy patterns we develop.

The answer is that we need to change our thinking. Don't be fooled into thinking that it's a quick fix - it's the hardest thing you'll ever do. Analysis of my dance with overeating a bit on Saturday led me to work out that I'm anxious about a number of things. What then - you work out whether it's valid to be anxious about said issues and nut the problem out, rather than eat over the top of it. The other issue is that you don't just change your thinking and it's final - you should be always challenging the "stinking thinking" - remember "whatever you think, you're probably right". Make those thoughts work in your favour!

Whew that was deep!

Back to our training diary for today:
1) Taught Bodystep (fun)
2) Taught RPM HiPerformance this evening
3) Tucking into an omelette the size of a flying saucer? Priceless!


leslie said...

As usual, well said Liz! Thanks for your thoughts.

Michelle said...

Great post Liz!

Irene said...

Something to think about Liz, I'll be trying it out this month so I don't send you the guilty email!

Lady G said...

Great post Liz! I've heard the phenomenon explained in cognitive beahvioural terms but now I've read it described a little differently and learned a new word - concupiscence! Definitely an ongoing endeavour to monitor and revise your thoughts.

He sounds like a very interesting priest. I can't say I've been to a church where people take notes!