Copyright 1993. Printed with the permission of the subject. Name of subject has been changed.
Cath: I’ve got something down here as a personal goal about fitness, because to me fitness represents something that is very obsessional. And something, like I can understand why people’s eating habits become obsessional, because I can identify with that, and so I’m just discovering I want to be fitter than I am now because I’m not particularly, just your ho hum Joe Bloggs at the moment.
But to me fitness always represented competitive athletic fitness, but it was done from like I say an obsessional space. I did it because I didn’t have much of a social life. So I used to go out on my bike and swim for miles, but I had a really empty feeling inside, so I want to move towards fitness, and what I’ve realised is I actually need to redefine fitness for myself, because at the moment fitness brings up a picture of me cycling really hard, and being on my own, and also feeling empty and lonely. So I need to give myself a new definition of fitness, because I don’t want to be on my own and lonely. So I want to kind of achieve fitness with a new goal, somehow.
John: That’s a really nice example where you’ve got the words, fitness connected to some sensory experience. As you say the sensory experience you have for this word is not particularly useful now. How long did you have this sensory experience for fitness?
Cath: From about eighteen to about twenty-two. Four years.
John: And now, you still have vestiges of this?
Cath: Yeah, because I’m trying to work on my fitness, and I’m sabotaging myself doing it. I can see that..
John: If you keep falling into this, it makes sense. So you’ve got all this stuff to do with lonely and stuff. Understanding you don’t want to get into that. So the picture then you bring up, if you think fitness now, brought up that picture and things. How do you know that picture is fitness?
Cath: Because I used to do things like take my pulse and it would be very low in the morning and I’d beat other people who were out cycling, and I could swim faster than anybody else in the swimming pool.
John: Right, so you’d get evidence that, that evidence part of the sensory experience that fits into fitness. Now what would you like instead for fitness?
Cath: I would like my heart rate to drop a bit, when resting, and I would like to be not out of breath when I gallop up some stairs, but I would like it to be an experience that I enjoyed, that I would have a feeling of fulfilment in my guts to replace that feeling of emptiness there. Because I remember exercising, and I used to do it in a space of emptiness, I’d got out for an hour and the bike was, I didn’t have any friends to go out to the pub with, do you know what I mean? So I’d rather be out on the bicycle feeling that this is really amazing, like feeling I could be floating, my legs feel strong, and I would tend to feel that, because it was very sort of aggressive before and I would like it to become soft.
John: Right, we’ve got a few things there, the word fitness, and the sensory experience, these were very detailed physiology. The other things like the fullness you want, and softness, as a level above this in terms of, processing, in terms of psychological processing. These are not direct experiences, they’re usually experiences about experiences, a level above, not directly psychological. The softness, fullness, are evaluations on other things that happen, and all of these get stored as fitness. What you had here, you still had the same pulse rate, the big key difference is these ones, again feeling empty, is not about direct experience, that you can be cycling, and having lots of these second order feelings. So you want the same benefit at the physiological level, without this evaluation taking place, fitting into the word fitness. So, the empty feeling was because of what? The loneliness you said here?
Cath: Yeah, I was living somewhere where I didn’t really know anybody and I didn’t have a particular strategy in place to go out and find people and go out and socialise with them. I was living in a Jewish community and I’m not Jewish and I found that very difficult, and I worked with them and I was there temporarily.
John: OK, so there’s an aspect of social, in terms of social. So, when you’re running, when you’re walking, talking, there’s a social element. Which when you’re running, and thinking about the social element, you felt lonely and empty. Now, if you had social up here, as well as fitness. So you’ve got two things in amalgamation now. So you back to when you were running and feeling empty, and think on this in terms of social fitness, you’ve got the fitness side right, but the social side not so good. Now concentrate on the feelings of pulse, heart rate, and connect them to the fitness. Take the feelings of loneliness, emptiness, and connect them to the social. Now picture them both separately, see the pictures of each. See the fitness, that can be done socially or non socially, you can do it socially on your own, it doesn’t have to be other people there to be done as a warm soft thing, separate that from a picture of social, and that time you were empty and lonely, now, soft company, even if nobody’s with you, there’s still this background feeling of doing it from a social basis. Now, when you think fitness, what pictures do you get?
Cath: Running around a country lane, and I can hear a tractor just working in a field somewhere in the distance and I can hear bits and I’m aware of the wind on my face, and I can also hear it, and it feels like there might be somebody going to come along or drive along that lane that I know, that I can talk to.
John: OK- So that limitation’s different, so we’re bringing fitness up from this one, and separate the social one. What happens often is that these things all get mixed together and lumped together as the one thing, so if one is doing poorly, it can drag the rest down, so it’s useful to separate the, clarify each one. So you can go for fitness without the history of that getting in the way. Then you could bring it together in terms of you can enjoy being fit because it then frees you to socialise more actively, so that when you’re with people you’ll be fitter and healthier, and able to put more into it. So when you think fitness now, also, look at the picture again and think of it in terms of what you’re doing there is also training to be more active socially, because you’ll be in a better, healthier state of mind. So now, go back to your outcome then, fitness.
Cath: Well I guess I have a, I now have a different, fitness means something different to me, I’ve redefined it, as an outcome that I would like to have, rather than the associations that I had with fitness before which was an outcome I didn’t really want to have again, in full. I wanted the physiological effects, but not the psychological ones.
John: OK, nice, that’s one of the benefits of being able to identify what somebody does, at different levels, there’s the physiological level, there’s what that meant, and notice, that even though we were using language a lot, it wasn’t enough just to redefine the words, we also had to separate the sensory experience. It was the sensory experiences that were overlapping, it was important then to separate those, redefine those, so that the language could take care of itself. That’s working with the language