The Catalyst Life Coaching Podcast, featuring JRNI Coaching founders John Kim and Noelle Cordeaux is a deep dive into the experience and business of being a life coach. This transcript of Episode 3 of the Catalyst Life Coaching Podcast talks about the first part of a two-part conversation on the science of love and sh*t.
John: Hey guys, what’s up? Welcome to Episode 3 of The Catalyst Life Coaching Podcast. And I know that is not a fancy name but you know in the title exactly what we’re going to talk about. And this podcast is all about life coaching. With me is my co-pilot and my sister from another mister, Noelle.
Noelle: Hi everybody!
John: What’s up? How are you?
Noelle: I’m doing great!
John: You know what I love about Noelle — so she sent me some notes about what we’re going to talk about this podcast and it’s titled, “Love ‘n’ Sh*t”. And this is what I love about that — it’s exactly how I would title this email if I sent this to someone else. She’s basically a mirror image of me.
Noelle: I don’t know how we ended up in this life situation where we get to have fun like this. But I’m not going to change a thing.
John: No, I don’t want you to change a thing. I think that’s why you’ll always be the Starsky to my Hutch, or the peanut butter to my chocolates.
Noelle: Fantastic. And I love you too and sh*t, John.
John: Yeah. Love ‘n’ Sh*t. Okay, so guys, we’re going to — tell the people what we’re going to talk about today and why.
Noelle: So there’s this really beautiful multidimensional concept that we’ve all heard of before — and it goes by the name of Love. And I think so often, the concept of love gets stuck. It gets stuck in the f*****g Disney fairytale where it’s about one man and one woman and it’s this thing that you have to find and if you don’t find it, you f****d up your life. And that’s really just not at all what love is in a real life context or in a physiological context — that’s not what happens. We can experience these really crazy “micro-moments” with the bus driver, with your mom, with your best friend, with my dog George — he and I stare deeply into each other’s eyes, and motherf****r that’s love.
John: I think that love has been dragged through commercials and advertising, and it’s formed a sugar candy-coated hard shell, and I think we swallowed that. And because of that, we have a false definition and image of what love is. And it sets us up for a giant fall because then our expectations — which isn’t what love really is — doesn’t match reality.
Noelle: 100%. And I think too, it sets people up with this concept that they’re fated to be lonely or because their experience of love might not look like a Hallmark card not present in their life. The reality is that we’re surrounded by people and beings everyday, that if we just open ourselves up to these micro-moments of connection, we’ll be able to feed our minds and our souls.
John: Yeah. And I gotta say that we as humans — we are social animals, and without the connection piece, you will instantly fall into quicksand.
Noelle: Absolutely. So let’s just start with friendships. Outside of our family, when you’re a little kid and you go to nursery school or kindergarten or the park, that’s one of the first things that you learn — is how to make friends with somebody else. And it usually starts with eye contact. Think about a three year-old, think about a little three year-old that kind of looks up shyly and smiles. That is a human in a human’s purest form putting out what we call a bid for attention. And kind of saying with their eyes, “Will you be friends with me?” And that’s where it starts for grown-ups too. And I think we’re also stuck in our phones all the time — so fixated on maybe the picture that we need to post — that we forget to make eye contact with people around us and be open to experiences.
John: It’s interesting that we live in a world where we have the technology to connect instantly with anyone on the planet — at the same time, we’re also using that technology to hide.
Noelle: Oh hell yeah. And it sets up this false sense of self. Like, I posted a video announcing that we were going to be doing this podcast. And the first thing I went to is like, “Oh God, how are people going to be perceiving me physically.” Because it’s like, versus what have I actually putting out into the world or how am I connecting with other people in this moment. And I think that conflicts of technology have done that to us in a large way.
John: Absolutely. I love this quote that you sent me. Can I read it? Okay guys, this is by Ram Dass. It goes like this, “When you go out into the woods and you look at trees, you see all these different trees. And some of them are bent, and some of them are straight, and some of them are evergreens, and some of them are whatever. And you look at the tree and you allow it. You appreciate it. You see why it is the way it is. You sort of understand that it didn’t get enough light, and so it turned that way. And you don’t get all emotional about it. You just allow it. You appreciate the tree. The minute you get near humans, you lose all that. And you are constantly saying ‘You’re too this, or I’m too this.’ That judging mind comes in. And so I practice turning people into trees. Which means appreciating them just the way they are.”
Noelle: Yes, so much yes.
John: I love that. I think there’s so much truth in that because I think it’s so easy to walk out, go on a hike and go in nature. And of course we don’t judge trees — we don’t say that tree is too skinny or too fat.” We look at trees and we see the beauty in it. And we see the beauty and the diversity of the tree. But then of course when you actually look at humans, there’s instant judgment.
Noelle: Instant judgment. And it’s a blocker — it’s a blocker to connection. So you’re in L.A., I was out with you in L.A. for a while and it was always so interesting for me walking down the street. People all must be like diving off the sidewalk to avoid making eye contact. And when I first got out there, I was like, “What kind of f***ery is this? Why are people so consumed with being busy that they can’t make eye contact?” And so I started playing a game with myself — of seeing how many people I could get to smile back at me when I went out on a walk at night. And it was always the grandmas and grandpas out there that responded the best and the most. I remember sort of [inaudible], there was a — next door where I was staying, there was an assisted living home and there’s this little woman who sat outside on the bench. And she had this scowl on her face and she had her cane and she was ready to beat the crap out of somebody. And I walked by and I would give her a big grin, and she changed. It was like she sprouted and this smile came up on her face and she just looked at me like, “Thank God for this micro-moment of connection." And I think we’re so hungry for it, in today’s society.
John: Yeah. And it takes courage to actually be the one, like you, deciding to smile at people. Because we’re talking about L.A. — and especially in L.A., if you make eye contact or you smile at someone, they’re going to think you want to be with them, or that you want to have sex with them, or you want to marry them. And it’s like, “No. I’m just being human.”
Noelle: That’s interesting. So let’s get in to that. Do you think that as you go through your everyday life, you limit yourself from human connection because you’re afraid of what the person on the other end how they might perceive you?
John: Yes, 100%.
John: And this is what I need to work on. I’m very good at being transparent — sharing my story, wearing my emotions on my sleeves — but I’m really bad when it comes to smiling. And it stems from childhood. So when I was growing up, I didn’t smile. I always tried to look hard because I was the runt of the litter. I was the smallest kid in the breakdance crew. I was always trying to — I thought that smiling was weak. And so I always tried to look hard, that’s why my [furrows?] are so f*****g deep. And I just always — I never smiled. I was insecure about smiling, my teeth were all messed up. And so then as an adult, because I never learned how to smile, it didn’t work for me. People just thought I was a d**k, I was an a*****e — “Why is that guy never smiling in pictures or anything?” And now that I’m 44, I’m finally making an effort to change that and to smile and look people in the eye. Smiling is contagious and it also gives out a different energy.
Noelle: Oh yeah. And so back to the physiological part — we don’t know how or why that’s happened. But when you make eye contact with someone and you share what’s called this micro-moment of a positive emotional experience — and it could be three seconds long — your nervous system calms down, your endocrine system kicks in, you start this [pulsing?] of oxytocin, dopamine, serotonin, and it changes the lens that you see the world through from pessimistic to optimistic.
John: I love that. And I think it’s because you don’t see the — we’re always waiting to come across a thread and our fight or flight activating. And I think when you smile, it neutralizes that.
Noelle: It’s so true. I actually have a really cool exercise for you to try that might be a good gateway — gateway drug, if you will — to smiling more. It’s a walking meditation. And it’s a loving kindness walking meditation. And the way it works —
John: I was hoping it would be a pill I could just take.
Noelle: No. There are other kinds of pills. We’ll do that when I come and hang out with you in L.A. Don’t worry. We’ll pick the red ones and the green ones.
Noelle: No, this is a loving kindness meditation. And when you walk through the street, inside of your head, look at every living being — whether it’s a person or whether it’s a tree or a bush or a flower — and say I love you and wish it well. Bestow loving kindness gratitude on everybody that passes you by, and you will end up doing this “loving dance” in your head. It feels so freaking good to look at [inaudible] and be like, “I hope you grow strong!” To look at a kid passing, “I hope your day is amazing!” And it’ll get you smiling in spite of yourself.
John: I love that. And I want to remind people — so when there’s exercises like this where you are giving good to other people, wishing them well, forgiving, gratitude, all these powerful states — a lot of people think that your giving a gift to someone else, but your actually giving the gift to yourself. Because when you’re doing this, it changes your state. It makes you more attractive. It lines up stars for you. It’s not necessarily that you are sacrificing and giving to someone else.
Noelle: Oh no. From a scientific perspective, when we put ourselves out there in this way, we’re actually broadening our own resources. And it has a lot to do with the eyes. I know I keep mentioning eye contact. But it actually has to do with your capacity to physically see things differently. The best way I can describe this is — if you are walking around and you’re in your head and you’re thinking about something negative and you’re just kind of [churning?], you literally won’t notice details, see colors, you won’t physically see the world around you. If you’re connected to yourself and to others, and you’re in a state where you’re forcing yourself to notice and emote and give of yourself presents — like physical presents of being in the world and engaging in the world around you — you’ll see more, physically. You’ll see color. You’ll see detail. You might notice a roadside stand that you’ve never been to and have the best sandwich of your life, where you might strike up a conversation with a person you’ve never met before. And that’ll put you in such a great mood that you’re going to go home and greet the person who’s there waiting for you, and they’re going to be swept off their feet and say, “Damn, I really love this person.” And it’s called the positivity spiral. It just expands everything in your world.
John: I love it. And it takes work. It starts with making a conscious effort to want to lean into that. I love the fact that you actually see more. It’s basically noticing more in the world because you’re choosing to love.
Noelle: Yes. And it’s crazy to me that there’s such an ocular connection between being open and kind to other humans, and being able to physically see more in the world around you. But I want to go back and I want to get a little bit away, as far as we can, from the binary. When I say binary, I mean these concepts that the world is made for one man and one woman, and all other relationships are secondary. Because friendships, chosen family, chosen partners — who may not be romantic partners — are such an important part of building up your life’s durable resources. And I thought this would be a fun topic to talk about because you’ve written about this recently — about the importance of friends in your life. And it’s something that’s really important to me. So what changed for you? What happened that made you really have this poignant moment of saying, “This is something I need to pay attention to.”
John: So I kind of have my past and then — so the line that divides me from the old and new is my divorce. When I was married, I was running a nightclub in Hollywood and it was super scenic and I had a ton of friends — but I really didn’t have any friends, I knew a lot of people. But I did have a connection. I was chasing and I was seeking validation or approval. They weren’t authentic connections, they were friends with me because they want to get into the supper club. So after divorce, I had to start all over. And I had nothing to offer people anymore. So I didn’t have — I wasn’t able to get you on a guest list or into something exclusive. I was just John Kim. So the friends that I made became authentic because they didn’t want anything from me, except me. I was able to compare and contrast the two different types of connections. And I’ve learned that obviously the connections I have now with my friends is a different level — it’s what gets me through the day and it shoots dopamine in my head, and allows me to stretch my heart and do life with other people. And it makes my life fulfilled.
Noelle: Yeah. So I’m going to give you the actual definition of what you’re talking about right now. And it is love, and it’s — love is investing in the well-being of another human for their own sake. It’s so powerful. It’s so powerful to think about — from a friendship perspective, especially. When you choose to be on the other end of that phone at 3 a.m., you’re investing in another human for their own sake.
John: I think overall, we’re selfish of love. I think we are afraid to really hit the kind of notes that we can by opening our hearts — I think we are too scared to give it out.
Noelle: Why do you think that is? Let’s talk about a really cool coaching technique — it’s called immunity to change. And the concept of immunity to change is that whenever you’re holding on to something like that, it’s doing something for you. It has some sort of immune function, if you will. And the trick to this technique is to get people to understand what that fear is, and really work through their worst case scenario and then test the assumption. So let’s play around with that here. If you’re saying love is selfish, people are [stifling?] themselves for really opening up, what’s on the other side of that fear?
John: Are you talking about for people or for me?
Noelle: For you.
John: What’s on the other side of that fear — as in, the side that once you overcome the fear or why are you afraid to love hard?
Noelle: Why are you afraid to love harder?
John: Because I’ve been burned. Because I don’t want to feel stupid. Because what if it’s not reciprocated.
Noelle: So, rejection is on the other side of that fear.
John: Yes, absolutely. And you know, when you love, you’re making yourself vulnerable.
Noelle: Oh yeah. Absolutely.
John: And when you make yourself vulnerable, you’re in such a sensitive raw state that someone can run tire tracks across your heart.
Noelle: Yeah. So you’ve been through this before. Let’s follow it deeper. So you make yourself vulnerable in a friendship or in a relationship, and you put out a bid for acceptance or a bid for connection, and rejection happens. Right? What’s the worst possible thing that can happen in that scenario?
John: Well they don’t return the love.
Noelle: So you experience rejection. And so you’re sitting with rejection, what’s the worst possible thing that comes from rejection?
John: Just being hurt.
Noelle: Being hurt, okay. And so then you sit with hurt, right? So then what’s the worst possible thing that comes from that?
John: I think the feeling — the feeling of it.
Noelle: So as we’re talking about it, and I’m kind of pushing you to drill down and say in what’s the worst thing. Are your feelings about this thing dissipating?
John: Yes, because — as you’re talking about it — I’m able to see it from a distance, see it from a snow globe perspective.
Noelle: Yeah. I just used another coaching technique on you — it’s the big three. It’s when you ask somebody to “Okay, what’s the worst thing that could happen?” and make them drill down three times. Usually, what happens at the end of that is you get exactly to the place where you were. Somebody’s afraid of pain. And the f*****g worst thing about pain is that you sit there and pain for a little bit. And then it goes away. And you get up again and move on with your day.
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