Jonathan Friedman: [00:00:00] Character coaching is an exploration of coaching principles applied to fictional characters by the host. Any likeness to real people or situations is coincidental. And none of the advice given is intended to take the place of real coaching. Learn more about getting accessible coaching at thejournalthattalksback.com.
Jon Rom: and I'm Jon
and this is character coaching coaching
character coaching ching ching, ching ching
Jonathan Friedman: So...
Jon Rom: I forgot. I forgot you had to record. That was funny.
Jonathan Friedman: It's a podcast, man.
Jon Rom: It's a podcast. I have to say it
You don't want to just talk to me? Can we just have a conversation for once?
Jonathan Friedman: Not anymore, man
Jon Rom: Not anymore?
Jonathan Friedman: Our friendship lives inside the confines of the show and the show only.
Jon Rom: I did sign that contract, I forgot uhm the blood contract we signed.
Jonathan Friedman: It is what it is now, man.
Jon Rom: It is what it is. All right, Jonathan, are you ready for, easily, one of the most cromulent journal entries I've ever read?
Jonathan Friedman: What the heck did this cromulent mean?
Jon Rom: Um, I dunno, it just, it's one of those words that really embiggen you and gets you excited.
Jonathan Friedman: And I don't even know what it, I don't know what any of that means. Uh, yeah, I'm ready for
Jon Rom: This next uh, this next journal entry is called: The best me I can be
I don't normally write to strangers on the internet, but one of the girls at church said this journaling exercise helped her. A bit about me:
I'm a middle-aged housewife living in the suburbs of my hometown. Even though we have our share of troubles and misadventures, I'd say my family is the best thing in my life and makes up my whole world. That's the problem though because, without them, I don't feel like I have much of an identity.
Three wonderful children and a husband that tries his best should be enough for any lady but I often find myself wanting more from my day. I'm tired of always taking a backseat to what's going on and having to be the one to nag others about what they should be doing. Um, it just, a lot of M's written in a row.
Sometimes it feels like I'm taking care of four kids and I even find myself wishing they grow up faster something. Anyways, I'm rambling now, but I guess if there's anything on my mind lately, is that I'm not being all I could be by just being a mother and a wife. Thank you for listening to my problems.
I feel better just writing this all down, even though it does feel kind of silly, excited to hear your ideas. And that's from Marge S
Jonathan Friedman: oh, that's a fantastic journal, Jon
Jon Rom: Yeah, it's so informative. Uh, an eloquent and, and, and I like how she felt kind of shy, but she's still laid it all out for us as, as best as she could.
Jonathan Friedman: So
w what do you, what do you notice when you read through this journal? What's kind of popping up in your mind. What are some of the themes you see, all of that good stuff?}
Jon Rom: Identity, identity is such a big question to tackle, and, um, I'm sure it's not the first time that you've had to approach a journal about someone who is trying to figure out their identity as a person independent of what they do or, or what they, uh, what they're known for.
And I'm curious, uh, Jonathan, how do you, how do you normally deal with this kind of stuff, but how do you, how do you
think about it?
Jonathan Friedman: So I think it varies from journaler to journaler, but something really interesting to me about this is that the way Marge seems to describe herself is that just as being this middle-aged housewife, living in the suburbs, she has kids, March has a, as a church group, but outside of that, we don't know much about Marge.
It seems Marge identifies herself as just that and I think that's interesting. So, for me, I'm always curious about what else is there, what else is going on underneath the hood?
Jon Rom: Okay. All right. So you wanna, you wanna dig underneath, uh, and I guess the first step is to glean every detail, uh, glean every detail from this journal post without filling in the blanks ourselves. So what, what blanks would you be tempted to fill-in? Uh, knowing, knowing that she thinks of herself as, a housewife?
Jonathan Friedman: I think really, I have to check my story and look at the fact that, you know, I'm looking at someone who identifies as a middle-aged housewife, living in the suburbs, and I have to remove all of what I know about what that could look like.
No, Marge's talking about troubles and misadventures. What do those look like? What's going on there? Um, that popped out to me when you were reading through this journal, Jon, the troubles and misadventures
Jon Rom: The troubles and misadventures. You know, when I think about my upbringing in suburbia, the troubles and misadventures of a housewife seem mundane, uh, from a child's perspective.
But If, if your grocery bill is somehow, you know, 10% more expensive, and you're trying to keep a home together on a budget, suddenly you've got, you know, the infinity war crisis on your hands. You've got to deal with a lot of moving parts and you got to maintain everything and the drama of that, of that life can be very serious.
So, it's very possible that these misadventures are, um, our grand and from the perspective of Marge, from the perspective of a quote-unquote middle-aged housewife.
Jonathan Friedman: And we call it Infinity War Thanos syndrome, right?
Jon Rom: Thanos syndrome, exactly. Uh, where you are trying to collect the stones, and all of a sudden you realize you can't afford chicken that way.
Jonathan Friedman: So, what are the stones that Marge is trying to collect? Uh, she mentions, I don't feel like I have much of an identity but at the same time she says, my family's the best thing in my life and makes up my whole world. Is her world different than her identity? What's kind of the missing piece here.
Jon Rom: Yeah.
What are we missing? It's a good question. I think we're missing, I think we're missing the, what does, what does March see when she looks in the mirror? Because, because if she has the role of an uh, of a housewife, but she's not, she's not just that if she sees herself as, uh, someone who's creative, someone who's organized someone messy, someone, who's, you know, combative like the way she views herself and, and what she knows about herself is, is missing in this story. And so we've identified what she does but not necessarily who she is.
Jonathan Friedman: And that's the question of identity. So, we're kind of removing the pieces that we're assuming from how we're looking at this journal, and when we're getting the story, we're looking for the most beautiful creamy pink donuts, the juicy details in the story.
So when, as coaches, when we're asking questions about this journal, that's really what we're looking for. We're not looking at making assumptions or making jumps about, you know, how Marge can step up her motivation or anything like that. We just want to ask more questions to learn more, we're interested. So, Jon, what are some of the questions that you want to ask Marge?
Jon Rom: So, so sometimes, when I come up with a question, the best thing I can do is to look at the title and the title of the post was the best me I can be. So, I want to know who she be, who, who is Marge when she isn't being a mom? Because it's, it's in the moments between, uh, packing lunches and changing diapers that, that when you stop doing uh, tasks that you then are, you then are confronted with. Okay, well, who am I? What do I like? What do I want to do? Uh, why do I feel this way? Why do I feel like I'm not being the best of my best self? Is there, is there an underlying us and an underlying desire to do more than what you're already doing?
Jonathan Friedman: I love that.
And I think another question that I'd want to ask is. Uh, in the very first line of this journal, Marge refers to the girls at church who she seems to have like hold in high esteem and I'd want to learn more about the relationships she has outside of the family structure. So. What's going on at church?
Does she go for coffee with everybody at the church after the church services finished? Um, are those people she hangs out with during the week? Do they have a glass of wine and talk about other stuff that's going on? What else goes on outside of the family? So that's really where I would want to where I'd want to dig a little bit.
Jon Rom: Yeah.
And I think, I think there's so much to be said about what routines and her life are maybe contributing to the problem. We don't know much about what she does other than we know that she is taking care of the kids and sometimes even taking care of her husband is her role in the community and her role at home superseding her ability to just be herself.
And it's maybe, maybe she doesn't, she doesn't always need to be more than who she is. Maybe she just needs time to be who she is and maybe, it's a matter of how busy her day is, with other things.
Jonathan Friedman: Yeah. And something that I found interesting in this journal, throwing the fourth question in there is this line and I even find myself wishing they'd grow up faster some days.
What does Marge see? or after the kids grow up, what does that look like? Is Marge now, you know, uh, is she buying a Tesla and going on a big road trip? Is she, you know, going on a cruise, is she starting a new job? What does, what is it, what does it look like for Marge outside of the confines of the structure of family?
Jon Rom: So, you know what I'm going to do, I'm going to, I'm going to send her, uh, these questions and I want to see what sticks, what gets, what gets her mind flowing and what gets the journal, writing juices going? Because for her there's, there's so much left unanswered, despite how, uh, eloquent she is as a writer, we, we don't understand yet what it is that we're even working on here.
Jonathan Friedman: Yeah. And just a quick question before you send that off, Jon, you, you said the journal juices, what flavor is a journal juice? And where can I get three of them?
Jon Rom: Um, actually journal juices are a clear sticky substance that is not unlike SAP and it exists, uh, alongside bone marrow in your bones.
Jonathan Friedman: It's a part of all of us. It's not something you can buy at a Shopper's Drug Mart or a Walgreens.
Jon Rom: No, it's the essence of what gets, uh, what gets these journals written because once that juice starts flowing, uh, uh, Jonathan, it's, uh, you get, you get delicious donuts, you get, you get, you know, it's like, it's like a, it's like a power plant, uh, erupting from inside of you and, and streaming forth uh, the sewage of knowledge.
Jonathan Friedman: There were a lot of different kinds of juices mentioned in one sentence. Some of them I liked, some of them were scary. So, I think we should just move on with sending this question because I don't want to talk about any sewage.
Jon Rom: You know, Jonathan, a, a journal writer without juices is a lot like a mule with a spinning wheel, but, uh, I'll digress for now.
So we got a, we got a post written from, uh, Marge S it was written, it was a written few, few days after her original post. And, uh, she started by saying:
Who are you when you aren't being a mom? That's a hard question to answer. I'm an excellent cook bowler and sometimes I even daydream about how my life would have turned out if I had stuck to painting. I guess at the end of the day, I define myself by what I do, even though, those things don't tend to be very ambitious. I'm a mom because I spend a lot of my day just being a mom.
What do you think about that?
Jonathan Friedman: So the, just the first thing that sticks out to me is I define myself by what I do is in the third line of that journal.
But in the first line she says, I'm an excellent cook bowler and sometimes, and that whole, I'm an excellent cook bowler, but that's, that's, that's definitive to me. That sounds like she defines herself as what it is, but she still seems very focused on defining herself as being a mom because that's the main thing she does.
So I found it interesting that there's that contrast in language.
Jon Rom: It's a fair, uh, assessment. I think that she is aware of her skills, it's not like she doesn't know what she's good at. It's, it's, it's funny because in a question about identity, uh, she seems to identify her abilities well, but it's, it's very much tied to her day-to-day, uh, drudgery, that, that, that gets her. She's very much tied to the idea of everything that she does in a day-to-day sense is what defines her as a person.
Jonathan Friedman: And I think something that this kind of feels like a bit of a rut because Marge values family, and family's important to Marge, but there's this like experimenting with different, cool stuff that Marge also likes to do that isn't happening on a day to day basis.
So, when we're looking at that, I want to see how we can throw more of that experimentation, more of that fun stuff that Marge likes to do into her day-to-day.
Jon Rom: Yeah, I think that's a good way to do it. I think we, I think we also need to identify exactly what she believes, identify what she believes in the challenge, I believe because if she believes that she is going to be what she has to get done in a day, then that belief is something we're going to have to challenge. After all, even if we, uh, even if we motivate her to do the the other things that she, uh, she might be interested in, we're going to be, uh, we're going to be dealing with a person who perpetually sees herself as only a mom.
Jonathan Friedman: And there's this kind of like, which came first, the chicken or the egg kind of situation here because she's defining herself boat by what she does but she only spends time being a mom. So, of course, she's only going to define herself as being a mom, but maybe if we took time to define ourselves by, you know, traits and other things like being experimental being fun-loving maybe if we look at it more that way, we might almost open our days up to more to inviting things like bowling or painting.
Jon Rom: Yeah. It's you know what it reminds me of, it reminds me of how in high school everyone without a clear idea of who they are, would try to adopt an affectation. They would try to be the the skater kid, the WWE kid, the, you know, uh, popular kid, the, you know, something, some sort of pigeonhole that they felt comfortable and they get that got them feeling like they, they didn't have to uh, answer tough questions about who they are in specific contexts. And, I think we all sort of move on from that, that desire when we're, when we're finished with high school and we were faced with the large, the world at large but I feel like for Marge here, it's easy to fall into that trap of, uh, you are what you do.
And so you're, of course, you're going to feel like you want more because what you do is, is just the basic stuff to get buy-in, to make your family feel, uh, feel loved and, and wholesome and fulfilling that role is there's nothing wrong with it, but making it your entire identity, like an affectation is a very limited way to do yourself.
Jonathan Friedman: Yeah and it sounds like the belief we're identifying is that, and it's, it's pretty clear in this case is Marge beliefs that she is what she does and the way we want to challenge that is we want to one just in this case, straight up tell Marge: Hey, is this what you think? Do you feel exactly you are what you do?
And we know she believes that. So, that will kind of encapsulate that feeling for her, and then we want to say, what else are you? Because it sounds like based on being an excellent cook, a bowler, and a painter, like maybe we want to take a look at what she was before she had a family before she met her husband and had three kids, and find where she had joy and excitement in that and see how we can bring that back in.
Because that's, that's what I'm really curious about. And I don't, I'm not big on balance because things have to be in motion. Things have to be constantly like trial and error and success and failure but, I think that in this case, I want to bring some more of that stuff because we want Marge to feel some more joy in her day because it does, again, it sounds like there's a bit of a rut there.
Jon Rom: So, you're saying we've got to throw her off balance a little bit to get some, some motion in this ocean?
Jonathan Friedman: Yeah, we got a wiggle. We got a wiggle.
Jon Rom: We got a wiggle. All right. So, I'm going to, I'm going to wiggle on over to my keyboard and write some of these ideas down and, and get to, uh, get to the meat and potatoes of it.
I want to, uh, I'll give it some time to simmer and then, and then I'll, I'll catch you up, uh, somewhere down the road with how Marge is doing.
Jonathan Friedman: I'm excited about those juices. When you're talking about meat, potatoes, and simmering, I feel like you got yourself a stew going.
Jon Rom: The wait, what kind of stew? A disco Stew?
Jonathan Friedman: A disco soup. I mean, that stuff is busted
Jon Rom: Again, I don't speak German, so I don't, I can't, I don't know what you said.
Jonathan Friedman: That wasn't German. That was Zoomer.
Jon Rom: That was Zoomer? Oh, man.
Jonathan Friedman: That shit is buzzing.
Jon Rom: That shit is buzzing. All right, let's get this shit buzzing.
Jonathan Friedman: Let's do it.
Jon Rom: So we've been, we've been journaling for a month and, uh, Marge S is back with another post and, and I wanted to read it to you. Uh, Jonathan, I wanted to get you, get your 2 cents on how you think things are going.
Jonathan Friedman: I'm excited. Let's do it.
Jon Rom: So, Marge S writes:
You gave me a lot to think about when you made me realize how much time I was spending on doing and not being. It's not my family's fault if I feel like I'm just a wife and mom if I don't focus on things, other than that role. I've decided to dedicate at least an hour every day, it's painting, while everyone's out of the house doing their own thing. I even let my baby play with the colors and she started making art all on her own.
I guess I can't help being a mom, even when I'm just being me.
Jonathan Friedman: Wow. That's a fantastic journal.
Jon Rom: Yeah, it is. And it seems, it seems like we, we managed, we managed to talk a lot about her, her belief, that what she does is her identity but I pointed, I, I sort of called, called Marge on her BS a little bit, because they're not a lot of bowling in, in the house.
There's not a lot of, there's not a lot of painting, usually in, in a, uh, in a Housewives life and yet there you are so confident that you can do these things. Maybe all these misadventures in these different opportunities you've had are revealing facets of yourself that, that you don't explore enough.
And what would it look like if you did? And she, she ran away. She took the ball and she ran away with it, which is not how you play basketball, but it worked in this scenario.
Jonathan Friedman: And it's crazy because she's painting.
Jon Rom: Yeah, yeah. It's, uh, it's, it's amazing how she, uh, took to that passion so quickly but I guess, I guess when you're, um, such a competent, um, so, so confident that the daily chores in your life you're, you're able to fit certain things into your schedule and I guess painting is something she's passionate about.
Jonathan Friedman: Yeah. And something that I think is that when we were talking before about bringing some other of her passions into her day, it's almost like we were avoiding her joy of being a mom and it sounds like to Marge being a mom is just like that critical part. It's not that she shouldn't be a mom and enjoy all things mothering, but it's about having in this case a bit of both having time to paint and having time, you know, to also have engaged with her baby, um, in paint play. And I think that fantastic to have a little bit of both.
Jon Rom: Yeah. Being, you know, doing mom stuff doesn't define you as a mom. It's being a mom as, as a core to who you are that's going to make you, uh, gel well with doing mom stuff. And that's taking care of your kid's raring being, uh, being, being a co-parent being, uh, or, or a single parent, just being a leader in your house and making, a making yourself a good, a good role model to your kids and, and who knows maybe, maybe her, her baby will one day have a love for painting because her mom is engaged in her passion.
Jonathan Friedman: What would Jon do? Do you paint?
Jon Rom: I finger paints on Thanksgiving. I make turkeys. And that is the exclusive time that I paint.
What about you? Uh, Jonathan, are you, are you a Picasso?
Jonathan Friedman: Kind of it. It's interesting. Um, I never, um, I failed art and never took it again and recently over COVID, uh, my brother and my girlfriend and we've been painting with my grandmother and my grandmother's hypercritical of everything. And she like, anytime I show her any of my guitar playing, which I'm pretty good at, she says like, that's like a kid in kindergarten could play that.
And then I showed her my painting like we're all painting together and I'm just throwing paint at the canvas. One time I took like put big blobs of paint on the canvas and through the canvas, like 30 feet up in the air, and landed it on the ground. I rubbed it in the grass and she said, wow, somebody might buy that.
Jon Rom: The scale of criticism is very strange when it comes to grandparents. I agree with that. And the, uh, the, the wonderful thing about this whole, um, lockdown situation that we found ourselves in that everyone's found themselves in, uh, in one way or another, is that it's been an opportunity to explore weird hobbies that you didn't know that you had an affinity for, and then all of a sudden you're crocheting or you're painting or you're getting into cycling or all these different things that are solo projects that you never would have found yourself having time for before.
Jonathan Friedman: Yeah, exactly. So, Jon, I love that and I'm excited about the work you're going to continue doing with Marge. Uh, we have, um, actually a listener question that just came in and I'd love to jump into that one a bit with you. How does that sound?
Jon Rom: Hot off the press?
Hot off the presses? We have a journal. We have a question for the Jonathans.
Jonathan Friedman: Holy smokes. The dear John segment.
Jon Rom: Dear John, how do I make a toaster, out of wool?
Jonathan Friedman: So this question is nothing about toasters or wool uh, it's actually about languishing.
Jon Rom: So languishing?
Jonathan Friedman: Languishing.
Jon Rom: Languishing.
Jonathan Friedman: Okay. So I know you use a lot of big words. How are you with languishing?
I know you're good at languaging, but are you good at languishing?
Jon Rom: Am I good at language? Uh, yeah, I think I have to hear the question to give you a proper answer.
Jonathan Friedman: This question comes in from Josh and it's how to pick yourself up when you're languishing? And I'm going to take a step to say, and in this case, a lot of us are going through this languishing or this feeling of low or blah, or just taking everyday kind of slowly and like a turtle and that's kind of what languishing is. So, during COVID, we're all kind of experience experiencing that, blah. So, the question is from Josh, how do you pick yourself up when you're feeling that blah? How do you motivate yourself? How do you feel may be excited, energetic, little, extra pep in your step?
Jon Rom: Languishing adjective. Amorously pensive indicating melancholy. Oh, okay, alright. So, how do you pick yourself up when you're just starting the window, um, wishing that you could be part of, part of, part of your new crush's world? How do you, how do you pick yourself up when you want more? I mean, I think this is a perfect question for this episode because we've really, we've tackled that a little bit.
It's identifying what it is that embiggens you, what, what, what makes you feel bold? What makes you feel passionate?
Jonathan Friedman: You know, that, that, it's, it's really interesting actually, because Marge has that kind of, that languishing a bit too. It's not that she's sad or depressed or anxious or feeling low it's that blah feeling.
And in Marge's case, The way to sort of work through that languishing is to sort of uncover some of the other things that make merge excited outside of her day to day and something that I think about when I'm kind of going through that languishing as well as what's something that I love doing but haven't done it in a long time?
You know, I'm not alike, I'm not bored of doing that thing. So, maybe I play video games all the time, but maybe I haven't painted in a while or maybe I play guitar, but I haven't played drums in a while, or maybe I haven't done screamo vocals in a while. And, I want to spend some time, um, in the car practicing, um, some vocal lines and bringing some of that old stuff back into the day, the day-to-day the day, the daily grind. Um, that's been helpful for me, Jon, have you ever experienced that languishing before lugubrious languishing?
Jon Rom: Lugubrious languishing? I find that I find that there are times when I'm languishing and I ask myself, what do I like to do? And I can't think of anything.
I think to myself, like, I, I feel like I have passions. I feel like there are things that I enjoy doing and I find myself staring at the well-being devoid of all ideas of what I want to do with myself and I think that I think that there's something to be said about just doing something, just finding a thing that you've never done before.
Find something that is not in your wheelhouse, something that you've never thought of. Uh, go on, go on the internet, you know, go to your local library if you can, ask a friend about their hobbies and just get interested in something, you know, nothing about, because I find that even if you don't already have these built-in hobbies that you haven't gotten a chance to go back to, you know, you're, you are a reservoir of, of new experiences that have yet to occur and you just have to be willing to uh, throw yourself like so much spaghetti at a, at a wall and to see what sticks, but not to throw yourself at the wall.
Jonathan Friedman: So, John, I know you love lists and I'm wondering what's a list that we can make to sort of, um, explore some of the things that, you know, might bring us that extra bit of pep in our step.
Jon Rom: Step one, pick a letter of the alphabet. Step two. Decide on a thing that you can do within your capabilities that start with that letter. Step three, do that thing with as much reckless abandon as you can muster for 10 minutes, and then if you're not into it after 10 minutes, pick another letter and do something else because once he gets started, once you get into that, once he gets into that motion, you might find that maybe you do want to learn how to, uh, fingerpick a Blackbird by the Beatles.
Maybe you do want to start woodworking. Maybe you do want to learn how to draw an Aardvark. I had to make something for A. So art Aardvark card.
Jonathan Friedman: Arch fark if you will.
Jon Rom: Aardvark.
Jonathan Friedman: And I think something that happens a lot with languishing is a lot of us fall sort of victim too, I guess we're bored so, I'm just going to scroll through social media or binge-watch the same show on Netflix over and over again.
And while there is a time and a place to hang out on social media, check out new things, uh, relax binge-watch on Netflix. It's okay to also take that 10 minutes or that 20 minutes or even an hour to try something new. A list that I like to make is I think about all the things that I've done over the years since I was like young and I used to love playing soccer, I used to love running, I love working out, I love playing different kinds of music, I like learning new songs, but something I don't often do is I'll write my songs, but I don't actually like learning other people's songs and I'm a pretty good guitarist, but I don't know any covers to the point where, um, I'll show my grandparents, my guitar playing because I think I'm just being a good grandson and they're like play something we know, and I have nothing for them. So maybe...
Jon Rom: they'll scream "Freebird" at you until you figure it out.
Jonathan Friedman: My parents might make grandparents who exclusively speak Spanish just say yell at me. They're like: "play Freebird".
Jon Rom: Yeah.
Jonathan Friedman: Um, but yeah, just like learning Freebird or learning a new song or even a new guitar technique, uh, really would help to break me out of my shell.
So, that's something I liked to do, and if you're experiencing that languishing and, um, want to explore how to sort of break out of that, that vice or being a victim too, you know, just having like that endless scroll and you want to try something new, you can always feel free to reach out via email, to email@example.com and Jon, we're right here on the other side, ready to chat, to learn, to walk through that languishing because it's not fun to end it.
Jon Rom: Yeah. And you know, and I feel like if you, if you want to reach out to us on social media while you're doing that endless scroll on, on Tik Tok on, um, Twitter, on Instagram, on AOL messenger, which is has a streaming platform where you can watch everyone's conversations live and continue to scroll scrolling until you see the last conversation that will ever be had on earth.
You can reach out to us and you can, uh, see what we're up to, and maybe that'll inspire you to get out of your languishing and go have some fun to live, laugh, and play.
Jonathan Friedman: I love living laughing and playing. I love that John. And we're also in My Space too, right?
Jon Rom: Oh, we're on, we're on all the platforms we're on every platform that's ever existed.
Um, except for the metaverse
Jonathan Friedman: and not Tumblr.
Jon Rom: No, we're not on Tumblr where, uh, we're too explicit for Tumblr.
Jonathan Friedman: Character coaching is a production of The Journal That Talks Back a product at Frame of Mind Coaching.
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Our music is The Swindler by The Original Orchestra, featuring Ian Post. Our editing is done by one of the Jonathans on the show, which one? We'll never tell.