You’re raising your teenage sister to keep her out of the cycle of neglect and abuse she was exposed to at home with your alcoholic mother and her sociopathic boyfriend. Now you’re struggling to reconcile your relationship with your mom before her toxic beau completely blows through her savings and leaves her destitute. Is there anything you can do at this point to defuse the drama around your intoxicated mama? We’ll try to find answers to this and more here on Feedback Friday!
And in case you didn’t already know it, Jordan Harbinger (@JordanHarbinger) and Gabriel Mizrahi (@GabeMizrahi) banter and take your comments and questions for Feedback Friday right here every week! If you want us to answer your question, register your feedback, or tell your story on one of our upcoming weekly Feedback Friday episodes, drop us a line at email@example.com. Now let’s dive in!
On This Week’s Feedback Friday, We Discuss:
- You’re struggling to reconcile your relationship with your mom before her toxic beau completely blows through her savings and leaves her destitute. Is there anything you can do to defuse the drama around your intoxicated mama?
- As a new recruiter for a high-growth startup tech company, you feel like you’re getting the brush-off whenever you bring up the need to diversify personnel to the higher-ups. What can you do to get the issue taken more seriously? [Thanks to executive coach Michelle Lederman for helping us with this one!]
- Through therapy and medication, you’ve overcome decades of anxiety, depression, and financial problems, and you’re ready to date after losing 140 pounds you gained when you were at your lowest point. But now you’ve got a lot of loose skin; how do you pre-empt any worries you have about being seen naked by a possible partner?
- You fought your way through stage four breast cancer, but you still have to go to the doctor for time-consuming checkups and scans regularly. Now you’re looking for a job and don’t want to mislead a potential employer by omitting this information, but you don’t want to lose out on a lead because they decided to hire someone who doesn’t have these issues. What should you do?
- How do you politely get your extremely chatty client to shut up?
- Have any questions, comments, or stories you’d like to share with us? Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org!
- Connect with Jordan on Twitter at @JordanHarbinger and Instagram at @jordanharbinger.
- Connect with Gabriel on Twitter at @GabeMizrahi.
Like this show? Please leave us a review here — even one sentence helps! Consider leaving your Twitter handle so we can thank you personally!
Please Scroll Down for Featured Resources and Transcript!
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Resources from This Episode:
- Neil deGrasse Tyson | Cosmic Queries for the Acutely Curious | Jordan Harbinger
- Daniel Pink | To Sell Is Human | Jordan Harbinger
- Al-Anon Family Groups
- Better Help
- Distancing from Junkie Sibling’s Self-Jinxing | Feedback Friday | Jordan Harbinger
- The Connector’s Advantage: 7 Mindsets to Grow Your Influence and Impact by Michelle Tillis Lederman | Amazon
- Michelle Tillis Lederman | Why Relationships Are Our Greatest Assets | Jordan Harbinger
- Adam Grant | The Power of Knowing What You Don’t Know | Jordan Harbinger
- How Diversity Makes Us Smarter | Scientific American
- Influence and Persuasion Starter Pack | Jordan Harbinger
- Glennon Doyle | Twitter
- Brené Brown | Twitter
- Pre-Employment Inquiries and Medical Questions & Examinations | US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
- A Guide to Disability Rights Laws | ADA.gov
- Employment Discrimination | California Department of Fair Employment and Housing
- How to Deal with Conversational Narcissists | Feedback Friday | Jordan Harbinger
- Michelle Lederman | Fundraising for Lupus Research Alliance
Defusing the Drama Around Your Intoxicated Mama | Feedback Friday (Episode 523)
Jordan Harbinger: Special thanks to Hyundai for sponsoring this episode.
[00:00:06] Welcome to Feedback Friday. I'm your host Jordan Harbinger. Today, I'm here with my Feedback Friday producer, my comrade in kibitzing Gabriel Mizrahi. On The Jordan Harbinger Show, we decode the stories, secrets, and skills of the world's most fascinating people and turn their wisdom into practical advice that you can use to impact your own life and those around you. We want to help you see the Matrix when it comes to how these amazing people think and behave. And our mission is to help you become a better informed, more critical thinker. So you can get a much deeper understanding of how the world works and make sense of what's really happening, even inside your own mind.
[00:00:41] Now, if you're new to the show, on Fridays, we give advice to you and answer listener questions. The rest of the week, we have long-form interviews and conversations with a variety of amazing folks from spies to CEOs, athletes, authors, thinkers, and performance. And if you're joining us for the first time, or you're looking for a handy way to tell your friends about the show, we have episode starter packs. Those are collections of your favorite episodes and some of my favorite episodes organized by popular topics. So that'll help new listeners get a taste of everything we do here on the show. Just visit jordanharbinger.com/start to get started.
[00:01:14] This week on the show, we had Neil deGrasse Tyson with a look at the cosmos, alien life — well potential therefore — time travel and more. So if you love science, you'll dig that one. We also had Dan Pink. He's also an amazing teacher and communicator, author of multiple best-selling books. We discuss sales and influence, persuasion skill sets, and why those are necessary for anyone in any role. Two superstars this week. Definitely go back and check out those episodes if you haven't heard them yet and to listen to everything we created for you here this week.
[00:01:42] All right, Gabe, what's the first thing we're dealing with?
[00:01:44] Gabriel Mizrahi: Dear Jordan and Gabe. I'm a 25-year-old guy with a 17-year-old sister I'm currently caring for. She just graduated high school and was recently accepted into a very prestigious university. I'm very excited for her future, but we're both deeply troubled and traumatized by some recent events. We were raised in a strict, but well-functioning family. Both my parents were caring and present and provided a stable home environment. However, as I grew older and got to know my parents on a deeper level, I discovered that they were both extremely unhappy in what was actually a deeply dysfunctional relationship. They were never meant for each other and raising us was the only thing, holding it all together. They divorced my senior year of college. Both of them went through massive changes in personality that approached near adolescent behavior, which was extremely unnerving as they were both in their mid 50s. Then last Christmas, I discovered that my mom had developed a severe drinking problem. I left my job and moved back home to take care of my sister in the house while my mom sought treatment at a rehab facility. I came to learn that she had been neglecting my sister and placing her in dangerous situations, such as driving her to school while severely intoxicated. Things then spiraled out of control when she quit rehab with a new boyfriend she met during her "recovery". Within days, they had wrecked my childhood at home. I begged my mom to get help, work her program, and leave her boyfriend who was sociopathic and abusive to her, to my sister but instead they kicked us out of the house. My sister and I stayed at our dad's apartment for a couple of weeks, but his relationship with my sister wasn't great due to the messy divorce. He helped me get back on my feet while I applied for jobs in our small town. Eventually I was able to land one and get a place for my sister and me. Now, I'm really struggling to reconcile the relationship I have with my mom. I know she still cares about us, but she cares more about this toxic codependency with her boyfriend. I don't want to abandon her, but I can no longer look her in the eye knowing she won't change. To make matters worse, her boyfriend has no job and is now blowing through my mom's savings account. She'll have nothing left soon and can't work due to a DUI hit-and- run at her previous employer's property. Meanwhile, her boyfriend frequently rubs my concern and my face behind her back.
[00:03:49] Jordan Harbinger: Wow. Dog fighting going on over there.
[00:03:52] Gabriel Mizrahi: I have a lot of rage towards this guy, and I'm not sure how to manage it. I also feel very alone in this situation. I don't want my anger to erupt and impact the people who depend on me, but it feels like there's nothing I can do to stop my mother from being taken advantage of and it's more than I can bear. Do you guys have any advice on how to deal with this kind of anger? Is there anything I can do for my mother or am I just wasting her time and hurting myself in the process? Thanks for your help. Signed, A Brother and Son Trying Not to Come Undone.
[00:04:19] Jordan Harbinger: Holy sh*t, man. This is an extraordinary story. It is incredibly tragic, obviously. I'm so sorry you have to watch your mom go through this. It's got to be pretty horrifying, but it's also really touching in a crazy way because you came to your sister's rescue when she needed you the most. And in her own way, I'm sure she's helping you get through this too. I hope so, anyway. You guys are really lucky to have each other. That's huge and this will, and probably already has brought you two closer together. So look, I'm going to be blunt here, but I think it's important to face this situation head on. Your mom is in the grip of a serious addiction. She's placing that addiction above her own well-being, her children's lives, her career, her safety, her finances, her relationships, all of it. And this boyfriend, this guy sounds like a cancer, a potentially dangerous one. He's an addict too. Obviously, I have some compassion for him on that level, but refusing to get a job, blowing through your mom's savings, making fun of you to your face for being concerned. My freaking blood is just boiling. And then you have your dad who sounds like he's doing his best. It's great that he gave you a place to stay for a bit, but he's got his own issues with your sister and he's working his own stuff out. And now, it's on you to play all these different roles, to all these different people, so you can manage a very chaotic situation.
[00:05:36] So I understand why you have all this rage. It makes sense. And I get why you feel helpless. Watching somebody you love struggle with addiction, especially a parent that is beyond painful. Plus you've become a pseudo father to your sister. That's a tricky role to play. I can imagine. Plus you're trying to get a job to provide for both of you. Plus you're trying to live your own life. That is a lot of responsibility, man. And I just want to acknowledge that at your age, 25, to be dealing with this. I want you to know that it's okay to just feel totally freaking overwhelmed and angry sometimes because this situation is highly dysfunctional. It is deeply unfair. And I got to say from where I'm sitting, it actually sounds like you're doing a pretty incredible job given the circumstances.
[00:06:17] So what are you supposed to do about your mom? Well, my first question is. Have you guys made one big concerted effort to help her yet? If not, I'm thinking it's time for an intervention, like a real one. I would get together with your dad, your sister, any close family members, your mom's friends, maybe even a counselor or a sponsor from your mom's last rehab facility. Maybe just call and ask for their advice. See if they can recommend an addiction specialist who can help facilitate this for you. So you don't have to do it on your own. Sit your mom down for a very serious conversation. You and your sister can tell your mom how her addiction has affected you guys. Invite other people to speak, make her wake up and realize what she is doing and that continuing down this path is unsustainable.
[00:07:02] Then tell your mom that you're ready to take her to a rehab facility right away. If you can get her back into treatment, give her some support to deal with her issue. Then you might save her life and repair your relationship. And I absolutely think that this is worth trying, but if your mom just refuses to meet face to face, or she walks out of the room the second she realizes what's going on, or she goes back to rehab and relapses again and again, then you're eventually going to have to accept that there just might not be much that you can do for her. She is an adult. She's in the driver's seat, even though it's an addiction and that's sort of debatable, who's controlling what here. She's really the one that has the most control out of all of you. And like we talk about all the time of the show, she's not going to make meaningful change until she wants to make a meaningful change. And accepting your mom for who she is, that's really painful. It involves a lot of surrender and patience and faith, and that's an ongoing process, but it's what so many loved ones of addicts have to do at one point or another.
[00:08:03] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah. Well said, Jordan, she does deserve that chance and they have to know that they tried really, really tried with her before they give up and let her spin out completely. But the other big question is how you're doing through all of this and how you're showing up for your sister right now. Because right now that is the one part of this absolutely batsh*t crazy equation that you can control. So, first of all, I would encourage you to talk about all of this with your sister. I know you probably think of her as the younger sibling. Maybe you want to spare her from taking on too much, but she's an adult now, and she's been through this too. She's been through the same thing. You have, you guys have this very profound, shared experience together. So the more that you guys can share what you're going through and help each other lean on each other, the better.
[00:08:44] I would also seriously consider talking to a therapist either on your own or with your sister, if she's open to that, if she needs it. Not just about coping with mom's addiction, which is obviously a whole topic you could get into. I bet that's probably most of what you would talk about, but you could also talk about what to do with all of this rage that you're feeling because the anger that you feel, it makes perfect sense. But if you're walking around all day, feeling like you are about to explode on anybody you meet, that's an issue. And there's definitely some great work for you to do in processing those feelings. But honestly, I'm guessing you'd have a lot to talk about at therapy, besides that, starting with the fact that you had these parents.
[00:09:18] I mean, I'm glad that they were stable and loving when you were young. That's great. That's more than a lot of people have. That probably is a great foundation, but now there are these different people you're dealing with that you're sort of trying to take care of your mom and you're taking care of your sister. Like Jordan said, that's a lot of responsibility. You're now playing the surrogate father role for her. It's a very complicated position for you. I'm sure it goes a long way back. So think about it. If you can work through this with somebody that could be a game changer. I also think it would make you feel a lot less alone in this situation.
[00:09:48] One other recommendation: you and your sister should think about checking out some Al-Anon meetings. Al-Anon if you don't know, it's basically a recovery program for family members and friends of alcoholics. It's a place where you can share what you're going through. You can hear other people's stories, find some support, find some community. And also get a better understanding of how to really help somebody like your mom right now. That could be huge for you guys as well. Because if you can find some support for yourselves right now, I know that you're so fixated on your mom and that's great, but you guys need a little bit of help as well. That could make the whole situation a lot more bearable and it will also make you way more effective when you do try to help your mom.
[00:10:23] Jordan Harbinger: Agreed, Gabe. And you should know there are tons of low cost and sliding-scale options out there. You don't have to drop 300 bucks a session to get some help. So do some research. It wouldn't be a feedback if I didn't recommend betterhelp.com/jordan. It is a really high quality service. A lot of you have written to me and told me how much you love it. It supports the show, but mostly it's going to support you. And that's the point here. I would also go back and listen to the question we took a few weeks ago from a woman who wrote in about her brother hitting rock bottom. That was episode 514. A lot of what we talked about applies to your situation too and that would be helpful.
[00:10:58] And by the way, I've said this before, but you can go to jordanharbinger.com/the episode number of any episode of the show. So if you want episode 514, just go to jordanharbinger.com/514, and it'll pop up in the show notes. Of course, if you have the subscription on your phone in any podcast app, you can find it easily as well.
[00:11:14] Before we wrap up here, I just want to say something. The situation you're in it is heartbreaking. There's no two ways about it, but there is a lot of good here. You're showing up for your sister in an incredible way. She's gotten into a great college. She's about to start this exciting new chapter. You guys are building a very different life from your parents and you have each other, and that's a huge source of love and stability. You've managed to get a job. You put a roof over your heads. You're adulting hard for 20-something, man, you're doing a killer job, buddy. So if you need any evidence that you're able to handle all the bat sh*t crazy stuff that life throws your way, this is definitely it. You are probably not going to find a harder situation or that many harder situations as an adult, right? Knock on wood. What you're going through is about as tough as it gets for a lot of folks. So just recognize that. Hang on to that and remember that even if your mom refuses to get better, you can still build a life that's stable and productive and healthy. It won't always be easy, but it will make you a more resilient person. And I hope your mom finds the help that she needs. I hope you do too.
[00:12:20] We're sending you guys our best thoughts and make sure that you and your sister realize that a component of alcoholism is genetic. And that means that you can potentially fall into it easier as well. So you might want to tightly control your consumption of alcohol or avoid it altogether. Same goes for your sister. It's just not worth swimming in those waters if this is how bad it gets in your family, I'm not saying it's going to happen or that you are destined for that. Or even that you have that same gene, but it's just, how much do you want to roll the dice on this when you've seen the consequences.
[00:12:51] By the way everyone, you can reach us at email@example.com. Please keep your emails concise, try to use a descriptive subject line that makes our job a lot easier. Also, if you can include the state and country that you live in, that usually helps us give you more detailed advice. So if there's something you're going through, any big decision you're wrestling with, or you just need a new perspective on stuff, life, love, work, what to do. If you're bipolar mom is all up in your medical business. Whatever's got you staying up at night lately, hit us up firstname.lastname@example.org. We're here to help and we keep every email anonymous.
[00:13:25] You're listening to Feedback Friday here on The Jordan Harbinger Show. We'll be right back.
[00:13:30] This episode is sponsored in part by SimpliSafe. Remember the feeling you got as a kid of getting tucked into bed, or the feeling you get now in the arms of somebody you love safe and secure. It's a feeling that security only comes through human connection, and that's why the people at SimpliSafe home security are so important. Of course, SimpliSafe has an award-winning system that has all the technology bells and whistles you expect these days. But the people at SimpliSafe really take it to the next level. They're there around the clock anytime you need them. Whether it's a fire, burglary, or medical emergency, a burst pipe, or even a problem while you're setting up the system, SimpliSafe has a person with the expertise you need ready to help 24/7. And when you know, there's somebody always there to help, that's a feeling you just don't get with any old security system.
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[00:15:15] And now back to Feedback Friday on The Jordan Harbinger Show.
[00:15:21] All right, what's next?
[00:15:22] Gabriel Mizrahi: Dear Jordan and Gabe, I was just hired as a recruiter for a high growth startup tech company. Three weeks in, I had meetings with various stakeholders and recruiters where I probed people about issues related to equity, diversity, and inclusion. In two separate conversations with very senior people, I raised my concerns about the lack of female engineers in the company, especially in management roles. And I mentioned several ways that we could address the problem. After several moments of awkward silence, I was told that, "Yes, maybe we've had the idea to open intern or junior roles within the engineering department, but not now. Now, the focus is getting more senior people." These conversations were incredibly uncomfortable. Both of these executives seem distracted that they were looking at their screens. It seemed like they weren't really listening to me much at all. But there was also a moment when I asked about the company serving a particular market and why they don't expand to which I was told, "It's a long story and a long conversation." Later, I had several chats with fellow recruiters about whether they see the lack of female representation as an issue. They either changed the topic or said something like, "Sure, good idea. But this initiative should come from above. It's not up to us to decide whether to focus on it or not." I know the tech industry is notorious for its lack of gender representation, but I would think that there would at least be an attempt to address it. To be fair though, I always try to fight moral issues like these when I see them. And this is usually the response that I get. So my question is, are these truly huge red flags? Or am I just overreacting? Is there anything I can do or should I back off and learn what not to do and be a better leader for my own team in the future? Signed, Donya Quixote.
[00:16:55] Jordan Harbinger: This is an interesting question and it's a super timely one. These conversations you're having, they're ambitious, they're uncomfortable, they're sorely needed according to a lot of people, but very few people want to face those conversations on their own. And you, being successful here, it's not just about what you're advocating for. It's also how you go about making these changes. So to make sure we're getting a good handle on your situation. We consulted with my friend, Michelle Lederman. Michelle is a top-notch executive coach. She's also the author of the Connectors Advantage. So she really knows her stuff when it comes to communicating and navigating conflict at work.
[00:17:29] And Michelle, she laid out your options like this. Option one, you do nothing. The path of least resistance. It's a way to avoid any conflict, not rock the boat, but you know, it's going to run counter to your morals and beliefs from the sound of it. Option two, you focus on diverse recruitment without explicitly calling it diverse recruitment. You don't agitate too much. You don't wave the flag. You don't call your colleagues out for not taking it seriously. You just bring your team great candidates by doing what you know how to do. For example, if you present two great candidates and one of them is a woman, then you can simply advocate for her because you think it's the right move.
[00:18:04] Option three is you find a way to champion diversity and bring this problem up to your bosses without putting them on the defenses. Michelle recommends you start by acknowledging how hard this conversation is then. Ask if they have an interest in getting better at this. You know, like prime them a little, invite them in. Look for a way to make them feel like they are the superstar for coming up with this idea that always works to treat. Ask for their advice on expanding diverse hires. All of these approaches would put them more in the driver's seat rather than acting out of fear of being sued.
[00:18:35] I'm a fan of option two. Sometimes that's the best way to bring about change, at least in the beginning, but I am a bigger fan of option three. That to me is really the best approach. You can still wave the diversity banner if you want to. You can still educate your colleagues about why this is so important. But you're approaching them as partners, as opposed to, you know, misogynistic, regressive prejudice, idiots who need to be educated about why diversity matters in the workplace, that's just going to get them to label you a wokie and be annoying for everyone, which even if you're right about that, you're not going to get very far with that approach.
[00:19:09] I think what's happening right now is you're so immersed in this way of thinking that you're so laser-focused on the need to hire more women as you see it. That you're overlooking the need to communicate this in the right way to people who don't take it seriously. And also side note diversity is great in companies of all shapes and sizes, not just because some people think it's a moral imperative, but also because studies — we've talked about this, I think with Adam Grant as well, studies show that diverse experiences and ideas, they make products better. So that's good even if you don't believe in any of this sort of woke stuff and you're like, "Ah, bah humbug," right? You may want to research this a bit as opposed to going with the social justice warrior angle. You might just want to be like, "Look, even if we're a hundred percent sociopathic and we don't care about this diversity thing, we don't give a crap about it. And it's all a bunch of hokey crap. Our products and teams are going to be better because of this. Look at the data." Like that's going to be a better angle for a lot of people.
[00:20:02] Gabriel Mizrahi: Sure. Good point, Jordan. They will listen to the data, even if they don't want to listen to the ideas and the communication piece. That is huge because a couple of things jumped out at me in this letter. The first is that. She just got hired at this company. She's still getting a lay of the land. She's still getting to know her colleagues and now she's diving right into perhaps one of the most difficult conversations you can have, especially as we know in the tech world. The other thing that jumped out to me was this thing about asking about the company, serving a certain market and why don't they expand. And then these executives are basically shutting her down. So this is interesting, right? She's a recruiter. Her job is to find the best possible talent, but now she's also critiquing senior executives on their business strategy three weeks into this new job. And then telling them which markets they should serve, which ones they shouldn't serve. I mean, I admire that passion, but. That's not her job. That's not her job, at least in the first few months of working there. And I'm not saying that, you know, you can't chime in and be useful in other ways, but I definitely feel like you got to work up to that.
[00:20:59] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, that jumped out at me too. I can imagine being on the receiving end of that. And I'm like, "Aren't you an HR, I'm not giving you notes on which freaking LinkedIn groups to use, am I? So why are you telling me how to sell my product?" There's something about that. That feels a little bit unselfaware, granted we're going off one email here, but still right?
[00:21:17] Gabriel Mizrahi: Sure. Sure, sure. But then there's this other thing about how she always tries to fight these moral issues. And this is usually the response that she gets. By her own admission, this is a real pattern in her life. She sees a wrong at work. She tries to write it, which is commendable for sure. But then she doesn't find the support that she's hoping for and maybe she even drives people away in the process.
[00:21:35] Jordan Harbinger: Exactly. Something clearly isn't working and she knows it, but she can't seem to stop.
[00:21:40] Gabriel Mizrahi: What I'm hearing is that she just got hired at this company, a company that has a set culture, has tons of moving parts. It has a bunch of senior executives who have been there for a while. And she's immediately pushing for a new philosophy and she's meddling in other departments and she's low-key shaming, maybe calling out her colleagues for not being as committed to her ideals as she is. So I'm not surprised that she's being met with resistance. And I'm not saying she's wrong to want to hire more women. She should. She is absolutely right. But if she doesn't take the time to appreciate how this company operates, if she doesn't build some rapport with her colleagues before she tries to make a radical change, that's not going to go over too well. That can easily come across as disrespectful and maybe a little presumptuous, even if her intentions are great.
[00:22:20] Jordan Harbinger: That's exactly what's happening. I think without some sensitivity in some patients she's coming across as a little bit, self-righteous, a little finger waggy, which is really kind of the worst way to persuade people, especially a bunch of gray hairs in tech. If she wants to win people over, she has to pull them in rather than pushing them forward. She has to empower them. I know that sounds corny, but that's how it is.
[00:22:42] Our advice is this. Find ways to achieve your goals without making it a cause just in the beginning, at least in the beginning. You can still champion great candidates without changing the entire DNA of the company. And while you do that, get to know your colleagues, support them, understand them, earn their loyalty before you try and change everything from the jump. Imagine what it's like for them to be on the receiving end of your ideas and tailor your message, avoid the temptation to preach or shame, try to make this a conversation, present your ideas as solutions, rather than as gospel. I don't want to come across too harshly because I don't really know if she's doing that way, but I'm trying to highlight it here.
[00:23:20] If you want to dive deeper into the psychology of changing people's minds, check out our starter pack on influence and persuasion. We'll link to that in the show notes. Jordanharbinger.com/start is where the starter packs are. If you do all that, you'll be a lot more effective at changing the hiring practices at this company. And at any other organization you join in the future. Good luck.
[00:23:41] All right, next up.
[00:23:42] Gabriel Mizrahi: Hey guys. I'm a man in my mid 50s and I've had a decades long battle with anxiety, depression, and financial problems. Four years ago, I overcame them through therapy and medication. After that with a lot of hard work, my life completely changed for the better. The thing is I haven't truly dated anyone since 1999. I felt like sh*t for a long time. And my weight blew up. I'm a pretty laid back amiable guy who likes meeting new people. But the last thing I wanted to do for a very long time was drag somebody into that abyss. Fast forward to today and I've dropped 140 pounds and kept it off for three years. And now I want a date. The problem is the weight loss has left me with a ton of loose skin. And that alone stops me from trying. Plastic surgery would be over $12,000 to $16,000 and recovery up to a few months, neither of which I can afford. I know that no one's body is perfect and you can't get to 50 without a battle scar or two like Indiana Jones said, "It's not the age, honey. It's the mileage." But how do I get past my fear of being seen naked? How do I explain my past to allow our relationship to progress? Signed, Lighter Than Ever, But Still Weighed Down.
[00:24:48] Jordan Harbinger: Wow. Well, first of all, congratulations, huge, congrats on all of that amazing growth or shrinkage as it were. It's very hard to overcome decades of it, anxiety and depression and money stuff later in life, but you did it. You found the resources you needed to change, and you turn things around in a dramatic way, which is incredible. And honestly, it's pretty inspiring.
[00:25:08] So this is interesting. You're afraid of how people will see you in a dating context, but. You also know that this drastic weight loss is a big part of your story. And there's a tension there. On the one hand, you're proud of how far you've come. You know, you can't snap your fingers and change your body. It's not the age, it's the mileage. On the other hand, you have these feelings about your body. You're worried about how people will perceive you. And I get that. But what's interesting about that tension to me, is that how you feel about this loose skin. It's directly tied to what it means to you.
[00:25:40] So when you're having one of those days, when you're super proud of how far you've come, you're grateful to be healthy. I'd venture to guess that it's a loose skin. It's a lot less painful. On those days, it's probably more of a battle scar. It's basically evidence of the gift you've given to yourself. But if you're having one of those days where you're not thinking about how far you've come, or you're still struggling with something, you're worried about finding a partner, you feel an extra single that loose skin probably takes on a very different meaning. Then it's a burden. It's a defect, it's a liability. All of that makes sense.
[00:26:10] I totally get how both of those things can be true for you. But then I think you have an opportunity to integrate these two meanings a little bit more. You can walk around thinking, "Man, it's too bad. I got to carry around this loose skin. Some people might not be thrilled about it, but you know what? This is a sign that I overcame, all that stuff that I'm taking care of myself. I'm here, man. And I'd rather be here and healthy and have some loose skin than be 350 pounds and unable to get out of bed and scared to leave my house because I'm so anxious and depressed." I know that won't fix things overnight, but I do think that talking to yourself in that way will help you stay compassionate toward yourself when you start to get worried about what other people will think of you.
[00:26:51] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yes, Jordan so well said. I agree completely because these two questions that you're asking, how do I get past my fear of being seen naked? And how do I explain my past to allow our relationship to progress? Those two are totally connected. You're afraid of somebody seeing you naked, but you also know that sharing your story with somebody you do end up dating, that's a really important step, and it's a major act of vulnerability, of intimacy. Because look, you can start dating and hide from people in various ways because you're afraid — I mean, hide them from them physically and also hide from them emotionally, because you're afraid of how they'll see you. Or when the time is right with the right person, you can say something like, "Listen, this is tough for me to talk about, but I want you to know because it's important. It's something very personal to me. Four years ago, I totally turned my life around. I lost a ton of weight. It's been a huge change for me. But now I have this loose skin. I wish I didn't have it, but I'd rather," like Jordan said, "That I'd rather be here with you and feeling healthy and feeling clear, then be the person I was back then. Being naked with somebody. That's a new experience for me. I'm a little bit anxious about it, but I don't want to let that stop me from getting to know you. So I just wanted to tell you that. So you know why I look the way I do, you know, what I've been through." You know, something like that.
[00:27:57] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, that would be the way to do it, but that's a super vulnerable conversation to have. So I get why this guy would rather avoid dating altogether. Then having to say something like that, not out loud.
[00:28:07] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah, I do too. I totally get it, but I'm not sure it's much scarier than the anxiety that he's carrying around right now. And like you said, he wants to date. He knows that this is a part of his life that he wants to make happen. And to your point, Jordan, the best way to accept himself and process some of the shame that he's feeling is to acknowledge this stuff. I mean, that's the only way to really resolve it. And if he can do that with the right person, of course, that could actually bring them closer. It could be the reason they become close.
[00:28:31] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, you're right. As long as he presents it the right way. And the other person appreciates him for who he is, because if he opens up to someone and they really see him, they accept his loose skin and all. That vulnerability could be super powerful. And I've realized I'm freaking starting to sound like Glennon Doyle over here.
[00:28:47] Gabriel Mizrahi: I know you are, but you're right. He's thinking of dating as this very risky intimidating proposition. But if he finds somebody great, somebody likes and somebody who really likes him and who celebrates how far he's come, which they should, that will go a very long way in changing his perception of himself as well.
[00:29:04] Jordan Harbinger: That's healing, right? Channeling my inner Brené Brown here. A lot of that acceptance happens not just on your own, but in a relationship with another person. So I would give yourself the opportunity to see what happens. I would also keep taking care of yourself, keep eating well, keep working out all that. Give your body and your mind every possible advantage. And if you need some more help in dealing with some of the body image stuff, I would consider talking to a therapist, like we said earlier, tons of low-cost resources out there. Don't be afraid to take advantage of them. And maybe down the road, you save up some money. You get that skin removal, surgery, tons of people do that. You might even be able to get your insurance to cover it. A little pro tip we picked up in our research. If you can show that excess skin is causing new problems or discomfort, a lot of times insurance will cover it, wink, wink. So get proactive there and talk to your doctor about it.
[00:29:54] There could be a way to make this doable for you, but really if you own this aspect of yourself, if you can integrate it into your story and your personality, I think it'll feel like less of a burden and more like an accomplishment, which it should. And if all that doesn't work, duct tape works wonders I've heard. Really though, seriously, I love how far you've come, my man, good luck out there.
[00:30:18] All right, what's next?
[00:30:19] Gabriel Mizrahi: Hey Jordan and Gabe, I live in California and I was diagnosed with stage four breast cancer almost four years ago. I went through 12 rounds of chemo, two surgeries and 33 radiation sessions, and I've had great results. My current status is no evidence of disease.
[00:30:34] Jordan Harbinger: Wow. Amazing. Good for you.
[00:30:35] Gabriel Mizrahi: Now, I really need to find a job. I've been working through my illness remotely for the most part, mainly as an assistant for small businesses, but that work has slowed down in the past year. My cancer treatment has cost me thousands of dollars. My bank account is running low and for the first time in over 30 years, I have credit card debt. Because I had an aggressive form of breast cancer. I still have to go for a doctor's visit, blood tests, and antibodies treatment every three weeks indefinitely, plus an echocardiogram and a bone scan and a CT scan periodically. None of these treatments or tests have any physical effects, but they do take up a lot of time, several hours for each visit. How or when do I bring this up when I'm looking for a job? I don't want to mislead an employer, but I'm worried that if I mentioned the medical stuff, they're just going to hire somebody else. One solution is to switch to a new oncologist, which would allow me to do my treatments on the weekends or evenings, but I won't know if I can do that until I figure out my next health insurance situation. So, any advice? Signed, Survive the War, But Still Navigating the Trenches.
[00:31:33] Jordan Harbinger: Well, first of all, congratulations on beating stage four breast cancer. That sounds like quite the ordeal. You've been through a lot. You come out healthy. That's incredible. I'm sorry you had to go through that. And I'm sorry that it's still an issue with your work situation. That's just got to be stress that you don't need right now.
[00:31:48] So should you bring this up with employers? Well, here's what the law says. The Americans with disabilities act, the federal law that governs this stuff, it very clearly places restrictions on employers when it comes to asking applicants to answer medical questions. So for example, an employer isn't legally allowed to ask you, "Hey, have you ever had a serious disease or how often do you go to the doctor?" Or something that they also can't make you take a medical exam, well, in most situations they can't make it take a medical exam before making a job offer. An employer can ask you if you can perform the job and how you'd perform the job. So be prepared for that. It doesn't sound like that's going to be an issue. The law also allows an employer to make a job offer conditional on you answering certain medical questions or passing a medical exam. But only if all new employees in the same job have to answer those questions or take the same exam. They can't just single you out for that. Now, usually those exams have something to do with the job too. Like if you're a freaking minor or something like that, right?
[00:32:46] Now, once you actually get hired, your employer can only ask medical questions if they need documentation to support your request for some kind of accommodation, like taking an afternoon off or being exempt from a certain task or needing accommodations in the office to get around, or if they have reason to believe that you wouldn't be able to perform a job successfully, like physically because of your medical condition. On top of that, the California Fair Employment and Housing Act prohibits employers from asking any non-job-related inquiries that discriminate against a medical condition. So on the federal level and the state level, you are very well protected.
[00:33:21] Now, let's say that you get hired at a company, and then you tell your boss that you have to go to the doctor a lot. Will they be totally chill about that? Maybe, maybe not. I would hope so, but it depends on how understanding they are. That's why these laws exist so that people like you don't get barred from opportunities because of a medical history that wasn't even your fault. So you always run that risk by not disclosing in advance, but in most cases and definitely in your case, I think it's probably better not to disclose those too early and land a job than to tell them in advance and possibly lose out on an offer.
[00:33:54] So my advice is this crush, the interviews get a few offers, look at their health care benefits, find out how flexible these positions are in terms of remote work, especially. Then choose the one that meets as many of your needs as possible. Then once you start doing an incredible bang up job on everything you do so that they know you're amazing and you earn some Goodwill. Then when you tell them you need a few hours off here and there to get your blood work and your scans done, they're probably going to be much more accommodating. And given the law, they can't even fire you without incurring a huge liability anyway, but when you do tell them that you need some time off to go to the doctor, I would just reassure them that you're going to get all of your work done. You're not going to faff off or take advantage of them. And also that you really appreciate the flexibility. It will be hard for them to deny you that even if they're not thrilled about it, but honestly, if you're an amazing assistant, they probably won't even care.
[00:34:41] And as for switching doctors, If that makes it easier for you to do your job great. But if it's not possible, I wouldn't go to the doctor on Saturdays. You could still go on Thursdays. Maybe you do a little extra work on Saturday to make up for it. So you're not behind. Not the worst arrangement in the world. If that works just as well for you and does right by your employer, that might be the move. But the best option, in my opinion, would be finding a remote position. You can just bring your laptop to your appointments and no one's even going to have to know you're at the doctor, the chances of you getting a remote position right now, we're negotiating to go remote part-time after a little while, I would say they're pretty high.
[00:35:15] So don't let this stop you prematurely. You've been on a long road. You deserve a chance to work just balanced rights against your employer's needs and try to do what's right for you while also doing right by them. And I think everybody's going to be happy. So good luck. Or, you know, let them fire you illegally then sue the sh*t out of those punks and retire early. That's also an option.
[00:35:37] Gabriel Mizrahi: Also on the table.
[00:35:38] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:35:38] This is The Jordan Harbinger Show. And this is Feedback Friday. We'll be right back.
[00:35:46] This episode is sponsored in part by Better Help online therapy. Are you worried that if you see a therapist, it means your crazy week or a failure? I understand that stigma, but it's just not correct at all. It's total BS. Are you worried what others might think when they find out you see a therapist? Well, if you ask me, I think that you're probably forward-thinking and self-aware, but I understand that everyone shares that. Unfortunately, the stigma of therapy causes a lot of people to decide not to pursue counseling, despite experiencing significant emotional, physical, or mental distress, which is very common these days. Let me be clear. Most people who initiate counseling do not have a serious mental illness. They are just going through some challenges. They're going through a life cycle thing. That's why this show is proud to join the cause in de-stigmatizing therapy. I'm a fan of it. I've done it. I recommend it. Better Help is a great fit especially if you just want to dip your toes in the therapy water. It's affordable. They match you up really quick. You can do it all on your phone from bed to your couch. No need to drive. No need to park.
[00:36:40] Jen Harbinger: Our listeners get 10 percent off your first month of online therapy at betterhelp.com/jordan. That's better-H-E-L-P.com/jordan.
[00:36:49] Jordan Harbinger: This episode is also sponsored by Purple Mattress. As the world becomes increasingly uncomfortable, we're all looking for as much comfort as we can get. And this is a true story, a long time ago, like a decade and change. I was set to appear on the Today Show. So they got me all mic'd up, right? Ready to go live. Sound guy said, "You can just walk around and kill some time before we go live." Nerves got to me. Let's say I eat something bad. I went to take an emergency bathroom break. And when I got out, I saw the sound guy and I remembered, "Oh yeah, the mic is live." And he put his hand up before I could even open my mouth. And he said, "Don't worry, man. I used to be the sound guy for Def Leppard. So I've heard everything." Talk about an uncomfortable situation. However, Purple is comfort reinvented. Only Purple has the grid. A stretchy gel material. That's amazingly supportive for your back and legs while cushioning your shoulders, neck and hips. I don't know how it does it, it's fantastic. And also the grid doesn't trap air. Air circulates around and flows through it. So you're not getting all overheated and sweaty. You can't underestimate the unpleasant sounds of a live mic bowel movement, nor the cool side of the pillow. With Purple Pillow, it's always cool and refreshing on the cheek and supports only the parts that need it. And right now you can try your Purple Mattress risk-free with free shipping and returns. Financing is available as well.
[00:38:00] Jen Harbinger: Purple really is comfort for an uncomfortable world. Right now, you'll get 10 percent off, any order of $200 or more. Go to purple.com/jordan10 and use promo code Jordan10. That's purple.com/jordan10 promo code Jordan10 for 10 percent off any order of $200 or more. Purple.com/jordan10 promo code Jordan10. Terms apply.
[00:38:17] Jordan Harbinger: Apartments.com knows that we've been doing everything from home lately. Working from home, exercising from home, schooling from home, breakfast, lunch, and dinnering from home, listening to this podcast from home, wishing we were anywhere else on the planet-ing from home. But with all of that extra time we've had inside our homes, we've gained a new found appreciation for making sure our place is the right place for us. That's where apartments.com comes in. apartments.com has the most rental listings across apartments houses, townhomes and condos, as well as powerful search tools. So it's easy to find that special somewhere that offers exactly what you need. And thanks to its 3D virtual tours, you can now explore your potential new place from anywhere that includes such exotic locales as your boudoir, walk-in pantry, your Alfresco dining area, even your guest powder room if you're feeling adventurous, just about anywhere with an internet connection. So let your fingers enjoy a stroll across the nearest keyboard and visit apartments.com to start your rental search today. apartments.com, the most popular place to find a place.
[00:39:17] Thanks for listening and supporting the show. Your support of our advertisers keeps us going. Who doesn't love some good products and/or services? You can always visit jordanharbinger.com/deals for all the details on everybody that helps support the show.
[00:39:31] And now for the conclusion of Feedback Friday.
[00:39:35] All right, next up.
[00:39:37] Gabriel Mizrahi: Dear Jordan and Gabe, I'm a female martial arts instructor, and I have this new client, a 68-year-old man who's a good person, overall. The problem is he often talks to me after class for like 45 minutes about random sh*t. Like, "I was in Chile at once and the Pinochet era and the country was wonderful, blah, blah, blah," and I just can't listen to this guy anymore. I always tell him, I am that I'm staying a little longer to exercise, but then he assumes that I have free time. I try to pick up my phone and texts. I look at the clock, I don't engage with his comments, but he still won't stop talking. He often realizes it and says, "Oh, I'm talking too much. I'm so sorry." But then he just keeps on talking. I can't just tell them that I have to go home because then he wants to give me a ride and talk more. I'm an introvert with a very calm appearance, but I've always had anger issues inside. I feel like I'm screaming. Not only that, I feel really exhausted after he leaves, I have no energy to exercise, sometimes not even enough energy to think I need a good paying customer, but I'm not this guy's shrink pretty soon. I'll be the one who needs one. How do I politely tell this guy to shut up? Signed, Ready to Snap.
[00:40:43] Jordan Harbinger: People like this are so annoying, right? Narcissists like this. And yes, look, we're probably throwing that label around a lot, but this guy definitely/probably is a low-key narcissist, benign and harmless, sure, but a narcissist, nonetheless, at least a conversational narcissist. These people are a problem. They're a nuisance. You have to have firm boundaries with them, or they're going to walk all over you and suck your energy, which is what's happening right now. So if this dude isn't getting the subtle messages that you're sending him, then it's time to be a little bit more explicit. And I understand that you need to keep this guy as a client. So here's how you can do that diplomatically. The next time you guys finish a lesson, I would say something like, "Listen, Roger, it's been fun teaching you today. Great work. Now, I need some training time for myself. If you want to stick around, why don't you knock out some lunges and do some bag work over there." Say something like that with a smile. You don't have to be mean about it. Pop in your AirPods and start working out across the room. If he keeps bothering you, you can say, "Hey, Roger, I really need to work out on my own right now. Let's talk during next week's class. All right."
[00:41:44] If he's still bothering you, then you're going to have to put your foot down. "Roger, I've told you several times, I need to train on my own. I love being your teacher. I really do, but this is my time. And I'm asking you to respect that." And if this guy absolutely just refuses to respect that, which can happen with narcissists. One of their qualities actually is that they tend to fixate on people who deny them validation. You might want to escalate it with the owner of the academy. If there is something like that, or you might decide to stop teaching the guy entirely, or maybe you just stop engaging with him at all, which is super awkward, but sometimes necessary in extreme cases. And look, I know that it's probably intimidating to think about, but as we talk about all the time here on the show, this is also a good opportunity for you to learn, to assert your boundaries just a little bit more, which is also part of being a good instructor.
[00:42:30] Gabriel Mizrahi: 100 percent agree, Jordan, because, you know, you did say that you've always had anger issues. I think your words were, "I feel like screaming inside," which is pretty intense. I mean, I actually wonder if you feel so much anger because you don't set those boundaries instead of getting, you know, appropriately mad at this guy, who's making you angry. You're internalizing all that anger, keeping it inside, which is just bad news. So standing up to a guy like this, learning how to say, "Listen, this is what I need. I need you to respect it." And maybe even expressing that anger a little bit, if he isn't taking you seriously. That might help you resolve this rage. I mean, it's not unreasonable to get angry when somebody is ignoring your cues and violating your time and offering you a ride home when you're clearly not interested. That is okay. That is, is normal.
[00:43:12] Jordan Harbinger: I hear you, Gabe. It's also just so awkward to go off on somebody who's paying you, plus he's almost 70, she's younger. That's intimidating too. And the other thing is this guy is super lonely. That much is obvious. She probably feels bad for him on some level. And honestly, I kind of do too.
[00:43:26] Gabriel Mizrahi: I get it. And I feel that as well. Yeah, you're right. He could be narcissistic. He could just be so damn lonely. He'll talk to anybody who will listen. I get it. I have compassion for him, but this will not be the last person who gets on her nerves. And if she wants to work on her anger, then here's an opportunity to do that, you know, right in front of her.
[00:43:43] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. It's like weight training for your patience.
[00:43:46] Gabriel Mizrahi: Martial arts for your soul.
[00:43:48] Jordan Harbinger: Right, good points. It is an opportunity to learn, get in touch with her needs, handle this kind of personality better. So give that a try, be kind and respectful. Then get tougher if you have to, or, you know, just work out all that anger by beating the crap out of people in the ring or the bag or whatever that works too. And tell Mr. Chatbox that if he wants to talk about himself non-stop, just start a podcast. That's what the rest of us narcissistic pricks are doing. It's been working out pretty great for me so far.
[00:44:14] Gabriel Mizrahi: Can you imagine if this guy did have a podcast? "Oh, Chile in the 1980s."
[00:44:18] Jordan Harbinger: Pinochet in the 1980s page one of 75, yeah, whatever. There's a lot of podcasts like that though.
[00:44:24] Hope you all enjoy that. I want to thank everyone who wrote in this week and everyone who listened. Thanks for that. And by the way, we mentioned our friend, Michelle Lederman earlier. She's the executive coach who consults for us from time to time. Michelle's 15-year-old son was recently diagnosed with lupus, super-intense. He's going through treatment now. They're walking for a cure and to fund research through the Lupus Research Alliance. And if you can take a moment, read their story, consider donating, give.lupusresearch.org/michelle. No pressure at all. We'll link to that in the show notes. Jenny and I donated, maybe we donated on behalf of the whole audience, but if you feel moved to donate, that would be great. We've got to find a cure for this thing. Again, no pressure whatsoever.
[00:45:01] Go back and check out the guests from this week, Neil deGrasse Tyson and Dan Pink. Really an all-star cast here for you this week.
[00:45:07] Want to know how I managed to book all the great people I have on the show? It's always about my network. I use software, systems, and tiny habits. Check out our Six-Minute Networking course, which is free. It's over on the Thinkific platform at jordanharbinger.com/course. A lot of people decide that they want a network when they need something that doesn't work. You got to dig the well before you get thirsty. Once you need relationships, you're too late to make them in most cases. The drills take just a few minutes a day. It's a type of habit, you can really only ignore at your own peril. I wish I knew this stuff 20 years ago. It has been crucial all for free jordanharbinger.com/course.
[00:45:45] A link to the show notes for the episode are at jordanharbinger.com. Transcripts are in the show notes. There's a video of this Feedback Friday, eventually going up on our YouTube channel at jordanharbinger.com/youtube. I'm at @JordanHarbinger on both Twitter and Instagram, or just hit me on LinkedIn. You can find Gabe on Twitter at @GabeMizrahi or on Instagram at @GabrielMizrahi.
[00:46:06] This show is created in association with PodcastOne. My team is Jen Harbinger, Jase Sanderson, Robert Fogarty, Ian Baird, Millie Ocampo, Josh Ballard, and of course Gabriel Mizrahi. Our advice and opinions, those are our own, I am a lawyer. I am not your lawyer. So do your own research before implementing anything you hear on the show. And remember, we rise by lifting others, so share the show with those you love. And if you found this episode useful, please share it with somebody else who can use the advice that we gave here today. In the meantime, do your best to apply what you hear on the show, so you can live what you listen, and we'll see you next time.
[00:46:42] I wanted to give you a preview of one of my favorite stories from an earlier episode of the show with Jonna Mendez. She was the chief of disguise for the CIA in Moscow during the latter part of the Cold War. We'd really get into the weeds on how they hid people and hid spy gear in one of the most hostile espionage environments, anywhere in the world.
[00:47:01] Jonna Mendez: We invented technology that didn't even exist yet. The small batteries, for instance, they're in our watches and our phones and all of that stuff today.
[00:47:09] Jordan Harbinger: You're kind of like Q from James Bond, but it's the CIA.
[00:47:13] Jonna Mendez: We could create any kind of character over your face. Masks that came out of Hollywood. We'd say, "Great. Go down to the cafeteria and have lunch." This is at CIA headquarters where everybody knows everybody in the cafeteria and they would go and discover that no one paid any attention to them. You go, "Wow. I'm hiding in plain sight."
[00:47:34] They were following us just every minute. The case officer would step out of the car. The driver would hit a button. This dummy would pop up wearing the same clothes as the guy that had just left. Trailing surveillance would come around the corner. And they follow that car all night. They never knew. And if they could get to those people, they would execute them.
[00:47:53] They were feeding people into these crematoriums, feet first alive.
[00:47:57] Jordan Harbinger: Unbelievable.
[00:47:59] Jonna Mendez: A really valuable agent said, "I'll work for you on one condition. And that is that you give me the ability to take my own life." Eventually, everybody got arrested. So they arrested him and we had put that "L" pill we gave him in the cap of the Montblanc pen. It was cyanide, and he knew where it was. And they said, "We want you to write your confession. So they brought in his Montblanc pen.
[00:48:22] Jordan Harbinger: For more with Jonna Mendez, including some incredible spy stories that will really perk your ears, check out episode 344 of The Jordan Harbinger Show.
[00:48:33] And a special thanks to Hyundai for sponsoring this episode.
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