You cringe when you think back to the toxic, abusive person you used to be, but a traumatic experience forced you to change for the better. However, it’s difficult to form close friendships or seek a relationship because you feel unworthy of connection with others. Do you deserve a second chance? If so, how do you prove it to yourself and others who know about your past? We’ll tackle 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Now let’s dive in!
On This Week’s Feedback Friday, We Discuss:
- You cringe when you think back to the toxic, abusive person you used to be, but a traumatic experience forced you to change for the better. However, it’s difficult to form close friendships or seek a relationship because you feel unworthy of connection with others. Do you deserve a second chance? [Thanks to clinical psychologist Dr. Erin Margolis for helping us field this one!]
- You’re a 20-something “internet personality” whose bad choices (and poor judgment of character) have led you to do things you’re not proud of. Sponsors and investors are dropping off, and your livelihood is in danger with no other prospects on the horizon. More than financial ruin, you fear reputational damage from which you’ll never recover. You want to take responsibility for your actions; what can you do to see light at the end of this tunnel?
- You and your partner have been married for 11 years and have no kids. You met at a Christian camp, you both took your faith very seriously, and you built your relationship on that faith. Fast forward 10 years, and you no longer believe in the “Christian” God. Your partner wants to raise a family, but you know you can’t be the role model they have in mind without that faith. Should you work on the marriage with the possibility of greater hurt down the road, or free your partner to find someone else still aligned with their faith?
- You and your partner are ready to adopt a child, but you’re pondering how much involvement the birth mother should be allowed to have in this child’s life. Is it selfish to apply with the stipulation that contact would only be allowed after the child’s 18th birthday? Would this really be fair to the child? What option is ultimately the healthiest for all parties?
- Have any questions, comments, or stories you’d like to share with us? Drop us a line at email@example.com!
- 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!
Please note that some of the links on this page (books, movies, music, etc.) lead to affiliate programs for which The Jordan Harbinger Show receives compensation. It’s just one of the ways we keep the lights on around here. Thank you for your support!
Sign up for Six-Minute Networking — our free networking and relationship development mini course — at jordanharbinger.com/course!
The all-new 2022 Tuscon is the defining answer after Hyundai’s engineers and designers asked how they could make a great SUV even greater. They added game-changing technology and safety, and now, for the first time, it comes in hybrid and plug-in hybrid models. Learn all about the 2022 Tuscon at hyundai.com!
Grammarly goes beyond spellchecking — it levels up your writing at work, school, and personal projects. Premium features include advanced suggestions on grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, and style, and it works in anything from Outlook to Gmail to Twitter, LinkedIn, Google Docs, WordPress — you name it. Get 20% off Grammarly Premium at Grammarly.com/jordan!
BrandCrowd lets you put your brand name in the template maker to find an instant, perfect logo you can start using immediately! Try it for free and get 60 percent off the premium logo pack if you like what you see at brandcrowd.com/jordan!
NetSuite by Oracle allows you to manage sales, finances, accounting, orders, and HR for your business instantly on the cloud from anywhere! Download your free guide — Seven Key Strategies to Grow Your Profits — at netsuite.com/jordan!
Better Help offers affordable, online counseling at your convenience. If you’re coping with depression, stress, anxiety, addiction, or any number of issues, you’re not alone. Talk with a licensed professional therapist for 10 percent off your first month at betterhelp.com/jordan!
LifeLock gives you all-in-one protection for your identity, devices, and online privacy; there’s a victim every three seconds, so don’t become one of them. Save up to 25% off your first year of LifeLock at lifelock.com/jordan!
Miss our conversation with Mosab Hassan Yousef, the son of a Hamas co-founder who worked undercover to thwart terrorist plots? Catch up with episode 407: Mosab Hassan Yousef | The Green Prince of Hamas here!
On the True Underdog podcast, entrepreneur Jayson Waller and his high-profile guests share motivational tips, inspiring stories, and business-building lessons to help each listener grow in their entrepreneurial journey. Listen here or wherever you enjoy podcasts!
Resources from This Episode:
- Sam Harris | Making Sense of the Present Tense | Jordan Harbinger
- Rob Reid | Why the Future is a Good Kind of Scary | Jordan Harbinger
- How to Get Your Foot in the Door | Jordan Harbinger
- Special Needs Son Seduced by Psycho Siren | Feedback Friday | Jordan Harbinger
- Dr. Erin Margolis | Thrive Psychology Group
- Give Yourself a Break: The Power of Self-Compassion | HBR
- Recovering from Shame | University of Illinois Counseling Center
- Domestic Abusers Can Reform, Studies Show | WSJ
- Jim Rohn: You’re the Average of the Five People You Spend the Most Time With | Business Insider
- Top 10 Infamous YouTube Apologies | WatchMojo.com
- Bill Clinton: I Apologized for Lewinsky Scandal | CNN
- We Edited Louis C.K.’s Statement on Sexual Misconduct to Make It a Real Apology | Quartz
- How I Told My Wife I Was No Longer a Christian | BlackandMarriedWithKids.com
- Making Marriage Work When Only One Spouse Believes In God | NPR
- David Smalley | Why You Should Challenge Your Beliefs | Jordan Harbinger
- Open vs. Closed Adoption: An Honest Comparison | Considering Adoption
- Contact Between Adoptive and Birth Families: Perspectives from the Minnesota Texas Adoption Research Project | Child Development Perspectives
Does a Reformed Abuser Deserve a Second Chance? | Feedback Friday (Episode 511)
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 Feedback Friday producer, my comrade in conveyance, 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. If you're new to this show on Fridays, we give advice to you. We answer listener questions. The rest of the week, we have long-form interviews and conversations with a variety of amazing folks from athletes to authors, spies, to CEOs, thinkers, and performers.
[00:00:51] Now, 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 now have episode starter packs. These starter packs are collections of popular episodes, organized by topic. That'll help new listeners, if that's you or a friend, help you get a taste of everything that we do here on the show. You might not want an athlete. You might want to mafia enforcers. So we've got it all laid out right there. Just visit jordanharbinger.com/start to get started.
[00:01:16] This week, we had Sam Harris returning to the show, always a great discussion if you're a Sam Harris fan. We also had my friend Rob Reid, back on the show, talking about how one day we may accidentally print or design our own pandemic and, I don't know, kill half the planet. So that's kind of a terrifying one. It's always an interesting conversation with him though.
[00:01:34] I also write every so often on the blog, my latest post, the right way to get your foot in the door. I really enjoyed writing this one. In this piece, we talk about the most common mistake that employees, freelancers, vendors, really anybody trying to pitch themselves the most common mistake that they make when they talk to prospective employers, how to approach those conversations in a way that dramatically increases your chances of actually securing a job, a contract, a role, whatever it is you're trying to close. It's all about how to figure out what someone needs before you try to sell them on what you want. This is gold for anyone looking to find a new job, succeed as a freelancer, or just increase their revenue in general. Remember, I spent years doing those jobs and now I've spent the last several years hiring for those jobs. I've experienced, on both sides of the equation. And I think I'd like to think I've got something that other people aren't writing about. It's not put yourself out there and smile and have a firm handshake. We go well, well, beyond all that trite crap. So make sure you've had a look and to listen to everything we created for you here this week, the post, by the way, jordanharbinger.com/articles. And of course the episodes right here in the podcast feed.
[00:02:42] You can reach us for Feedback Friday shows firstname.lastname@example.org. Please keep your emails concise, descriptive subject lines do help. Also include the state and country that you live in. That'll help us with detailed advice. So if there's something you're going through, a big decision you're wrestling with, or you need a new perspective on stuff, life, love, work, what to do if you're a special need son is targeted by an absolute psychopath, whatever's got you staying up at night lately, hit us up email@example.com. We're here to help. We keep every email anonymous.
[00:03:12] Gabe, what's the first thing we got?
[00:03:14] Gabriel Mizrahi: Dear Jordan and Gabe, about 10 years ago, I was the perpetrator in an abusive relationship. Well, I don't want to share graphic details. My stomach turns when those memories blast their way to the front of my mind. On top of that, I was prone to angry outbursts, insensitive comments, and conversational indiscretion among friends. In short, I was a toxic monstrous and all around unlikable guy. I alienated everyone around me and dropped out of university as I circled a rock bottom drain. Then after surviving a violent robbery, my perspective shifted completely. I enrolled in a new university and graduated with honors. I dove into books and podcasts. So I could tear down my toxic mindsets and beliefs and rebuild calmer, gentler, stronger, more humble, and better informed ones in their place. After working with a therapist for the past year, I've identified strong patterns of self-sabotage and self-hatred as I also laid between healthy lifestyle choices and chronic binge drinking, smoking, and eating. I now work overseas as an English teacher trainer who helps EFL teachers develop greater confidence in speaking English. I have a long way to go. And I'm far from perfect, but I feel different from the self-absorbed, entitled, angry creature who stood in my shoes 10 years ago. Yet, I have to say that my life feels grossly unfair. Had I received any kind of justice for my past transgressions, I'd likely be barred from teaching possibly do prison time and likely sit on some kind of registry. I feel like my white and male privilege earned me a free pass for my egregious mistakes. Well, I'm happy with the friends I've made since moving abroad. I've pursued few close friendships and almost zero romantic relationships in the last decade. Partly, because I feel unworthy of connection with other people. And partly, because I have an intense fear of causing them pain. Finally, last year, I was overcome with guilt and imposterism, and I shared a blog post outing myself as a former abuser. The ensuing discussion among my friends struck a polarizing nerve. Some respected my courage and owning up to my past so publicly while others condemned me for not doing enough to prove that I've changed. And I received a hodgepodge of advice from, "You should be more vocal and anti-sexist and anti-patriarchal social movements," to, "You should covertly send a cash payment to your ex as reparation. Abusing is free. Therapy is not. You should just go on with your life and influence those around you as positively as you can." In the end, I did make a large anonymous donation to a reputable charity that supports victims of intimate partner violence. I also deleted my Facebook and my blog post and even deactivated my blog entirely. This fall, I'll be returning to the US to start a graduate program with a fully funded TA position. While I'm excited, I'm also scared that my crushing guilt and feelings of unworthiness will follow me and sabotage my potential. Deep down, I feel like I just don't deserve it. So my question is this: how do you move on from past mistakes? Is moving on even the right goal or do remorseful people always live with low-grade shame and depression? And is it wise to try to make amends with people in my past, especially at the risk of re-traumatizing them? I'd appreciate any insight you have, and I wish you the best. Signed, Self-Stamped with a Scarlet A.
[00:06:18] Jordan Harbinger: Man, this is quite the letter, Gabe.
[00:06:20] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah, I agree.
[00:06:21] Jordan Harbinger: I actually, I'm really drawn to this guy's story. There's a note I will say first, he said, "I think I got away with it." I'm paraphrasing here, "but my white maleness, basically—" I think a lot of guys get away with abuse, I think a lot of people get away with abuse, period. But I'm surprisingly moved by this guy's story. And I know we're going to get emails about this one, abuse, domestic violence, the race thing. This is complicated territory. Many people's response to a guy like this is going to be, "Don't side with him at all." And I can appreciate that. I can appreciate it. "Once an abuser, always an abuser." I can appreciate that sentiment. But I think we can agree that this is not just a story about a guy who did some horrible things. This is the story of a guy who did some horrible things, knows he did those horrible things, acknowledges he did those horrible things, has worked pretty damn hard to figure out why he did those horrible things, and then become a better person. That's why we decided to take this question because this guy is clearly working to become a different person. And also, because this story, it raises some really interesting questions. Like Gabe, who deserves forgiveness? Right? Do we get to decide that? Where do you draw the line between a bad person and a good person who's done bad things? I don't know if we'll be able to answer all those questions. That's like a philosophy type question, but let's get into this.
[00:07:32] And by the way, we consulted on this question with the awesome Dr. Erin Margolis, psychologist, and friend of the show to make sure we really understood what you are going through right now. So, first off, I just got to say, I respect your self-awareness. And your courage and confronting your past. That is not easy. A lot of people with your patterns or history, they never confront this stuff. And so they never heal. And then they continue inflicting violence on their partners. On the world, it's terrible. It's tragic. So good on you for breaking that cycle. I don't know what happened to you during that robbery, but something opened up for you and you ran with it and I'm proud of you for that.
[00:08:06] Gabe, I'm sort of picturing, maybe he got his ass beat and he was like, "Oh, this doesn't — this feels horrible and violating. And I've been doing that to other people. And that's like way worse than I thought."
[00:08:16] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah, my thoughts exactly.
[00:08:17] Jordan Harbinger: You know, when you're young and you get punched by a friend, you're like, "Man, that was kind of a dick move," and you get a bruise and then you keep playing Nintendo. But if you get victimized by somebody it's like the physical stuff is the least of your concerns, the psychology of not feeling safe and realizing that you can't protect yourself. Like that's a completely different game.
[00:08:34] What you're asking us is how to move on from your past, how to get rid of the shame and the depression you feel. And I get why you're asking that, but I'm actually not sure that that's the right question. Because look, one of the things that makes someone a sociopath is not having remorse. The fact that you feel this remorse and you feel the shame and it feel the guilt. I actually think that's a good thing. I think it's productive. That means you have a functioning, healthy personality. You're looking for someone to forgive you. You're looking for a way out of those feelings, which totally makes sense because they're pretty damn painful. But there's really no moving on without moving through. And I'm not trying to be all obtuse here.
[00:09:09] Dr. Margolis's opinion and I agree with her a hundred percent is that right now, self-forgiveness, self-compassion. Those are going to be the most important processes for you. The closure looking for, I get a sense, you're hoping it'll come from some outside source. Maybe the people you hurt or your friends or people on the Internet or your therapist, but in all likelihood, that closure is going to have to come from you, at first, anyway. And the key to that closure is processing and resolving that shame that you feel, this shame that you feel. And shame, it's a tricky emotion, man. It's usually a combination of emotions. It's like anger plus depression or anger and fear. We've talked about this on the show before.
[00:09:46] I think Dr. Margolis was actually the one who helped us understand this. Shame is often called a hiding emotion. It makes you want to hide it from other people, but when you hide it, that reinforces the shame, which only ends up increasing it, which makes you want to hide it even more. So it's this vicious cycle that actually makes it harder to self-correct. So even though it's counterintuitive being open and courageous about sharing what you've done in the past, what you're going through now, in an inappropriate way, of course, that could actually help break the cycle of shame and of hiding. And I think that's what you were doing when you wrote the blog post. I really commend you for doing that. It must've taken a lot of guts, not just to say it out loud, but to bear the responses. Even writing into us on the show, you're still doing it. And that's important. The more you can learn how to talk about your past, let people into your experience, again, when it makes sense in the right context, the more I think you can resolve the shame around it. And I don't mean you have to put everything on blast all the time, but I think it's a step in the right direction.
[00:10:44] Dr. Margolis, she put it this way. The more you can have compassion for yourself, the more you can forgive yourself for what you've done. Not forget it, not suppress it, but forgive yourself for it. The more that you can do that, the more you'll be able to tolerate the discomfort of other people's responses to you. Like those people who called you out after the blog post. And if you continue being open about your experiences, you will not be able to control how people respond. But it's not your job to do that. You can't walk around trying not to trigger anybody all the time. Also you can't necessarily live your life being a crusader for a cause because you did something that was contrary to that in the past. Of course, you want to be sensitive. You want to be thoughtful and I get the sense that you are, but the more you work on yourself, the less you'll feel so impacted by other people's judgments because your own judgment will be much more important.
[00:11:31] So the key to your question, in our opinion, is really a combination of forgiving yourself, having compassion for yourself, not letting your shame force you into hiding or scare you off from achieving your own goals like this new graduate program, which sounds really important for you. And then, through the work you're doing with your therapist and on your own, hopefully, you'll be better able to tolerate how other people react to you.
[00:11:53] Gabriel Mizrahi: I agree, 100 percent, Jordan, well said. And for all those reasons, I was really happy to hear that you are in therapy. I think that's essential for you right now. My hope is that your therapist is helping you understand the root causes of your abusive behavior, breaking the pattern, controlling these symptoms, finding better ways to cope with difficult situations. That is very important too, but the more you can get into this deeper stuff, the source of these feelings, the more I think you'll be able to resolve the shame and depression that you're struggling with. There are always useful layers to therapy, to any therapy, but the real transformation that really happens when you get to the core, that's generating the abusive behavior in the first place.
[00:12:30] As Dr. Margolis put it to us, children are not born hating themselves. You learn that from someplace, whether it's feelings of unworthiness or thinking you don't deserve love, or even being abused by somebody else, when you were a child, whatever it is, those formative experiences, they create these patterns that reinforce everything — everything you believe about yourself. And then you go to a dark place where all of your worst beliefs feel very true. And you either direct that anger outward, or you turn it against yourself. So really working to get to the bottom of that healing, the wounds at the core so that they don't perpetuate these patterns anymore. That's where Dr. Margolis believes the real change happens.
[00:13:09] I think you're already on your way to doing that, but I just want to encourage you to keep going, and that will be critical if you want to start forming new relationships as well. You might want to talk to your therapist about how to communicate with new friends or new partners about your past, what happened, why you did what you did. Maybe you can come up with a plan together for how and when to disclose this kind of stuff to a new person, what to do with their response, how to process their reaction. I totally get why that's very daunting. But again like Jordan said, being open with people at the right moments and allowing them into your experience, that's also the key to real intimacy, to real relationships.
[00:13:43] And on that note, Dr. Margolis also mentioned that there are support groups for recovering or rehabilitated abusers that could also be very helpful to you right now, finding other people who are wrestling with some of the same issues that you are. You might find a lot of support and a lot of peace by hearing other people's stories, being able to talk to people who've been through the same things you have. So I would encourage you to do some research and try to find some sort of community in your area right now.
[00:14:06] So to wrap things up here, how do you move on from past mistakes? Is moving on to even the right goal? Well, we would encourage you to focus more on healing and growing and getting better rather than moving on. Moving on from your past, that doesn't mean pretending it didn't happen. Moving on means learning from what you did, integrating your past self into your present self, to become a different kind of person. That will probably mean that you think about what you've done some times, maybe even frequently. And I imagine that that would be pretty painful sometimes, but I actually think that that's healthy. You don't need to forget everything you did in order to move on. You need to understand and process what you did. So you can resolve your feelings about what happened and figure out what it means for you to lead a better life.
[00:14:47] As for your other question, do remorseful people always live with low-grade shame, low-grade depression? I liked Dr. Margolis answers to this, her answer was basically, "Sure, in some cases, they might, but if you use your shame and depression to grow, then you can turn those feelings into something different," something better, a springboard, really for your growth. That will reduce the intensity of those feelings and to use the good doctor's phrase, "Make those feelings less sticky." That was her word. Ideally, you get to a place where these feelings come and go. That's part of being a well-functioning person where you don't get stuck in the feelings.
[00:15:18] As she put it, "When people are stuck in an emotion, it's usually because they haven't processed it effectively or gotten to the core of it," which again, that's your job right now. Go deeper, process, heal, evolve, create new patterns, and then make very different choices going forward.
[00:15:34] Jordan Harbinger: Man, that's great advice all around. I feel like that principle applies to almost every question we get here on the show. As for the amends piece, it's complicated. You'll have to decide for yourself whether reaching out to people you hurt makes sense for them and for you. I can't tell you if that's the right move or when you should do that. I would definitely talk that out with your therapist, but I do feel confident that the more immediate work is making amends with yourself. Then if you ever do approach people from your past, you'll be doing it with the right intention, the right perspective, and you'll also be in a position to handle it and recover if they don't forgive you, which is definitely a possibility, that's part of what makes your story so interesting. And it's also pretty difficult knowing that you might not get the forgiveness that you want but that you can still grow and lead a better life. And I hope that this helps.
[00:16:18] Look, I know we focused a lot on this guy's side of the equation today. Obviously, there's a whole other side of this equation. The people he's hurt, what they're going through, and I have immense compassion for them as well. There might be people right now who were thinking, "I'd never forgive this person." And again, I can appreciate that, but look, we focused on him here because he's the one writing in. And based on the facts that he shared, we feel that he's doing the work and he deserves a shot at not sabotaging himself because he doesn't feel worthy of success and happiness. It's really a tricky topic to tackle, but I'm glad that we did. This guy, he has a lot of difficult material to work through, but if nothing else, he's showing us that doing the work and actually changing really is possible.
[00:16:57] So thanks for writing in, keep on getting better, and best of luck to you.
[00:17:03] You're listening to Feedback Friday here on The Jordan Harbinger Show. We'll be right back.
[00:17:07] This episode is sponsored in part by Grammarly. Grammar is the difference between helping her Uncle Jack of a horse or helping your Uncle Jack off a horse. Write clearly — I'm going to get in trouble for this one. Write clearly and confidently by getting real-time feedback and guidance on tone, word, choice, clarity, and more with Grammarly Premium. Grammarly Premium has completely elevated my writing. I'm kind of a grammar Nazi if you will. If you're foreign or you're working on your written communication, Grammarly Premium will tell you the tone of your writing and how you can improve. I find myself using Grammarly Premium's vocabulary suggestions all the time. It'll help you avoid overused words and phrases to keep readers more engaged, avoid some trite cliches a lot of the time. You can also expand your vocab to be more exciting, effective, and memorable. What I've really liked is that it's not something you have to open up and decide to use. It works in Outlook, Gmail, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google Docs. And because it works seamlessly everywhere, I'm doing email. I use it whenever I write pretty much anything.
[00:18:04] Jen Harbinger: Do more than just spellcheck. Say what you really mean with Grammarly Premium. Get 20 percent off Grammarly premium by signing up at grammarly.com/jordan. That's 20 percent off at G-R-A-M-M-A-R-L-Y.com/jordan.
[00:18:18] Jordan Harbinger: This episode is also sponsored by Brand Crowd. Brand Crowd is an awesome logo maker tool that can help you make an amazing logo design online. Using high quality hand-crafted designs, Brand Crowd takes your business name and industry and generates thousands of custom logos just for you in seconds. Pretty cool how this works. So you go to brandcrowd.com/jordan. Enter the name of your business and an option to include keywords you'd like to incorporate in the logo. So like a car and your name, or fitness and your name, or music and animal, whatever it is, it's fun to try it out for free. Just enter your company or your own name and see what comes up. Within seconds, Brand Crowd will make thousands of logos for you. Browse, edit font, colors, layout, all for free. Then once you got the perfect logo, you can buy that logo and download all the logo files that you need to run your business. There's also a whole suite of design tools for social media posts, business card designs, other print materials using hundreds of layout templates and a massive photo library.
[00:19:13] Jen Harbinger: Check out brandcrowd.com/jordan, B-R-A-N-D-C-R-O-W-D.com/jordan to learn more, play with the tool for free, and get 60 percent off Brand Crowd's premium logo pack.
[00:19:24] Jordan Harbinger: This episode is also sponsored by NetSuite. You're still running your business on QuickBooks, QuickBooks, more like quicksand, the bigger your company grows, the faster you sync with outdated software that just can't keep up. You don't have to spend time dealing with manual processes, multiple systems delays, and scrambling to get the numbers as you need. It's time to get on solid ground NetSuite by Oracle. The scalable solution to run all of your key back office operations. No matter how big your company grows. NetSuite gives you visibility and control over your financials, inventory, HR, e-commerce, and more. Everything you need to grow all in one place. NetSuite also helps you automate your key business processes and close your books in a fraction of the time. Think days, not weeks. In fact, 93 percent of surveyed organizations increased visibility and control over their business since making the switch from QuickBooks to NetSuite.
[00:20:10] Jen Harbinger: Right now, NetSuite is offering a one of a kind financing program only for those ready to graduate from QuickBooks. Head to netsuite.com/jordan. That's special financing for you, graduates, at netsuite.com/jordan netsuite.com/jordan.
[00:20:24] Jordan Harbinger: And now back to Feedback Friday on The Jordan Harbinger Show.
[00:20:30] All right, what's next?
[00:20:31] Gabriel Mizrahi: Dear Jordan, I'm a something Internet personality with a very public profile. I'm young and I make a lot of money and I haven't handled it the best way I could. I've made some terrible friends and some of their influence may have rubbed off on me, but I don't want to blame them for my mistakes. In short, my success in my own stupidity have painted a target on my back. Through some of my videos often cooked up in combination with friends who have poor judgment, I've hurt some people very publicly, and the more I address this, the worse it seems to get. As a result, I've since separated myself from some of these people, I don't want to go into detail or people can easily trace this back to me and that will only feel the flames. But now, I'm losing sponsors. I'm losing investors for a project I'm working on. The news media, they're trying to twist everything as usual. And I don't know how I'll recover from this. I'm less worried about the money and more worried about the reputation damage. I feel like I was just getting started, but now it feels like things are coming to an end and I feel the sense of nonstop dread. I know you've been through some stuff yourself, maybe not quite the same, but you're one of the only people I can really trust with something like this. Give me some sage advice here, guys. I'm really down at a hole right now, and it's hard to find the light at the end of this tunnel. Signed, Hitting that Prescribed Button.
[00:21:40] Jordan Harbinger: Well, I'm sorry you're going through this, man. It sounds super stressful. And I can only imagine how scary it is to have your whole career and identity go up in flames virtually overnight. And I've got to say, I'm not totally clear on what went down here. I know you have to be vague. I get it. I'm guessing you have some kind of social media company or a big YouTube channel. Maybe it's a prank show. Those guys are always getting in trouble. You and your friends did some inappropriate stuff, maybe worse. Somebody outed somebody for something, and now you're the one left holding the bag. And fair or unfair, deserved or undeserved, that is an intense thing to go through, especially when you've reached the level of success that you have. And we edited out some details here, but this is, and I don't know who this person is, but it's like this person's killing it. So they obviously have a huge public profile.
[00:22:24] So first of all, I've got to say, I admire, you're taking personal responsibility for A, creating this target on your back as a result of your own fame and B, not just blaming your dumb friends for this entirely. And sure they share some of the responsibility, maybe even most of it. But they were your friends. You chose to work with them. And this — this right here, this is why it is so important to be super thoughtful about who we let into our lives, because the people we surround ourselves with determines so much of what happens to us in life, good and bad. But the truth is when you're this famous, everything you do gets magnified like crazy. You have to be squeaky freaking clean if you want to make millions of dollars in your 20s based on a public creator profile and just never get criticized or harassed or canceled. It's just another reason that I am so glad I didn't — I know it sounds weird, I didn't have success too early in life. I was out of my 20s before I really started making money in podcasting.
[00:23:23] And as a fellow public figure, well, I mean, look, I'm a podcaster, things are fairly small time, but I still get it. My friends include the well-known, the ultra wealthy, the so-called normies, but all of us have one thing in common, which is that we generally avoid the spotlight outside of business. And we only use it when necessary, because you either use the spotlight or it uses you, and usually both, but this is what you signed up for. This is what you achieved and in a sad way, it's absolutely part of the price of your remarkable success.
[00:23:55] So what do you do here? First of all, depending on what actually went down, it sounds like an apology might be in order. You're going to want to consult with your attorney on that, but when you're ready, and I wouldn't wait too long because you might miss the window, I would formulate a meaningful explanation and a sincere apology for what happened. This could be a podcast, it could be a YouTube video, a blog post, a note you post on social media, whatever, wherever your audience is going to see this. And in this statement, I would explain what happened offer any necessary context, take unqualified accountability for the role you played in this. Explain what you've learned — and this is the most important part — what you are going to be doing differently from here out to make a change.
[00:24:37] Now, look, there's been a lot of talk recently about famous people apologizing after they mess up, how their apologies are usually pretty weak. It's like too little too late. So I would study those statements and see which ones land and which ones fall apart and why. For what it's worth, I still believe that a thoughtful apology is an important part of growing and healing. People might not accept it right away. You won't win everyone over, but that doesn't mean that it's not an important step for you. You just have to be very clear about what you're apologizing for. Don't dodge the blame too much or skirt responsibility. None of this. "I'm sorry. You felt that way," right? The classic non-apology. The last thing you want to do is sound like Bill Clinton or Louis C.K. Or some sketchy vlogger bro after they were first outed. It's just not a good look.
[00:25:22] At the same time, I would resist the urge to over correct. It is very tempting to take accountability for things you had no part in just to rip off the bandaid, things that were truly beyond your control. For example, if you went too far with one of your guests in an interview, for example, it's absolutely right to say, "I wholeheartedly apologize to so-and-so for the way I treated them when they were on the show. And I'm determined to be a more thoughtful host in the future by doing X, Y, and Z," specificity, right? But if one of your partners was inappropriate with that guest, when you weren't even around, you had zero idea about it until now, you might want to say something like, "I deeply regret inviting so-and-so to be my collaborator on these videos. And I take full responsibility for associating with somebody who didn't share my values."
[00:26:07] In other words, be very clear about what role you played here when you're under this kind of pressure. It's so tempting to just over apologize, then you make everyone happy, right? But that can actually dilute your apology and it can unnecessarily damage your reputation even further. So make this apology real, make it specific, make it earnest, and make it count. None of this, "This isn't who I am," kind of bullshit, right? You only get one chance at a meaningful apology. They're in short supply these days, and this might be the beginning of your road back.
[00:26:38] Gabriel Mizrahi: Well said, Jordan, making a formal apology, explaining how he intends to change specifically. And I think that's as important for the people he has hurt as it is for him on a personal level. And on a related note, I think you're absolutely right to separate yourself from these friends of yours. If they're truly bad news, and it sounds like they are, you need to move on anyway. Start keeping better company. I'm sure you're probably realizing right about now that these people were creating a lot of other issues in your life. I wouldn't be surprised if your gut was telling you that they weren't the best company to begin with.
[00:27:05] And now, you're learning why you can't be friends with people you don't really trust. You don't really admire. And separating yourself from them, that's part of your rehabilitation too. You know, when the media comes slamming you for this chapter, one of the best things you can do is say, "You're right, but look, I no longer speak to these people. I don't work with them anymore. I've cut ties. I don't make money from them. They were bad news. And that was just something I needed to learn." You know, you can say, I'm sorry, all you want but the proof really ultimately is in the pudding.
[00:27:31] Jordan Harbinger: Exactly, the choices you make, how you behave, what you do, that's going to be the real evidence that you've grown here. In three years, when you launch a new show or a new channel and you're signing up sponsors, you can't just say, "What? I've changed." You want to be able to go, "Look at the kind of content I put out. Look at the quality of my collaborators. Watch my episodes about how I turned down that deal and partnered with that organization and gave X amount of my income to that cause," specific stuff that actually shows that you have changed.
[00:27:57] I'm also feeling the urge to offer a little perspective here. I mean, look, you're not an ax murderer. You didn't assault somebody. I don't think. Again, I'm taking it at your word here. We obviously don't know all the facts, but it sounds to me like you're a young guy accused of doing some things that were insensitive, possibly cruel, maybe pretty awful in fact, but not out and out horrific. It's a spectrum, obviously, but there's a range of behavior that is correctable. You have so much time ahead of you. You're super young. You said you were in your 20s. I know this feels like a huge deal at your age and it is you're in the freaking news for being an a-hole, but it's a huge deal, partly because you are so young. You have a limited amount of experience. You have nothing to compare this to, and it's all being magnified by your age and magnified by your fame.
[00:28:40] So yes, you may be getting canceled by some partners and sponsors now. But that won't last forever. As long as you do three things, keep your nose clean, keep working on becoming a better person, and keep creating meaningful value for your platform. I'm not saying that's going to change things overnight, but over time, that is the road back. And if I were you, I would keep creating your videos even if you have to do it for a little money, no money for a while. Treat this whole crisis as a wake up call to grow, both in your personal life and in the kind of content you make.
[00:29:10] And by the way, Gabe, I think this guy is still going to make millions. He might just make like millions minus X, you know, moving forward while he recovers. But maybe instead of making prank videos or whatever, dude, you shift your focus to new formats, better themes. Stuff that's more thoughtful, more sensitive, more valuable. Hell, you can even make your first few videos about your life now, what you've been through, what you're thinking about, what you're learning. That would be a great way to tell your own story right now and let people empathize with you as you do the hard work to change and as you make things right or try to.
[00:29:40] Because as you know, losing some of your sponsors, so there's, I know that that is terrifying, right? It's kind of like losing your job, but that might actually make things easier in a weird way, because if you're losing your sponsors already, you don't have to worry about losing them because of a pivot. You don't have to worry about losing them because you chose to do something else or go in a different direction. You can rebuild the product and the fanbase that you really want. Trust me, I've been there. It took a hell of a lot of work, but it is so liberating and it was probably the best thing I ever did in business. You already have the magic sauce. Now, you're in a place where you can bring some of your current fans with you into anything that you do.
[00:30:18] Gabriel Mizrahi: Great idea. That's what I would do as well. And by the way, this might also be a great time to decide if you even want to be famous anymore. I'm not saying you shouldn't be famous if that's what you really want, but maybe you're realizing that you want a different relationship with your work, a different profile in the media. I'm guessing that there's more good than bad in your success, but still, this is a great opportunity to reconsider what you really want out of this super crazy thing you stumbled to at such an early age. And I hope that that's maybe another silver lining amidst the crisis.
[00:30:45] Jordan Harbinger: There's a reason that celebrities say it's better to be rich than famous, or they'll say something like have people know your name, but never your face because this fame stuff, man, it's not easy. It can get pretty dark and it can turn on you like that. So I would explore all of that and see what comes up. Maybe you decide to keep going, but in a different spirit. Maybe you decide you've made enough money and you just enjoy your freedom. Although, I don't think I could do that, especially in my 20s. Maybe you decided to become an investor or an entrepreneur or work on something totally different that doesn't involve you being front and center all the time. You have a lot of life ahead of you, man, but you can't go wrong and putting in the work to become a better person, a better partner, a better artist.
[00:31:24] It's interesting, Gabe. This story and the one just before it, lot of parallels. Two people, trying to get better. I see why you put these letters next to each other. They both bring up super interesting questions. Anyway, if you get that part, right, the reputation stuff, that's all gonna follow. It might not happen the way you'd hope during the timeline that you wanted, but it will eventually happen. And the more that you can look at this as an opportunity to reflect and grow, the faster you're going to recover and the stronger you're going to come out. And good luck, man.
[00:31:51] Gabe, I kind of feel bad for this guy. Like, I don't know exactly what he did, but in a lot of people are going to go, "Oh, boohoo, you're making millions of dollars in your 20s," but the amount of pressure that — I know a lot of these like influencer kids in real life, these are the guys that are on TikTok or YouTube or Instagram and the younger, they are the more difficult and depressed, the more difficult this all is for them and the more depressed they are. Because even though you're 16 and you made a million dollars, this stuff like another person who you thought was your friend says about you in order to get clicks, that stuff cuts so deep. A lot of those people, they don't want to leave their room for like a week.
[00:32:25] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah.
[00:32:25] Jordan Harbinger: They're not ready for the money. They're not ready — remember when you were in high school and it was like, "Oh no, some person I barely know, said they don't like my hat." And you're like thinking about it all day. Imagine that, but magnified times a million because of the Internet and you're the center of it. But you can't like go talk to that person and be like, "Hey man, what's the deal? Did I hurt—? Because it's freaking stranger that lives in another country.
[00:32:47] Gabriel Mizrahi: Right.
[00:32:48] Jordan Harbinger: So you have that magnified times a million and they can't do anything about it. So no matter how much money you have, it doesn't matter. It doesn't help at all. So I do feel for people in this scenario, even though it seems like they've got it made.
[00:32:59] All right. What's next?
[00:33:01] Gabriel Mizrahi: Hey guys, my wife and I have been married for 11 years with no kids. We met at Christian camp. We both took our faith very seriously and built our relationship on that faith. Fast forward, 10 years. And I no longer believe in the Christian God. I'm not sure what I believe. What I do know is that having built our marriage on our common belief makes me very worried about what our future looks like. I'm unsure if at this point, I even want to continue in our marriage. Not because I don't love my wife, I do, but because I foresee a lot of strife due to our different belief systems and I'd hate to end up in a broken marriage 10 years down the line. I'm confident that we both have similar values, but I'm not confident about how those values would manifest if we started a family. My wife, having a very conservative view, she would want me to lead our family in all aspects, including spirituality. Would I just be the dad who doesn't attend church with the family? What makes this really tricky is that my wife wants a family now. She's 35 and the longer I wait to make a decision, the more impactful it will be. We've seen a counselor, but they are a Christian counselor who gives advice from a biblical standpoint, which is basically don't divorce ever, barring a few specific circumstances. Should I continue to work on this marriage with the possibility of greater hurt down the road? Or should I follow my own path and let my wife find somebody whose belief system will line up with hers? Thanks so much. Signed, Call Me REM Because I'm Losing My Religion.
[00:34:21] Jordan Harbinger: This is a tough one, Gabe. If he didn't love this woman, things would be simpler. It's not a fit, get a divorce, right? But he does love her. The problem is that his beliefs have evolved and he and his wife are now on totally different pages and in different places in life. I'm sure that's very hard for him since he's probably afraid of losing his wife and even more terrified of hurting his wife. And here's the thing though, you're right, you and your wife, you cannot have a healthy marriage if you guys don't communicate about your beliefs. If you never bring the God thing up, if you just play along, like you're still the good church going, boy, you're going to be miserable. And I think you already know that you'll be depressed. You'll feel like a fraud. You'll resent her. It'll be terrible.
[00:35:00] If you wait another two or three years to tell her this. And then you guys break up, you'll have wasted even more of your wife's time. And that is super unfair. Maybe catastrophic, really unfair to her if she can't have kids, right? And if you wait until after you have hash this out, now you're really causing some chaos. And then you're putting your wife in this awful position of having a family with somebody she didn't truly understand. And then if you guys end up divorcing, the stakes are going to be much higher. It'll be way more painful. Your children will have to pay the price for this too. None of the options are good.
[00:35:30] So the best thing you can do, and I think you already know this deep down, or you wouldn't even be asking us, the best thing you can do is talk to your wife about how you feel. And I know that's gotta be scary, but it is absolutely essential. Your marriage and your happiness depend on it.
[00:35:44] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah, I agree, Jordan, and this conversation, yes, intimidating, super intimidating, but it might not be quite as awful as he's imagining it. Like he said, they still have similar values. It's not like they're worlds apart on their fundamental ideals. In fact, they might be in total alignment on those things. They just have different ideas about where those beliefs come from, how to live them, how to celebrate them, all of that. So part of me, Jordan, wonders if there's enough of a foundation here for their marriage to work, even if some of their beliefs are maybe not, but it is possible. Because if he sits down with her and he goes, "Listen, honey, I got to tell you, I've given this a lot of thought over the last 10 years and I'm sorry, but I just don't buy into this whole old man in the sky judging us all the time thing. That doesn't mean I don't want to live a moral life. It doesn't mean I don't want to raise good children. It just means that I don't want to beg for forgiveness from some being, I don't believe in for three hours every Sunday. And I know you feel differently, but I'd like to talk about it because hiding my beliefs, that's not fair to either of us."
[00:36:41] You know, if he says something like that, I do wonder what would happen. I mean, she might freak out. She might reject him completely, or she might eventually get to a place where she accepts him for who he is. Maybe he doesn't go to church, but she does. And that's okay because they still want the same things. They still want to be decent people. They still want to be good parents, kind neighbors, all of that.
[00:37:01] Jordan Harbinger: I mean, yeah, that would be amazing. But how realistic is that? He did say that his wife is super conservative. She's going to want him to leave the family, including spiritually. I'm guessing she's not going to be super onboard with him, staying home, playing Call of Duty while she's down at St. John's cathedral with the kids reciting Psalm 1:18, right? But who knows? Maybe there's a plot twist and she's in a similar space in her own head and dreading bringing it up. But neither of them are even going to know this until they lay it out on the table.
[00:37:30] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah, exactly. That's exactly right. And look, maybe this really is a non-negotiable for your wife, but then it's even more important that you guys talk about it now because — Jordan, his question to us, I found it kind of interesting. He's basically saying, "Should I keep working on our marriage, but maybe hurt her even more down the road?"
[00:37:46] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:37:46] Gabriel Mizrahi: Or, "Should I divorce her now and let her find a husband who's more down with Jesus?" His options are basically to keep playing along and be nice to my wife and hope that one of us magically changes or jumps ship. But nowhere in there as the question, how do I talk to my wife? Is there a way for us to bridge this gap somehow?
[00:38:03] Jordan Harbinger: Right. Because he knows she is gonna be pissed and she's never going to go for it.
[00:38:08] Gabriel Mizrahi: Maybe, maybe, probably, but still where's the communication part of that? This doesn't sound like a marriage built on openness and authenticity to me.
[00:38:16] Jordan Harbinger: Now, you're right, not really, but I also understand dreading telling your wife something. I think that's like a universal truth of being married to anyone.
[00:38:23] Gabriel Mizrahi: Fair enough, but he's not really working on their marriage then. He's avoiding, and in a big way, he's lying to her and kind of to himself. He has his reasons I feel from there, but that's ultimately what he's doing.
[00:38:34] Jordan Harbinger: Well, that just raises the stakes on this conversation. It's getting scarier and scarier the longer he waits, but he's really doing that to himself if you think about that by not bucking down and saying what he really thinks.
[00:38:46] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yes. And something this big, it's not like they're disagreeing about whether season eight Game of Thrones was trash, which it wasn't, or whether, you know, they should buy that used Subaru for the kids or whatever. You can survive that kind of disagreement, but something like this religion, that affects them, that affects their future children. It affects how they spend their time, how they navigate conflict, what shared reality these two people buy into. So to me, I'm hearing this story and I'm going, how can you start a family and not talk about this?
[00:39:14] Jordan Harbinger: You can't. It's too fundamental. I mean, you can, but it's going to create a ton of dysfunction.
[00:39:19] Gabriel Mizrahi: I'm sure. I'm sure. So, given all of that, I think you got to have this conversation and I say that knowing how painful it might be, but I also say that, hoping that there's a way you guys can work through this. I mean, look, maybe her beliefs will evolve. Maybe you decide to go to church. I don't know once a month because it makes her happy and it's something you can do together, but she also accepts that you don't buy into it and that's okay. We're not trying to push you toward a divorce here. I promise you, we're not doing that. You love your wife. That's very clear to us, but if you really love each other, then you owe it to her to be honest about something that's important. And it's possible, your relationship will be even stronger as a result, but it's also possible that you won't be on board with it.
[00:39:54] And if that's the case, then it's even more important for you guys to talk about it soon, because if you think she's going to be pissed at you for hiding this for 10 years, imagine how upset she'll be when she's 43 and has to look for a new husband in a few short years, so she can have the families she really wants. Uh, that is a hard situation to wrap your head around. You can't keep kicking this down the road because you don't want to hurt her. You are hurting her already, and you're going to hurt her even more down the road.
[00:40:18] Jordan Harbinger: Agreed, Gabe. It's a hard pill to swallow, but you are right. And look, if you need some help navigating this conversation, I would definitely consider couples counseling. Not with a reverend after church, I mean, he means, well, probably, but with a licensed therapist who won't just tell you to, "Fulfill God's will by ignoring your conflicts and staying together no matter what." If your wife resists that I would tell her you want to talk to somebody with a different lens somebody may be more objective or just different. You can even let her choose the therapist if it would make her feel more comfortable, but a clergy person, I just don't think it's going to cut it, Pastor Noland down at First Lutheran ain't going to give you the tools you need. He means well, like I said, great guy, right? But he's not the person who's going to teach you and your wife how to communicate about the big man upstairs if you fundamentally disagree. With the core tenets of the religion.
[00:41:06] So good luck, bud. I know it's scary when your beliefs evolve and your feelings change, but that is life. That is what this is all about. You're questioning, you're growing, you're open to seeing things in a new way. I think that's ultimately a good thing. And I know that we're biased here. This is definitely not Christian radio hour, if y'all haven't noticed, but our lens on this is just, how can you be honest and open and fair in your marriage? If your ideas are wildly off, if your values are out of sync, your marriage will suffer and your kids will be born into a house with all that tension, whether it's expressed out loud or not.
[00:41:38] So get clear on what you want to say. Maybe check out my interview with David Smalley. He's a secular humanist aka atheist, right? And the host of the David C. Smalley Podcast. We'll link to that in the show notes. Decide on what outcome you could live with and have this conversation with your wife before it's too late. It really is the best thing that you can do for both of you.
[00:42:00] This is The Jordan Harbinger Show, and this is Feedback Friday. We'll be right back.
[00:42:04] This episode is sponsored in part by Better Help online therapy. This month is mental health awareness month and The Jordan Harbinger Show is proud to join the cause of destigmatizing therapy. I've said this before, but therapy is not only not something to be embarrassed about, it is something that high-performers do all the time. If you're struggling with relationships or having difficulty sleeping or difficulty meeting your goals, it doesn't mean something about who you are as a person. It's just stuff that happens to great people at some point in their life. The best thing to do is get some help. And Better Help will assess your needs and match you with one of their own licensed professionals. You can start communicating in under 48 hours. The services available worldwide, pretty much any time zone. You can log in. You can chat with your therapist. You can use video phone, or even live chat sessions. Better Help is committed to facilitating great therapeutic matches, so they make it easy and free to change counselors if needed. It's more affordable than traditional offline counseling and financial aid is available.
[00:42:57] Jen Harbinger: And 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.
[00:43:05] Jordan Harbinger: This episode is also sponsored by LifeLock. Cybercriminals target job seekers, looking for new employment with fake job postings, designed to trick people into revealing their personal information and social security number, which is pretty clever. Now, that I think about it, those bastards. With this information, cybercriminals can access your credit cards, bank accounts, and even open a loan in your name. Be sure to carefully research job postings and protect your information from fraudulent job postings. It's important to understand how cybercrime and identity theft are affecting our lives. Every day you put your information at risk on the Internet and in an instant, a cybercriminal can harm what's yours, finances, credit, reputation. That's why I've been using LifeLock. I was worried my information was online because I kept freaking getting Google alerts for stuff. And then when I signed up for LifeLock, I found that my social security number was for sale on the dark web, which was kind of charming. If LifeLock detects that, they'll send you an alert and you have access to a dedicated restoration specialist if you do become a victim.
[00:44:00] Jen Harbinger: No one can prevent all identity theft or monitor all transactions at all businesses but you can keep what's yours with LifeLock by Norton. Join now and save up to 25 percent off your first year at lifelock.com/jordan. That's lifelock.com/jordan for 25 percent off.
[00:44:14] Jordan Harbinger: This episode is also sponsored in part by Hyundai. Hyundai questioned everything to create the best Tucson ever. Every inch of the all-new Tucson has been completely re-imagined resulting in an SUV loaded with available innovations, both inside and out. From design technology to safety. Every aspect of the new Tucson has been improved upon. For me, I never know where my keys are and that's been the case my whole life, but I always know where my phone is. And Hyundai's digital key allows you to transform your smartphone into a spare key, which is super convenient. It's one less thing to remember, and it's more secure for that matter. LED daytime running lights are stylishly hidden within the cascading front grill, making them invisible when not in use, which is kind of cool and sleek. Set multiple user profiles, which is of course, handy. My wife is much shorter than me, like a foot shorter than me, so I can just hop in and then have the seat mirrors, climate control, radio presets, all personalized for me, 10.25-inch full-touch infotainment screen, blind spot view monitor. This SUV has been completely redesigned inside and out to create the best Tucson ever. Learn more at hyundai.com.
[00:45:16] 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.
[00:45:30] And now for the conclusion of Feedback Friday.
[00:45:34] All right, last but not least.
[00:45:36] Gabriel Mizrahi: Hey Jordan and Gabe. My wife of four years and I have reason to believe that we can have more children of our own. So we're preparing ourselves for adoption. We are 100 percent okay with the fact that this new child would not be ours biologically, as we wholeheartedly want to give the best life we can to a child who needs it. Our dilemma is this when adopting you state in your application, whether you will allow frequent contact, some contact, or no contact at all between the birth parent and the adopted child. If the circumstances are right, I would love for my adopted child to know their birth parents at some point as that could lead to a healthy relationship that may not have been possible before but I also feel selfishly that I want this child to be my own. We want to raise them in our household, by our rules, influenced by us, and brought up to be capable of making their own decisions. We have considered applying with the stipulation that we would allow contact after the age of 18 to try to be fair to both parties but we're stuck. Do we make our lives harder, but possibly more rewarding? Or do we make them easier and be a little bit selfish? Signed, The More The Merrier or The More of The Scarier.
[00:46:38] Jordan Harbinger: Interesting question and one that probably millions of families around the world looking to adopt each year, have to ask themselves. To be totally upfront, here, we are not experts in adoption. Obviously, there's a huge community of resources for questions like this. I definitely recommend doing your own research. We did some digging and here is what we found. First of all, there are definitely good reasons to go with an open adoption where your adopted child and their birth parent or parents have at least some contact. And as you probably know, this is actually the most common choice, nowadays — that actually surprised me, Gabe. I was surprised to hear that. Only about 5 percent of modern adoptions are closed. 95 percent involve some level of openness with the birth family, whether that's mediated or totally open or somewhere in between.
[00:47:23] And a lot of experts, they're pretty vocal about the upside to open adoptions. For one thing, having contact with the birth family can destigmatize the adoption. It can make it feel more transparent and legitimate for both you and your adopted child. It also gives you access to the family's medical history, which can have implications for your adopted child in the future. In some cases, adopted families ended up really bonding with the birth family. That sounds awesome and could be very special for both parties. For the adopted child, having contact can help fill a potential void in their life as well. And on the birth parents side of the equation, it can help with their grief and loss in giving up a child. So plenty of reasons to allow and even encourage contact.
[00:48:03] But there are also risks and downsides to this arrangement. For some families, open adoptions become turbulent for the child. Like when a birth parent goes through a sudden change in their life and has to pull away, maybe they hit a rough patch or they have to move away and take a new job, or they start a new family. Or maybe you end up cutting off contact because the birth parent is not safe or responsible, suddenly they're less involved and your child is left feeling rejected and unworthy of contact that does happen. Parenthood, love, identity, these are all really complicated issues. And sometimes having contact with a birth parent can make them even rockier.
[00:48:39] So lots to gain, but some risks too. And obviously this is impossible to predict perfectly, but like you said, you'd love for your adopted children to know their birth parents at some point. Since that could lead to a healthy relationship that may not have been possible before if the circumstances are right. And I think that if that is really the key to this decision, I'm not sure whether you have to decide all of this before you meet your adopted child, or if you can change it once you get to know them better, but the more you can factor in who the birth family actually is obviously then the better.
[00:49:10] Gabriel Mizrahi: Right. Because the most important thing we learned in our research is that open adoption it's really about meeting the needs of the child, not meeting your own needs. You know, no arrangement will ever be totally perfect but if having an open relationship helps your child feel more loved, more connected, less insecure, less confused, that's probably a net positive. And as one advocate for open adoption pointed out, allowing that relationship, that's actually an essential part of the job of being an adoptive parent. And by the way, a lot of the research on adoption actually bears that out. One of the studies we found was a major longitudinal study that looked at the dynamics of relationships within these adopted family systems — and we'll link to this in the show notes so you can check it out for yourself. That study concluded that people who had contact, they were more satisfied with their arrangements than those who didn't have contact. But the really interesting thing that the researchers found was that it isn't just having contact that makes a difference. It's actually how parents and their adopted children make meaning out of that contact.
[00:50:09] In other words, what that relationship with the birth parent was like for the child, what it meant to them to have that person in their life, how they processed the relationship. The crucial thing, according to these scientists, is that adults give primary consideration to the child's best interests because when that happens, they're much more likely to be able to meet those needs, even if it means that the contact involves some, but maybe not all of the family members or at the extent of the contact is less than they had hoped for. But the bottom line it's about the child, it's not about the parents.
[00:50:39] So I hear you, when you say that you want this child to be your own. I get it. I know you're coming from a good place. You want them to have your values. You want them to make their own choices. I respect it, but I would try to balance that perspective with what your child needs, even if it means letting go of some of your preferences. I'm not saying you're wrong to want any of those things. I'm just encouraging you to keep coming back to what would help your child adjust and develop and understand their history as well as possible because that's an important part of the kind of family that you guys really want to build.
[00:51:06] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. I second that, so your idea to allow contact after the age of 18, I see why you'd consider that. But given what Gabe just said, I also wonder if that would deprive your child of the contact they might need during their formative years. I like that you're leaving the choice up to them once they're adults, but it's possible, depending on the circumstances, of course, it is possible that that would be too late. Just something to consider.
[00:51:29] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah, for sure. I think it really comes down to what kind of family the child is coming from. If they're adopting a child from a parent who, let's just say was young and overwhelmed and unable to provide for their child, but they're a decent person, a safe person, somebody who just knows that their child deserves a better home. Then I could see that relationship being healthy and special and great. But if they're adopting a child from, I don't know, an addict who can't stay sober or somebody with severe mental health challenges or somebody who comes and goes and is enabled to be a stable presence in their child's life, then that's a very different situation.
[00:52:00] In that case, the risks of openness probably outweigh the benefits at least while the child is young, you know, at a point in their life where they'll be very affected by that, which is why I hope that they could make this decision about openness once they have all of the facts.
[00:52:12] Jordan Harbinger: Good point, because the last thing you want to do is invite a ton of chaos and toxicity into your child's life just because you want to be nice to the birth family. That it makes sense to create an environment where you can give them the childhood you want them to have and spare them, all of that drama, right? Like it's kind of the point of the adoption is they're not living in a crazy world of like drugs and instability and violence or whatever. Not that all those things always go together, but you know, so definitely read up on this stuff. Talk to the experts, maybe even book a consultation with a psychologist, maybe a child therapist, somebody with experience treating adopted children. Ask them for their opinion and their experience, of course. That could be super helpful and they could also be a great person for your future child to talk to if they ever need a place to come and process some of this stuff. Very common, also very helpful.
[00:52:59] I got to say, it's wonderful that you're looking into adoption. You guys seem like really thoughtful people, and I know you're going to be amazing parents to some lucky kid, maybe even more than one, so good luck.
[00:53:09] And you know, Gabe, I always thought it would be so cool to adopt a child. Jen wanted a bio kid as, I guess, they are known so we went with that, but I think it's a really special thing to do. It seems like it's just one of the most — when I think of win-win scenarios, it's harder to come up with something that is more impactful and more win-win like, you really can't overstate how win-win adopting a child is right. That is like the definition of everybody's better off in the end.
[00:53:33] Anyway, hope you all enjoy that. I want to thank everyone that wrote in this week. Go back and check out Sam Harris and Rob Reid, the episodes we recorded for you here, if you haven't yet.
[00:53:41] Want to know how I managed to book all these great people and manage my relationships? Well, I use systems, software, and tiny habits. Check out our Six-Minute Networking course, which is free over on the Thinkific platform at jordanharbinger.com/course. I'm teaching you how to dig the well before you get thirsty. If you're trying to make relationships with, as you need them, you're too late. You got to dig that well before you get thirsty. That's the whole point, right? The drills take a few minutes per day. Ignore them at your own peril. jordanharbinger.com/course.
[00:54:11] A link to the show notes for the episode can be found at jordanharbinger.com. Transcripts 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 Twitter, Instagram. You can also hit me on LinkedIn. And you can find Gabe on Twitter at @GabeMizrahi or on Instagram at @GabrielMizrahi.
[00:54:32] 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. Keep sending in those questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Our advice and opinions, those are our own. And yeah, I'm a lawyer, but I'm not your lawyer. So do your own research before implementing anything you hear on this show. And remember, we rise by lifting others. Share the show with those you love. If you found this episode useful, please share it with somebody else who can use the advice 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.
[00:55:09] Now I've got some thoughts on this episode, but before I get into that here's a glimpse of my interview with the son of a Hamas co-founder before a change of heart had him working undercover for Israeli intelligence against his former friends and family to thwart terrorist plots and save lives. Check it out.
[00:55:26] Mosab Hassan Yousef: Hamas is an Islamic movement. My father is one of the founding members of Hamas. Hamas for us was everything to the point where it became an army. It's a monter. I agreed to work with Israel with a hidden agenda to be a double agent. The level of pressure that they had to go through. My heart stopped for approximately 30 seconds. Most human beings cannot make it back. I was tortured mentally and physically. Everybody in the city knew that I'm a dead man.
[00:56:03] Jordan Harbinger: For more, including what it was like growing up in one of the first families of which many considered a terrorist group and why Mosab considers it the greatest school of his life, check out episode 407 on The Jordan Harbinger Show
[00:56:20] Jayson Waller: Jayson Waller here, host of your True Underdog Podcast and YouTube channel. This is what we've got in store in our episodes. I'm going to tell stories of me growing up, being trailer parked, high school dropout, teen dad, to opening three businesses that were successful. The latest business winning Inc 500 three out of four years, entrepreneur of the year, and it's a billion-dollar company. That's right. I'm going to give you tips, strategies, how to overcome adversity, how to be better, how to not stay in the mud. On top of that, on this show, on the full episodes, we're going to have interviews with people who have overcome adversity, people that have been successful, but started with things in their way, things they had to overcome and struggle with. How did they get there? Check us out on iHeartRadio, Spotify, or Apple Podcasts. You can go to trueunderdog.com. Subscribe to everything, or go to YouTube at the True Underdog Podcast.
Sign up to receive email updates
Enter your name and email address below and I'll send you periodic updates about the podcast.