You live in an extended family situation and the only contribution one member makes to the collective is drinking, smoking pot, eating your food, stealing your old phones to pawn, and making messes they can’t be bothered to clean up. Since they’re not liable to move away from free room and board of their own volition, is there anything you can do to expunge the family sponge and restore sanity to the homestead? We’ll try to find a solution 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Now let’s dive in!
On This Week’s Feedback Friday, We Discuss:
- When one member of your extended family is allowed to live in the house rent-free while eating your food, making messes, and contributing nothing, what can you do to expunge this family sponge?
- After numerous disappointments trying to conceive a baby through natural and scientifically enhanced means, you can’t help but wonder if you’re just ignoring something the universe is trying to tell you.
- Your in-laws’ free-range cats have fleas, and now, after a recent visit, your home is infested with them. How can you fix this problem without making it seem like an attack on your wife’s family?
- Your brother has been working with/hanging out with d-bag bros for so long that he’s become one. You know deep down he’s a great, thoughtful, and grounded person, but you’re worried you may never see this side of him again. How can you nudge him away from this wretched d-baggery?
- You’ve been working hard at your high-paying, high-stress job through vacations and holidays for years that you think you may be burning out. In your 30s with unfulfilled career ambitions, would it be imprudent to take a gap year off to go traveling — an almost guaranteed remedy for the depression you’ve been feeling?
- 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!
This Episode Is Sponsored By:
- BetterHelp: Get 10% off your first month at betterhelp.com/jordan
- ZipRecruiter: Learn more at ziprecruiter.com/jordan
- Sleeper Fantasy App: Get started with Sleeper at go.slpr.link/Jordan
- HBO Max: Sign up for $9.99 per month (with light ads) at hbom.ax/JHshow
- Progressive: Get a free online quote at progressive.com
Miss the show we did with The 48 Laws of Power author Robert Greene? Catch up here with episode 117: What You Need to Know about the Laws of Human Nature!
Resources from This Episode:
- Laurie Santos | Practical Lessons from The Happiness Lab | Jordan Harbinger
- Jessica Tracy | Why Pride is the Deadly Sin of Success | Jordan Harbinger
- How to Find a Great Business Partner (And Avoid a Bad One) | Jordan Harbinger
- Going to North Korea: Part One | Stereo Sunday | Jordan Harbinger
- Going to North Korea: Part Two | Stereo Sunday | Jordan Harbinger
- Modern Family | ABC
- Shameless | Showtime
- People Who Don’t Clean Out the Lint Trap When You’re Done Using the Dryer, What Led You to Your Barbaric Ways? | r/AskReddit
- Tali Sharot | Unpacking the Science of the Influential Mind | Jordan Harbinger
- The Universe Doesn’t Care About Your ‘Purpose’ | The New York Times
- Advantage II Flea Prevention and Treatment for Large Cats | Amazon
- How to Identify and Prevent Burnout | Healthline
- Don’t Mistake Silent Endurance for Resilience | The New York Times
- Priyanka Mattoo | Twitter
- Six-Minute Networking
556: How Can I Expunge the Family Sponge? | Feedback Friday
[00:00:00] Jordan Harbinger: Welcome to Feedback Friday. I'm your host Jordan Harbinger. Today, I'm here with Feedback Friday producer, the only guy I'd want to sing Britney Spears with in a creepy North Korean karaoke bar, 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. On this show, we want to help you see the Matrix when it comes to how these amazing people think and behave — the guests on the show, that is, not our karaoke buddies in North Korea — our mission is to help you become a better informed, more critical thinker. So you can get a deeper understanding of how the world works and make sense of what's really happening even inside your own mind.
[00:00:40] So if you're new to the show, on Fridays, we give advice to you, answer listener questions. The rest of it, we've got long-form interviews and conversations with a variety of folks, spies, CEOs, athletes, authors, thinkers, performers. This week, we had Laurie Santos host of The Happiness Lab podcast on hacking your own happiness. I know it sounds a little corny. I'm always a little wary of those, life hacks and happiness hacks, but this was actually a solid science back episode. We also had one from the vault with Jessica Tracy about pride. There are different types of pride, one good, one bad. Obviously, we've seen the bad one, but there's a type of good pride that we should actually harness. So be sure to check out those episodes, if you haven't.
[00:01:20] If you're joining us for the first time, or you're looking for a handy way to tell your friends about this show, we've got episode starter packs. These starter packs are collections of your favorite episodes, organized by popular topic. That'll help new listeners get a taste of everything we do here on the show. Just visit jordanharbinger.com/start to get stuck.
[00:01:37] Also I write every now and again on the blog. My latest post, How to Find the Right Business Partner. Now, I really enjoyed this one. In this piece, I talk about the red flags to avoid and prospective business partners, how those qualities play out in a professional relationship, how do we eliminate those same red flags in ourselves. All based on my experience, good and bad, in various businesses over the years. I also interviewed a few of my most successful entrepreneur friends for their insights about what makes a great partnership work and what they shared was gold. You can find all that in our articles, of course, all of them, jordanharbinger.com/articles.
[00:02:13] So you remember that right? Karaoke, you remember doing that?
[00:02:15] Gabriel Mizrahi: Oh, a hundred percent. Yeah.
[00:02:17] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:02:17] Gabriel Mizrahi: I believe it was — let me think. I think I was singing Baby One More Time.
[00:02:22] Jordan Harbinger: I mean, what else was even out from her in 2011? I don't even know what. Their karaoke list was probably from 1998. So that was the freshest they got.
[00:02:30] Gabriel Mizrahi: Totally. They had just kind of added the year 2000 to the catalog—
[00:02:33] Jordan Harbinger: Right.
[00:02:33] Gabriel Mizrahi: —when we got there, yeah.
[00:02:34] Jordan Harbinger: Do you remember the karaoke catalog in that hotel? Everything after M was like missing because it was probably in a separate book and on a separate DVD that didn't make it in from China or it got stolen. So they were just like, "Well, guess, we're only going to M," and it was like all stuff from the '70s and '80s, but like from the UK and Korea, or like, not even Korea, like China, but only through M.
[00:02:56] Gabriel Mizrahi: Slim pickings. Yeah, I remember that, but good stuff. I think there was a little Journey in there. I just, they had like all the great classics. It was so bizarre to hear that.
[00:03:04] Jordan Harbinger: It's so weird, so weird.
[00:03:05] Gabriel Mizrahi: What a great night.
[00:03:07] Jordan Harbinger: All right, Gabe, what's the first thing out of the mailbag?
[00:03:09] Gabriel Mizrahi: Hey, Jordan and Gabe, I'm a recently divorced woman in my late 50s. I've been with my boyfriend for almost four years and we live with his mom who's in her late 60s and his 32-year-old sister. My boyfriend is a recovering alcoholic and he's been sober for one year. I'm incredibly proud of him and the family dynamic we have built. The thing is I have a problem with his sister. She contributes nothing to the house. I buy toilet paper, garbage bags, paper, towels, and so on. And my boyfriend is the only one who cooks and buys groceries out of the four of us. His sister's main hobbies are drinking and smoking pot. She sits outside to smoke. Then spends the rest of her day in bed with her cat. She was off of work for four days for Memorial Day and did absolutely nothing. On our last day off, she actually decided to do laundry, which she's been left in the dryer afterwards.
[00:03:56] Jordan Harbinger: Okay.
[00:03:56] Gabriel Mizrahi: Probably just forgot, I would think.
[00:03:58] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. But like it's so stone and she was like, "Eh, what was I going to do again? Ugh, I don't know."
[00:04:04] Gabriel Mizrahi: Small things bother me, like her never cleaning the lint screen or bothering to put out her cigarettes as well as her using my toiletries. They're also larger issues like her stealing my two old iPhones, which she likely pawned. She has little to no friends nearby, never leaves the house and drops the F word in nearly every sentence. I can tell that she's carrying a lot of anger. My boyfriend is afraid to confront her. She's strong and has a nasty temper. The other problem is his mom. She lays in bed all day, which can be depressing for me to witness. These two able-bodied women sleep all day and have no social life. I can't help, but feel like it's a waste of a life. Furthermore, I have two kids of my own, 19 and 21. They don't feel comfortable coming to my boyfriend's house, so I go to theirs. I want to create a safe environment where I can be with all of my loved ones, but I'm facing several roadblocks. I can't see my boyfriend's sister ever leaving. She's got a great deal with free food and cleaning, so why would she. My boyfriend is clearly an enabler of his sister and his mom. And I don't currently have enough money to move out. I'm trying to save up and find a better job, but something always comes up and my money is spent, partially because my boyfriend's sister doesn't pitch in. So how can I get her to pull her weight? Signed, Trying to Thaw my Flawed Outlaw of a Sister-in-Law.
[00:05:19] Jordan Harbinger: This sucks. It's like Modern Family, if Modern Family, we're about a bunch of passive aggressive relatives and not at all funny whatsoever. So basically it's Modern Family. Anyway, anyway, I really feel for you here. You need this loving situation right now, obviously. Well, nobody would stay there if they didn't. It's keeping a roof over here. You and your boyfriend have built something really special together, which is amazing. But this sister, man, she sounds like a real piece of work. You're right. She's definitely carrying around a lot of stuff. It's got to be exhausting to just be that negative all the time. And I'm sure the anger is just the tip of the iceberg. I do have some compassion for her on some level because you can't be even remotely happy and act like that or be like that. But she also just sounds like a thankless sponge. She's mooching off you and your boyfriend. She steals your stuff, pawns your appliances for what I can assume is weed money. I don't know. She's using your frigging toothpaste and deodorant, which frankly is gross. Like, I don't mind sharing a little toothpaste with a friend, but you know, just the whole thing just makes me think that there's, these are icky people, right? The woman is zero shame.
[00:06:21] So Gabe, maybe this is more like Shameless than Modern Family. Now that I think about it.
[00:06:25] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah, definitely.
[00:06:26] Jordan Harbinger: Meanwhile, mom's asleep in a room, depressed and checked out, which I again have some sympathy for crocheting, cat mittens or something, given her daughter free rein in the house. So it's a real problem.
[00:06:36] The issue is it's not clear to me whether it's your problem to solve because you're in a tricky spot here. On one hand, you guys are basically family now. You're definitely roommates. You guys all have an equal claim to the household. On the other hand, she's not your sister. You're the newest member of the family. And whatever's going on with sister and mom and boyfriend, those patterns have been going on for decades before you even entered the picture. Right? And it may be even before he was born, they were already eff up. Who knows? And even if you could lean on sister to change, it doesn't sound like she's going to respond very well to that. Kind of like who the hell are you, right?
[00:07:12] So if you're going to make any progress here, I think it's going to be through your boyfriend, at least at first. Now, he's afraid to confront her. His sister seems fairly coarse, volatile probably has been their whole life. Like you said, this is a dynamic. He is enabling her by keeping quiet. That's giving her permission to keep being an intoxicated freeloading, no laundry doing parasitic turd. Right? So before you go toe to toe with her, I would talk to your boyfriend. Try to help him work through his feelings about his sister. Talk to him about his fear of confronting her, why she intimidates him so much. My guess is that he's more interested in protecting her feelings and protecting himself from the feeling of provoking those feelings than he is in creating a fair house, solving any of these problems, et cetera.
[00:07:58] And as you talk to him about that, Try to help him see that there's a real price to pay for keeping things on an even keel with her. It's not just your discomfort. It's the money situation, your happiness, your relationship satisfaction, your ability to have your kids over to the house, and your general mood and your sense of wellbeing, your sanity. And that doesn't just affect you. That also affects him. This is your life together in theory here. Right? So maybe if he sees that more clearly, he'll realize that this isn't fair to anybody. And hopefully, you can give him the courage to talk to his sister about making some changes, because it seems like he's probably like, "Oh, I've got this under control. I'm the only one who's really suffering here. Yeah, my girlfriend's a little annoyed, but it's fine. I'm the one who's got to pay for everything. I'm the one taking the brunt, so it's fair because they're my family." He probably is so busy being a pin cushion for them that he doesn't even realize that you're eating so much sh*t yourself.
[00:08:51] So if he refuses to deal with this or if he tries and his sister's like, "F*ck you. I'll do my laundry when I feel like it. I leave my cigarette butts whenever I want. And I'll eat the rest of the Captain Crunch and not tell anybody. This is my house, you prick." Then I would give it a shot yourself.
[00:09:06] That's by the way, like a Chicago 1920s gangster, not sure.
[00:09:09] Gabriel Mizrahi: Fantastic.
[00:09:09] Jordan Harbinger: I don't really have a sister-in-law deadbeat voice.
[00:09:12] Gabriel Mizrahi: No. I think you nailed it.
[00:09:12] Jordan Harbinger: That's what you get.
[00:09:13] Gabriel Mizrahi: Dead on, perfect.
[00:09:15] Jordan Harbinger: So sit down with her, tell her that, you know, you're the newcomer to the family. This is by the way, your last resort. Okay. He goes for a first, then you sit down with her. You mentioned that, you know it's her house before it was your house. Thank her for inviting you in, that you know it's no small thing and it means a lot to you. Then as gently as you can tell her that it's not fair or even sustainable for you and your boyfriend to support her on your own. Tell her specifically what you want to change. You want her to pitch in. You want her to either stop using your stuff or maybe reimburse you for it, that you want her to keep the house clean, whatever it is that you need. Hopefully, help her see that the way she's acting isn't fair.
[00:09:53] Now, I don't think she's going to give a sh*t. And I think it's very possible that she'll react strongly to this. She might lash out at you, laugh you off, turn around and project whatever shame or anger she's already feeling onto you. That's the response your boyfriend is probably so afraid of. So just be prepared for that because candidly — Gabe, I don't know, maybe I'm a pessimist. I don't see this going super smoothly in one shot, but her getting mad that does not mean you're wrong. I want to highlight that. In fact, it actually means she knows that you're right. The more you can lower her guard by being respectful and collaborative, the more you can appeal to her sense of what's right if there's anything left in there, and the more likely it is that she'll be able to hear you and realize that she's acting like a top shelf assh*le.
[00:10:37] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yes.
[00:10:37] Jordan Harbinger: You know, there is a slim chance, I'd say single digit percentage that she's like, "I'm sorry. I just, I have a lot going on. I'm really stressed out." I don't think that's how it's going to go, but you just don't know. It certainly won't go like that if you go at her guns blazing, but it might, if you're like, "Look," hat in hand a little bit, "I understand it's hard dah, dah, dah, but here's the problem." You're not being condescending. You got a little bit of a shot, right? Like you're saying it's one in a million. So you're saying there's a chance, right? That's where we're at with this. What do you think, Gabe?
[00:11:06] Gabriel Mizrahi: I agree completely. But if sister doesn't change after that, then I think you got to make a choice. Either you go to war with this woman. I don't know how far that's going to get you. Not far at all in my face. Or you accept the situation and just keep gritting your teeth putting up with it, not a great option either. Or you start making plans with your boyfriend to find a place of your own. I know that's not easy. I know she's part of the reason you can't afford your own place right now, but there's got to be a way to start at least putting that in motion. Maybe you and your boyfriend stopped buying groceries as often, start only paying for you and your boyfriend's share. Hopefully, save a little money or maybe you get creative and you find maybe an interim apartment with better roommates, just for a little while. Get on your feet. Maybe you make a career change. I know you talked about looking into your job situation that could allow you to leave this situation, find a better one.
[00:11:52] I know it's probably not as simple as that. I totally get it, but this is your home, right? It's worth finding a healthy place to live. So you and your boyfriend can continue to build this amazing life that you're building together. And look, as much as you can, when it comes to your boyfriend's sister, I would also try to separate out what's totally unacceptable here from what's merely unpleasant. Her stealing from you, her mooching off of you guys, to me, that falls in the unacceptable category. But her getting wasted, lying on bed all day, forgetting her laundry, not cleaning the lint trap, you know, that stuff is annoying. It's probably personally offensive to you and I get it I'm with you, but that probably falls into the not ideal category.
[00:12:31] I think you can drive yourself crazy if you hold all of these crimes against her, even though you're 100 percent right. And also, because the truth is you only have so much capital with this woman. What you really want to do is get her to pitch in 300 bucks a month for utilities and groceries. So you guys are not broke. You know, you can probably live with her leaving the lint in the dryer once in a while and borrowing your Pantene Pro V whenever she needs it, right? Pick your battles is what I'm saying for your own sanity if nothing else. Although I got to say, Jordan, that lint thing, drives me up the wall. It just says so much about a person when they leave that behind.
[00:13:04] Jordan Harbinger: It does say so much about a person. It's the same bullsh*t as when you use the last thing of toilet paper. And then you're like, "Nah, I'm not going to change. Put a new roll in there."
[00:13:13] Gabriel Mizrahi: Someone else's problem.
[00:13:14] Jordan Harbinger: Someone else's problem, right? Since it's someone else's problem — like, look, there's an element of laziness when you're like a teenager where you're like, "Eeh, I don't know, this is someone else's problem, whatever," but when you're an adult, I feel like it's not lazy anymore, you're literally thinking like, "I'm going to do this petty bullsh*t because that's the only semblance of power and control that I have in my life."
[00:13:35] Gabriel Mizrahi: Wow.
[00:13:35] Jordan Harbinger: Right?
[00:13:36] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah.
[00:13:36] Jordan Harbinger: I mean, maybe I'm overthinking it, but it's otherwise embarrassing as an adult to do that. So either you're shameless and just a total, total deadbeat, or you're like, "Yeah, let Josie change the freaking toilet paper roll. Let brother's girlfriend change the lint thing. Screw them. I don't like them anyway because they seem happy and I'm miserable." Like, that's really all it is.
[00:13:58] Gabriel Mizrahi: Either way, not a great roommate to have. Not pleasant either way.
[00:14:02] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. I mean cleaning a lint filter is not a big deal. I cleaned the lint filter when I do laundry here, because I always look at it before I throw things in the dryer. And if Jen didn't clean it, I'm not like, oh, it's passive aggressive bullsh*t. I'm like, okay, she was busy. But if it's every single time and it's a roommate, it's just like this person, not only doesn't care about you, they're trying to show you that they don't like you and that they don't care for you. That's the problem. It's probably going to get worse. And being around that energy, there's — we've done shows on this and there's this concept of emotional contagion. If you're around really negative people, and I know this from personal experience as well, that stuff will rub off on you, even if you think it doesn't. You know, if somebody around you as a ball of stress, if somebody around you is a bad person, very petty, steals, does really low-level crap like this person's doing, it affects you whether you think it does or not, whether you want it to or not, whether you're limiting contact with them or not. It rubs off on you. This is science. This is not like some metaphysical. The energy around you is absorbed by you. No, it is literally your body reacting to other people around you. This is an evolved human trait. So you want to get the hell away from these people.
[00:15:09] Anyway, I hope you make some progress in that department. I really do. The woman sounds like a cancer, honestly. If this were my sister-in-law, we'd be having words, but I also know it's delicate. Hopefully, you and your boyfriend can tag team this and maybe if she's with it enough to even care, maybe you recruit his mom to your side. So it's not just you versus the deadbeat sponge here, but long-term, I am looking for my next place. I don't care if it's a shoe box above a subway station beneath a cream of f*cking torium, it's got to be better than having your sister-in-law steal your stuff. I hate sharing my Pantene Pro V.
[00:15:43] So take care of your finances. Take care of your mental health. Start charting out your future. And if nothing else, that'll give you some agency, something to look forward to knowing you just won't be stuck in the house with Sleepy and Marge Simpson's stoner sister forever. So we're rooting for you guys. Good luck.
[00:15:57] You can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please keep your emails concise. Try to use a descriptive subject line. That makes our job easier. Include the state and country you live in, that'll help us give you more detailed advice. If there's something you're going through, any big decision you're wrestling with, or you want a new perspective on life, love, work. What to do if your best friend is being secretly controlled by her fiance, whatever's got you staying up at night lately, hit us up email@example.com. We're here to help and we keep every email anonymous
[00:16:25] You're listening to Feedback Friday here on The Jordan Harbinger Show. We'll be right back.
[00:16:32] This episode is sponsored in part by Better Help online therapy. I'd like to remind you that reaching out is not a sign of weakness, but a significant step towards the path of self-care. The sooner you seek help, the faster you can get back on track. Some critical signs that it's time to get professional help are if, one, you've experienced trauma, you want to improve yourself, you don't know where to start. Better Help offers online licensed professional therapists who are trained to listen and help. Fill out a questionnaire. They'll hook you up in a couple of days. Schedule video, phone sessions, plus exchange unlimited messages with your therapist from the comfort of your own home. Everything is obviously confidential. No driving, no parking, no awkward waiting rooms. If for any reason you're unhappy, you can get a new counselor at any time. No additional charge. Better Help — a lot of you have said how much you love this service. I think it makes it really easy to dip your toes in the therapy water and see if it's right for you.
[00:17:22] Jen Harbinger: And our listeners get 10 percent off your first month of online therapy at betterhelp.com/jordan. Visit better-H-E-L-P.com/jordan and join over a million people who've taken charge of their mental health with the help of an experienced better health professional.
[00:17:36] Jordan Harbinger: This episode is also sponsored by ZipRecruiter. According to Forbes, gyms, nail salons, hotels, mom and pop stores, all of the above, they're going to go on an epic hiring spree in the coming months to meet that pent up demand for all of these services. Along with schools reopening, bus drivers, field truckers, TSA, security, screeners, port workers, somebody got to load and unload all those, all that crappy buy in from Amazon, all those businesses have millions of jobs that need to be filled. So where do they turn to fill those roles fast? ZipRecruiter, obvi. And right now, you can try it for free ziprecruiter.com/jordan. You post a job on ZipRecruiter. They send your job to over a hundred top job sites, giving you access to their network of millions of job seekers. ZipRecruiter's matching tech scans, resumes to find qualified candidates for your open roles and proactively presents them to use. So you're not dealing with a bunch of garbage in your inbox. You can easily review recommended candidates and invite your top choices to apply for your job, which encourages them to apply faster.
[00:18:29] Jen Harbinger: And right now you can try ZipRecruiter for free at this exclusive web address, ziprecruiter.com/jordan. That's ziprecruiter.com/J-O-R-D-A-N. Just go to ziprecruiter.com/jordan. ZipRecruiter, the smartest way to hire.
[00:18:44] Jordan Harbinger: And now back to Feedback Friday on The Jordan Harbinger Show.
[00:18:49] All right. What's next?
[00:18:50] Gabriel Mizrahi: Dear Jordan and Gabe. So I'm infertile. It took seven years and over a hundred thousand dollars to figure that out. And I'm 38 years old and my husband is 41 years old and we can't make one single baby. I've done it all. IVF with my eggs, IVF with other women's eggs, frozen eggs, fresh eggs, none of it worked. I have no answers and no baby. And after 15 embryo transfers, my doctor recommended that we use the eggs from an egg donor and the uterus of a gestational surrogate to make a baby with my husband's sperm. After a lot of consideration, my husband and I decided that we were comfortable with it. We asked someone we knew, she agreed and we're doing this. We are not religious or spiritual people. So we have no issues with making a baby using science, but I can't help, but wonder, am I taking this too far? Are we taking advantage of the amazing medical options available to us now? Or are we forcing something to happen? I feel like I should be nothing but happy, but I can't help, but feel like I'm pursuing something that the universe has told me time and time again is not supposed to happen. Is there any truth to the sentiment or how can I recognize it as false and overcome it? Signed, Sorrow-gating Concerned.
[00:19:58] Jordan Harbinger: I see what you did there. Well, yeah, super interesting question. You guys have been through the ringer here. This is not an easy pregnancy journey and I'm really sorry that it's been so hard for you. There's always a cruel sort of irony of the universe, right? When all these people who don't want or shouldn't have kids have like a ton of them and can't take care of them, then all these conscientious people can't have kids. And that's how it seems to always work.
[00:20:20] So look, I've never been pregnant myself. I've only been pregnant adjacent twice. So I can't speak to what it's like to go through this as a woman, but I'll share some more general thoughts.
[00:20:31] Nothing like two men trying to answer a question about bringing life into this world. Am I right, Gabriel? Like two dudes, talking pregnancy.
[00:20:37] Gabriel Mizrahi: Let's do it.
[00:20:37] Jordan Harbinger: So first of all, are you forcing something to happen here? I want to attack that first because okay, yeah, of course, you are in some narrow sense. You're having trouble conceiving. So you're making it happen through other means. I don't think that's inherently good or bad. It's just what you're doing to overcome the hurdle. The fact that you're forcing it, quote-unquote, I'm not sure how much weight that should carry. The science is available and you're using it. That's it? Imagine, God forbid, you got some deadly disease. Would you take advantage of the science then? I'd bet my bottom dollar that anyone who has the opinion that you're trying too hard and you're forcing it, and the universe is trying to tell you something, those same people would not hesitate for one second if they got cancer and they needed chemotherapy to survive. They would jump, trample an old lady to get to that chemotherapy technology. So why is it okay for them to use modern medicine to heal if it's not okay for you to use modern medicine to procreate for God's sake, right?
[00:21:29] Now, look, are you taking it too far? Well, maybe that's a more complicated question or maybe it's a more personal question. That's really up to you and your husband to decide. I happen to believe that taking advantage of what science can offer is a smart decision as long as you're doing it for the right reasons. Other people, people with different beliefs, they might say, "Well, you got to accept the limitations of your body and don't try to play God," or whatever. I do not agree with that. And you obviously don't either. I recognize that some people hold that view, it's none of their freaking business.
[00:21:58] So you could listen to a bunch of other people's decidedly, unqualified opinions about the legitimacy of the technology. But the only thing that ultimately matters is what you believe. And I know that's kind of circular, maybe it's a non-answer, but it's true. This is your marriage, your body, your decision, your child. You're in the driver's seat. As long as you're not hurting anybody, you're not putting you or your future child at serious risk, which I don't think you are. Then you get to decide whether this is taking things too far and whether or not the universe wanted you to procreate or not. I mean, there's all these philosophical questions like will the universe or the higher power have allowed this technology to exist and circumvent it. I mean, come on. How ridiculous do we need to get here?
[00:22:39] That said, I'm curious to know why this feeling is cropping up now. You spend a hundred grand. We've done 15 embryo transfers, suffered through all this. You find a gestational carrier, gone through a ton of planning and procedures. You're pretty far down the field at this point. So my question is, are you doubting whether you should continue because you're just beaten down by the whole process or are you doubting whether you should continue because the process has actually made you wonder if you really want to be a mother?
[00:23:06] If it's the former, I think it's very normal. I mean, how can you not be demoralized by a bunch of this, right? But then you might have to separate how you feel about the process right now, from how you feel about bringing a child into the world in general. But if it's the latter case, and you're really second guessing the whole thing, like whether you want to do it at all, you're no longer sure whether you even want to bring a child into the world, then take a moment to really consider whether to proceed. So look, I know this is tricky. If you were able to get pregnant really easily, you'd probably be pumped. You wouldn't even be thinking about any of this and you wouldn't even have any of the conflicts around whether to have a baby.
[00:23:39] So I recognize that these two questions are closely related and maybe it's hard to pick them apart, but it's worth getting clear on this because if you're thinking, "This is really hard, but it's made me realize I want to have a baby more than anything." Then that's a great reason to continue. You're not doubting motherhood. You're just fed up with the annoying process that you've had to go through, that's 10,000 times harder than anyone else, but the process exists in order to give people with your condition or whatever it is a chance. So to some degree you have to accept the difficulty as hard as it is and press on. But if you're doubting whether you really want to be a parent at all, that's a very different story.
[00:24:13] So I'd figure out what the whole am I taking this too far question really is fundamentally about.
[00:24:20] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yes, dead on. I agree. If you can get clear on that, then you'll probably figure out if there's any truth to that feeling. But also at the same time, that feeling, I mean, it is true because you are having it, but that doesn't mean that the feeling is the whole story or that you have to make all of your decisions about starting a family based on that feeling. Because look, feelings, they're really just information. And it's up to us to unpack that information and try to figure out what it's trying to tell us. And then make a decision based on that. So I would try to explore this feeling a little bit more on your own with your husband. Figure out whatever other feelings might be coming with it, anger, sadness, shame, whatever it is, and figure out what they're trying to tell you. Because ultimately the legitimacy of this process, like Jordan said, it really means what you want it to mean.
[00:25:00] Yes, it is objectively difficult what you're doing, it's objectively demoralizing, objectively expensive. I get that. But whether you're taking things too far, that's up to you, this feeling you're having, you get to decide what it means, how it changes your decision. And I think taking a closer look at your thoughts and your feelings here, that'll tell you if this latest hesitation is just a hesitation or if it's really a Trojan horse for some more fundamental doubts.
[00:25:23] Jordan Harbinger: Good point, Gabe. That is exactly what she needs to figure out. Although, to be honest, I wouldn't be surprised if she's just fed up with being poked and prodded and having our hopes raised in dash 15 times.
[00:25:33] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah.
[00:25:33] Jordan Harbinger: And that's kind of infecting our whole outlook on motherhood. There's a lot of, "Do I really want this?" because it's so hard in the process. I don't think that they would have even gone through all of that if she didn't or they want a baby.
[00:25:44] Gabriel Mizrahi: Right.
[00:25:45] Jordan Harbinger: Why would you? It's so expensive. It's painful. It hurts. You take time off. Like it's just such a thing. I think they've already made the decision a long time ago. She might even be thinking, "Do I really want this?" because it's a good rationalization for not being able to do it. Like, "I didn't want that gold medal anyway, the silver is shiny," you know, that's kind of where I think a lot of people fall in this, but she's lucky, she's going to be able to have a baby. So she's like, "Uh-oh, were those thoughts real. So I understand.
[00:26:11] Look, a good test for this would be, picture yourself in a year with a baby and ask yourself if you'd feel that this will all have been worth it. And if so, then you're not taking things too far. This is just what you have to do to get the baby you want. And maybe the difficulty involved will make your child that much more special. Also, look, my two cents here, the universe has no opinion on anything. It's empty space and matter and energy. Consulting it on whether you should have a kid or not is senseless. If it did have an opinion, it sure as sh*t wouldn't be concerned with the small stuff. Like whether or not one couple somewhere in North America should have a kid using IVF or not. I mean, you might as well ask your microwave oven. So in other words, I say, go for it, darling. That's just my decidedly unqualified opinion.
[00:26:58] All right, what's next?
[00:27:00] Gabriel Mizrahi: Hey Jordan and Gabe, my in-laws owned cats that they let outside. There are no boundaries. They let the cats sleep in the bed with them and walk on furniture and counters. These cats have a persistent flea problem that they seem to think is normal. Up until recently, we've been successful in keeping our apartment free of fleas with no pets, hardwood, floors, and regular cleaning, it's never been a problem. But over the last few weeks, a flea infestation has sprouted, most likely due to a visit from my wife's sister who lives with the in-laws. They mostly ignore my wife, but I get eaten alive. It's now at a point where I dread returning home or sleeping in my own bed. I don't want to ban my in-laws from visiting us or stop visiting them ourselves. My wife gets extremely touchy about the flea issue. She helps with the cleaning, but takes my concerns as a personal attack or an attempt to keep her family away. Offering to pay someone to clean the in-law's place would just add one big problem to the hundreds of little problems I'm dealing with now. Besides I can't force them to actually stick to the rigorous process of getting rid of their infestation. Is there a good way to help my wife get on board without having my concerns taken as an attack on her family? And do you have any advice on negotiating some way to prevent this from happening again? Signed, Ready to Flee.
[00:28:13] Jordan Harbinger: So this is kind of gross and horrifying. I don't blame you for being so worked up about this. Your home is being overrun with fleas, so gross, by the way. Now, it's becoming an issue between you and your wife. Plus these poor cats are suffering. The worst part is this problem is so easy to fix. This is why flea medicine exists. It's not complicated, but the conflict in this family is complicated. So here's how I'd approach it.
[00:28:37] First of all, I would try and solve the flea problem directly with your in-laws. Go to Petco or chewy.com or whatever, buy some basic topical flea medication. Go visit your in-laws. Tell him you want to help solve the flea problem. Don't shame them for neglecting their cats, which is what they're doing or turning their home into a freaking Airbnb for literal parasites. Stay non-judgemental, stay diplomatic, and just keep the focus on the cats. You know, like, "Listen guys, I've been doing some reading about this. This flea thing, it's super easy to fix. And honestly, it's the right thing to do for them. Your cats are probably really uncomfortable and itchy. And that's not fair to them, so let's help them out, huh?" And then I would get them to help you apply the medicine.
[00:29:17] It's usually like literally it's a quick dab on their neck. In a few days the fleas will be gone. You have to show your in-laws how easy this is, how to do it, and hopefully make them realize that this is a part of their job as cat owners. It's just not right to let their cats live with these things. It's unhygienic, it's uncomfortable for them.
[00:29:34] And maybe Gabe and I are more sensitive to that because cat dad's here, but this is not just a cat thing. It's a general animal caretaking thing. I wouldn't let — I love dogs too. I grew up with dogs. I wouldn't let a dog get a bunch of parasites and fleas and not deal with it or ticks. FYI, Jen recommends a brand called Advantage for our cats. It's not super cheap. It's like 50 or 60 bucks, but it works so well. Maybe put some on your sister-in-law as well. It sounds like she needs it. If she's dragging fleas into your house, when she comes over, which is so gross. Like, look, maybe there was one randomly on her clothing, but I feel like your sister-in-law just has fleas, period.
[00:30:11] Anyway, then you wash your clothes and you change your sheets at home. Hopefully, that's the end of the story. This really might be as simple as helping your in-laws empathize with their cats and show them how easy it is to fix this problem.
[00:30:22] Gabriel Mizrahi: Dude, I have this uncle and yet a bunch of cats who went out and in. They were outdoor cats. They just walked in and out. They had the most horrific flea problem I've ever seen on cats.
[00:30:31] Jordan Harbinger: So gross.
[00:30:31] Gabriel Mizrahi: It was so sad because they looked so uncomfortable, kind of like scratching their necks. And I was like, I kept saying to my uncle, like, you need to fix this, you need to fix this. And he wouldn't do it. And finally, I took one of the cats and I was like, look at this. And I showed him the neck. You could see all the fleas running back and forth. I was like, and then he was like, his face went white and he realized that, how bad he had been ignored, you know, how bad the problem had become. Literally, he gets in his car, drives to Petco, gets the medicine. We do it together right then and there. Three days later, problem solved, but he just was being neglectful and not thoughtful about the cats. And he just needed somebody to show him. I hope that will work in your case.
[00:31:04] But if your in-laws refuse your help or the problems come back, then I would just talk to your wife about maybe intervening with our parents more strongly. Again, I'd be direct, but very gentle here. She's obviously kind of sensitive about our parents. You know, kind of like the woman from the first question, living with her boyfriend's family, actually. You know, you got to be honest, but you know that you're walking through some landmines here, family-wise.
[00:31:24] Jordan Harbinger: Right. Like you got to be diplomatic. You can't be like, "So, hon, your parents are disgusting. They live in their own filth and that's why they have fleas. It's not just the cats. Your actual whole family is revolting. Anyway, what's for dinner?"
[00:31:36] Gabriel Mizrahi: Right. I would say something like, "Listen, honey, I know you think I'm attacking your parents when I get mad about the fleas, but it's really not about that. It's about the fact that I can't sleep in my own bed without these, treating my body like a Vegas buffet. I mean our home, I want to feel comfortable here. We can't have a bunch of gross fleas overrunning our bedsheets because your parents aren't taking care of their cats. I'm not trying to keep your parents away. I'm not trying to make you feel bad. In fact, I'd probably spend more time with them if they just took care of the flea problem. So can we figure out a way to solve this together?" I think that's the approach and hopefully with a little back and forth, you can get her to see that this isn't you versus your wife or you versus her in-laws but you and your wife and her in-laws versus the gross, gross fleas. Maybe you could ask her how she would feel if the situation were reversed. Like if it were your parents dragging bugs into your house and, you know, would it be reasonable for you to feel like she was attacking your parents by asking them to stop? You know, kind of like that. If you can get her to see that perspective, I think she's going to come around.
[00:32:33] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, I do too. I mean, she, at some level, also has to think it's a little gross. But look, if no one will see your side here, then you might have to draw a boundary about visiting their house or having them over ever. It seems so absurd that it has come to that point or that it could come to that point. But what are you supposed to do? Have an open marriage with a bunch of bloodsucking, fleas, parasites, like, no, thank you. But honestly, if it gets to that point, I'd probably just buy the flea medicine myself, secretly apply it to the cats myself, and just go over there and nip it in the bud. But I bet you can get your in-laws to wake up and come around if you approach them the right way. So good luck.
[00:33:08] Gabe. I got to draw the line at house guests that literally have fleas, like seriously, what kind of sewer rat of a human actually has fleas on their person all day walking around, and it's just totally okay with that.
[00:33:21] Gabriel Mizrahi: I don't know.
[00:33:21] Jordan Harbinger: Come on.
[00:33:22] Gabriel Mizrahi: That's some pig pen sh*t.
[00:33:23] Jordan Harbinger: Seriously. At least, he only smelled and was dirty. Like this is actually, like you have parasites and you're like, "Eh, it happens."
[00:33:29] Gabriel Mizrahi: Not cool.
[00:33:30] Jordan Harbinger: Like, no, it doesn't, it doesn't, really.
[00:33:33] Gabriel Mizrahi: Nope.
[00:33:34] Jordan Harbinger: Next up.
[00:33:37] This is The Jordan Harbinger Show. And this is Feedback Friday. We'll be right back.
[00:33:42] This episode is sponsored in part by Sleeper Fantasy app. Sleeper is a modern fantasy experience designed to connect people over sports with its integrated chat and sleek interface. Sleeper users talk more to their league mates and their leagues simply feel that difference. Sleeper is free, zero ads. Sleeper offers Fantasy NFL, NBA, even LCS, League of Legends, which I totally thought was a video game and still might be. Anyway, it gives you total control over your Fantasy draft and season, redraft dynasty, best ball. Sleeper is made to play fantasy sports your way. Sleeper is the fastest growing Fantasy platform with millions of users built almost entirely on word of mouth, which by the way, has 46,000 app reviews with five stars. That's a lot. The app also includes handy real-time news updates and in-app league chat. So you don't need to use another app to talk to your league mates. Maybe you get, if you don't want to share your phone number with them. Sleeper conveniently has everything you need in one place.
[00:34:32] Jen Harbinger: Go to the App Store, download the Sleeper app and start playing today.
[00:34:35] Jordan Harbinger: This episode is also sponsored by HBO Max. Original groundbreaking, and award-winning entertainment is yours with HBO Max, anytime, anywhere on your favorite screens and device. For $9.99 a month, which is less than I spend on two coffees here in freaking California, you can get access to HBO max with ads, which includes a limited ads and grants you access to all of HBO Max's unmatched entertainment, or just go ad free, which I recommend for $14.99 a month. Come on, value your time, people. HBO Max has everything you love from groundbreaking series to classic favorites, brand new releases. I've seen movies on there that are like also in theaters. I don't know how they plan that out, but whatever it's great for us. HBO Max is leading the charge and highlighting the stories that spread joy, spark conversation, provide a sense of belonging, and inclusivity. Our family binges on HBO Max's Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, even though he has just gotten so corny lately, am I right? Bill Maher as well as tons of documentaries also on there that I've just found endlessly entertaining.
[00:35:28] Jen Harbinger: Sign up for HBO max now for only $9.99 per month with a light ad load using link hbom.ax/JHshow. Visit now and sign up for HBO Max to start streaming every title we mentioned and so much more.
[00:35:41] Jordan Harbinger: This episode is also sponsored in part by Progressive. What's one thing you'd purchase with a little extra savings, a weighted blanket, maybe a smart speaker. So you can annoy your neighbors, you know, walk around your neighborhood, just blasting it. Who are those people anyway? Well, Progressive wants to make sure you're getting what you want by helping you save money on car insurance. Drivers who saved by switching to Progressive save over $700 on average and customers can qualify for an average of six discounts when they sign up. Discounts, like having multiple vehicles on your policy. Progressive offers outstanding coverage and award-winning claim service day or night. They have customer support 24/7, 365 days a year. When you need a most, they're at their best. A little off your rate each month goes a long way. Get a quote today at progressive.com and see why four out of five new auto customers recommend Progressive.
[00:36:24] Jen Harbinger: Progressive Casualty Insurance Company and affiliates. National Annual Average Insurance Savings by New Customers surveyed in 2020. Potential savings will vary. Discounts vary and are not available in all states and situations.
[00:36:35] Jordan Harbinger: 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.
[00:36:48] And now for the conclusion of Feedback Friday.
[00:36:52] Gabriel Mizrahi: Hi Jordan and Gabe, I'm a 30-year-old woman with a twin brother who's been stuck in the douchebag bro culture for way too long. He works in the car sales industry as a salesman where he's surrounded by men who constantly brag about their material wealth and spend their time outside the dealership, drinking and partying in excess. They often refer to their partners as the wife or other demeaning terms. And whenever any of their relationships end, it's always because the woman was crazy or something like that. As a result, my brother has turned into a materialistic and childish person. Not only has he been fired from past dealerships for poor behavior, but one in particular wanted to send him to rehab as he was heavily into drinking and cocaine a few years ago. His cocaine habit isn't as bad today, but he still thinks that doing cocaine every once in a while is okay. As in his words, "Everyone does it." Whenever we've hung out as a family over the past few years, we all listen to his stories and try not to be critical of just how self-involved and materialistic he is but it's come to a point where I don't want to hang out with them anymore. I hate the degrading way he talks about women and how all he cares about is making money. I know deep down that there's a great guy inside who is a thoughtful and grounded person, but I'm giving up hope that I'll ever meet him again. I don't see how his behavior will change without him leaving the industry and getting a whole new set of friends. How do I get my brother to become the considerate person we all know he can be? Signed, A Worried Twin, Trying to Find the Gentlemen Within..
[00:38:15] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, this is tough. I went through my own bro stage in my early 20s/30s. I mean, I wasn't like railing lines in the bathroom of a Chevy dealership and bragging about my body count at the Thanksgiving table. But you know, I get the stage your brother's in, although he is 30 now. He's not a dumb kid anymore. And what you're describing, it does feel more like a developed personality. So I get why you're more concerned about where he's heading. You know, this is like fraternity crap that he should have outgrown by now.
[00:38:43] So here's how I'd approach him. I'd carve out some time for the two of you to hang alone, ask him how he's doing, how work is going, how he's feeling about life in general. Get him to open up a little. Build some trust, build some rapport. It might take more than one conversation, but I'll let you decide how to handle it. I also, I might stay away from alcohol because if he's a big partier that might trigger more bro mode versus getting them to like — you know, normally if you want to have a hard convo and you want to get the truth, you have a cocktail or two. And they're like, okay, here's the. This might have the opposite effect because he might be like, "Oh yeah, no vulnerability let's do body shots off the waitress," right? It might have the reverse effect.
[00:39:20] Gabriel Mizrahi: Right. Stick to the pressed juice for this one.
[00:39:22] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. Yes, exactly. Stick to it. Yeah, do a yoga class.
[00:39:25] So when the time is right, I would say something like, "Listen, you know, I love you, right? You're my twin brother. I think you're awesome. You're thoughtful. You're full of potential. I only want what's best for you. So I want to share something with you and I really don't want you to think I'm judging you or attacking you. This is coming from a place of total love, but lately I can't help, but feel like you're going down a path that is not super healthy. That isn't really you. The booze, the blow, I'm glad that's more under control now. If it were me, I maybe wouldn't be doing much of that at all, but it's your decision. But when I hear you talk about work or going out with the boys, I hear a guy who's a little self-involved, kind of materialistic, a guy who doesn't think very highly of women, which as your sister is making me pretty sad. A guy who seems to care a lot about making money, but not so much about being a great person. I'm not trying to be a wet blanket. I think it's great that you're ambitious and I obviously want you to have fun, but this path that you're heading down, honestly, it worries you. And it makes it hard for me to be super close with you. And I really want to, because you know, you're my twin brother. So I really wanted to share that with you and hear your thoughts and see if I'm totally off here. Or if you're thinking about any of this stuff too."
[00:40:35] And then just, you know, give them the vacuum pose, let them respond, listen to what he says. Try not to shame him or judge him too much. Hopefully, guide him towards some new insights. One of the best ways to do that is actually to ask him open-ended questions. Like, are you happy these days? Do you feel fulfilled? Are you taking care of yourself? Is the path you're on taking you somewhere exciting in the next 10 years? You know, innocently, not like a therapist, like just as part of the conversation, but ask them these sorts of things. The more you can get him to supply the answers, the less defended he will be. And the more he'll, hopefully, start to see that he needs to make some changes.
[00:41:12] Gabriel Mizrahi: I really liked that approach, Jordan, because this is a very hard conversation to have. This isn't, you know, maybe you should cut back a little on the whiskey at Christmas. This is, I think, you need to reevaluate your whole worldview and all your values and how you're spending your time in general. So while you have this chat, I would be prepared for any number of reactions from your brother. He might get mad at you. He might get defensive. He might turn around and lay into you. Again, this is very similar to the sister in the first question, right?
[00:41:38] Jordan Harbinger: Yup.
[00:41:38] Gabriel Mizrahi: Be patient, stick with him. Don't let his initial response to your questions. Throw you too much because you're approaching some very complicated stuff here. There's addiction in the mix, personality, identity, right? The choices he's made in 30 years of life. I mean, it might be pretty scary for your brother to be confronted about all of that all at once. In fact, the whole douchebag bro thing. I think in many cases that's a defense against vulnerability and you inviting him to talk like this in this way is a very vulnerable thing to do. So just keep that in mind, if he reacts poorly at first, that is not a bad thing. Again, it probably means you're onto something important.
[00:42:14] And also know that you probably won't change your brother's whole outlook in one conversation. You know, maybe you put a crack in it the first time, and then a few weeks later, he comes to you and he tells you, "Oh, you know, last weekend, I stayed in. Actually, it wasn't so bad." And he has a new question about what to do at work or something. And you guys talk a little more and a few more cracks emerge, and then six months later you notice that he's not drinking as much, and he's spending more time with you guys. And you're talking about more important things and he's talking about women differently and you know, slowly over time, your brother starts to organically change.
[00:42:43] And actually that's what you want. You want your brother to be working through this stuff, deciding what kind of person he wants to be, rather than you making him be something different overnight, just because it offends you personally.
[00:42:53] Jordan Harbinger: Right, exactly. But if your brother sticks to his guns, you're just going to have to let him be the guy that he wants to be. And that'll be the hardest part. It sucks, but that's the ultimate boundary. We all come up against with other people. Maybe you tell them, "Look, I accept your choice. I don't love it, but I accept it, but it will be hard for us to be as close as we could be when you're treating people poorly. You're mistreating your body. You're holding these kinds of ridiculous juvenile views, but I still love you. I still want to see you. If you ever want to talk, I'll be here." And then you just have to let him figure this out for himself. The dude is 30 years old. He's not exactly a college sophomore candy flipping with his frat buddies at Bonnaroo, but he's still on the young side, you know.
[00:43:32] Like I was kind of a late bloomer too. I did stupid crap way too late in life. And not really as like a personality defining characteristic or whatever, but I can see how if you're around a bunch of knuckleheads, you're going to do knucklehead crap to fit in. He might grow up in the next few years and he may very well do that. And when he does, he's going to need a good friend to be there for him, especially if he's around all these yahtzees. So make sure you're there when he's ready. He's lucky to have you looking out for him. Good luck.
[00:43:59] All right. Next up.
[00:44:01] Gabriel Mizrahi: Dear Jordan and Gabe, I'm a mid 30s Brit working for a successful financial company. My role carries a lot of pressure. It's 24/7. It's very intense. And I've given my all to the company for the last four years. I've worked through vacations and holidays, and I can't remember ever being away from my mobile and laptop for more than 30 miles. I know I'm good at my job, but I feel my spark and energy have gone and I'm operating in a constant state of anxiety. I've drifted apart from my friends and the only community I have is within my company. I'm quite lonely. I had a pretty painful breakup last year, and I feel at this point that I'm probably a bit depressed. This is only exacerbated by my job. I know the sensible answer is to find a new job, but becoming unmotivated by the job search. My company pays above market rate and I was also able to negotiate a raise last year. Recruiters have told me that I would need to take a pay cut even if I level up as not many companies pay anywhere near my salary for my skill set. I'm not too phased by this though. I've learned that money does not equal happiness. I care a lot about my career. I'm ambitious and focused on self-improvement. But when I think about what I want to do, all I can think about is quitting my job and traveling for six months or a year. I did a lot of backpacking in my 20s, and I would love to feel that sense of freedom, meet new people and have new experiences again. But I also know that taking a gap year at my age could be reckless, career-wise. Should I throw caution to the wind, quit my job, and go traveling? Or am I just trying to escape? Should I be grateful for the job I have and be bolder about making changes to improve my day to day? And what are your thoughts on finding a job whilst being unemployed? Signed, Escaping my Present or Running Toward My future.
[00:45:40] Jordan Harbinger: All great questions and questions. I think a lot of people are asking themselves right now. So, first of all, it definitely sounds like you are burned out. This is textbook burnout. If you're anxious, depressed, uninspired, unmotivated, that is a real sign that something is off. Not something that's super serious, but your body and your mind are depleted.
[00:45:58] There's been a ton of research about this recently, given how addicted Americans are to work and or Western culture is to work and the Japanese, everyone, everyone's addicted to work. People are calling burnout, the plague of our generation. It sounds to me like you've been ignoring this voice. That's telling you to make a change for a while now, which is so common with type A people, high performers, by the way. So I do think it's time to take it more seriously.
[00:46:23] This also reminds me of the article by Priyanka Mattoo. We talked about, in the last episode, about resilience versus putting up with just being miserable. Now, whether that means quitting so you can travel or making some much needed changes in your job. That's the question. I would take some time to get clear on what really matters most to you. Would you actually be happier if you worked less? Would you even know what to do with that extra time? That's the trick, right? Or are you just over this job and you're hungry for something different? Or do you just not even know the answer to that? And that's why you need to go backpacking through South America for nine months. So you can clear your head and figure out what you really want.
[00:47:00] If you decide that you could find some more balance within your job, maybe you go to your boss and you say, "Listen, I've been burning the candle at both ends for years. I appreciate everything you guys have done for me, but I am not in a great headspace. I'm burned out. I'm losing momentum. I need to make changes if this is going to be sustainable." And then you can ask to dial back or offload some responsibilities or hire new people, whatever you need to do. Honestly, sometimes it really is as simple as opening up and asking for help, you might find yourself with an assistant or somebody who's qualified that can take a bunch of work off your plate that reports to you. Or maybe you do need to find a way of working, that's less taxing on you. Maybe you delegate more. Maybe you empower people around you to make decisions without you. Maybe you create better systems to get your work done more efficiently.
[00:47:47] Sometimes when you're overworked, it's not the job itself, it's the way you do your job or in your case, your relationship with your job. And a lot of type A people, ambitious people, they think that if they don't go ham 80 hours a week and control every decision and plan for every possible outcome that somehow the company is going to fall apart, or people don't value them anymore, or they won't even know who they are because their identity is so wrapped up in how effective they are at work. And trust me, I'm actually speaking from personal experience here. That's a huge contributor to burnout as well. And that's really about your beliefs and your values and where you derive your fulfillment and your sense of self.
[00:48:25] Now, if any of that rings true, then I think you have some work to do to figure out why this job is so taxing for you. I believe you, when you say that it comes with a ton of pressure, but you're the one coping with it. You're deciding what it means. You might find some relief if you change the way you handle that pressure and the expectations and standards you're working with. That alone might give you the freedom you're looking for without having to quit your job.
[00:48:49] All that said, y'all know I'm a huge fan of traveling and you are too, so I definitely encourage you to scratch that itch. Maybe you take all your saved vacation time and you go backpacking for a month. Maybe that's difficult. Maybe ask your company for an unpaid sabbatical and you go for three months and you come back with a little bit of fresh perspective, or maybe you really do need some open ocean in front of you figuratively and possibly literally, and you quit. You go traveling for you. That's great too. I can't tell you what to do, but here's what I'll say. There's definitely an element of escapism to traveling. I know it well, and that can be very seductive. It's possible, possible that your fantasy of backpacking for a year, as a way to mentally jump ship and re-assert some control over your life.
[00:49:34] And honestly, that's meaningful data for you. It says a lot about where you are and what you want right now. But if traveling is a way for you to avoid making some necessary changes in your life, I would look at that more closely because you could go on this trip, have an amazing time. And then you find a new job and you fall right back into the same patterns. If you're going to change that change will ultimately have to come from you, whether it's in your decisions around your job or money or priorities or relationships or whatever. So I would find out what it is you might be trying to escape and why. And that'll tell you a lot about what to do next.
[00:50:11] Now, about looking for a job while you're unemployed, the best advice I can give you is to start seriously investing in your relationships if you're not doing that already. Every person I know who's found a great job while they were unemployed, had amazing relationships with their peers, their managers, their counterparts at other companies, people outside the industry as well. Having a killer network, that could be the one variable that reduces all the risks that you're facing right now. The one thing that makes this whole break possible for you. And if you need some help there, you know what I'm about to say, check out the Six-Minute Networking course. It's totally free. It's insanely simple. You could do it while traveling. I think it'll be great for you. Jordanharbinger.com/course is where you'll find that.
[00:50:54] But whatever you decide to do, I would start listening to this voice that's telling you that it's time for a change. My hunch is that some combination of these things is what you need. A few months to play and recharge while you can plan your next move, consider your relationship with work. It might not be as either, or as it feels right now this second. You can think about what you want to do next and talk to recruiters from a hostel in Hanoi. You can also leave work at six and have an awesome dinner with an old friend in your hometown. The change you're looking for, it's available to you right now, no matter where you are. So keep that in mind. Be smart, be responsible, invest in your relationships, but also take a chance to carve out the adventure you need to be a balanced human being. We all need to step out of the Matrix from time to time. The question is what are you going to do with everything you learn out there when you step back in?
[00:51:48] All right. Hope you all enjoyed that. I want to thank everyone that wrote in this week and everyone who listened. Thank you all so much. Go back and check out the guests from this week if you haven't already Dr. Laurie Santos and Jessica Tracy. A link to the show notes for the episode can be found at jordanharbinger.com. Transcripts are in the show notes. Videos on our YouTube channel. jordanharbinger.com/youtube. There's a clips channel at jordanharbinger.com/clips. I'm at @JordanHarbinger on Twitter, Instagram. Hit me on LinkedIn. You can find Gabe on Twitter at @GabeMizrahi or on Instagram at @GabrielMizrahi.
[00:52:18] This show is created in association with PodcastOne. My amazing team is Jen Harbinger, Jase Sanderson, Robert Fogarty, Ian Baird, Millie Ocampo, Josh Ballard, and of course, Gabriel Mizrahi. Our advice and opinions, they're our own, and I'm a lawyer, but I am not your lawyer. So do your own research before implementing anything you hear on the show. Remember, we rise by lifting others. Share the show with those you love. If you found this episode useful, please do share the show and share this episode and the advice with somebody else who can use the advice we gave here today. In the meantime, do your best to apply what you hear on this show, so you can live what you listen, and we'll see you next time.
[00:52:55] If you're looking for another episode of The Jordan Harbinger Show to sink your teeth into, we've got a trailer for our interview with Robert Greene, one of the most acclaimed authors of our time. Robert's insight into human nature is second to none. And there's a reason that his books are banned in prison, yet widely read by both scholars and leaders alike.
[00:53:13] If we just sit in our inner tube with our hands behind her head and crack open a six pack of beer, the river of dark nature takes us towards that waterfall of the shadow.
[00:53:22] Robert Greene: Yeah. So when we're children, if we weren't educated, if we didn't have teachers or parents telling us to study, we'd be these monsters. We're all flawed. I believe we humans naturally feel envy. It's the chimpanzee in us. It's been shown that primates are very attuned to other animals in their clan. And they're constantly comparing themselves. Your dislike of that fellow artist or that other podcaster, 99 percent sure that it comes from a place of envy.
[00:53:54] Jordan Harbinger: For sure.
[00:53:56] Robert Greene: You are not a rational being. Rationality is something you earn. It's a struggle. It takes effort. It takes awareness. You have to go through steps. You have to see your biases. When you think you're being rational, you're not being rational at all. You go around, everything is personal. "Oh, why did he say that? Why is my mom telling me this?" And I'm telling you it's not personal. That's the liberating fact. People are wrapped up in their own emotions, their own traumas. So you need to be aware that people have their own inner reality. People are not nearly as happy and successful as you think they are. Acknowledging that you have a dark side, that you have a shadow, that you're not such a great person as you think can actually be a very liberating feeling. And there are ways to take that shadow and that darkness and kind of turn it into something else.
[00:54:47] Jordan Harbinger: If you want to learn more about how to read others and even yourself, be sure to check out episode 117 of The Jordan Harbinger Show.
Sign up to receive email updates
Enter your name and email address below and I'll send you periodic updates about the podcast.