At your new job in healthcare, you’re surprised that so many of your colleagues — also well-educated with doctorate degrees — constantly complain about their desire to lose weight while simultaneously snacking on bear claws and eschewing basic exercise. Is there a delicate way to mention that they should be setting a better example for the people they’ve been tasked to keep healthy without being that annoying new person? We’ll try to help you find an answer to this and much more here on Feedback Friday!
And in case you didn’t already know it, Jordan Harbinger (@JordanHarbinger) and Gabriel Mizrahi (@GabeMizrahi) banter and take your comments and questions for Feedback Friday right here every week! If you want us to answer your question, register your feedback, or tell your story on one of our upcoming weekly Feedback Friday episodes, drop us a line at email@example.com. Now let’s dive in!
On This Week’s Feedback Friday, We Discuss:
- Your peers in the healthcare profession complain about being overweight while scarfing down donuts and eschewing basic exercise. Is there a delicate way to mention to your colleagues that they should be setting a better example for the people they’ve been tasked to keep healthy?
- How do you work with somebody you once intensely loved and thought was “the one” but now can’t stand? Additionally, how can you trust in future relationships that seem to develop as intensely without worrying they’ll similarly disintegrate?
- As a woman who aspires to raise a family of your own someday, how do you ensure that your future partner is equally invested in taking care of the children — unlike your friends’ useless husbands who can’t survive a night without calling for backup?
- You and your partner of over a decade used to do everything together, but now you sleep in separate rooms and haven’t had sex in a year. How worried should you be about the person to whom they’re frequently texting “I love you” and whose parents they’ve taken to referring as “Mom and Dad?”
- When you’re unhappy with the inauthentic version of yourself you’ve been presenting to the world for as long as you can remember, can you re-learn how to be?
- Have any questions, comments, or stories you’d like to share with us? Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org!
- Connect with Jordan on Twitter at @JordanHarbinger and Instagram at @jordanharbinger.
- Connect with Gabriel on Twitter at @GabeMizrahi.
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This Episode Is Sponsored By:
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Miss our conversation with world champion boxer and entrepreneur Laila Ali? Catch up with episode 309: Laila Ali | Finding Strength, Spirit, and Personal Power here!
Resources from This Episode:
- Bradley Hope | The Secret Mission to Overthrow North Korea | Jordan Harbinger
- John Nores | Reclaiming America’s Wildlands from the Drug Cartels | Jordan Harbinger
- The Fat Doctor: Can You Trust Out-of-Shape Health Workers? | All Nurses
- Would You Take Advice from a Fat Doctor? | Quora
- Deliverance | Prime Video
- Working with Your Ex When You Don’t Want to Be Friends: How To Cope | Baggage Reclaim
- Husband Useless with Baby | Netmums
- 8 Ways to Stop Being a People-Pleaser | Verywell Mind
822: Is a Hefty Health Professional a Hippocratic Hypocrite? | Feedback Friday
[00:00:00] Jordan Harbinger: Special thanks to Hyundai for sponsoring this episode of The Jordan Harbinger Show.
[00:00:07] Welcome to Feedback Friday. I'm your host, Jordan Harbinger. As always, I'm here with Feedback Friday producer, the former sad sack high school poet himself, Gabriel Mizrahi. By the way, so many people commented like, Fall Out Boy sucks.
[00:00:21] Gabriel Mizrahi: Oh really? I didn't see the Fall Out Boy comments, but that makes sense.
[00:00:24] Jordan Harbinger: Well, they didn't want to tell you, but they're like, "That guy can't sing. Everything was, all the credit due to—" I don't know, like the lead guitarist. And I'm like, this is way too much of a deep cut for me.
[00:00:34] Gabriel Mizrahi: I could not disagree more, but good that you guys directed those messages to Jordan and not to me because that would've really ruined my Friday. But I'll take the sad sack thing.
[00:00:44] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:00:44] Gabriel Mizrahi: That's fair.
[00:00:45] Jordan Harbinger: That much at least can stick.
[00:00:46] On The Jordan Harbinger Show, we decode the stories, secrets, and skills of the world's most fascinating people and turn their wisdom into practical advice that you can use to impact your own life and those around you. We want to help you see the Matrix when it comes to how these amazing people think and behave. And our mission is to help you become a better informed, more critical thinker so you can get a much deeper understanding of how the world works and make sense of what's really happening even inside your own mind.
[00:01:10] If you're new to the 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 spies to CEOs, athletes, authors, thinkers, and performers. This week, we had Bradley Hope talking with both Gabriel and myself on the wackiness that is North Korea. We did a little update about what's going on in the hermit kingdom and why they're still in power. We talked about that crazy embassy raid on their Madrid embassy, and we also talked with Lieutenant John Nores on something called trespass marijuana grows here in California. It turns out drug cartels are sneaking into national parks and large ranches here in California, stealing water, killing wildlife, using all kinds of crazy chemicals and growing marijuana for sale on the black market. I just never knew about any of this. So definitely check those episodes out.
[00:02:00] Gabe, funny story for you. I'm not sure how I remembered this, but when I was a kid, I was in latchkey, which is basically like daycare after school, and this super beautiful woman worked there. Her name was Michelle Bone.
[00:02:13] Gabriel Mizrahi: Michelle Bone, B-O-N-E.
[00:02:15] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:02:16] Gabriel Mizrahi: Oh, what a name.
[00:02:17] Jordan Harbinger: I know, right? That makes me wonder if it's one of those things that gets translated from German and it sounds—
[00:02:22] Gabriel Mizrahi: Maybe.
[00:02:22] Jordan Harbinger: —less weird in German. I don't know. Anyway, she was super cool, super fun, and she had this really memorable bright red hair that was totally natural. I had a huge crush on her because I was probably, I don't know, like nine. And one day, I got a really gnarly bloody nose and she helped me fix it. And I remember blowing my nose into a Kleenex that she was holding.
[00:02:41] Gabriel Mizrahi: Ooh.
[00:02:42] Jordan Harbinger: And out came this massive, like my stomach's turning, just even now talking about the massive disgusting—
[00:02:48] Gabriel Mizrahi: Oh no.
[00:02:48] Jordan Harbinger: —bloody booger clot or clot booger, whatever. And it was so gross to this day. I can just remember how nasty this thing was. She dry-heaved.
[00:02:59] Gabriel Mizrahi: Oh no.
[00:03:00] Jordan Harbinger: And it was awful.
[00:03:02] Gabriel Mizrahi: Oh no.
[00:03:02] Jordan Harbinger: I was so embarrassed. That's not the point of the story, though. The point of the story is eight years later, maybe even longer, I was working in a movie theater and she walked in. And I was like, damn, there's Michelle Bone and she's still gorgeous. You know, I'm tearing tickets and I said, "Hi, you probably don't remember me, but—" and before I could finish my sentence, she goes, "Yeah, I remember you. You had a bloody nose and you blew out a huge bloody booger right into my hand. It was so gross."
[00:03:28] Gabriel Mizrahi: Oh my God.
[00:03:29] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:03:30] Gabriel Mizrahi: One of the odds of her remembering.
[00:03:31] Jordan Harbinger: Well—
[00:03:31] Gabriel Mizrahi: It must have been terrible.
[00:03:32] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, it was pretty bad. So I just want everyone to know that you know, most people, they're not thinking about you. They don't remember any of the embarrassing stuff you did but sometimes that one super embarrassing thing you did that you figured everyone forgot is still just fresh in someone else's mind every time they see you, and they will never forget it. So fun times. Just want to confirm everybody's worst fears.
[00:03:54] Gabriel Mizrahi: That's your takeaway from the stories you're giving everybody nightmare fuel over the most embarrassing thing they've ever done after we've told everybody no one's thinking about them in these moments.
[00:04:03] Jordan Harbinger: Hey, no one's thinking about you except that one thing that no one will ever forget.
[00:04:08] Gabriel Mizrahi: Except for the worst thing.
[00:04:09] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. The worst thing, no one's ever going to forget that. But you're off the hook for all this minor stuff that you didn't even remember.
[00:04:15] Gabriel Mizrahi: Shout out to M Bone.
[00:04:17] Jordan Harbinger: M Bone. You know, I remember meeting her and she's like, "This is my husband, or whatever. We just got married," and I remember being like, "You lucky son of a bitch."
[00:04:24] Gabriel Mizrahi: You think she took his last name or—?
[00:04:26] Jordan Harbinger: You know when your last name is Bone, it's tempting to keep that. Or you hyphenate it and, oh, gosh—
[00:04:32] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah.
[00:04:32] Jordan Harbinger: Bone something.
[00:04:33] Gabriel Mizrahi: Like her name is like Michelle Bone Harder.
[00:04:37] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. That's when you don't hyphen or you have to hyphenate. I don't know. I'm on the fence.
[00:04:41] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah.
[00:04:41] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. Bone Harder.
[00:04:42] Oh gosh, that sounds, well—
[00:04:44] Gabriel Mizrahi: I think you should add her on Facebook. Michelle Bone is on Facebook. I promise you.
[00:04:48] Jordan Harbinger: You know what? I'm going on Instagram right now. You know what? We're going to pause the show. I'm going to do this right now. Hold on. There's so many Michelle Bones. Nope, there's two. God, there's so many. These are like Michelle, bad to the bone. I always wonder about people who are not on Instagram or Facebook. I'm like, did you die?
[00:05:11] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah. You never know, right?
[00:05:12] Jordan Harbinger: Oh, man. What happened? I don't know. That is definitely not. No, this looks like, nah. All right, anyways. We got some fun ones. We got some doozies. Can't wait to dive in. Gabe, what is the first thing out of the mailbag?
[00:05:24] Gabriel Mizrahi: Hi, Jordan and Gabe. I work in healthcare and some of the people I work alongside complain daily about their appearances, usually about how they need to lose weight. In the next breath though, they'll also make comments like, "And that's why I don't go to the gym." They'll eat a burrito for breakfast, french fries for lunch, and all the sugary snacks in between. These are educated people. We all have doctorate degrees, so it's not as if they don't know what kinds of foods are nutritious. It's especially irritating because we work with patients every day who have preventable diseases caused by neglecting healthy habits, but also they're complaining about a problem they are actively choosing to perpetuate. I want to have a positive relationship with these people since we spend so much time together, but I find this negative and hypocritical on multiple levels. I also don't want to be interpreted as fat, phobic, rude, or anti-social. Plus, I'm new to the organization, so I do need their help throughout the day. So how should I handle this? Signed, Schooling These Docs on How to Walk the Walk Without Getting Cold Cocked.
[00:06:29] Jordan Harbinger: Ooh, boy, do I feel your pain? This is a really hard thing to watch in other people, especially when you spend eight or 10 hours a day with them, and especially when they are literally complaining about their health, and especially, especially when you work in healthcare. So if I were you, yeah, I'd be silently screaming in my head too.
[00:06:47] So this is tricky. On the one hand, you don't want to be that person in the office who's like, "Yo, Kathy, put down the bunch of Crunch. Take a freaking walk, or you're going to be injecting yourself with insulin at 60 freaking three." On the other hand, if you don't say anything, you could be indirectly enabling their very real health problems. And it's a super interesting question. How much responsibility do you have for these people? Is it on you to give them a kick in the pants or is it on them, especially as doctors to take care of themselves?
[00:07:16] Gabriel Mizrahi: Right. And also if this is how they want to live their lives on some level, is that okay?
[00:07:22] Jordan Harbinger: Honestly, I don't really know the answer to that question. I really do see both sides, and maybe it comes down to personal values, what our friend here believes is more important.
[00:07:31] You know, this actually reminds me, my middle school health teacher and gym teacher, she was a super competent and very nice woman, but she was multiple hundreds of pounds overweight and—
[00:07:44] Gabriel Mizrahi: Wow.
[00:07:44] Jordan Harbinger: Every day she came in with a super Big Gulp soda. And she'd come back from lunch with another one. And I remember when we were swimming in the pool, some kid was like, "Where's the lifeguard?" And she's like, "I'm the lifeguard." And then somebody probably was a smart ass, was like, "Can you swim?" And she's like, "No, you're out of luck. I can't, so don't drown." Or something along those lines. And we were all kind of like, "Is she being funny?" But like we were like, I don't know if she can actually do that because she could barely walk, literally again. Very nice, very competent woman. But we were like, "What the actual hell is going on here? She's our gym teacher, she's our health teacher.
[00:08:17] Gabriel Mizrahi: That does not sit well with me. You know, I'm sure these people are both ignorant and maybe dealing with some stuff through food or whatever, but like you got to honor your profession a little bit.
[00:08:27] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:08:28] Gabriel Mizrahi: Right? It's like a cop who commits crimes. Like you're a police officer, you're not supposed to break the law. You're a health teacher, you're a gym teacher, you're a doctor, you're not supposed to treat your body poorly.
[00:08:38] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:08:38] Gabriel Mizrahi: You know what's funny? Okay, so here's another story. I knew this guy years ago, he was a personal trainer and when this guy was out in public and he would see families like eating terrible fast food at like the food court at the mall or whatever, he would go up to the parents and he would say, "Look, I'm really sorry to be that guy, but I'm just going to tell you what you're doing to your kids is not okay. Like this is low-key child abuse, what you're doing. You want to stick around. You want your kids to have better lives. I'm just going to tell you, you got to stop eating this stuff."
[00:09:08] Jordan Harbinger: Wow. Are you serious?
[00:09:10] Gabriel Mizrahi: He would actually do that.
[00:09:12] Jordan Harbinger: That's wild.
[00:09:13] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah.
[00:09:13] Jordan Harbinger: The balls.
[00:09:14] Gabriel Mizrahi: I know he just couldn't sit there and drink his protein shake or whatever while these parents gave their eight-year-old high cholesterol. And when I heard that, I cringed kind of like you did. I was like, "How could you actually say that?" And he said, "They need to hear it. They're hurting their kids. This is not okay." Which again, is that really his place? You could argue. No, not at all. You are nobody to these people. But if they go home that night and reconsider some things, was it maybe worth it? Ah, it's possible.
[00:09:44] Jordan Harbinger: I mean, it's a fair point maybe, but man, that takes real stones and it definitely feels a little over steppy.
[00:09:52] Gabriel Mizrahi: It is very over steppy because who is he to them again?
[00:09:54] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. Nobody.
[00:09:54] Gabriel Mizrahi: But this woman who writing in, she works with these people. They have a real relationship, right?
[00:09:59] Jordan Harbinger: I see.
[00:09:59] Gabriel Mizrahi: Maybe the answer is how much do you care for these people? Is there a friendship here that's deeper than your work and does that imply some kind of obligation to tell them the truth?
[00:10:09] Jordan Harbinger: I think that's right. The relationship determines whether she's obligated to speak up at all.
[00:10:14] Gabriel Mizrahi: And also how receptive they are to her help.
[00:10:16] Jordan Harbinger: Right. Okay. So here's my idea. If you ever find yourself in conversation with one of your colleagues and they're like, "Uh, I feel gross. I'm tired. I just had to buy new pants again. But also, did you see there's a new season of Love Island out? That's why I don't go to the gym," then, that might be a great moment to speak up. And maybe you just say something like, "Listen, Kathy, I want to share something with you. And I really don't mean to overstep or sound like a know-it-all. I say this with nothing but love. I hear you talk about your weight quite a bit, and I hear you talk about feeling off, feeling tired. And I can't help but notice that, yeah, you're not putting the best stuff in your body. I mean, you're a doctor, you know that. And as your colleague, who frankly I really enjoy working with, I got to say I'm a little worried about you and I feel like I wouldn't be a good friend if I didn't say that you need to look at your lifestyle and take a little better care of yourself. And hey, if you don't want to do that, that's your choice, of course. But when I hear you complain, what I'm really hearing you say is, I can do better. So that's what I'm saying to you. I want you to do better. I know you can. And if you ever want to talk about how to do that, I'm here. If you say something like that, kindly, respectfully from a place of genuine concern, it'll be really hard for somebody to just turn around and call you rude or fat-phobic. And look, if they do, then it's because you hit a nerve and they're defending or they're projecting and that's just not on you. That's on them. because ultimately this is not about appearance at all. Appearance is a byproduct of lifestyle in this case. This is about pouring sucrose down your freaking gullet and clogging your veins with saturated fat. This is about living up to the standards of your profession. Going back to what you said earlier, Gabe, nobody reasonable can argue with that. Not for long.
[00:12:02] Gabriel Mizrahi: Absolutely. I love that approach. I also like the idea of doing this one-on-one like that instead of as a group.
[00:12:06] Jordan Harbinger: Yes.
[00:12:06] Gabriel Mizrahi: Because then it's more personal. Right? And then the other person probably won't feel as attacked or as embarrassed because even if she delivers this perfectly flawlessly, it is a sensitive conversation. And also maybe she feels more connected to Kathy and one or two other people at the office than she does with all of the others, and maybe Kathy's the one who especially deserves her help.
[00:12:26] Jordan Harbinger: Exactly. I'm just picturing her giving all her colleagues a lecture at once in the break room when she hears them complain about the elliptical for the 38th time and that is just not going to work.
[00:12:36] Gabriel Mizrahi: Nope, not going to work. Also, if she gets through to Kathy and Kathy does start taking better care of herself, their colleagues will probably notice that. And hey, that might inspire them to turn the ship around too. It could be even more effective than trying to give them all a lecture as a big group.
[00:12:50] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, that's a good point. Kathy could be the model for all of them to get better and our friend here won't even have to do very much. All that said, I would be prepared for some of your colleagues to not want to get better at all which again, super hard to watch, and then it's on you to learn how to let this go, release your frustration, your very justifiable frustration, and make peace with the fact that some people just can't or won't take care of themselves, which is really sad. But these people, they have to decide to take better care of themselves. They're lucky to have a colleague who even cares at all or cares this much, and I hope they can hear you. Good luck.
[00:13:30] You know what you will want to shove down your gullet? The crazy deals from the sponsors who support this show. We'll be right back.
[00:13:40] This episode is sponsored in part by Better Help. If you're going through a tough time, you're not alone. I've been there. We've all been there. Therapy is one of the best things you can do for yourself, and Better Help is a great way to dip your toes into the water of therapy without sort of over-committing. I never like the whole sitting on the couch thing. I love that Better Help's platform allows you to do chat, video, phone sessions. I personally have an easier time opening up when I'm in the comfort of my own home. I'm talking on the phone. I don't want to be in front of somebody. Maybe that's new when I'm talking about something like this. Therapy is vulnerable work. The faster you can get vulnerable and go deeper, the better off you're going to be. And Better Help doesn't feel intimidating at all because of the platform. Better Help will match you with a therapist tailored to your needs, but they also understand you're not going to mesh with everybody. You can easily switch therapists whenever you want. Just let better help support know. You don't even need to notify the therapist if you don't feel comfortable, which is great and it's something something avoidant personality types. Check out Better Help's 94,000-plus reviews on the iPhone app if you're still skeptical. And if you're on the fence, take this as a sign from Gaia to try it out.
[00:14:40] Jen Harbinger: If you want to live a more empowered life, therapy can get you there. Visit betterhelp.com/jordan to get 10 percent off your first month. That's better-H-E-L-P.com/.
[00:14:51] Jordan Harbinger: This episode is also sponsored by Shopify. Hear that? It's every entrepreneur's favorite sound. Another sale on Shopify. Shopify is the commerce platform revolutionizing millions of businesses worldwide, whether you're selling towels or t-shirts, scrunchies or munchies. Shopify simplifies selling online and in-person so you can focus on successfully growing your business. Shopify covers every sales channel from an in-person POS system to an all-in-one e-commerce platform. It even lets you sell across social media marketplaces like TikTok, Facebook, Instagram. Packed with industry-leading tools ready to ignite your growth, Shopify gives you complete control over your business and your brand without having to learn any new skills and design or code. And thanks to 24/7 help and an extensive business course library, Shopify is there to support your success every step of the way. What's incredible to me about Shopify is no matter how big you want to grow, Shopify is there to empower you with the confidence and control to revolutionize your business. Now, it's your turn to get serious about selling, and trust Shopify today. This is possibility powered by Shopify.
[00:15:49] Thank you for listening and supporting the show. Your support of our advertisers is what keeps the lights on. All of the deals, discount codes, and ways to support the show, they're all in one place, jordanharbinger.com/deals. Or use the AI chatbot on the website to get any promo code from anywhere on the show. So consider supporting those who support us.
[00:16:07] Now back to Feedback Friday.
[00:16:10] Okay, what's next?
[00:16:12] Gabriel Mizrahi: Hi, Jordan and Gabe. I'm an officer in the US military and this past year I fell in love hard with another officer. We had two and a half months of sheer bliss and said, I love you after only a month. After every date, she texted me paragraphs of poetry about how we would be in love forever. She told me that she never felt so strongly about anyone. That before me, she never liked to be touched, and that I had changed her into a warmer, more loving person. Then, we both got orders to move across the country to the same place. Just before we left in a charged conversation, she told me that she wanted me to perform a certain sexual act on her. I loved her, so I said yes, but I expressed that I didn't consider myself very good at it, and I asked her to be patient with me. She implied that she was okay with my answer, and then we went on our separate road trips. What she didn't tell me for nearly a month was that not only was she not cool with my answer, she took it as absolute rejection and chose to stew on it until her resentment grew. Separately, we had a miscommunication over text about something incredibly trivial during our time apart. I was dismissive, but I immediately and profusely apologized. After waiting a full day for a response, which sent me into a full-blown panic, she replied that it was fine, but that she had some thoughts about it, but wouldn't say anything more. When we finally reunited, we were passive-aggressive, snippy, and sometimes downright mean to each other. Even when we got along, things just weren't the same as before. Finally, over Christmas, as we were joking around, I made a reference to the scene in the movie Deliverance where a man is sexually assaulted by a hillbilly. While I knew that she had been sexually assaulted in her past, and my joke was in poor taste, she had never shown any indication that she was able to be triggered by anything or that she had PTSD in general. She has a very macho feminine, I am strong personality, which I respect.
[00:18:07] Jordan Harbinger: Ooh, okay. I am trying really hard not to play my favorite deliverance sound bite.
[00:18:11] Gabriel Mizrahi: I knew it. I knew you were thinking that—
[00:18:14] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. It's not—
[00:18:15] Gabriel Mizrahi: —as soon as the Deliverance—
[00:18:15] Jordan Harbinger: It's not appropriate here whatsoever, but—
[00:18:18] Gabriel Mizrahi: I know it's not.
[00:18:18] Jordan Harbinger: —continue.
[00:18:20] Gabriel Mizrahi: Just everybody, play that in your mind.
[00:18:21] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:18:21] Gabriel Mizrahi: And if you can bear it, go watch that movie.
[00:18:23] Jordan Harbinger: I mean, we do have it.
[00:18:25] Gabriel Mizrahi: No.
[00:18:26] Jordan Harbinger: No.
[00:18:27] Gabriel Mizrahi: No. I think not.
[00:18:28] Jordan Harbinger: Maybe not. Maybe not.
[00:18:29] Gabriel Mizrahi: I think that's not.
[00:18:30] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, that's not.
[00:18:32] Gabriel Mizrahi: I apologized and we talked about our issues, but she said being reminded of her trauma sent her to a dark place. She ghosted me for a week, then suggested we go on a break for a year so she could work on herself. After three painful weeks, I couldn't take it anymore. I told her I needed to know that day if she wanted to be together. She didn't even have to think about it. She said she had to choose herself. In fact, she sounded annoyed that I had the nerve to make her communicate with me. To say that I was absolutely devastated would be an understatement. I've cried almost every day for the past two months. I respect her choice, but my heart is broken. I've been seeing an awesome therapist who has been helping me work through the grief. I've come to realize that this girl I thought was perfect, was actually very toxic and cruel, and I'm lucky things ended before I got in too deep. The problem is I now have to work with her for the next three years. We mostly ignore each other, but seeing her is awful and I now feel a powerful hatred for her. She's also a charming, attractive person who knows how to make people like her. So my peers all think she's an angel, which is beyond infuriating. I'm doing better now and I no longer want to get back together, but the pain of losing the person I thought she was is still very hard. How do I deal with the stress and anxiety that I might bump into this person every time I go to work? How do I move on? How do I avoid developing trust issues in my next relationship? And how can I identify and avoid people like her in the future? Signed, Private Heartbreak, Recovering from this Earthquake and Avoiding Another Mistake.
[00:20:06] Jordan Harbinger: Ooh, okay. Quite a whirlwind of a relationship. There's a lot going on here, and we could talk for hours about every nook and cranny of this. It sounds like there's drama addiction on the part of this woman, and she's got trauma and all this stuff. Since we only have a few minutes, I'm going to dive right in.
[00:20:22] First off, I'm really sorry this happened to you. This relationship was obviously very stressful, very painful. You're still working through it. So again, I'm sorry, but your ex, man, wow, I just don't quite know what to make of her. There are a lot of interesting signals in your letter that we don't even have time to get to all of them, but the one that stands out the most is this push-pull thing that happened between you — the falling in love really quickly, the "I'm going to send you" poetry, telling you "how crazy I am about you" thing, the rapid intimacy followed by the poor communication, the emotional distancing, the unpredictable emotions, and finally the year-long break, which is just a breakup at this point. And hold the phone. Gabe, we got to talk about the bed stuff for a hot minute.
[00:21:06] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah.
[00:21:06] Jordan Harbinger: I mean, it's very interesting.
[00:21:07] Gabriel Mizrahi: Sure.
[00:21:08] Jordan Harbinger: She asks him to do this sort of edgy thing that he wasn't entirely comfortable with, which is perfectly fine. Nothing wrong with that. Probably trying to get him to prove his love or something like, oh, the extra mile. But then, she interpreted his hesitation as rejection and then she couldn't or wouldn't talk to him about that at all, seemingly. And then, it turns out she has this very significant trauma in her past, which by the way, very common to hear from women in the military. Far too common, which is just incredibly tragic. And I've read books about women in the military and the amount of assault where it's like, you're just supposed to accept that you're going to get, whatever, the whole thing, but it's just a dangerous place for women. And then, he triggers her with this dumb joke and it's like, okay, there's something very clearly, complicated going on here.
[00:21:57] Gabriel Mizrahi: Very complicated. It's impossible to know exactly what is going on with her. And I don't want to speculate too much, but it sounds to me like she's wrestling with some pretty intense shame—
[00:22:06] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:22:06] Gabriel Mizrahi: —which is heartbreaking to your point, given how it might have slash probably did develop. And she's encountering that shame at every turn it sounds like, especially in the bedroom. But yeah, that is her stuff. He triggered it, yes, sometimes in totally innocent ways, sometimes in perhaps more overt ways. But that doesn't mean it was his fault. He was definitely a little tone-deaf with that deliverance joke, but based on what he shared, it really does sound like his ex was kind of a minefield of triggers and that is so hard to navigate in a relationship.
[00:22:37] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. Gabe, am I the only one, and I know this is just going to sound like I'm a perv here and that's not where I'm going with this, but am I the only one who's dying to know what she wanted in bed? Is that weird? I mean, it can only be a small handful of things.
[00:22:50] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah.
[00:22:51] Jordan Harbinger: It's like the jokey side of me wants to be like, ooh, what was it? Was it bondage? I mean, those knots are really hard. I'd struggle with those two. And I'm an Eagle Scout, but—
[00:22:59] Gabriel Mizrahi: I mean—
[00:23:00] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:23:01] Gabriel Mizrahi: —I'm guessing that you're in the vicinity with that one.
[00:23:03] Jordan Harbinger: I'm struggling to say this on the show just because I know it's going to get misinterpreted and we're going to get emails about it, but there's a part of me that's like, okay, she was sexually assaulted. We know that trauma survivors often want to reenact what their trauma was. And so was she like, I want this really sort of violent sexual encounter. And he's like, "Wow, I don't really know how to do that."
[00:23:23] Gabriel Mizrahi: It could be.
[00:23:24] Jordan Harbinger: That's my guess. And it's all super tricky. The healthy response to these conflicts is to stop and go, "I'm feeling really triggered by what you just said. I'm feeling really gross. I'm feeling angry, I'm feeling scared. Whatever it is, can we talk about it?"
[00:23:38] Gabriel Mizrahi: Which he would've gladly done right? But that's clearly hard for her. And if you're in pain and you have unresolved trauma, it can be extremely difficult, very daunting to do that.
[00:23:48] Jordan Harbinger: For sure. All that to say, I do feel for her, despite how she's acted. And yes, your ex might be very toxic and cruel, but you don't become toxic and cruel if you're not in pain. And her charming persona, that gift she has for winning people over, I wouldn't be surprised if that's partly a response to the things she's gone through in her life. And it might even speak to some personality issues on her part, let's just put it that way. So you're right, you dodged a huge bullet here. Your ex didn't treat you very well, and it's true that she deserves some empathy. So, alright, how do you move on?
[00:24:25] Well, you're doing it, man. It's a process. It's only been a couple of months since the breakup. It might take a couple more before you get your bearings again fully, but more importantly, you bringing all this into therapy. I think that's really the best thing that you could be doing. Sure, moving on is nice, but you can only do that by moving through an insert joke about me being, you know, like a sensei zen monk here. And you have to do that. If you want to learn from this relationship and avoid these mistakes in the future, I think maybe take a little pressure off yourself to move on in a certain timeline. All you need to do is sit with these feelings, keep unpacking them, keep resolving what they brought up, and one day soon you're going to go, "Okay. Wow. That threw me for a loop. I'm a little raw about it, but okay. I'm mostly over it. I had to go through that to get here."
[00:25:13] As for the anxiety you feel about bumping into her again, that feeling will ratchet down more and more as time goes by. But it's possible you'll always feel some type of way when you see her. She did a number on you and it's hard to watch her win people over. You know more about her than they do. I just, it's got to be hard. But you know, the overwhelming feeling I get from your letter is anger. You're angry. It makes sense, and you're in touch with the anger, which I think is healthy. And the more you can explore the anger in therapy, where it comes from, why she activated it the way she did, the more it'll start to ease up. And over time, it'll evolve into other things, sadness, maybe, or compassion for both of you.
[00:25:53] In the meantime, you need to develop a little practice. When you run into her almost a form of like meditation, you bump into her, your heart pounds a little faster, your nostrils flare a little bit. You get kind of hot behind the ears, whatever it is, just notice that response. Feel it in your body. Notice how it conjures up the whole narrative of your relationship in your head and that sense of being aggrieved. And just let those thoughts and feelings be, don't act on them. Don't indulge them. Just let them be and notice how you settle back down. And remember that these mental, emotional patterns, they're real and they're worth exploring, but they don't have to run your life.
[00:26:33] Gabriel Mizrahi: Uh, well said, Jordan could not agree more. As for avoiding trust issues in your next relationship, well, look, you're much better equipped now to choose a partner who doesn't exhibit some of these red flags. And if you ever did get to a point in a new relationship where, yeah, some of that distrust crept in again, or you didn't really know where you stood with the other person, you now know that you can stop and say, "Hey, I'm feeling a little distant from you right now. I'm not sure how you're feeling. Maybe this is mild relationship stuff creeping up, or maybe there really is something going on, but look, either way, I would really love to talk about it with you." Just being willing to say that to a partner that can transform a whole relationship because we're not just talking about your ex anymore. I mean, yes, she was definitely avoidant. She let things fester, but you also let her, let them fester. You avoided them in your own way. And again, this is always a dynamic, right?
[00:27:25] So when you talk about avoiding trust issues, you're not just talking about trusting the other person. I think you're also talking about trusting yourself, trusting yourself to speak up when something bothers you, or to honor a feeling you have that something isn't quite right. Or to have the conviction that yes, you deserve somebody who's willing to talk to you fairly and to talk to you honestly. All of that can change the dynamic with a new person instantly.
[00:27:49] Jordan Harbinger: Great point, Gabe. He gets to control all of that, which is yet another gift—
[00:27:53] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yes.
[00:27:53] Jordan Harbinger: —that he got from this tough relationship.
[00:27:55] Gabriel Mizrahi: Right, exactly. And as for identifying people like her in the future, well, I think you already know how to spot a few important signs, things like moving extremely quickly. Although look, that's not necessarily a bad thing by any means. But if it's coupled with some of these other signals, like getting really caught up in the relationship and then pulling away very hard, it could be that could be a red flag. Other signs to look for things like going in and out of touch, not feeling consistently connected to the other person. That's also a very important signal.
[00:28:23] But maybe the most important signal given your story is how you feel in the relationship. If you feel a little unsteady, a little like unmoored, if you feel super connected to the other person and then kind of cast out, if you feel like a new partner has gotten under your skin in a way that you can't quite put your finger on, and I don't mean like in a fun way, they get under your skin, like they rile you up and it's not pleasant, and all of a sudden you're holding all of these feelings that you're not even sure are really your feelings. Those are all super important signals, and I'm not saying that you should run from that person immediately, but I would definitely try to talk about that stuff with your partner and see if they would be willing to dig into that with you.
[00:29:04] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, I'm glad you said that, Gabe, because a lot of times people look for red flags in someone else, but oftentimes, the first sign that something's off is that you feel kind of weird and you don't know why.
[00:29:15] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yes.
[00:29:16] Jordan Harbinger: And that's actually really important data. Again, I'm really sorry this happened to you, but in another way, I'm not sorry this happened because this relationship actually taught you a lot about yourself, about how you operate in relationships, about what to look for and a partner, and the fact that you're working with a therapist exploring these great questions. That tells me that you're willing to learn and grow from this, which is ultimately all you can do. And I would argue the reason this woman had to enter your life. So hang in there, be patient with yourself and know that this situation will get better. Or if it doesn't, that you'll only have to deal with it for, I don't know what, three more years. And I know that seems like an eternity, but it might fly by especially if you're using that time to really work on yourself. And when you find a new partner, this is all going to start to feel like ancient history. So wishing you the best. Stay safe in the military and when you run into your ex. Hard to say, which is scarier at this point and good luck.
[00:30:16] You can reach us email@example.com. Keep your emails concise. Use the descriptive subject line 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 you're wrestling with your sexuality and you still miss the young lover who mistreated you? Whatever has got you staying up at night lately, hit us up firstname.lastname@example.org. We're here to help and we keep every email anonymous.
[00:30:41] Okay, next.
[00:30:43] Gabriel Mizrahi: Dear Jordan and Gabe, I'm a single childless 27-year-old woman, and I've noticed that a lot of my female friends' husbands don't carry their weight when it comes to parenting. For example, my best friend recently said that if she were to die tomorrow, her husband would have no idea how to care for their six-month-old. Soon after, he was alone with their baby for the first time, and sure enough, he called her at work in an angry panic because he didn't know where they kept the bottles. He also once complained to her about the number of bottles in the sink needing to be cleaned. When she asked him how many he'd washed since their baby was born, he said, "Uh, none." When we go on a girl's trip for more than one night, my friend's mother-in-law will go to her house to stay with her husband to help him take care of their kids for a few days. I found out from other friends that this isn't that uncommon. Some of my friends will even fly their mom or mother-in-law in from another city because their husband can't handle it. My best friend's husband suggested that they have another baby, but he barely helps take care of the one they have. I've always pictured myself having a family someday, but I don't want to be in this situation. What advice would you give someone whose partner has this mindset? How can I make sure that my future partner understands the importance of sharing parenting responsibilities equally? Signed, Refusing to Find Myself Bitching About a Husband Who Won't Pitch In.
[00:32:01] Jordan Harbinger: Interesting. Well, look, the reality is a lot of the primary parenting in most families traditionally falls to women, at least in conventional relationships. And yes, that means a lot of fathers out there, they don't know how to do basic things. They don't know how to feed a baby. They don't know how to change a diaper because it's just not their domain/they've decided that they don't want it to be their domain, which honestly, I agree. It's a little sad because they're missing out on that experience too. And I change diapers every day. I get bottles ready every day. It's so easy, by the way, to do that stuff. And it makes you feel more connected to the babies. But my dad, he never changed a diaper in his life and he brags about it. It's like, okay, but I'm not sure that's a bragging point that you've never actually had to clean up baby poop. I think it's kind of the opposite. It's a little sad.
[00:32:50] So is this a little unfair? Yeah, a little. I can definitely appreciate why a mom might be annoyed like, "Hey dude, I birthed this baby. They're attached to my body virtually every second of the day. You can't find a freaking bottle. You can't do a couple of dishes, man." I get it. I really think it's a little pathetic, and I think it also really depends on the expectations of the parents involved. If dad is working 70 hours a week in some office and he's the primary breadwinner, and mom agreed to stay home and be with the baby, and they've both openly discussed that and they're comfortable with that arrangement, then maybe that's fine. It's between them.
[00:33:30] I also still kind of think that expectations can change once babies are born and you can't be like, "Well, you said before," and it's like, "Well, it's way harder than I thought. Well, tough kishka, you still have to do this," and you can still find a freaking bottle and change a diaper here and there, right? When you get home, you can't be like, "Oh, you agreed I'd never have to touch diapers." Man, it's ridiculous. But what I actually find the most meaningful here is that you feel annoyed on their behalf. And I think what you're really saying is that you don't want to be in a marriage like this, and fair enough, those are your values, and I largely agree with them, I guess.
[00:34:07] So if you're wanting to make sure your future partner shares parenting responsibilities, then the answer is to talk to them about it. And make sure you guys are on the same page in advance and tell them why it's important to you that they pitch in, that they know how to take care of a baby. Get clear on what you guys can reasonably expect of each other. And maybe you even talk about some of your married friends, what you've noticed in their relationships, how you each feel about the way they co-parent or don't co-parent. And I think you'll know from their response whether they share that value too. It's really as simple as that. And yes, that's a crucial conversation to have in advance, rather than waiting until you have a baby and then fighting about how unequal the responsibilities are when your newborn is screaming at 3:30 in the morning.
[00:34:52] As for advising your friends about this, again, I can't quite tell from your letter whether they're actually angry about this too. Maybe they're fine with this arrangement or they find it mildly irritating. The answer is obviously for them to talk to their partners and help them get up to speed on this stuff. I mean, if your friends want their husbands to do more on their own, then the only way is to tell them why this matters. Teach them how to feed a baby, change a diaper, run the dishwasher, whatever it is that they're not doing. But again, your reaction to your friend's stories, I really do think that's revealing something about you.
[00:35:25] So more than anything, I would focus on that information and use it to guide your own conversations and decisions with future partners. There are definitely men out there who will be pumped to be involved and you know, maybe this is helping you realize that you want to find one of them, which is great. So good luck.
[00:35:44] And Gabe, you know what makes for a great gift for your mother-in-law when she flies out to pick up the slack because your useless husband can't do it?
[00:35:50] Gabriel Mizrahi: Products and services that support the show.
[00:35:52] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, you got it. The products and services that support this show. We'll be right back.
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[00:37:39] And now back to Feedback Friday.
[00:37:43] Okay, next up.
[00:37:44] Gabriel Mizrahi: Dear Jordan and Gabe, over the past couple of years, my partner of over a decade has slowly distanced herself from me. We used to do everything together, cook, eat, sleep, watch TV, go on excursions, and now we don't do any activities together. A few months ago, she bought a second bed and now sleeps in another room. We haven't had sex in over a year. When we first started dating, I was very depressed and I was messaging other women in inappropriate ways. What I did was not okay, and I've never done or thought about doing anything like that again. Almost a decade later, she still throws this back at me in every argument. Even when I think things are going smoothly, I can feel her hatred and she will say the most hurtful things to me. We're seeing a therapist, and even in therapy, I'm afraid to speak. If I do, she'll talk over me or refute what I say. About six or seven years ago, she told me that she didn't think things were going to work out between us because she was in love with her manager at work. A woman she believed was her soulmate. I was very hurt and felt betrayed, but the whole thing seemed to blow over after a while. I forgave her and never held that against her, and we never really talked about it again. I mentioned this event recently when she brought up my own faithfulness again, and she said that what she said and how she felt was not infidelity and that I'm delusional if I think that it was wrong. Now, more recently, she's made another new friend. She spends almost all of her time texting this girl first thing in the morning and usually late into the night. She's very secretive about their relationship, but I've heard her refer to this woman's parents as mom and dad and have overheard her say, "I love you too," while talking on the phone. I once asked her what was going on with this girl, and she blew up at me calling me delusional and jealous. I feel bad for invading her privacy. But a few days ago I quickly looked at her phone and saw that they frequently send each other hearts, say, "I love you," and referred to each other as "my love." They also talked about how I'm a problem. Am I really delusional for thinking that they're more than just good? Is the way I feel about this relationship just feelings and not actually the reality of the situation? Signed, Reeling, Concealing, and Not Really Dealing with the Fact that I've Got Some Feelings About My Gal's Secret Dealings.
[00:39:58] Jordan Harbinger: Wow. Okay. This is just brutal. A tale of two girlfriends today. What a smorgasbord of WTF. There's a lot going on here, man.
[00:40:08] Gabriel Mizrahi: Seriously. And also a lot not going on here.
[00:40:11] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. Tell me about it. Okay. In so many of these stories, I find myself thinking it's the things you don't say that kill you, but we'll get to that in a second.
[00:40:19] Gabriel Mizrahi: Right.
[00:40:19] Jordan Harbinger: So you don't need us to tell you this, but this relationship is deeply problematic. Your partner, who certainly does not seem to necessarily want to date men, but whatever has distanced herself from you in several ways. You don't spend meaningful time together. You're not physically intimate. You don't really talk. You don't even sleep in the same room. She fricking fell in love with her manager at work three or four years into your decade-long relationship. She might be doing that again now with this new woman, certainly sounds like it. And overall, it sounds like you guys are harboring some very negative feelings about each other. Your communication is charged. It's largely broken down. And even though you're sort of working on things in therapy, which I applaud, it doesn't sound like you're even getting much out of it. So this is a cluster, it's not what a loving, healthy, supportive relationship looks like. It's just it's not.
[00:41:11] So are you delusional for thinking that your partner and this new woman are more than just friends? Honestly, I don't know. Look, you saw the texts. You're certainly not crazy to wonder, especially given her history. There's an obvious pattern here, and you certainly deserve to understand what role this new person plays in your partner's life that is not unreasonable. So, Gabe, I'm just going to come out and say it clearly. His girlfriend is gay or bi or something, right?
[00:41:36] Gabriel Mizrahi: I'm assuming yes.
[00:41:37] Jordan Harbinger: But does she know that and she's hiding it, or is she out and he knows this about her? Or is she just totally in denial and she's like, "Oh, okay, yeah, we're just friends except for I'm gay, obviously."
[00:41:49] Gabriel Mizrahi: Unclear. Are you thinking that that might be part of the reason she's being so secretive?
[00:41:53] Jordan Harbinger: I mean, it did occur to me it's possible that she's cheating on him with women, even if it's just emotional cheating. But she's using the same-sex thing to justify infidelity, which to me is really obvious. You know, like, 'Hey, I'm not actually cheating on you. She's a woman. Even though I send her hearts and call her parents mom and dad."
[00:42:09] Gabriel Mizrahi: Right.
[00:42:09] Jordan Harbinger: "And I'm in love with her," it's just, it's kind of ridiculous to me.
[00:42:13] Gabriel Mizrahi: Could be, or she's still coming to terms with her orientation. And these relationships with these women are just a way for her to gently, casually explore that.
[00:42:22] Jordan Harbinger: Sure. Either way, whatever's going on with this latest woman in the pattern—
[00:42:26] Gabriel Mizrahi: Doesn't sound good.
[00:42:27] Jordan Harbinger: No.
[00:42:27] Gabriel Mizrahi: Not good.
[00:42:28] Jordan Harbinger: No. They text all the time late into the night. They refer to each other as "my love." When you try to talk to her about it, she turns around and projects all over you and gaslights you about all this. They consider you a freaking problem. Yeah.
[00:42:41] Gabriel Mizrahi: Oh, that was the worst part.
[00:42:42] Jordan Harbinger: Oh, so brutal. I mean, it's just, imagine if two guys were doing even 10 percent of this, it would be so obvious that they're gay to me.
[00:42:49] Gabriel Mizrahi: Right.
[00:42:49] Jordan Harbinger: And it's really sad and hurtful even if they aren't romantic, full stop. So the feelings you're having now, maybe they accurately reflect the reality of the situation. Maybe they don't, but that doesn't mean your feelings are irrelevant. They're coming from somewhere. They're legitimate and they're trying to tell you something about this relationship.
[00:43:10] Gabriel Mizrahi: Absolutely. And the notion that his feelings are only valid if his partner really is having an affair. That's important too. I'm kind of getting the sense that it's hard for him to fully own his—
[00:43:20] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:43:20] Gabriel Mizrahi: —experience. You know, "I'm feeling this way, I'm thinking these things. Is that legitimate? I don't know. Should I say something?" He can't do that unless she is doing something objectively terrible, which by the way, that might be part of the reason that he has stuck around for so long.
[00:43:34] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, a hundred percent. So from where I am, It doesn't matter whether your partner is actually having an affair with this woman.
[00:43:41] Gabriel Mizrahi: No.
[00:43:41] Jordan Harbinger: That's a huge issue, of course, but it's just one aspect of a much deeper problem.
[00:43:46] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yes.
[00:43:46] Jordan Harbinger: That problem being your partner doesn't seem to care about you very much, to put it bluntly. I mean, she's not taking your feeling seriously. She's not being kind to you. She's being deceitful. She's being manipulative, and she's being hurtful. My question is, why are you still in this relationship, dude? That's a question you have to answer for yourself, but I think you're already onto the answer here. And as you can tell, I definitely think it's time to leave. You have way more than enough information to know that this partnership, if you can even call it that at all, is not working. Not only is it not working, but it's actively harming you and holding you back from a healthier life, a stronger sense of self. And I just have to say that unequivocally, you got to get out.
[00:44:30] Gabriel Mizrahi: Getting out is clearly the answer, but the thing he really needs to understand to your point is why did he do this for the better part of a decade. Because obviously, it takes two to tango.
[00:44:40] Jordan Harbinger: Right. Or to not tango as the case may be.
[00:44:42] Gabriel Mizrahi: You know what, Jordan? There's some fascinating parallels with the couple in question two, right? Those two were also avoiding some difficult conversations, but this couple. Never really talked about that manager she fell in love with it just kind of as he put it, blew over. He says he forgave her then you never held that against her.
[00:44:58] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. Which by the way, if you don't even talk about it, can you even really forgive someone?
[00:45:04] Gabriel Mizrahi: Well, right. Are you really not holding that against her? Or is there a part of you that feels that that never really got resolved and there's some resentment still buried deep down?
[00:45:13] Jordan Harbinger: There's got to be. I mean, he brought it up with her.
[00:45:16] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah, he brought it up again after saying that he was totally over and threw it back. Like, "Hey, remember when you fell in love with that woman? What about that?" And even when things are going relatively smoothly, there's this non-verbal aggression between them. Just this unspoken rage, which is just so uncomfortable. And even in therapy, he's afraid to speak because she's just going to talk over him or refute what he says.
[00:45:35] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, that makes me wonder if their therapist is even up to snuff at all. I mean, that's a fascinating dynamic to bring into couple's therapy. It's potentially very useful, but if she's just dominating him in every session and he can't even express himself, it's like, hello, is this therapist even really helping? Are they onto this?
[00:45:50] Gabriel Mizrahi: Who knows what's happening in there? But you're right. If he can't even speak either because the therapist isn't making space for him when she railroads him, or because he's censoring himself, then I agree. I don't know how helpful the therapy is going to be. So that is what he needs to work on, this avoidance piece, because again, that's the main way that he has co-created this dynamic. And I'm sure that quality shows up in other parts of his life, and it'll definitely reappear in other relationships after this if he does not work on it now.
[00:46:19] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. Amen. Gabe. So you know what you got to do, but it's time to get curious about your side of the street here. That's just as important as why your girlfriend is carrying on with other people and treating you so poorly. Ugh, my heart just hurts reading this letter, man, you deserve better. More importantly, you deserve an opportunity to get some distance from this mess and just be on your own so you can work on yourself. And as for your girlfriend, she needs to work on herself, but that's her business. I would just focus on your business and I'm wishing you the best, man. Good luck and get out of there, man. Just get out.
[00:46:53] All right, next up.
[00:46:55] Gabriel Mizrahi: Hi, Jordan and Gabe. I recently realized just how much energy I spend being somebody. I want the world to see me as. I've always suffered from social anxiety and self-consciousness, but I've picked up strategies along the way to become a fairly successful and likable person. I try to show people warmth even when I'm uncomfortable, and I've been told that I come across as confident and laidback when I'm not. I'm also a people pleaser, prone to being a pushover and not completely honest when it comes to my thoughts and feelings. I find socializing exhausting, except when I'm with people I am extremely close to and I don't have to think about or prepare for our exchanges. Even seeing good friends leaves me needing to recover from the effort. I want to be seen as friendly, interesting, interested, open-minded, cool, and kind. But I have some pretty unappealing personality traits and no amount of acting is ever going to change them. I now feel an underlying anxiety around people realizing what I'm truly like, and I'm not so sure that I want to continue carrying that burden. I see people who are unapologetically themselves and where once I would've pitied them for not having more self-awareness, now I envy them. I've considered dropping the act as a sort of social experiment and seeing what happens if I only act and speak 100 percent authentically, but I'm afraid of the repercussions, and that isn't exactly easy to do. How do you relearn how to be yourself? Should I strive to be 100 percent authentic? Or do we need a limit to our authenticity if we're going to have any hope of people wanting to be around us? And what is that line? Signed, Dropping this Crutch Without Losing my Touch and Being Too Much.
[00:48:38] Jordan Harbinger: Ooh. Okay. Such a good question. What you're describing, it's something everyone listening right now deals with to some degree, including me, including Gabe, I'm sure.
[00:48:47] Gabriel Mizrahi: Absolutely.
[00:48:47] Jordan Harbinger: And it happens to be one of my favorite topics. So let's dig into it. First of all, this point you're at now where you see this anxiety and self-consciousness, clearly, where you're fed up with the mask you've put on for years, that is actually a great place to be. That is the first step towards relearning to be yourself. So well done there. At the same time, let's just take a moment to appreciate that this persona you've developed. Yes, it's a burden, but it served an important function for you up until now. So when you said you show people warmth, even when you're uncomfortable, I definitely know how exhausting that must be. But in a way, I actually kind of admire that. What it tells me is that you're a kind person. You're aware that your anxiety might come off the wrong way. You're making a real effort to be sociable and you know, we all have to do that. Sometimes you don't want to go to a party and be the freaking ghost at the feast, right? You want to get on with people, you want to make them feel comfortable. You want to be part of things. So ideally, you don't have to fake it, but let's just appreciate that the qualities you value the most. They say a lot about you, and this is actually a very adaptive way of dealing with the anxiety.
[00:49:57] So here's my take, my little spiel on authenticity. Trying to be more authentic, it's a fool's errand in a way because as soon as you're trying to be more yourself, you're already admitting that you're not yourself, which means that any attempt to be more authentic is just another mask that you're putting on. So instead of trying to be more authentic, it's usually more helpful to stop being inauthentic. In other words, don't try to be something you wish you were. Try to stop being something that you are not. And again, I know I sound like some annoying zen master wanna-be right now, so let me just be more specific.
[00:50:33] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah, break that down for us, Master Harbinger.
[00:50:34] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. Let me just deconstruct this. Let's say you go to a party and you want to be seen as friendly, you want to be seen as interesting, kind, great, all wonderful qualities, all things you should aspire to. Although look, just as a side note, I genuinely believe that you have those qualities in you already. I really do. It's just that your particular brand of friendly or interesting or kind, they're being covered up right now and they're being covered up by this impulse to convey them in a certain way to achieve certain goals. And I'll again, I'll get back to that in a second.
[00:51:04] So you go to this party, right? And you want people to see you this way. So you put on a face, you put on a role, the role of the friendly, interesting, kind person. And maybe, it kind of works, but even if it does work, it leaves you with some difficult feelings. It's a hollowness, maybe some depression. And oftentimes, this underlying anxiety that people will realize what you are truly like. But you could also go to that party and say, "I'm not going to work so hard to be all these things that I'm not. I'm not always the friendliest, I'm not always the coolest, whatever. Maybe I can just let that be okay and see what happens."
[00:51:38] So I'll give you an example. This is something I started doing like 15 years ago, and honestly, I still do this sometimes where if I'm at a party or a conference or an event or whatever, and I'm not feeling super outgoing. I'll literally just say to somebody, "Hey, sorry if I seemed standoffish, I wasn't really in the mood to be socializing today. I'm feeling a little overwhelmed, a little anxious, maybe a little self-conscious," whatever the feeling is, I'll just say it. And man, when I tell you that nine out of 10 people respond to that by saying, "Oh my God, me too. Thank you for saying that." I'm not even kidding. Everyone feels this way to some degree even people who are great at parties. And those who aren't, they'll shrug it off and go, "That's all right. We all get in those moods and it's fine."
[00:52:18] What happens when you say something like this? What happens next? Well, first, you're carving out a little room for you to be yourself, which is a fricking relief, big time, of course. And when you do that, you can calm down a little bit. You can physically feel yourself relax. You might still be a little anxious, but you've removed one huge layer of conflict, which is trying to be something other than what you are, which is often where most of the anxiety comes from. And the other thing that happens is you give the other person permission to be more themselves, which puts them at ease and reduces even more pressure on you to please them.
[00:52:55] I remember one night, another quick story, I was at this dinner party years ago. I'm sitting at a table with 10, 12 other people. I had just broken up with somebody and I was just miserable, just hating every moment. And I could tell that people were kind of thinking like, "Who's the serial killer?" Not talking to anybody, just scowling into his broccolini. And finally, I turned to the woman sitting next to me and I did the thing. I was like, "Hey, I'm sorry for being the absolute worst person you could sit next to tonight. I just ended a relationship and I want to be home watching a movie in my pajamas." And I swear this woman's whole demeanor changes. And she goes, "Me too, my boyfriend just broke up with me. It sucks. This is the first time out of the house in three days." And we ended up having a really nice conversation about our relationships. And I even surprised myself. I managed to be kind of funny, a little self-deprecating, a little bit charming if dare I say. But it wasn't because I was trying to be charming. It was because I stopped trying to not be Debbie Downer in the corner table. And then this more spontaneous, organic part of me was just able to pop out.
[00:54:04] So that's what I'm talking about. And I know it feels like a huge risk because it's like, "Well, if I'm not trying to be better, aren't I just settling for being kind of meh?" But you're not, what you're actually doing is clearing the debris that's covering up all those qualities that you wish you could express in that moment or that you wish you had.
[00:54:20] Gabriel Mizrahi: Wow. What you're actually doing is clearing the debris.
[00:54:23] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:54:24] Gabriel Mizrahi: That's covering up the qualities she wishes she had—
[00:54:27] Jordan Harbinger: Right.
[00:54:27] Gabriel Mizrahi: —which she does have already, but she's trying to overplay them or compensate with other qualities that are not really the point at all.
[00:54:35] Jordan Harbinger: Exactly.
[00:54:35] Gabriel Mizrahi: That's so important. Yeah. I love that.
[00:54:37] Jordan Harbinger: You could still work on yourself. You can always be better. I'm not saying you don't need to grow anymore or whatever, but you can't really grow until you get in touch with these parts of yourself and you have to slowly start inviting them out to play a little bit.
[00:54:51] Gabriel Mizrahi: Ah, Jordan, I love that. I've had the exact same experience in my life, so yes, a hundred percent. I think you nailed it. But listen, while you do everything, Jordan, just. I would also explore the roots of this inauthenticity because struggling to be authentically you, that's always the product of certain messages we get early on in life, you know, from our culture, from our friends. But more than anything, spoiler alert, just saving you like three years of therapy right here, it usually starts with our parents. And you're already onto that. Like you said, you're a people pleaser. You're prone to being a pushover, not being completely honest when it comes to your thoughts and your feelings.
[00:55:26] So my question for you is, when did that impulse begin? When you want to please people, why does that feel so important, so urgent? What are you really trying to accomplish by doing that? Here's an interesting question, if you were honest with your thoughts and feelings, what do you think would happen? Are you afraid that people might turn on you or run away? Reject you? Maybe make you feel kind of silly for having those thoughts and feelings because look, when we feel the need to be someone we're not, it's often because somebody early on was not able to really accept and validate who we were. That's just what it is. And that means like all the parts of us, not just the qualities or the needs that were convenient to them. Then what happens is we develop this persona, this persona that's designed to get us what we want, which often means in early childhood just to stay alive, to stay safe, keep people happy, because our true self, that feels too risky. And that's when the mask starts to develop, and that's when the shame also starts to develop and the anxiety.
[00:56:28] So like if you have a meltdown when you're a kid and your mom kind of like recoils and withdraws from you, or maybe even gets mad at you for being upset, you learn pretty quickly that you can't bring your fear or your anger or your anxiety to mom, and you don't want to alienate your parent, right? You need them. So you put those feelings away or you try to and you can see where I'm going with this. You can imagine how that plays out with all sorts of qualities and needs and impulses, spontaneous impulses, but the price you pay for that persona to Jordan's point, is often depression and anxiety and self-consciousness. And again, a lot of shame because that true self is still there. It's still underneath the surface. It wants to come out and it actually needs to be acknowledged and accepted, but it can't as long as you keep up the act.
[00:57:14] So I know all of this is pretty intense, but my invitation to you is to get in touch with that true self as much as you can. And you can do that on your own at first, you know, you can journal about it, you can talk to your friends about it. You can experiment here and there with opening up a little more. You don't need to be a hundred percent authentic at first. You can be 10 percent, 20 percent more authentic. See how it goes. But even better, I would talk to a therapist about this because this true self, false self theme. That is often one of the greatest things you can explore in therapy. And it's kind of the point, I think one of the big points of going to therapy is getting back in touch with that person.
[00:57:53] And listen, you might not believe me right now, but the funny thing is those unappealing personality traits that you talked about, those are often the best parts of you. Yes, they're a little risky, but they're also kind of amazing. And they're the pieces of you that other people usually end up relating to the most because you got to remember, most people you interact with, they're working really hard to deny those same qualities in themselves. So this is kind of your superpower if you can get in touch with it.
[00:58:21] Jordan Harbinger: Wow. Yep. Well, you nailed it, Gabe. It's the dinner party all over again.
[00:58:25] Gabriel Mizrahi: Right.
[00:58:26] Jordan Harbinger: The thing that made me feel like a leper that night was actually the one thing that allowed me to connect with that woman.
[00:58:30] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah.
[00:58:31] Jordan Harbinger: And that's just a dumb dinner party. What we're talking about now is a way of moving through life and bringing all of yourself to your relationships, which frankly could be really exciting.
[00:58:42] As for the limit to authenticity, you're going to find that for yourself. You'll feel it, but honestly, I'm not worried about you turning into a monster. You're so far in the other direction. It's basically impossible. You're not going to be like, I'm going to be authentic ...Harvey Weinstein. Okay, it's not. The limit to authenticity, in my view, is when your honesty, your likability, your humor, when those qualities start to come at somebody else's expense. And by that I mean you're hurting someone's feelings or you're dominating the conversation. You're making people feel uncomfortable. And the Harvey Weinstein example is real, right? He was one of the most authentic leaders of our time. That's not what we want, you know? And what you're talking about when you go so far in that direction, it's not necessarily even authenticity. That's being a narcissist. It's being a terrible person. And by the way, you can still keep an eye on that without driving yourself crazy. There's a difference between being self-conscious and being self-aware. That's important to remember too.
[00:59:37] So I hope that gives you some new angles here. I love your willingness to work on this. I really do. I know that it's scary, but it's such important work and it's something we all have to do. So don't beat yourself up for struggling with it. I know there's a lot more of you to appreciate in yourself, and that's where authenticity starts. So dive into that and I know it'll bring you into some really great relationships, including the one you have with yourself. So putting down my yoga instructor hat here.
[01:00:05] Hope you all enjoyed that. I want to thank everyone who wrote in this week and everybody who listened. Thank you so much. Go back and check out Bradley Hope on North Korea and Lieutenant John Nores on illegal weed growing in California if you haven't done that yet.
[01:00:17] If you want to know how I managed to find and book these amazing guests, it's always, always, always about my network of amazing people. And you should build your own network even if you don't have a podcast. Our Six-Minute Networking course, which is free. We'll teach you how to do that. It's on the Thinkific platform at jordanharbinger.com/course. Build relationships before you need them. Dig the well before you get thirsty. They take a few minutes a day, those drills. It's not fluff. It's really been life-changing for me. Again, free jordanharbinger.com/course.
[01:00:46] A link to the show notes for the episode can be found at jordanharbinger.com. Transcripts are in the show notes. Advertisers, deals, discounts, and ways to support the show are all at jordanharbinger.com/deals. Our constantly upgraded GPT chatbot with all promo codes and all Feedback Friday answers ever, and every guest, every question you could possibly think of to ask one of us, well, maybe could be answered by this AI chatbot over at jordanharbinger.com/ai. I'm at @JordanHarbinger on Twitter and Instagram. You can also connect with me on LinkedIn. You can find Gabe on Instagram at @GabrielMizrahi, or on Twitter at @GabeMizrahi.
[01:01:21] This show is created in association with PodcastOne. My team is Jen Harbinger, Jase Sanderson, Robert Fogarty, Ian Baird, Millie Ocampo, and of course Gabriel Mizrahi. Our advice and opinions are our own, and I'm a lawyer, but I ain't your lawyer. Do your own research before implementing anything you hear on this show. Remember, we rise by lifting others. Share the show with those you love. And if you found the episode useful, please share it with somebody else who could 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.
[01:01:53] Here's a trailer from my interview with Laila Ali, daughter of legendary Boxer Muhammad Ali. She's got a great story about how she ended up the only other boxer in her family and how she carries her father's legacy. Whether you're into sports or not, I think you're really going to dig it.
[01:02:09] Laila Ali: You have to have it in you to want to be a fighter. It's not something that you just go, "Oh, I think I'll just try boxing," you know? Because you're going to get your ass beaten if you get here and you don't have it in you when you get that opportunity.
[01:02:18] It was a brawl. I mean, it was bloody, it was like crazy. And I was like, I want to do that. You would think anyone punching you would hurt, right?
[01:02:25] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, sure.
[01:02:25] Laila Ali: But as fighters it's like, "Oh, that person could punch. That person can't." Tap, tap, tap, tap. And then every once in a while that bams that hard way. Like, oh, okay. I felt that.
[01:02:33] If you're listening to your camp saying she's nothing and she this and she that, and then you have to get your ass in there and then you feel that punch, like no, she can punch and no, she's not just a pretty baby. If you see me across that ring, looking at you like, "Yeah, remember all that stuff you talk? Now, it's about to happen. Just me and you. Nobody else can get in there with you, you know?" And it's like, "I'm going to remind you of all the things you said." They didn't know that street side of me. Not everyone has that. You don't have to.
[01:02:51] Jordan Harbinger: Sure.
[01:02:52] Laila Ali: But I do. Now, you get to meet someone you used to see how they walk, see how they hold their stuff and see if there's any fear in their eyes.
[01:02:57] Jordan Harbinger: What was your father's reaction to you wanting to box?
[01:03:00] Laila Ali: He didn't like it.
[01:03:01] Jordan Harbinger: No?
[01:03:01] Laila Ali: No.
[01:03:02] Jordan Harbinger: You guys were sparring before you even put the gloves on.
[01:03:04] Laila Ali: Oh yeah. He supported me though. He came to a lot of my fights. He couldn't be at all of them. I could always see that glare in his eyes of him being proud.
[01:03:11] Jordan Harbinger: Right.
[01:03:11] Laila Ali: And just to come into that arena and having everyone chanting, "Ali, Ali," and you just see him light up to see me in that ring and him just remembering himself. Our boxing styles were similar. The way I'm shaped, my body shaped. So just seeing all of that had to be a super crazy experience for him.
[01:03:28] Jordan Harbinger: For more with Laila Ali, check out episode number 309 of The Jordan Harbinger Show.
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