As a child, you were sexually abused by an older sibling, and you, in turn, abused your younger sibling. How can you overcome the guilt and shame you feel to repair your relationship with this person you’ve deeply hurt? We’ll try to find an answer 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:
- Some listener feedback about the butt-dialer situation from episode 732.
- As a child, you were sexually abused by an older sibling, and you, in turn, abused your younger sibling. How can you overcome the guilt and shame you feel to repair your relationship with this person you’ve deeply hurt? [Thanks to Brad Watts and Maria Socolof for helping us with this heavy one!]
- To your chagrin, the team lead in your old department — someone you consider a friend — wants you to keep helping out even though you’ve moved on to another position at the company. How do you navigate this without completely blowing up your friendship with this colleague?
- Your mother’s guilt from cheating on your late father and contributing to the stress that killed him has given her an eating disorder and sapped her will to live. Is there anything you can do to bring her back from the brink?
- Can you be a high achiever in law school and work and still have time for family, friends, and the things you love?
- You were raised by a verbally and physically abusive mother, and grew up in an area where you were ethnically persecuted daily. As a result, you suffer from PTSD that therapy has only seemed to make worse, and you can’t really seem to return the love you’ve been given in past relationships. Is it possible to find a balance between loneliness and happiness?
- 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!
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This Episode Is Sponsored By:
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Miss our conversation with actor, producer, and Scientology survivor Leah Remini? Get caught up with episode 485: Leah Remini | Surviving Hollywood and Scientology here!
Resources from This Episode:
- Miki Mistrati | The Dark Side of the Chocolate Industry | Jordan Harbinger
- Dr. Sohom Das | Rehabilitating the Criminally Insane | Jordan Harbinger
- Low-Key Beguiler is a Cheating Butt-Dialer | Feedback Friday | Jordan Harbinger
- Sibling Sexual Abuse: A Guide for Confronting America’s Silent Epidemic by Brad Watts | Amazon
- Brad Watts | Website
- Confronting & Healing Sibling Sexual Trauma | 5 WAVES
- Real People. Real Pain. Real Hope. | Sibling Sexual Trauma
- Survivors Who Harm Others | Sibling Sexual Trauma
- Tragedy, Impact, and Intent | Sibling Sexual Trauma
- Maria Socolof | Twitter
- The Different Causes of Eating Disorders | Verywell Mind
- Scott Galloway | Course Correcting an America Adrift | Jordan Harbinger
- Johann Hari | Why You Can’t Pay Attention—And What to Do About It | Jordan Harbinger
- Cal Newport | Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World | Jordan Harbinger
- Nir Eyal | How to Manage Distraction in a Digital Age | Jordan Harbinger
- Isaiah Hankel | The Smart Way to Focus and Grow Successful | Jordan Harbinger
- Chris Bailey | Hyperfocus Secrets for Better Productivity | Jordan Harbinger
- James Clear | Forming Atomic Habits for Astronomic Results | Jordan Harbinger
- BJ Fogg | Tiny Habits That Change Everything | Jordan Harbinger
- Sean Young | Changing Your Life for Good with SCIENCE | Jordan Harbinger
- When PTSD Gets Worse Before It Gets Better | HealthyPlace
- Should I Relive the Drama of Childhood Trauma? | Feedback Friday | Jordan Harbinger
- The Narcissist’s Prayer | The Life Doctor
- Dr. Ramani | How to Protect Yourself from a Narcissist Part One | Jordan Harbinger
- Dr. Ramani | How to Protect Yourself from a Narcissist Part Two | Jordan Harbinger
756: Seeking Reconciliation After Abusing a Relation | Feedback Friday
[00:00:00] Jordan Harbinger: This episode is sponsored in part by Peloton This year. Peloton is gifting you their best offer of the season. Get up to $300 off accessories when you purchase a Peloton Bike, Bike+, or Tread. Shop from a variety of accessories such as cycling shoes, a heart rate monitor, and more. If you've been waiting for a sign to join Peloton, this offer provides you with everything you need to get started. You're more likely to stick to a fitness routine if it's something you enjoy, which is why Peloton instructors make every workout feel like hanging out with friends. And the music — iconic, whether it's a classic rock or R & B class, you'll find the perfect soundtrack for your workout on a Peloton Bike or Tread. And whether you have 10 minutes to spare for a strength class or 30 minutes for a running or cycling class, there's a workout for you. So don't miss out on Peloton's best offer of the season. Visit onepeloton.com to learn more. All-access membership separate offer starts November 14th and ends November 28th, cannot be combined with other offers. See additional terms at onepeloton.com.
[00:00:55] Welcome to Feedback Friday. I'm your host, Jordan Harbinger. As always, I'm here with my Feedback Friday producer, the goat yoga session, balancing out my high-intensity interval advice, Gabriel Mizrahi.
[00:01:08] Gabriel Mizrahi: Beautiful, love that.
[00:01:09] Jordan Harbinger: 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 in 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.
[00:01:34] If you're new to the show on Fridays, we give advice to you, we answer listener questions, and the rest of the week we have long-form interviews and conversations with a variety of absolutely amazing folks, from spies to CEOs, athletes, authors, thinkers, and performers. This week we had Miki Misrati on the chocolate industry and — get ready for this — human trafficking and slavery. This episode will ruin chocolate for you, so just be ready for that. We also had Dr. Sohom Das on what makes a criminal bad versus actually insane. So his job is to go and see if people are competent to stand trial. Or are they mad or are they just bad? That's his whole thing. So we discuss mental disorders that can make people do violent or crazy things as opposed to people that are simply bad, callous, and have no regard for others. It's a really interesting dive into the dark side of criminal psychology. So make sure you've had to listen to everything that we created for you here this week.
[00:02:28] Now, before we dive into letters this week, I wanted to talk about a question we took a few weeks ago from this guy whose wife was secretly hanging out with other men, maybe just his friends, maybe something more. It wasn't really clear. She kept butt dialing, so pocket dialing him when she was with other guys, and he kept catching her in lies and he was wondering what to do. That was episode 723. This was interesting. A lot of you wrote in about this one. This story pushed a lot of buttons and a few of you were upset that we didn't comment on the fact that the guy writing in, he was actually tracking his wife's phone and laptop, browsing her conversations. I think he even set her Google account to track her whereabouts, which is objectively problematic, to do that without consent. Some people felt that by not calling him out for violating her privacy and keeping tabs on her, we were letting that disturbing behavior slide, maybe even endorsing it.
[00:03:21] So I just want to say, first of all, we are definitely not fans of tracking your partner without consent. Full stop. That was one part of the letter that we acknowledged and took on board like all the other facts. And we just focused on what he should do now that he knew what he knew, which is basically, all right, talk to your wife, get clear on what those friendships mean, and create a marriage that doesn't make you want to track your wife. But I'll take y'all's point, we could have dug a little deeper into the tracking thing. We could have acknowledged that it was creepy and invasive. That is a fair point.
[00:03:49] Gabriel Mizrahi: It is a fair point. And to be fair to the guy who wrote in, he knows that he actually acknowledged that to us and he's not proud of what he did either, which Jordan, now that I think about it, maybe that's why we didn't hit him harder for that.
[00:04:01] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:04:01] Gabriel Mizrahi: Because the impression I got of this guy wasn't that he was some controlling, abusive monster, but that he's a decent guy who is hurt and who's been pushed to a very desperate and paranoid place. I'm not defending any of this. I just can appreciate the mental state of somebody who would think that that was the only option.
[00:04:18] Jordan Harbinger: Sure. Yeah. Look, that's my impression too. Although it's interesting, I feel like we've taken letters from women who tracked their partner's phones or read their email or the text messages or whatever and found out they were cheating. And we didn't hear from y'all about that. Not one little word. So maybe there's a double standard here. I don't know. It's interesting.
[00:04:35] Gabriel Mizrahi: It is interesting. There might be a bit of a double standard there. Yeah. But you're right. If anybody's tracking anybody, something more fundamental is wrong.
[00:04:42] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:04:43] Gabriel Mizrahi: The other thing a few of you pointed out was that this guy's wife might be having totally appropriate friendships with these other guys and she's just hiding them from her husband because she can tell how uncomfortable he gets about it. And that is a very fair point. It's an explanation, honestly, that is almost so obvious. We might have missed it or I don't know if we missed it, but we probably didn't give it enough weight. I think Jordan and I were imagining the worst-case scenario along with this guy.
[00:05:09] Jordan Harbinger: Was she at some dude's apartment at like midnight though, and then lied about it? Come on.
[00:05:13] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yes. I mean, yes, but there's a world where she went to his apartment at midnight and nothing happened—
[00:05:17] Jordan Harbinger: True.
[00:05:18] Gabriel Mizrahi: —and they're friends and she didn't know how to be friends with him because her husband is keeping tabs on her and doesn't like her hanging out with guys, and she wants to have a friendship with a guy. I mean, it's possible. Anyway, we just wanted to touch on that too, because we might have given the impression that we're somehow against being friends with people of the opposite gender, which—
[00:05:34] Jordan Harbinger: Did we get letters about that? That's crazy.
[00:05:36] Gabriel Mizrahi: We did get a couple, but if you listen to the show regularly, you know that isn't the case. But I see why we might have given you that impression in that question. So just wanted to set the record straight.
[00:05:45] Jordan Harbinger: Right. Although I would still argue that something isn't right if she's hiding legitimate friendships from him, hanging out with people behind his back, they need to sort that crap out.
[00:05:53] Gabriel Mizrahi: For sure. That's really the crux of the issue. I mean, why she feels the need to hide things from him and why he might be acting in ways that make her continue to want to hide things?
[00:06:02] Jordan Harbinger: Exactly Right. And again, to the listener's credit, he understood that we corresponded with him after his letter aired, and it sounds like he and his wife are working on all this, which is a great outcome.
[00:06:10] So thank you for all your emails about this. Even when you all get mad at us a little bit, we still appreciate hearing from you and it's always good to hear other angles on these letters, especially because we can't get to everything in the limited amount of time we have.
[00:06:23] And you know what's funny, Gabe? People keep asking for updates on Feedback Friday stuff, and I'm like, we don't have time. It takes up too much time. And here we are. We're like, probably, what? Five minutes in, we just gave an update.
[00:06:32] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah.
[00:06:33] Jordan Harbinger: I'm like, I don't know. Do you want updates? Because now we're going to get emails like, ah, I don't need an update, man, I'm over it. I don't remember these people.
[00:06:39] Gabriel Mizrahi: We can't please everybody.
[00:06:40] Jordan Harbinger: We can't please everybody.
[00:06:41] Gabriel Mizrahi: When it's good, we like to give an update. So that was a good one.
[00:06:43] Jordan Harbinger: All right, let's hear a doozy. We got a doozy in here?
[00:06:46] Gabriel Mizrahi: Well, actually the first question is quite a doozy, and just a heads up to everyone listening, it is a little bit heavy. There's some sensitive stuff in here, so just keep that in mind before we begin.
[00:06:56] Hi, Jordan and Gabe. When I was a child from ages four to 10, my older brother molested me. He didn't grow up in the same house, so I only saw him twice a year. And it wasn't a constant thing. There was an element to this of kids just being curious about their bodies and you know, playing doctor, but he was five years older than me. I was scared of him and I feel he definitely should have known better by that age.
[00:07:19] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. Uh, no kidding. To clarify, this started when he was nine and it continued until he was 15.
[00:07:28] Gabriel Mizrahi: That's right.
[00:07:28] Jordan Harbinger: Because it was a little, I was like four to 10, I don't know. Well, wait a minute. No, he's 15. The kid has a learner's permit. He knows what he's doing.
[00:07:34] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah. I think, good point. So the letter goes on.
[00:07:37] When I was 16, I told my mom what happened, but she didn't believe me at first.
[00:07:41] Jordan Harbinger: Mmm.
[00:07:41] Gabriel Mizrahi: Five years later, when I was 21, I confronted my brother and he called me a nasty lying whore.
[00:07:47] Jordan Harbinger: Oh man.
[00:07:48] Gabriel Mizrahi: Now, I don't live every day thinking about this trauma. I even tried to just ignore it all because I wanted to be in my nephews' lives, but that didn't last very long. The more concerning problem is that while I was going through this as a child, I regretfully passed this behavior down to my little brother who's three years younger than me.
[00:08:05] Jordan Harbinger: Mmm. So, wow, so she then abused her younger brother because her older brother abused her. Jeez. Okay. This is intense.
[00:08:15] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah, it sure is. It sounds like what happened. Okay. So she goes on—
[00:08:19] I care about him, but we now have a very rocky relationship. I don't invalidate the things that happened. I've apologized over and over. I've even offered to get us therapy. We'll have a few months of getting along and I'll do whatever I can to help him or listen to him when he's suicidal, which is something we both struggle with. And then he'll turn around and vilify me like I'm the reason he became a drunk and started beating his wife.
[00:08:44] Jordan Harbinger: Okay, so this guy is in a lot of — that came out of nowhere. This guy is in a lot of pain now too.
[00:08:50] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah.
[00:08:50] Jordan Harbinger: And this has rippled through the whole family.
[00:08:53] Gabriel Mizrahi: Right.
[00:08:53] Jordan Harbinger: This is so sad.
[00:08:54] Gabriel Mizrahi: So sad.
[00:08:55] His stance is that I need to deal with the things I've done. Just like he needs to deal with severely disfiguring his soon-to-be ex-wife.
[00:09:03] Jordan Harbinger: Oh my god.
[00:09:04] Gabriel Mizrahi: But I was a child, whereas he was an adult when he did what he did. I've tried everything I can think of to repair this sibling relationship, but I always end up being made to feel like I should kill myself.
[00:09:15] Jordan Harbinger: Wow.
[00:09:15] Gabriel Mizrahi: My boyfriend says that I shouldn't feel so ashamed about something I did when I didn't know any better or was scared into doing certain things but I do. I feel ashamed all the time. I just don't know what to do anymore. Please don't think as badly of me as I already do myself. Should I just let my brother bash me every few months for the rest of our lives because 10-year-old me deserves it forever? Or should I just give up on our relationship? Signed, Aghast, an Outcast for This Difficult Past.
[00:09:49] Jordan Harbinger: Oh, man. This is a very, very heavy story. What your older brother did to you, the behavior you learned and recreated with your younger brother, the way your mother and your brothers responded when you brought all this up, it's just incredibly sad.
[00:10:03] Gabriel Mizrahi: Mm-hmm.
[00:10:04] Jordan Harbinger: I honestly don't have words here. I can't even imagine how difficult all of this must have been and how painful it clearly still is to this day. I'm just so sorry that you went through this.
[00:10:15] We wanted to consult with an expert about all this, of course. So we reached out to Brad Watts, licensed professional counselor. Brad specializes in working with families where sibling sexual abuse has occurred. He's also the author of the book, Sibling Sexual Abuse, A Guide for Confronting America's Silent Epidemic. And the first thing Brad told us is just how common sibling sexual abuse is. In fact, it's the most common form of sexual abuse in families. It occurs three to five times more than father-daughter abuse, which I had no idea about. I guess I wasn't thinking about this much, but that sounds like a lot.
[00:10:51] And Brad also said that what happened between you and your older brother, given the age difference, that's a sign that this was more than just your typical childhood exploration. I understand that you viewed it that way and maybe it was kind of ambiguous early on, but in Brad's experience, that age difference implies a clear power differential and your brother's motivation here, it does seem to have been sexual gratification. You said you were scared of him and Brad's view. He absolutely knew better. He used established grooming patterns to continue to guide you into sexually abusive acts under the cloak of curiosity. Plus the fact that this occurred over six years, that's particularly troubling. And all of that paints a picture of true sibling sexual abuse taking place since this phenomenon tends to go on for much longer than other forms of childhood sexual abuse.
[00:11:39] So of course, these are painful memory. You must have tried to get your brother to stop. You probably thought about telling an adult sooner. I'm guessing you were afraid about what might happen if anyone would believe you, and that wasn't entirely unfounded, because when you finally did tell your mother and confront your brother, you were rejected, which is a whole other injury right there.
[00:12:01] Sadly, Brad said that your experience there is extremely common. Those who commit sexual harm often deny, and many parents just want to try and make something like this go away. So they deny it too, or they just don't do anything about it. But Brad said that he admires your courage in disclosing this to your mother and in confronting your brother five years later, that couldn't have been easy. Most people, I guess, apparently never disclose that they've gone through this. And when they do, the delay is between three and 18 years once they feel that there's just no other option to be free of the heavy burden that the abuse has inflicted upon them. Think about holding something like that for 18 years. And the fact that you've recognized all this. And you've taken steps to address it and grow, that's really admirable.
[00:12:45] Now about what happened with your younger brother. It's interesting. Brad said that it's actually not uncommon at all for a sibling who has been sexually abused to turn around and abuse a younger sibling. He actually talks about that in the book, and you bring up an important distinction here that you were a child when you did this. Brad talks about that in the book too. The difference between adolescents who commit sexual harm and adult offenders, and how that has to do with brain development. Adults, we supposedly have fully formed brains, juries out on my brain, but they have established patterns for offending most adults, I'm excluding myself from that particular pile, but adolescents do not have fully formed brains as evidenced by every adolescent you've ever met in your entire life and also TikTok. They're often unable to truly understand the impact of what they're doing. And over time, if they get into treatment, they can rehabilitate and do remarkably well — and they barely use TikTok anymore. No, I'm talking, we're talking about — sorry.
[00:13:43] Gabriel Mizrahi: The abuse, yeah.
[00:13:43] Jordan Harbinger: Too soon.
[00:13:44] In fact, Brad told us that 95 to 98 percent of adolescents who commit sexual harm will not abuse again after completing a specialized treatment program. That's a really good success rate.
[00:13:55] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah.
[00:13:56] Jordan Harbinger: And you seem to have grown out of this yourself on your own without treatment. You didn't hurt anyone else. And apparently many kids are like that. So in Brad's book, we should never lump adolescent offenders and adult offenders together. They are two totally different cases. And what you did, as difficult as it is to live with, it's just in a totally different category.
[00:14:18] All that said, given how you're feeling these days, Brad said that he's extremely concerned about you, especially the suicidal thoughts. He admires all your efforts to make things right with your brother, but the reality is that he is just not ready to move forward with a relationship with you, not a healthy relationship anyway. He's clearly in a rough place. All your attempts to make amends, that's just triggering both of you, and it's causing both of you to have suicidal thoughts, which obviously that's not helping anybody. In Brad's experience, it's important to move away from this form of self-harm where your brother rages at you and you allow yourself to constantly be bashed by him for what you did when you were 10.
[00:14:57] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah, which has got to be so painful.
[00:15:00] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:15:00] Gabriel Mizrahi: It's almost like they're just reopening the wound every time they get into a conflict every few months. So that makes a lot of sense. Brad's big recommendation was take some time from your brother for a little while and use that time to address your own trauma, your guilt, the anxiety, the depression, all of that, with a professional right away. Ideally, a therapist who specializes in sibling sexual abuse. And since there is a real trauma component here, Brad said that somebody trained in EMDR would be especially helpful. EMDR, by the way, if you don't know, that's basically a technique, a modality that's especially useful for working through trauma.
[00:15:36] As Brad put it to us, you need to prioritize yourself right now, your mental health, your needs and your brother needs to do the same thing with his own therapist stat. And by the way, Brad also feels that it's important to take some time apart from your older brother as well. It sounds like that relationship is also very complicated, also very triggering for you, but you're trying to suppress those feelings so you can be in his kids' lives. Brad was pretty emphatic on this point. He just doesn't see how having all of this contact with your siblings is really helping you right now, given where all of you guys are in this process.
[00:16:11] And look, we're not saying you'd need to give up your relationship with your younger brother forever. But it really does sound like everybody could use some space right now. Down the line, when you guys have gone through therapy and you're in a better place. Yeah, you can reassess and hopefully, you'll each be better equipped to really talk about what happened and not spin out or suffer too much in the process, and hopefully build a healthier foundation for your relationship.
[00:16:35] Jordan Harbinger: Well, there you have it straight from the guy who literally wrote the book on this subject.
[00:16:40] The good news is you're willing to acknowledge what happened and work on all this, and you have some great support in your life, including from your boyfriend. Brad feels that if you rely on that support and you do this work in therapy, you could see a tremendous improvement. So I hope you get to do that, and I hope you and your brother find your way back to each other when the time is right, hopefully, with a new lens on this whole experience.
[00:17:03] Big thank you to Brad Watts for his wisdom and insight here. Check out Brad's book, Sibling Sexual Abuse: A Guide for Confronting America's Silent Epidemic. We're going to link to that in the show notes along with his website and Twitter. And a big thanks to Maria Sololof, president and co-founder of 5waves.org, a nonprofit offering resources to survivors of sibling sexual trauma and their families. Five Waves also has an incredible information hub at siblingsexualtrauma.com. We're also going to link to some great articles Maria shared about this topic in the show notes for you as well. Highly recommend giving those a read. I think they're going to be helpful for you to read right now.
[00:17:37] Again, I'm so sorry that you're going through this. Our hearts really do go out to you and we're wishing you the best.
[00:17:43] You know who won't turn a heavy psychological trauma into a tasteless ad pivot? This guy right here. Okay, that's incredibly awkward, but I will ask you to stick around for the amazing sponsors who support this show. We'll be right back.
[00:17:57] This episode is sponsored in part by Innovation Refunds. If you own a business, it has been a bumpy ride. No surprise there. We all need a little bit of a break. This is my friend's company, Innovation Refunds. Really good idea. Didn't even know this existed. If your business has five or more employees and you survived covid, you may be eligible to receive a payroll tax rebate of up to $26,000 per employee, which is a hell of a lot of money. Adds up fast. It's not a loan, there's no payback. This is a refund of your taxes that you have already paid. It's your money that you could potentially get back. And I thought, okay, what's the catch? This is too good to be true. The challenge is, of course, the government never makes things nice and simple when it comes to tax refunds. Of course, they don't. Why would they? You got to cut through the red tape. You got to get that refund money. Go to getrefunds.com/jordan. They've got a team of tax attorneys that just do only this. They've returned over a billion dollars to businesses, which — I mean, I don't have to tell you. That's a lot of money. They can potentially help you as well. They do all the work. You don't have to pay them upfront. I made darn sure that. There's no upfront payment. They just take a share of the cash that they get back for you. So they're incentivized to, you know, actually do the work and be successful in doing it. Businesses of all types can qualify, including those who took a PPP loan, including nonprofits and those that actually had an increase in sales. So you don't have to be sitting there totally destroyed in order to get some of this. You can do it even if you did well.
[00:19:13] Jen Harbinger: To find out if your business qualifies, just go to getrefunds.com/jordan. Click on qualify me and answer a few questions. This payroll tax refund is only available for a limited amount of time. Don't miss out. Go to getrefunds.com/jordan. That's getrefunds.com/jordan.
[00:19:32] Jordan Harbinger: This episode is also sponsored by Better Help. Life throws curve balls left and right. Wouldn't it be great if somebody came up with a user manual, maybe how to handle all those situations? Getting a therapist, especially Better Help online therapy. I'd say it's the next best thing. You can troubleshoot your way through life's ups and downs. Better Help has licensed professional therapists that are trained to help you figure out the cause of challenging emotions and then learn productive coping skills. I think we could all use that. That makes therapy the closest thing to a guided tour of your emotional brain. Better Help has connected over three million people with licensed therapists. It's secure, it's convenient. You can do it anywhere, even in another country. Crazy time zone. We got people doing this overseas in Asia, whatever. It's all online. Jen does hers while she's on the go. I do mine while I'm, you know, feeling sorry for myself on a sofa bed somewhere in my office. It's easy to get started. Just fill out a brief questionnaire and they'll match you with a therapist that fits your needs. If you don't click with the therapist. Switch any time. No waiting rooms, no parking, no traffic, no searching for the right therapist over and over.
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[00:21:01] Now back to Feedback Friday.
[00:21:05] Okay, what's next?
[00:21:07] Gabriel Mizrahi: Hey, Jordan and Gabe. Earlier this year, I accepted a new position within my company on a new team. My previous team lead asked that I stay on until we could onboard new staff to fill my position, which I agreed to. I onboarded two new hires, which took several weeks and have straddled both roles for the last several months. My boss and I agree that it's time to move full-time to my new position, but the team lead has been messaging me daily, complaining about how busy it's been and that the new staff don't work as quickly as I did. I feel like she's trying to make me feel guilty for leaving. I know that it's not all my responsibility to remedy her staffing issues as I went above and beyond to make sure I was leaving it in a good position. But I fear she'll ask our boss to have me keep helping her while also doing my new job, which I have absolutely no interest in doing. To complicate things further, I consider this team lead one of my closest work friends. Do I address this with her directly? Do I go to my boss and tell her what's been going on? How do I navigate this without completely blowing up my friendship with this colleague? Signed, Pulling Double-Duty Without Earning Any Extra Booty.
[00:22:14] Jordan Harbinger: Well, hey, congratulations on landing this new role. I think that's great. It sounds like you managed the transition perfectly. You did right by yourself and the team here, but this is a tricky one.
[00:22:25] So here's how I'd handle it. First of all, the fact that your old team lead is still emailing you, complaining about how her new people aren't as good as you, that is a little unfair. And sure, maybe she secretly hopes you'll come back, but I don't know. I'm not entirely sure she's actually trying to guilt you for leaving. I do see why you might feel that way, but you guys are friends. She may just be venting to you and she may just be really bummed that you've moved on. I only bring that up because I will say, humble brag, I'm really good at overly reading into people's emotions and motivations in a certain way that is totally not constructive.
[00:23:02] Look, it doesn't necessarily mean that's her intent. The way that she says something, the way you interpret it. Maybe it is, but maybe it's not. It's kind of we're classic overthinkers, right? We do this a lot, and if you're in that camp, then you know, maybe you're doing it right now. Or maybe I'm overthinking, you're overthinking, which is very common also.
[00:23:18] But regardless, yes, I would. I would address this with her directly, and I would do it in a way that's as collaborative and non-confrontational as possible. I tell her that you're fully in your new role now, and while you want to support her, it's very difficult to be straddling two roles when you need to shine in your new one. She should understand that, and I would also gently remind her that you set her up really well for the transition and that you're confident she can find a way to work out the kings.
[00:23:45] After that, I would be very deliberate about not continuing to solve her problems, validate her frustrations, make her feel heard, then empower her to come up with the answers on her own. You might even want to say, "I know this is frustrating. I'm sorry the new team isn't performing the way you want. Let's figure this out. What do you need to do to get them to the level you want? Where are the gaps? Let's come up with a plan real quick so you can nip this in the bud." Something like that. In other words, be a sounding board for her but not a lifeline.
[00:24:14] After that, I would start to draw a boundary around your time and energy internally for yourself and externally with her when you have to. So maybe you say stuff like, "Ah, I get how tough this is, but I know you can crack this. How are those strategies we talked about working out?" You know, be polite, put the ball back in her court, the monkey on her back, whatever sort of metaphor you want here. She might continue to dump on you, but you don't have to respond in a way that creates an obligation or makes you feel guilty. And over time she's going to start to realize that complaining to you does not work. And she'll start to acknowledge that line.
[00:24:46] Now, if she still won't let up, if she continues to make claims on your time and it's getting in the way of your work, and it's more than vet that, yeah, I would consider talking to your boss. Part of your boss's job is to protect your time and make sure you're focused on the right things, so you can ask for help there if you need it. I'm sure if your boss tells this woman to back off and take care of her own team. She's going to listen. I wouldn't necessarily start with that. Might be a little awkward at lunch next time, but here's the good news, the bind you're in, it's really a reflection of how valuable you are to your company.
[00:25:20] In a way, it's the best compliment you can get. It's a very high-class problem to have. I know it's stressful, but this is something high performers often have to deal with. Rising up, letting other people down, drawing boundaries, and managing that stuff, that's a set of skills. So try to remember that when things get stressful. These little conflicts, they're really a sign of your value and your growth. And the fact that you're so thoughtful about your colleagues, I think that's a superpower that you probably have as well. So give that a shot, and I think this will resolve pretty easily. Good luck.
[00:25:52] You can reach us firstname.lastname@example.org. Please keep your emails concise. Use a descriptive subject line. Don't make us guess what's going on in there. If there's something you're going through, any big decision you're wrestling with, or hey, you need a new perspective on life, love, work. What to do about your secret life as a crossdresser? Whatever's got you staying up at night lately, we're at email@example.com. You know where to find us. We're here to help and we keep every email anonymous, but we will out what you're wearing if you tell us.
[00:26:19] All right, next up.
[00:26:20] Gabriel Mizrahi: Greetings Jordan and Gabriel. Back in the early 1980s when I was 12 and my brother was two.
[00:26:25] Jordan Harbinger: Oh god, not again.
[00:26:28] Gabriel Mizrahi: No. This is different.
[00:26:30] Jordan Harbinger: Okay.
[00:26:30] Gabriel Mizrahi: This is a different story. In this case, my mother had an affair behind my dad's back.
[00:26:35] Jordan Harbinger: Thank god. Okay — at least.
[00:26:38] Gabriel Mizrahi: Very, very different.
[00:26:39] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:26:40] Gabriel Mizrahi: She actually moved out for a brief — you might not want to relax too much though because the rest of the letter is pretty intense.
[00:26:45] Jordan Harbinger: This is Feedback Friday y'all. It gets worse.
[00:26:47] Gabriel Mizrahi: She actually moved out for a brief period so she could spend time with this other man. My dad loved my mom very much and didn't want to lose her or break up our family, so he convinced her to come back, but when she returned, she was a shell of a person. She exercised six hours a day and developed an eating disorder where she would only consume ice cubes and condensed milk from a can.
[00:27:08] Jordan Harbinger: What?
[00:27:09] Gabriel Mizrahi: She spent her weekends locked in her room or on the front porch with her head in her hands.
[00:27:13] Jordan Harbinger: Oh.
[00:27:14] Gabriel Mizrahi: So it fell to my dad to take care of my brother and me. During this time, due to the stress, he developed a particularly bad stomach ulcer that almost killed him. He was taken into surgery, but the ulcer wasn't fully resolved. Over the next 40 years, the uncertainty and volatility created even more stress for my dad. He dealt with it by smoking cigarettes, drinking, and taking a lot of Excedrin for the pain. He had several more ulcers, resulting in several more surgeries, resulting in the eventual removal of three-quarters of his stomach.
[00:27:43] Jordan Harbinger: Oh my gosh.
[00:27:44] Gabriel Mizrahi: He then couldn't eat anything without vomiting. In the early 2000s, my mother had another affair. Again, they stayed together. Eventually. It all caught up to my dad last year when he experienced stomach bleeding and passed away. My mom is now bulimic. I believe this is a psychological result of her guilt over my dad's ulcers, which made it so that he couldn't hold down any food. She's not just a grieving widow. She's filled with guilt, convinced that she killed my dad.
[00:28:11] Jordan Harbinger: Mmm.
[00:28:12] Gabriel Mizrahi: She wants to commit suicide, and she no longer wears her seatbelt. She tells me she prays to God every day that he will take her life so she can be with dad in heaven. She even sometimes talks about overdosing on heroin. The other day, she sent me a photo of the first man she had an affair with, and the subject line read, "This is the knife I use to kill daddy."
[00:28:32] Jordan Harbinger: Oh.
[00:28:33] Gabriel Mizrahi: Whoa.
[00:28:34] Jordan Harbinger: That's an intense email, dude.
[00:28:35] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah.
[00:28:36] I miss my mom. I feel like the adult here. She's 74 and has the maturity of a 12-year-old. I'm exhausted from trying to convince her to keep living. How do I deal with this? Can she just get over this and try to live out her days, trying to be a happy mom and grandmother? Signed, Managing a Melancholy Matriarch.
[00:28:56] Jordan Harbinger: Wow. All right. I just need a second to process everything we just heard. This is quite a story. I'm—
[00:29:04] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yes, it is.
[00:29:04] Jordan Harbinger: I'm just a little stunned. And also I feel really sad. I feel sad for your father.
[00:29:08] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah.
[00:29:09] Jordan Harbinger: I feel really sad for you and your brother. You guys have absorbed so much in this situation. Holy moly. And I feel bad for your mother too, because she's obviously quite unstable and fragile and in a great deal of pain, and she's probably been wrestling with that pain her entire life. I feel like this doesn't just sort of come out of nowhere.
[00:29:26] Gabe, I'm not even sure where to begin here. There's so much going on.
[00:29:30] Gabriel Mizrahi: I'm just sitting here thinking about what it must have been like to grow up with this mother.
[00:29:34] Jordan Harbinger: It's just heartbreaking, isn't it?
[00:29:36] Gabriel Mizrahi: It's crazy. Yeah. She leaves her young children to be with this other man that'll do a number on you, right?
[00:29:41] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:29:41] Gabriel Mizrahi: Just by itself. Then, she comes back and she's this completely different person. Who knows exactly what happened there? I mean, I wonder if something happened with the other guy—
[00:29:49] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:29:49] Gabriel Mizrahi: —or maybe there were preexisting things going on. I don't know. The thing that really got me though was that detail about her sitting on the front porch with her head in her hands.
[00:29:57] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. That was quite an image. That's a level of pain that is just, it's almost unimaginable. When I heard that, I thought, imagine spending more than a few moments like that just—
[00:30:06] Gabriel Mizrahi: Right.
[00:30:07] Jordan Harbinger: —sort of wildling the day away on the front porch with your head in your hands, just—
[00:30:10] Gabriel Mizrahi: Day after day, yeah.
[00:30:11] Jordan Harbinger: —day after day, just in pain. I'm just picturing this little girl looking at her mother through the window, like, "Who are you? But also, I love you and I need you, but I'm angry at you and also kind of scared of you, but I'm also worried about you and I don't know how to help."
[00:30:25] Gabriel Mizrahi: Right.
[00:30:26] Jordan Harbinger: That just must have left quite a mark, a set of marks.
[00:30:28] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah. No kidding. You can hear that in the letter though too, right?
[00:30:31] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:30:31] Gabriel Mizrahi: Like, "I miss my mom. I feel like the adult here, I'm exhausted from trying to convince her to keep living." It sounds like she's been carrying her mother's burden for decades, probably.
[00:30:40] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:30:41] Gabriel Mizrahi: And she's still doing it well into adulthood.
[00:30:43] Jordan Harbinger: Well, maybe that's where we need to go, what it's like to carry that burden for a parent and how she ended up in that role.
[00:30:50] Gabriel Mizrahi: Right. Because it's really not something as a young child should have to bear, but you can't help but want to fill that role if your mother is unstable. She's doing it now because it's her mother still, right? I mean, it's extraordinarily difficult to just stand by while your mother is grieving and suicidal and suffering from an eating disorder and torturing herself for what she put her husband through and do nothing. Although I have to say it is totally inappropriate for our mother to be bringing this stuff to her even later in life. I think it's probably inappropriate, like sending that email and I mean, that's business between her mother and her husband, not with her child. But anyway, Jordan, I think you're right. Her feelings about her mom are very mixed. But yeah, it is hard to not want to save a parent who is spiraling out.
[00:31:35] Jordan Harbinger: The messed up thing is it wasn't her job to save her mother.
[00:31:38] Gabriel Mizrahi: Right. No. It was not.
[00:31:40] Jordan Harbinger: That was her mother's job—
[00:31:41] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah.
[00:31:41] Jordan Harbinger: —and to a lesser extent, her father's job. But I get the sense that she's played that role for a long time, and withdrawing now is just too difficult.
[00:31:50] Gabriel Mizrahi: Right. Well, we also have to appreciate just how difficult this mother is. Her issues aside, it's not just that she's suffering in all of these ways, she's also very demonstrative about it, right?
[00:32:01] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:32:01] Gabriel Mizrahi: She's bringing, like I said, all this incredibly personal stuff to her daughter in this intense way. Like with the whole, "this is the knife I use to kill daddy—"
[00:32:08] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:32:08] Gabriel Mizrahi: —email. I mean, Jesus Christ.
[00:32:10] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. There's almost something theatrical about that, right? It's just such an intense thing to say.
[00:32:16] Gabriel Mizrahi: Right. It's like a character in a Tennessee Williams play or something. Like it's so over the top almost.
[00:32:21] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. I'm just picturing Meryl Streep holding up a photo of some guy and like, "This is enough. I used to kill your Pappy." And I want to say it's kind of extra. I don't mean to make light of this. I'm sure she really does feel like she killed her husband, and maybe in a way she did.
[00:32:34] Gabriel Mizrahi: Maybe. But also he chose to stick around. He accepted her cheating twice.
[00:32:40] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:32:40] Gabriel Mizrahi: He took care of her and the kids while she spun out and withdrew, basically.
[00:32:44] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:32:44] Gabriel Mizrahi: He drank a lot. He smoked a lot. I mean, I think he was probably doing the best he could, but he had a role to play there too.
[00:32:50] Jordan Harbinger: For sure. There's a whole other layer to this story we probably don't have time to get into—
[00:32:56] Gabriel Mizrahi: yeah.
[00:32:56] Jordan Harbinger: —how she feels about her dad.
[00:32:57] Gabriel Mizrahi: Right.
[00:32:57] Jordan Harbinger: You know, I do wonder if maybe she has some anger toward her mom about what happened to him, maybe toward him for not taking care of himself. Who knows? Maybe even some guilt herself for relying on him so much.
[00:33:09] Gabriel Mizrahi: Oh, good point.
[00:33:10] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. There's so much here, but we just, let's focus on mom.
[00:33:13] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah. Well, just to cut to the chase here a little bit. Mom has 74 years—
[00:33:19] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:33:19] Gabriel Mizrahi: —of really intense stuff to work through.
[00:33:21] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:33:22] Gabriel Mizrahi: And this active eating disorder and these suicidal thoughts. The woman writing in is asking, can she just get over this and live out her days being a happy mom and grandmother, and the answer to that sadly is no. I don't think she can just get over this because these wounds and these disorders are just way too complex and yeah, deep seated. I understand the wish to just snap her fingers and make her mom better, but yeah, that is not going to happen.
[00:33:47] Jordan Harbinger: Mom needs to see someone.
[00:33:49] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yes.
[00:33:49] Jordan Harbinger: She needs to start talking about all of this. That's the only way. I know we arrive at this conclusion a lot and I don't mean to just question you here, but that's the only way to get through this, right?
[00:33:59] Gabriel Mizrahi: Therapist, absolutely. Maybe, a psychiatrist, a therapist could tell you that, make a referral and probably an MD for the eating disorder. You know, this mom has had two different eating disorders over many, many years. I would want to make sure that my mom is physically okay. Is her body okay? And maybe get some referrals there too.
[00:34:18] Jordan Harbinger: We got to talk about the bulimia for a second though, the thing she said about that being an expression of her guilt over her husband's ulcers. How he couldn't hold down any food. That's an interesting theory. I don't know if it's true. It's interesting.
[00:34:32] Gabriel Mizrahi: Hard to say. It's very poetic, but I'm not sure if it explains decades of disordered eating.
[00:34:38] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:34:38] Gabriel Mizrahi: I mean, many eating disorders as we know are, you know about gaining a sense of control over your life. And I'm guessing that our mom feels very out of control and probably has felt out of control for a long time. I mean, just look at her life, right? That's probably the more likely explanation, but also anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, impulsive behavior, all of which, by the way, could have explained why she carried on with these other men or behaved the way she did. All of that could be playing a role here in the eating disorder too, that's in the mix as well. So that's where I would spend my energy really on getting your mom the help she needs because you just can't fix her on your own.
[00:35:16] Jordan Harbinger: I agree. But candidly, I don't know if this mom is ready to accept that help or to really even be in a place to engage with it.
[00:35:23] Gabriel Mizrahi: We don't really know. She sounds difficult to help in a certain way, or maybe she's just made it difficult for people to help her because she's withdrawn so much. But if she doesn't engage with this help, then the woman writing in has to accept her mother for who she is. And then I think to learn how to pull back a little and protect herself because this relationship is taking quite a toll on her.
[00:35:44] Jordan Harbinger: I hear you and I know what you're getting at, but what is she supposed to do? Let her mom gun it down the freeway with no seatbelt. Let her get a script for Oxy and possibly OD at a frigging playground or at home.
[00:35:56] Gabriel Mizrahi: Oh, yeah.
[00:35:56] Jordan Harbinger: I mean, she can't just listen to her suicidal mother and do nothing, can she?
[00:36:01] Gabriel Mizrahi: I'm not saying she should do nothing. She can listen to her mom, which she's probably already doing. She can support her mom up to a point, and she can definitely encourage her to get help but mom has to want to get better. Without that, there's no way her mom is going to change in a meaningful way. But I guess the reason that I'm focusing so much on the woman writing in is that I think the real question here isn't, "What do I do about my troubled mom," but, "How do I accept that this is the mom I have?"
[00:36:29] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, I think you're right, but that's a really sad thing to come to terms with.
[00:36:34] Gabriel Mizrahi: It's beyond sad, the sadness that this woman carries around because of her mom, which I think is probably both her mom's sadness and her own sadness about her mom's sadness—
[00:36:45] Jordan Harbinger: Mmm.
[00:36:46] Gabriel Mizrahi: —that is profound.
[00:36:47] Jordan Harbinger: It's also exhausting. I mean, it's hard to even live a full life when you're constantly trying to prop up a parent like this.
[00:36:54] Gabriel Mizrahi: Oh, yeah. Just imagine feeling like that's like your whole extra job in addition to living. I mean, you know, look, as we sit here dissecting this, I'm having a reaction that I think we have to a lot of the stories we hear on the show, which is, you can't change any of this, right?
[00:37:09] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:37:09] Gabriel Mizrahi: Like you can't change your mom, you can't change your childhood. You can't bring your dad back, but you can accept that this is the reality you're living with, and you can learn how to process your own feelings about your mom and make sense of these experiences and take care of yourself in a way that your mother maybe/probably can't.
[00:37:27] So I'm not trying to be cold here. I'm not trying to be dismissive. I'm just looking at all of this and I'm thinking you have to take care of your side of the street because mom's side of the street, which you can't even begin to approach on your own, that is a mess, but it's her mess. And you can support her, but really she has to work on that on her own.
[00:37:46] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. And that is so hard to accept, but you're right, it really is the only option. So I'm really going to sound like a broken record today and say, please get the support that you need too. If you're not in therapy already, I highly encourage you to get there. You have your own childhood stuff to work through. So many feelings about your mom, what it's been like for you to feel responsible for her all these years, and I think you'd get a lot out of working through all of that with a professional. I hope you and your mom both get to do that. So we're sending you a big hug and wishing you and your mom all the best.
[00:38:20] You know who sells great exercise equipment and condensed milk and a can, Gabriel?
[00:38:26] Gabriel Mizrahi: Do we have a condensed milk sponsor?
[00:38:27] Jordan Harbinger: No, we don't. Not yet, but we're working on it.
[00:38:29] The amazing sponsors who support this show. We'll be right back.
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[00:41:11] Now back to Feedback Friday.
[00:41:14] Okay, next up.
[00:41:16] Gabriel Mizrahi: Dear Jordan and Gabe, I'm 22 and I just started law school. During our orientation, many students and faculty members reinforce the idea that we'll have time for little else besides school. I know that law school is difficult and time consuming, and I understand that many lawyers have their entire lives consumed by work. The thing is, I want to work hard in school and have a great career, but not at the cost of giving up my life. I've been a high achiever all my life, and some even consider me a workaholic. I'm not set on taking any particular job. I'm open to a variety of paths. Can I be a high achiever in school and work and still have time for family, friends, and the things I love? Is there a way to shift focus to something less prestigious, but ultimately more meaningful? If so, how can I go about finding that? Signed, A Type A Who Still Wants to Play.
[00:42:06] Jordan Harbinger: Well, hey, congrats on starting law school. That is a huge accomplishment. You're right, it's going to be pretty intense. I remember that pretty well, but it's also rewarding and occasionally interesting. So I hope you have a great experience there.
[00:42:19] When I was there, I remember stressing out and then one professor was like, "Man, just enjoy this. Enjoy having conversations with smart people and it's usually low stakes and you're going to be fine." And I took that to heart and it made the experience a hell of a lot more palatable. It really did.
[00:42:33] You know, everyone's focused on finals and I was like, maybe I should just enjoy this process. You're asking some really big questions. We could talk about this for hours, but here's my brief take. First of all, negotiating between your career and your personal life will be a constant process until you retire, probably. You're going to go through phases, probably where you work your ass off, and other phases where you get to enjoy life more.
[00:42:56] For example, you might work really hard to land your first summer associateship, and then you'll be able to coast a little bit after that. Or you might burn the midnight oil to build your reputation at the first firm you work for, and then you'll have some capital to protect your personal time more later on.
[00:43:10] I think it's worth working hard if you are chasing a goal that you actually care about and when you're connected to something you really care about. Working hard really isn't as bad. It's actually exhilarating. This is why people burn out at frigging consulting firms and investment banks because they're working hard for something they could not care less about most of the time.
[00:43:28] Am I on with this, Gabriel, used to?
[00:43:30] Gabriel Mizrahi: Oh yeah. Totally fair. Yeah. I was thinking the same thing in the lie I would imagine as well, but yeah, especially when you're young and you haven't quite figured that out yet and you're just like toiling for toiling sake, yeah, that's when you get burned out, totally.
[00:43:41] Jordan Harbinger: I also think there's an element of work-life balance that doesn't/almost shouldn't exist in 20, 30-somethings. People who talk about work-life balance — this is a Scott Galloway thing, he's brilliant, and he talks about work-life balance and he's like, "Look, if you want balance when you're 40 and 50, you're probably not going to have any balance when you're 20 and 30," because you are working your butt off to get to a point where you are so skilled and so senior, so networked, and so everything that you can then protect your personal time like you mentioned.
[00:44:08] So maybe a better question would be, what do I really care about? What kind of experiences do I want to have? What lights me up? If you answer those questions, then you'll know which things are deserving of your hard work and which things are not. That is more useful than trying to decide how much to balance hard work with the personal life and some abstract sense. And yes, you can be a high achiever and still have time for family and friends and the things you love and you should, that balance is key. And life is about so much more than work.
[00:44:39] And it's easy for me to say because I'm also kind of a workaholic. But the key here is being extremely disciplined. I know I say this all the time, but with the right mindset, systems, habits, you would be amazed at what you could accomplish without being chained to a desk 16 hours a day. And to help you there, I'm going to link to some episodes of the show that I think would be great for you in the show notes. Definitely give those a listen.
[00:45:02] Beyond that, the best advice I can really offer is to read as much as you can and talk to as many people as you can. If I were you, I would start reaching out to lawyers whose careers look interesting and meaningful to you, and get to know them. Ask them how they got to where they are, how they used their legal backgrounds, what they'd advise you to be thinking about. Start to build a tribe of interesting people who can guide you. Look for ways to help them. You'll be amazed by how just a handful of great relationships can open doors and change your life. That's also the best strategy I know to find a job you love. You might want to start with your law school's alumni network because those people tend to be, I'd say, especially responsive, but LinkedIn, it's also going to be your best friend here. These seeds might not sprout for three, five, eight years, but I would definitely plant them now.
[00:45:52] So I hope that gives you a few new ideas, some questions to explore. And by the way, I think these are ideas that we can explore at any stage of our career, all of us can. But for you specifically, I do think you're going through a little bit of a healthy crisis about what deserves your hard work and focus, and that is a great question to ask. So in addition to doing well in school, if that matters to you, I would make that a priority, figuring out what you care about. If you can figure that out young or young-ish, then all these other questions will fall into place pretty easily, I promise you that.
[00:46:26] All right, Gabe, what's next?
[00:46:28] Gabriel Mizrahi: Hi, Jordan and Gabe. I was raised as an only child by my mother and grandmother who were both verbally and physically abusive. I also lived in an area where I faced daily ethnic persecution. The incident I remember most was when a classmate beat me to the point where I was in too much pain to get off the floor and not a single student or school employee so much has paid attention to me. Stuff like that occurred at least once a week. My mother and I escaped that area when I was around 10, but the abuse at home didn't stop until I was 16 when I fought back with my mother. When I moved out at the age of 22, that's when all verbal abuse stopped. My mother later told me that she never hurt me once, and that if she did, I did something to deserve it. I'm 23 now. I have a stable job and I live alone in my own apartment, and I'm on good terms with my mom. Well, I do feel some semblance of love for her, and I help her where I can. Once she's gone, I don't think I'll care. I've been diagnosed with PTSD. I went to therapy for five months and it made the flashbacks, panic attacks, and nightmares worse and more frequent. My sleep got worse too, and it hurt my performance at work. I've been managing these symptoms well on my own, so I'm not keen on trying therapy again. On most days, I'm miserable, but I manage. I'm able to have friendships, but I haven't been able to hold down a romantic relationship. I haven't really felt love for anyone. I'm not even sure what that feeling is like. While I enjoyed being in a relationship with a woman, sometime back, I had little emotional attachment to her and zero feelings for her now that we've split. In the future, I'll probably just live with a few cats, hopefully, do humanitarian work that will help people and give me personal satisfaction and live like that until I croak.
[00:48:16] Jordan Harbinger: Okay, well, you just hole up with like 20 Siamese. All right. Also, bonus points for using the word croak. My mom and I love that word. You got to be — you sure you're not secretly a Jewish grandmother? Anyway, go on.
[00:48:31] Gabriel Mizrahi: We don't know this person's background, but it could be.
[00:48:32] Jordan Harbinger: Right. It could be.
[00:48:34] Gabriel Mizrahi: Do I have something to fix? Am I missing out by being like my mom who's never been able to hold down a romantic relationship herself? Signed, The Lone Ranger, Staying Out of Danger.
[00:48:45] Jordan Harbinger: Ooh, I could have waited for one more sentence for you to finish there, I guess. Anyway, wowza, this is also just a really sad letter. I'm so sorry.
[00:48:55] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah.
[00:48:55] Jordan Harbinger: That you've been through this trauma in your life and it is trauma. You didn't deserve any of it. It's heartbreaking. It's obviously had a huge impact on you. I just want to give you a hug right now after hearing all that. Ugh.
[00:49:05] Gabriel Mizrahi: Same.
[00:49:06] Jordan Harbinger: So look, there's a lot here. We could talk about your story for a long time. I'd like to just be very direct with you. You're struggling, man. You're in a dark place by your own admission. On most days, you're miserable, but you manage. Although based on what you've shared, I'm not even sure you're really managing. It sounds like you're white-knuckling it through what sounds like fairly serious PTSD. And anyway, managing? That is just no way to live a life, man. There's another way, a much healthier and more productive way. And tons of people do it, but it's not easy.
[00:49:42] So this is the part where I tell you that you need to find a good therapist and start talking. But I hear that you already gave that a try and you didn't have a good experience. I want to dig into that for a minute because when you say that therapy made the symptoms worse, I believe you. I'm sure it did, but I strongly suspect that that's because you were finally beginning to confront all this incredibly painful stuff.
[00:50:03] Gabriel Mizrahi: Mmm.
[00:50:03] Jordan Harbinger: I'm guessing you started to talk about the bullying and the abuse and your feelings about your mother and your grandmother, and the flashbacks and the nightmares. All of these incredibly difficult experiences. And it makes sense that these symptoms, they just got to temporarily worse to cope with this kind of trauma, you often have to repress a ton of crap and go into therapy dragging that stuff into the light. That is scary. It's intense, and yes, it can sometimes make you feel worse temporarily. And that leads a lot of people to think that the therapy's just not working or that it's just too unpleasant. So why even bother? And I'm sympathetic to that in some respect.
[00:50:42] In fact, Gabe, this reminds me of that letter we took a couple of months back from the woman whose brother abused her as a kid. And it was showing up in her life and all these different ways, and she knew on some level that something was wrong, but she was afraid of going to therapy and rehashing all this difficult stuff because she wasn't sure how it might affect her. Like, could it get worse?
[00:51:01] Gabriel Mizrahi: Right. Could it get worse? I remember that that was episode 723. It was actually the first question if you want to go and listen to that. I would actually give that a listen. I think it would be a really interesting and helpful story for this guy to hear right now. Yeah.
[00:51:13] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, for sure. I still think about that one. And if I recall correctly, the woman who wrote in, she's still working through a lot of what happened to her.
[00:51:21] Gabriel Mizrahi: Mm-hmm.
[00:51:21] Jordan Harbinger: But she did decide to open up more about it with the people in her life. So she's revisiting some of this stuff, which I was really happy to hear.
[00:51:27] So look, I know this isn't quite what you want to hear, but we're not here to tell you what you want to hear. We're here to help you see things that might be hard to see. And in your case, what's hard to see is that you actually do indeed need support to work through this and you deserve that support, man. Because I think what's happened is that managing the PTSD that's become essentially a full-time project for you.
[00:51:51] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah.
[00:51:51] Jordan Harbinger: It's probably sucking up a ton of mental and emotional energy, even if you don't realize it, because a lot of that is unconscious and that is just freaking exhausting. It's debilitating, it's scary, it's disempowering, it's holding you back. And if you really zoom out, I'm not sure that how you feel these days is ultimately worse than unpacking this with a therapist over time with at least the light at the end of the tunnel, right?
[00:52:18] Now, it is possible that you just didn't find the right therapist for you. Maybe the person you worked with didn't help you understand that the symptoms might get worse in the short term. Or maybe you didn't really feel held by that person. I'm sorry for using that word. I sound like a frigging Tumblr post right now. But that is an important—
[00:52:36] Gabriel Mizrahi: It is important.
[00:52:37] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. It's an important experience in therapy. And the point is, maybe this person wasn't exactly the right fit, and that's okay. But there are great therapists out there, people with experience treating PTSD who can be the partner you need in this. And I know that that's the only place that you're going to really be able to resolve this stuff.
[00:52:55] Gabriel Mizrahi: I could not agree more, Jordan. My heart breaks for this guy and I know that he could get better. But yeah, it's not always going to be easy. I think in cases like this, things often do have to get worse before they get better because you really have to feel all of the things that you've been working so hard not to feel for so long, which is why going to therapy and working on this stuff, it really does require real courage, real dedication. You have to be willing to just ride out the painful parts of resolving trauma.
[00:53:27] But listen, you've shared some really intense stuff with us. You've been through a lot in your life, you know that. But the one big thing that I'm hearing in your letter is a very profound sense of loneliness. You're alienated from your mom for understandable reasons.
[00:53:43] You struggle to love people. You struggle to stay in relationships. You're fantasizing about living alone with a bunch of cats until you die, which don't get me wrong—
[00:53:51] Jordan Harbinger: Easy buddy, you live with some cats.
[00:53:53] Gabriel Mizrahi: I love cats. I love being alone. I've had the exact same thought at times, so I get it. But I wonder if what you're really trying to tell us is, "I want to be connected to other people. I need somebody in my corner. I want help." When you told us the story about being beat up in school, which oh man, again, is like, that's a truly heartbreaking story.
[00:54:13] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:54:14] Gabriel Mizrahi: The part that really got me was when you said, "Not a single student or school employee so much has paid attention to me." And when you talk to your mom about the abuse, she denied ever doing it while weirdly also arguing that if she did do it, you did something to deserve it, that's a very painful message and confusing message to receive from a parent. And maybe the worst part is feeling like no one was really on your side. No one was taking you seriously.
[00:54:39] Jordan Harbinger: So I caught that and I thought that was really interesting sort of gaslighting.
[00:54:44] Gabriel Mizrahi: It's kind of classic gaslighting, right?
[00:54:46] Jordan Harbinger: There's something called the narcissist prayer and it goes, "That didn't happen. And if it did, it wasn't that bad. And if it was, that's not a big deal. And if it is, that's not my fault. And if it was, I didn't mean it. And if I did, then you deserved it."
[00:55:00] Gabriel Mizrahi: Whoa, that's. very intense. That's a great little thing. How did you even remember that?
[00:55:05] Jordan Harbinger: I actually did not. I Googled, "It did happen. If it's not my fault and you deserved it," and the internet was like, hold on, let me stop you right there. I think I know what you mean.
[00:55:15] Gabriel Mizrahi: Got it.
[00:55:16] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. Google's good like that. Also, Dr. Ramani plug narcissistic parenting episode 742, 743. That stuff is gold. The narcissistic parenting stuff, man, what it does to the kids and the imprinting and all this stuff.
[00:55:29] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah, yeah, yeah. It really leaves a mark and then, I think it's leaving at least this guy in a position of realizing that he really needs somebody to help him be the parent he didn't really get to have.
[00:55:39] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:55:39] Gabriel Mizrahi: I mean, look, even this dream you have of doing humanitarian work, incredibly noble. I love that you're interested in that kind of work. I hope you pursue it if that's what you want, but that's so interesting given your background.
[00:55:51] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:55:51] Gabriel Mizrahi: Because I do wonder if maybe on some level you want to help other people in need because it might be a way to give them what you didn't get yourself.
[00:56:00] Jordan Harbinger: Totally.
[00:56:01] Gabriel Mizrahi: Or at least put you in that arena. What I'm getting at is, yeah, consciously your resisting connection with partners, with friends, with a therapist, because being in a relationship with other people is very fraught for you. It's risky, but deep down, I think you long for that connection as you should. We all do. That's what human beings need.
[00:56:22] So all of this to say, I think you're already in touch with the answer to your question, and if I could offer you any advice, it would be to tap into the courage to open this box again with the right professional and be willing to go through the pain, the necessary pain of getting better. That pain is the price of admission and you can't do it alone, and that's probably part of what is so unpleasant about it because you're someone who values self-sufficiency a lot, but being self-sufficient, I think that's also a response to the challenges that you've been through. But that's what's going to heal these wounds. And not just processing the wounds, but the act of opening yourself up to a relationship, a real relationship with someone who can be there for you in a real way.
[00:57:08] Jordan Harbinger: Well said Gabe. I could not agree more. So to answer your questions, yes you do have something to fix, but you already knew that what you maybe didn't know is that you can fix this. And that feeling worse is actually a necessary part of getting better in many cases. Like the old saying goes, the only way out is through. It's — the obstacle is the way, right, Ryan Holiday? That's not always fun, but it's essential and it's important. And yes, I do believe you are missing out. by being like your mom.
[00:57:36] She's obviously had a massive influence on your life. She's clearly on your mind a lot. I'm so sorry that she did what she did to you. But that trauma, not to be flippant or Pollyanna-ish here, but that's also an invitation for you to look at this difficult stuff and try things a new way.
[00:57:52] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah.
[00:57:52] Jordan Harbinger: And that's the opportunity hidden within the pain, which if you really throw yourself into this work, it's easy for me to say, but it's a gift.
[00:58:00] Gabriel Mizrahi: It's going to become a gift, yeah, in time, for sure.
[00:58:02] Jordan Harbinger: So thank you for writing in, man. You had the courage to reach out to us, and my wish for you is that you keep following that courage to the resources you need. We're sending you a big hug and wishing you all the best. Ugh, real hug though, man, after that.
[00:58:16] Hope you all enjoyed that. I want to thank everybody who wrote in this week and everybody who listened. Thank you so much. Go back and check out Miki Mistrati and Dr. Sohom Das, if you haven't yet.
[00:58:25] If you want to know how I managed to book all these incredible folks for the show, it is about software, systems, tiny habits, and literally like two to four minutes a day. Our Six-Minute Networking course is where I'm teaching you these systems. It's free, no credit card necessary, no weird schmoozy networking stuff. It's on the Thinkific platform at jordanharbinger.com/course.
[00:58:44] A link to the show notes for the episode can be found at jordanharbinger.com. Transcripts in the show notes. Advertisers, deals, and discounts, all at jordanharbinger.com/deals. Please consider supporting those who support this show. I'm at @JordanHarbinger on both Twitter and Instagram. You can also connect with me on LinkedIn. Find Gabe on Instagram at @GabrielMizrahi or on Twitter at @GabeMizrahi.
[00:59:06] 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'm not your lawyer, never was a good lawyer, so do your own research before implementing anything you hear on the show.
[00:59:25] Brad Watts' input is general psychological information based on research and clinical experience. It's intended to be general and informational in nature. It does not represent or indicate an established clinical or professional relationship with those inquiring for guidance. You can learn more about brad at bradwattslpc.com. You can also find him on Twitter at @bradwattslpc.
[00:59:43] But of course, remember, we rise by lifting others. Share the show with those you love. And if you found this episode useful, please share it with somebody else who can use the advice that we gave here today. In the meantime, do your best to apply what you hear on the show, so you can live what you listen, and we'll see you next time.
[01:00:00] You're about to hear a preview of The Jordan Harbinger Show with actress and former Scientologist, Leah Remini.
[01:00:06] Leah Remini: There's a special department in Scientology organization. Their sole job is to go after those speaking out against Scientology. That's all they do, day in, day out. One of the directives by L. Ron Hubbard says, "Find out what the person is seeking to protect and go after it." And I'm quoting now, "If at all possible, utterly destroy."
[01:00:30] When you want to talk about, "Oh, it's like any other religion," you need to get your head out of your f*cking ass and really understand what the difference is between having faith and having an organization that has a price list and has an organization dedicated solely for the utter destruction of people who lead.
[01:00:50] Scientology's goal is to make 80 percent of the planet Scientologists. Without Scientology, there's no hope for men. And that is the extremist attitude of every Scientologist on the planet.
[01:01:04] Jordan Harbinger: The leader's wife has been missing for like years now.
[01:01:07] Leah Remini: Sure. Yep.
[01:01:07] Jordan Harbinger: What do you think happened to her? Where is she?
[01:01:09] Leah Remini: I don't know that Shelly's alive. I don't know where Shelly is. This is David Miscavige, the leader of Scientology, chairman of the board. This is Tom Cruise's best friend.
[01:01:20] Jordan, if you had a best friend that you knew had a wife that was with him all the time, wouldn't you say, "Well, I haven't seen your wife. Like I need to see her. I'm starting to worry that she's in a f*cking freezer somewhere." No one's done that. I have been the only person that has ever inquired about Shelly Miscavige.
[01:01:36] Jordan Harbinger: To learn more about the dangers of the cult of Scientology from Leah Remini herself, check out episode 485 on The Jordan Harbinger Show.
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