Ever since being sexually assaulted by someone you trusted as a friend in high school, it seems like you only wind up in relationships with people who will similarly hurt you. It’s such a troubling pattern that it’s got you wondering: are you somehow at fault when you’re a magnet for assault? 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:
- A pattern of troubling relationships after being sexually assaulted by a trusted friend in high school has you wondering: are you somehow at fault when you’re a magnet for assault? [Once again, clinical psychologist Dr. Erin Margolis helps us with this one!]
- Are you obligated to honor the dying wish of a manipulative parent who’s never really been there for you in your time of need?
- The extreme poverty you experienced in childhood no doubt contributed to the mindset that got you where you are today: successful by most metrics and financially well-rewarded. But you also live in fear that one wrong move could take this all away and leave you destitute once again. How can you ever feel safe from the looming specter of poverty?
- You’re a science-rooted skeptic, and your otherwise perfect significant other has a career in alternative medicine. You can live with a difference in views, but you’re afraid that important health decisions for your kids could cause major conflict in the future. Is there room enough here to find a middle ground?
- You’re doing work you feel is important, but you often find yourself struggling to get fired up and motivated about following through with it. Is there a way to stay more consistently connected to your purpose, or is this a sign that it’s not really your purpose?
- 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 and Instagram @gabrielmizrahi.
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 the last time we had Navy SEAL leadership authority and Extreme Ownership co-author Jocko Willink on the show? Make sure to check out episode 93: Jocko Willink | Leading on the Line Between Extreme and Reckless!
Resources from This Episode:
- E-Commerce Scams | Skeptical Sunday | Jordan Harbinger
- Scott Lyons | Overcoming an Addiction to Drama | Jordan Harbinger
- Dr. Erin Margolis | Website
- Are You at Fault for Being Sexually Assaulted? | Feedback Friday | Jordan Harbinger
- BDSM Is Increasingly Mainstream, and It Boosts Intimacy | Psychology Today
- The Boundary Between Abuse and BDSM | The New York Times
- Dave Navarro Hangs from His Back Piercings! | TMZ
- Rare Books | Type Punch Matrix
- Erewhon Market | Los Angeles
- Overcoming Financial Trauma From Child Poverty | Health
- Survivors of The Great Depression Tell Their Stories | NPR
- Deep Dive | How to Stop Comparing Yourself to Other People | Jordan Harbinger
- Complementary and Alternative Healthcare: Is it Evidence-Based? | International Journal of Health Sciences
- Why You Should Avoid dōTERRA Like the Plague | The Motley Fool
- iVegetarian: The High Fructose Diet of Steve Jobs | Psychology Today
- Dave Farina | Debunking Junk Science Myths | Jordan Harbinger
- How to Avoid Scams | Deep Dive | Jordan Harbinger
- Linda Carroll | Unlocking Lasting Love Skills | Jordan Harbinger
- What to Do When Your Purpose Starts to Suck | Deep Dive | Jordan Harbinger
- How to Keep Going When Your Purpose Makes You Miserable | Jordan Harbinger
837: Who’s at Fault When You’re a Magnet for Assault? | Feedback Friday
[00:00:00] Jordan Harbinger: Special thanks to US Bank 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, a dude whose freshly trimmed beard is making it pretty hard to roast him this week and only this week, Gabriel Mizrahi.
[00:00:19] Gabriel Mizrahi: I'm glad for the reprieve. Honestly, I should just shave more often.
[00:00:22] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, you get a little break. Don't get used to it.
[00:00:24] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah.
[00:00:25] Jordan Harbinger: On The Jordan Harbinger Show, we decode the stories, secrets, and skills of the world's most fascinating people, and we 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, that we profile, think and behave. And our mission is to help you become a better informed, more critical thinker so you can get a much deeper understanding of how the world works and make sense of what's really happening even inside your own mind.
[00:00:49] 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 incredible people, from spies to CEOs, thinkers, performers, athletes, authors. This week we had Dr. Scott Lyons on drama addiction. I had no idea you could be addicted to drama, but apparently not only can you be addicted to it, but the mechanism is strikingly similar. So if you know anybody who's dramatic or if you're the dramatic one, you're going to want to hear this episode. Really, really interesting. I had never heard, quite frankly, most of this stuff that we talked about. So make sure you've had a listen to everything that we created for you here this week. That is really quite an episode.
[00:01:25] All right, we've got some fun ones. We've got some doozies, and I can't wait to dive in. Gabe, what's the first thing out of the mailbag?
[00:01:31] Gabriel Mizrahi: Dear Jordan and Gabe, when I was 15, I was sexually assaulted by a good friend of mine. It was my first sexual experience and I remember being very scared and confused. I struggled to remember if I said no, but I remember some non-verbal and physical cues. I remember saying that he was hurting me and trying to push him away. The fear and shame of the situation made me keep it a secret. When I turned 18 in my senior year, I started to really struggle with what happened. We were still at the same school and had the same friends. I was an honor roll student in college-bound. I struggled more and more with the memories, was having panic attacks and was terrified to see him. I started ditching school and in my final semester, I dropped out without any notice. My parents were devastated and I had a huge falling out with my dad. I moved out three weeks after I turned 18 with my boyfriend at the time. I struggled so much to be physically intimate with him and had panic attacks when we were together. Finally, when I was 19, I told my mom the truth. Then at 21, I told my dad the truth. In an attempt to cope without therapy or health insurance, I turned to BDSM. I heard it was a good way to be in control, and I fell down that rabbit hole. My boyfriend and I had an open relationship, and it was during that time that I met my, quote-unquote, "soulmate." We shared sexual trauma in our past, and I didn't feel scared of being intimate with him. Eventually, I broke it off with my boyfriend, moved back in with my parents, and began a relationship with this new partner. Slowly, the dark narcissist in him emerged. I was too in love to notice what was happening. He successfully had me cut off a dear friend. My relationship with my parents became much more strained, and I spent a lot of nights at his apartment. For about 18 months, he turned me into a person I didn't recognize. He convinced me to give up hobbies, made me stop listening to music I liked, and told me to stop wearing makeup. I loved him, so I did it all Three years ago, he moved back to his home state across the country. It left me completely shattered, and I had to start the long process of putting my life back together. I started therapy two years ago and was eventually diagnosed with bipolar disorder, which I've been on meds for since. I was always quick to point out that this boyfriend didn't physically abuse me, but I began to talk about manipulation, gaslighting, and emotional abuse. I'm now 26 and over the last six months I've been seeing the truth about the physical trauma that I endured during our BDSM sessions. He would go beyond the boundaries we had set, but I was too scared to say anything. I've been struggling with panic attacks again, and the physical intimacy issues with my new partner are back. I feel like I've done nothing but attract people who sexually batter me. Now, I'm asking the awful questions — do I attract these people? Is it my fault that this keeps happening because I don't speak up about the trauma? How can I protect myself from people like this going forward? Signed, Sussing Out My Part in Leaving These Marks As I Mend My Heart.
[00:04:33] Jordan Harbinger: Oh man, this is quite a story.
[00:04:36] Gabriel Mizrahi: Wow.
[00:04:36] Jordan Harbinger: Oof. You've been through a lot here, my friend. I'm very sorry to hear about all of this. I imagine that these experiences are not easy to talk about, and I want to thank you for sharing so much with us—
[00:04:46] Gabriel Mizrahi: Mm-hmm.
[00:04:46] Jordan Harbinger: —for inviting us into this very complex and personal question that you're asking. It sounds to me like you've come a really long way since these events, and I'm so glad that you got into therapy two years ago, and I'm glad it gave you a place to talk about what you've been through and get a helpful diagnosis. That was one of the best things that you could have done, but I can hear that there's still a lot to understand about yourself and the fact that the panic attacks are back and the physical intimacy issues are back. That's probably a sign that there's some very powerful, unresolved stuff here. So let's dive in.
[00:05:17] We wanted to talk to an expert about your story. So we reached out to the one and only Dr. Erin Margolis, clinical psychologist and friend of the show.
[00:05:25] Soundbite: I'm also known to the people who know me the best as the f*cking doctor. [Analyze This - Dr. Ben Sobel]
[00:05:31] Jordan Harbinger: And Dr. Margolis began with the same thought Gabe and I had. This is a theme we come back to again and again on the show, which is no, this assault, this abusive relationship, these difficult experiences, they are not your fault, full stop. How you've processed these traumas, the meaning you've made out of these experiences, how they've led you into new experiences, those are your responsibility to understand and unpack so that you don't repeat these unhelpful patterns in the future. And that is a really crucial distinction to make.
[00:06:03] And by the way, it's one, I can see you're already making just by asking this question, which is excellent. And Gabriel, it also happens to be a distinction that we always get in trouble for making.
[00:06:13] Gabriel Mizrahi: Mm-hmm.
[00:06:13] Jordan Harbinger: Because the second we hint at anything other than it's completely not your fault, which again, not your fault, but your responsibility, we get eight jillion one-star reviews because we're shaming the victim, which we're not doing, by the way.
[00:06:24] Gabriel Mizrahi: I would add that we rarely hear that from the people who write in themselves. We often hear it from other people who seem to get angry on their behalf, which I find fascinating.
[00:06:30] Jordan Harbinger: Right. We never hear it from the actual person who wrote in. It's always from some random Karen who heard the show one time and decided to, this was the hill she was going to die on.
[00:06:39] Gabriel Mizrahi: You hear what you want to hear, I guess.
[00:06:41] Jordan Harbinger: Sorry, actual Karens who are perfectly nice people named Karen. It's funny, we've mentioned the word Karen on the show before and I got a tweet in an email from somebody named Karen. She's like, "We're not all that bad. I hate that my name has been hijacked."
[00:06:52] Gabriel Mizrahi: I do feel for Karens though.
[00:06:53] Jordan Harbinger: I do.
[00:06:53] Gabriel Mizrahi: I do feel for them.
[00:06:54] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. Like the name has just been soiled from these Karens.
[00:06:58] All right, so let's dig into this. You asked if you attract these people. Dr. Margolis's take on that was, uh, attract probably not the right word, but there may be certain traits in people that you're drawn to, consciously or unconsciously, that have intersected with certain traits of yours, and those could create difficult situations like the ones you've shared with us.
[00:07:19] So, for example, and I want to be very clear here, I'm not saying that this is definitely what's going on with you, but it is a common template for people who have experienced certain kinds of trauma at a formative age. In that assault with your friend from high school, it's possible that love and pain got conflated and those two experiences got wrapped up of sort of fusion of some kind. And if a person comes to receive the message that love equals pain, there could be a part of you that stays with abusive partners longer than you should. You might have a higher tolerance for abuse or mistreatment because to you, and again, I'm not saying this is going on with you, but to you, it could be that the fact that a person is causing you pain, maybe that's telling your subconscious brain, "Oh, that also means they love me," right? And Dr. Margolis said, this is super normal and it's also something one has to unlearn because the traumatic experience can teach you things that then draw you to similar experiences with other people.
[00:08:15] Gabriel Mizrahi: Mm-hmm.
[00:08:15] Jordan Harbinger: And one reason that we're drawn to experiences that feel familiar is that we're working something out through them. And the thing we're often working out is the idea of, "Oh, well, maybe I can heal some part of myself if I live this traumatic experience with a different outcome." And you might not even be drawn to the problematic person themselves or the terrible thing they're doing. What you might be drawn to is an unconscious fantasy or wish, control, power, freedom, whatever it is that you're hoping will come to fruition through the relationship.
[00:08:47] Gabriel Mizrahi: Wow. Yeah, and I just got to jump in here really quickly and say, I would not be surprised if this were playing a role in some way in this story. And there's such an interesting parallel between what you just described, Jordan and the BDSM stuff.
[00:08:59] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. Right. I mean, she got into that world because as she put it, it was a good way to be in control. And I'm picturing her with like a freaking cat o' nine tails just beating up dudes that she's dating. I get it. I mean, that probably feels better than being on the other end of that stuff, right?
[00:09:12] Gabriel Mizrahi: Well, that's exactly right. And it's also interesting because even if she were the submissive person, that's still a powerful way to gain a little control because there are rules and that can give you the sense or perhaps the illusion that the situation won't get away from you, or it might give you power because yes, you're the sub, but you get to say no, or you get to say, I won't do this, or I will do that. Or you can use a safe word and actually have somebody honor that.
[00:09:36] Jordan Harbinger: Exactly. I do wonder if she was seeking something similar in her subsequent partners.
[00:09:41] Gabriel Mizrahi: Mmm, some sense of control through the difficult relationship, including the people who disempowered her, which is interesting.
[00:09:47] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. Including the ones who hurt her. Yeah, definitely. Strange paradox there, but that's precisely why this template is so powerful.
[00:09:53] Gabriel Mizrahi: It really is fascinating and it's so helpful to understand if that is what's going on. Now, all of that said, Dr. Margolis also pointed out something super important, which is that yes, this assault in high school was an objective trauma, and I'm sure it informed a lot of what you've experienced since then, but there might have been other experiences in your life before, during, after that event that could have also made you more susceptible to these partners.
[00:10:17] So for example, you didn't tell your parents or maybe anyone about the first assault for many years, which is perfectly understandable. It must have been incredibly hard to talk about, or maybe you felt like you didn't even have anyone to tell, which is also traumatic. Just the fact that you felt like you had to deal with something this big alone. That might speak to a great deal of shame, as you pointed out, maybe self-doubt about what actually happened, whether you were allowed to feel the way you did about it. Dr. Margolis' insight there was, as a result, maybe there was a part of you that wondered if it was your fault or if you deserved it in some sense, or if it even really happened, and perhaps that made you feel like you couldn't tell somebody sooner. And those qualities which look, who knows, they could have developed during childhood. They could have been drawn from your parents or informed by early models, your innate personality. There's so many variables here, but those qualities might have made you think that you deserved this abuse in later relationships or made you question whether what you were experiencing really was abuse in the first place.
[00:11:18] Another interesting example, that period during senior year when you had a huge falling out with your dad and you moved out of the house. Dr. Margolis helped us see that that is also a trauma. And I know that's a big word for maybe a smaller subplot of your story, but all of these wounds, they really do shape who we are. So that might make the whole idea of vulnerability very fraught for you. And look, who can blame you? Being vulnerable with another person after the incident with that guy in high school who you thought was your friend, that probably felt very unsafe. So Dr. Margolis wondered if there might also be a part of you that now seeks out partners who are emotionally unavailable or only available in a sort of very rigid prescribed kind of way, like with the BDSM stuff, or in an overtly abusive way, which might make it easier for you to not have to be vulnerable with them. Relationships like that, they can sometimes become about sex or role-playing or emotional abuse or whatever it is, and they can sometimes require a less intimate emotional connection, which for some people can obviously be quite scary.
[00:12:20] I just want to be very clear about this. Like no shade on BDSM as BDSM. I mean far be it for me or Jordan to dismiss a fetish out of hand or just try to automatically reduce it to a pathology. You know, that's not really our style. Just trying to like unpack this a little bit in your context.
[00:12:35] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. We all know Gabe loves a good spanking on the weekend.
[00:12:39] Gabriel Mizrahi: Well, you know, usually a good intellectual spanking. That's like more my thing, but sure.
[00:12:44] Jordan Harbinger: Hmm. Cerebral BDSM, there's a concept.
[00:12:47] Gabriel Mizrahi: Nice.
[00:12:47] Jordan Harbinger: What is that? Just like watching Jordan Peterson lectures on YouTube for three straight hours.
[00:12:52] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah, exactly. Curling up with a really good book at night, basically.
[00:12:56] Jordan Harbinger: Hmm, hot. All right.
[00:12:58] Gabriel Mizrahi: That's hot.
[00:13:00] All that to say, this BDSM thing is obviously much more complex and it seems to reflect and possibly recreate so many of the difficult themes of your story, so all of these experiences, these templates, these needs, feelings, they form a sort of constellation, right? A constellation of factors that interact in very complicated and often very subtle ways, and then all of a sudden, bam, you are in a dangerous relationship and you're sticking around too long, or you're feeling disconnected from yourself, or you're having panic attacks again. You're feeling lost, you're feeling unfulfilled, and that's a moment when you go, "Oh, okay. There's a whole iceberg of stuff below the surface that I might not be fully in touch with. That is leading me here, and now it's time for me to look at that."
[00:13:43] Jordan Harbinger: Totally agree, Gabe. So this is the part where we return to our other favorite theme on the show, which is keep talking about this. It's time to go deeper. I'm not sure if you're still in therapy. I hope you are, but if not, I definitely get back in. I'd find someone great. Ideally, somebody experienced in treating trauma and early experiences and dig into all the stuff that we only had time to just touch on today.
[00:14:05] Gabriel Mizrahi: Mm-hmm.
[00:14:05] Jordan Harbinger: To quote Dr. Margolis here, you have so much more agency than you probably give yourself credit for, but to exercise that agency, it's important to look at the common denominators with these partners and what about them you might be pulled to. That's how you ease these symptoms, the anxiety, the conflict around intimacy, and how you find your power.
[00:14:26] Gabriel Mizrahi: And by the way, that's the answer to your last question. How can I protect myself from people like this going forward? I mean, maybe you were hoping for some kind of checklist of traits to avoid, but the real answer to that is just to begin recognizing these patterns in yourself.
[00:14:38] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, that's exactly right. I'm resisting the urge to make a fake checklist like — has the ability to hoist himself up on the ceiling via back piercings, I don't know, tells you how little I know about BDSM.
[00:14:50] Gabriel Mizrahi: I'm just trying to picture, what did you just pitch that somebody can hoist themselves up the wall—
[00:14:54] Jordan Harbinger: Oh, have you not seen this? Oh gosh.
[00:14:56] Gabriel Mizrahi: With back piercings?
[00:14:58] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. So there's like this whole thing, it's probably a subset scene of a subset of a whatever, but it's like this guy had all these back piercings and they had rings through them. And he would run rope through the rings and hoist himself up by them, which is probably—
[00:15:12] Gabriel Mizrahi: Oh, man.
[00:15:13] Jordan Harbinger: —as painful as it sounds.
[00:15:14] Gabriel Mizrahi: That sounds horrific. Okay. I thought you were kidding. I didn't know it was a thing.
[00:15:18] Jordan Harbinger: No, it's a whole thing. I mean, don't Google it because you're probably going to be like, holy crap, that's real. I'm going to have nightmares about that for a month.
[00:15:24] Gabriel Mizrahi: We don't have that in the cerebral BDSM community. We just don't do, we just don't deal with that.
[00:15:28] Jordan Harbinger: All you guys have are subreddits with people discussing the fine points of street epistemology.
[00:15:34] Gabriel Mizrahi: That's right. Exactly. Those are my back piercings.
[00:15:36] Jordan Harbinger: Those are your back piercings. Yeah, your back piercings are logical fallacies.
[00:15:40] The best defense here is to think of it like a jigsaw puzzle. What puzzle edges do you have that fit with the puzzle edges of these people? And once you start to spot those in yourself, you'll start to see these guys coming a mile away. Does that metaphor make sense, Gabriel? It's like you have this weird cutout and other people fit into it, whether it's healthy or not.
[00:15:59] Gabriel Mizrahi: It's a perfect metaphor. I just didn't quite have room for it in my brain after you said that logical fallacies are my back piercings.
[00:16:04] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:16:04] Gabriel Mizrahi: I just like the equipment was not fitting, but yeah, now I'm into it.
[00:16:08] Jordan Harbinger: All right. Again, I'm so sorry this happened to you. It breaks my heart. It really does. I hate hearing stuff like this, but look, you're at a point now and it's a really intense place to be, but it's also kind of a beautiful place to be. You're ready to figure out what part of these experiences is you and what meaning you're going to make out of them. That's going to lead you to some really powerful insights, some decisions, relationships. That's the amazing upside to embracing this responsibility. So we're sending you a big hug. We're wishing you all the best.
[00:16:38] And you know who won't appreciate it if I make a BDSM reference right before I mention their company and/or brand, Gabriel? The fine products and services that support this show. We'll be right back.
[00:16:51] This episode is sponsored in part by Better Help. It's common to prioritize the needs of others over our own and forget about taking care of ourselves. I think a lot of us fall into this trap. However, finding a balance between self-care and supporting others is crucial for our overall well-being and for maintaining healthy relationships. You've heard that on Feedback Friday where people just swing way too far in one direction. And as the saying goes, it's important to put on your oxygen mask first before you assist others. Therapy can help you with the tools to achieve this balance, allowing you to continue supporting others without sacrificing your own needs. Seeking the help of a therapist during challenging times can help you manage stress and anxiety while also providing a confidential and safe space to work through past traumas and develop healthy coping mechanisms. Better Help believes in making therapy accessible and convenient for everyone with an online platform that allows you to connect with licensed therapists from anywhere on your schedule. Simply fill out a brief questionnaire, get matched with your therapist, and you can switch to any different therapist at any time without any extra cost.
[00:17:47] Jen Harbinger: Find more balance with Better Help. Visit betterhelp.com/jordan to get 10 percent off your first month. That's better-H-E-L-P.com/jordan.
[00:17:57] Jordan Harbinger: This episode is brought to you in part by US Bank. Seems like there's a credit card for everything these days, right? Food cards, cards for travel, cards for rare stamp collecting. For me, I don't know what I'm going to be spending money on from one minute to the next, but wouldn't you know it? US Bank has a card for people like me. Check out the US Bank Cash Plus Visa Signature card. With this card, you get up to five percent cash back on two categories that you choose every quarter. The great thing is the earning doesn't stop there. Even after you choose your first two earning categories, you also earn two percent back on one everyday category you choose each quarter like gas stations and EV charging stations, or grocery stores or restaurants, and you still earn one percent on everything else. Apply today at usbank.com/cashpluscard. All that already sounds good, but this card just keeps earning with a $200 rewards bonus after spending a thousand dollars in eligible purchases within the first 120 days of account opening. If you like choosing how your card earns, apply at usbank.com/cashpluscard. Limited time offer. The creditor and issuer of this card is US Bank National Association, pursuant to a license from Visa USA, Inc. Some restrictions may apply.
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[00:19:15] Now, back to Feedback Friday.
[00:19:18] Okay, next up.
[00:19:19] Gabriel Mizrahi: Hi, Jordan and Gabe. My 82-year-old father is a book aficionado and he keeps a mini library at home with about 3,000 titles. Since I moved abroad a few years ago, he's occasionally told me that I would be the one to maintain that asset after he died.
[00:19:33] Jordan Harbinger: Lucky you.
[00:19:34] Gabriel Mizrahi: That means I have to take good care of the books and I'm not free to use them the way I want, like opening a book cafe. I've never really rejected the suggestion because I wanted to avoid upsetting my father. But a few months ago I did. He said how disappointed he was and tried to manipulate my emotions, which is kind of his MO, but I stood my ground. As you may have guessed, my relationship with my father has never been easy and he is not particularly close with the rest of the family. I don't feel bad about turning down his request because he never really cared about us growing up, but now I'm considering accepting it and giving the books to a library after his passing just for him to die in peace. I would like him to have a somewhat fulfilling rest of his life, and I think if we can improve our relationship, he can die peacefully and the rest of my family can live without regret. There's another consideration here too, which is that I believe that if someone's wishes are not fulfilled, that person cannot be reincarnated and will wander the earth haunting people. Although sometimes I think that if I break this promise and give away the books, I won't actually be haunted by a literal ghost, but by my own guilt. Should I leave my dad to deal with his books alone? Should I accept them now and do whatever I want later? Is that immoral of me? What would you do if you were in my shoes? Signed, The Loathe Librarian Caught Between Being Contrarian or Becoming an Antiquarian.
[00:20:56] Jordan Harbinger: Ooh, interesting dilemma.
[00:20:58] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah.
[00:20:59] Jordan Harbinger: Honoring and aging parents' wishes, squaring those wishes with your own interests, your own beliefs. I mean, that can be really tough.
[00:21:06] Gabriel Mizrahi: Mm-hmm.
[00:21:07] Jordan Harbinger: And I understand why you're in a bind here.
[00:21:10] Gabriel Mizrahi: Mm-hmm.
[00:21:11] Jordan Harbinger: Much like your dad's books. All right, but this is quite a request.
[00:21:15] Gabriel Mizrahi: Nice.
[00:21:16] Jordan Harbinger: It's not like he's asking you to keep his collection of, I don't know, 20 JD Salinger first editions or whatever. Sorry, I don't mean to laugh, but he is asking you to maintain a library of 3,000 books. This is a ridiculously huge request.
[00:21:30] Gabriel Mizrahi: It's a big ask.
[00:21:31] Jordan Harbinger: By the way, is this guy not heard of the Internet? Anyway, whatever, you can keep that many on a Kindle, but I don't think that's the point of his collection.
[00:21:37] Gabriel Mizrahi: That's not the point.
[00:21:37] Jordan Harbinger: That nobody cares about. So first of all, your dad, huh, tricky personality. It sounds like he's a bit controlling.
[00:21:43] Gabriel Mizrahi: Mmm.
[00:21:43] Jordan Harbinger: He can be kind of manipulative. He wasn't involved in your life growing up and now this tough dad is dropping this asset on you. It's a burden. That's a better word for it when he hasn't even really been the most present for you. So your anger and conflict around all this, it makes total sense. This book collection is kind of an emblem of the whole dynamic with your dad.
[00:22:05] Gabriel Mizrahi: Mmm. Yeah. Fascinating how these objects take on all these different meanings in a family, right?
[00:22:10] Jordan Harbinger: For sure. Things are never just things in life, are they?
[00:22:13] Gabriel Mizrahi: Nope.
[00:22:13] Jordan Harbinger: Super interesting. So look—
[00:22:14] Gabriel Mizrahi: Mm-hmm.
[00:22:15] Jordan Harbinger: —from where I'm sitting in a situation like this, my feeling is that the relationship determines the extent of your responsibility. If your dad were much more thoughtful, kind, involved, and a love of books were something you guys shared your whole life, then this request would be much more appropriate. I'm still not sure you'd be obligated to keep them at a huge potential cost to yourself, but he would've at least deserved the favor a lot more. But that's not your dad. I don't mean to be callous here because everyone deserves some basic love and respect as they age, I guess, but really what we're talking about here is a not-very-nice guy who's basically ordering you to be his librarian. That's what this is. Now, I know there's this whole ghost angle figuring into the decision for you too. Obviously, you listen to the show. You know, I don't really go in for any of that stuff. I'm not sure. I don't make fun of Gabriel for looking like a breathwork instructor picking up some artisanal lemongrass chai at Erewhon for nothing.
[00:23:11] Gabriel Mizrahi: Wow. Okay. There's the roast you couldn't find at the top. There it is.
[00:23:14] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, I just, I needed a minute for it to kind of come together.
[00:23:18] Gabriel Mizrahi: It came together beautifully. Oh, it was like fully formed and spontaneous.
[00:23:22] Jordan Harbinger: They marinate, right? They aged like fine artisanal lemongrass chai from Erewhon. So you have shopped at Erewhon?
[00:23:31] Gabriel Mizrahi: You know once, yeah.
[00:23:33] Jordan Harbinger: Have you ever bought artisanal lemongrass chai there?
[00:23:36] Gabriel Mizrahi: What is art—? What are you talking about?
[00:23:38] Jordan Harbinger: Don't front like you don't know what this could be.
[00:23:40] Gabriel Mizrahi: I'm not arguing with a larger point, but artisanal lemongrass chai sounds like the most disgusting thing you can imagine.
[00:23:46] Jordan Harbinger: It does.
[00:23:47] Gabriel Mizrahi: If I bought it, it was years ago. Okay. It was a long time ago.
[00:23:50] Jordan Harbinger: Fair. I'm sure it was. Since now you probably make your own artisanal lemongrass chai from some crap you grow on your balcony.
[00:23:57] Gabriel Mizrahi: Oh, okay. So just to be clear, now you're roasting me for having a small garden. Is nothing sacred, Jordan, I don't understand.
[00:24:02] Jordan Harbinger: Sacred, huh? You're not doing yourself any favors here, bud. Anyway, I personally don't believe in the paranormal. Unlike Gabe, who probably communes with Gaia as he makes his hemp milk protein shakes every morning.
[00:24:14] Gabriel Mizrahi: I'm not even going to push back on that one.
[00:24:16] Jordan Harbinger: Don't. You can't.
[00:24:16] Gabriel Mizrahi: It's mostly accurate. It's fine. I'll take it. I'm good with it.
[00:24:19] Jordan Harbinger: It's hard for me to take the possibility seriously, the paranormal one. No disrespect though. I don't mean to debate the metaphysics of your situation, but I'm just not sure you should house a nonprofit library for your late crotchety dad because you're afraid his ghost might haunt the estate sale. You know what I mean?
[00:24:37] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah. Well, I really crystallized it. But you know, like she said—
[00:24:40] Jordan Harbinger: Crystallized? You couldn't stop if you wanted to.
[00:24:42] Gabriel Mizrahi: Are you suggesting that I slipped in a crystal reference to this episode because I go to Erewhon every six years?
[00:24:47] Jordan Harbinger: I just think it's happening subconsciously.
[00:24:49] Gabriel Mizrahi: Uh, I hate it. Okay. Look, like she said, even if she's not haunted by an actual ghost, she thinks she'll be haunted by guilt. And that's a kind of ghost too. Either way, her father's going to hang around if only as a feeling in her.
[00:25:01] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, that's true. The feeling thing I get that can be hard to shake.
[00:25:06] Gabriel Mizrahi: So what I would love to know is, where does that guilt come from? I'm getting the sense that this is a family where children respect their parents' wishes, even when the parents weren't the greatest. There's a strong sense of honor and obligation and respect and those values, yeah, they're especially strong in certain cultures and in a way that can be a really beautiful thing, and in another way, it can be a source of great frustration. So I don't know about you, Jordan, but I hear some anger in this letter and honestly, I get it, but feeling guilty about not doing right by a difficult parent. That tells me that there's probably some stuff to reconcile around your own needs, your own beliefs, what you, not your dad, not your family, not your culture, but what you really believe you owe your dad, given the kind of guy he was to you.
[00:25:50] Jordan Harbinger: Exactly. Look, in my book, she owes him some basic kindness and respect.
[00:25:55] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yes.
[00:25:55] Jordan Harbinger: And not much more. That said, I do think it's perfectly fine to accept the books now and just do what you need to later.
[00:26:03] Gabriel Mizrahi: Mmm.
[00:26:03] Jordan Harbinger: I don't mean to be flippant or whatever, but if your dad just wants to know that you're going to take care of his books and that's going to put him at ease before he dies. I don't love the lie, but I think it's okay to tell them that and then just do what you need to do with the books later on. I know I'm a godless heathen who doesn't believe in apparitions, but that seems fair to me.
[00:26:19] Gabriel Mizrahi: Well, I agree, but for a slightly different reason. Her dad is saying, I want you to take good care of my books when I'm gone. But I think it's up to her to decide what taking good care of them really means. Because if she did decide to keep them, but she just threw them in a storage unit somewhere, kept them in the garage and boxes. Is she really taking good care of them or is she just hanging on to stuff? And there are people out there who would probably love to read those books and they would actually derive pleasure from them in a way that our friend here might not. So if she donated them to a library or a school or opened that book cafe, in a way, I think that is taking good care of them. She would be taking good care of them by putting them to good use and by allowing other people to enjoy her father's legacy and his love of reading. So if she lies to him and says, "Okay, dad, I got this. I'll take care of them." And then she does something else with the collection. I think she can still be honoring the spirit of her dad's wish, even if she's not honoring the specific request.
[00:27:13] Jordan Harbinger: I like that. I think that's a really nice way to satisfy her dad and still honor herself or you know, maybe she keeps a hundred books that mean the most to her and that's how she hangs on to her dad and honors his request, and then she just donates the rest point is there's a middle way here. That's our take. I know it's a tough call, but you'll know what to do when the time comes, and I hope you and your dad find a way to connect and maybe just at least get along while he's around. Good luck.
[00:27:42] You can reach us firstname.lastname@example.org. Keep your emails concise. Use a 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 got your girlfriend's sister pregnant? You heard me. My head is still spinning from that one last week. Whatever's got you staying up at night lately, hit us up email@example.com. We're here to help and we keep every email anonymous.
[00:28:07] Okay, next up.
[00:28:09] Gabriel Mizrahi: Hi, Jordan and Gabe. I've had what I would consider a pretty successful career so far, but I wrestle with feeling behind and not knowing what it will take to launch myself to the next level. I grew up very poor. My family of six was living well below the poverty line, and we struggled with food and environmental insecurity. I credit my ability to survive my childhood to my church, charity, teachers, and our social safety net. I went to the military after high school, used my GI bill to earn my bachelor's and my master's degrees, and have steadily moved up in every job and workplace. I'm currently earning six figures. I am relied upon as a trusted resource in my office, and I know that I'm one of the few who are looked at as the future of the organization. The problem is that I still feel five seconds away from poverty. Even now, I don't feel like I've placed enough distance between myself and my childhood, and I'm always scared that one wrong turn could end all of this for me and my family. I've invested wisely in myself and I continue to invest in my family's future, but none of it feels like enough. I always feel like I could be farther along in my career with title, pay and responsibility. I feel the same with assets and investments. I fully understand that my internal barometer for success is probably broken, but I can't help but look at my peers who are further along as proof that I'm not doing enough. In a messed up way, all of this fuels me, but I also feel myself outgrowing the need to constantly beat myself up. Still, I don't know how to feel safe, and I'm becoming more fearful that I may never feel financially secure. How can I turn this strange source of ambition into something that I can feel I'm building a safe future with? Signed, Sound crowned But Still On Shaky Ground.
[00:29:59] Jordan Harbinger: Wow. Well, first of all, I just have to say you are a super impressive person.
[00:30:03] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah.
[00:30:04] Jordan Harbinger: To come from the background you did with this kind of adversity and then go on to serve in the military and get two degrees and make six figures at a job where people value you highly and view you as the future of the organization. I mean, that's incredible. That speaks to your resilience and your mindset and your hard work, and you should be really proud of yourself for that. But at the same time, your childhood obviously had a profound impact on you. Feeling insecure when you're young, insecure in very fundamental ways like food and shelter and money. I mean, that leaves a real mark.
[00:30:33] Gabriel Mizrahi: Mmm.
[00:30:34] Jordan Harbinger: All the mental health professionals we consult with talk about that kind of insecurity, essentially as a form of trauma. And I know that word gets used very liberally these days, but I think it applies. Not feeling secure and stable during that critical period of your life is objectively traumatic. And I'm sure that one of the legacies of that experience is this thought like, "Well, that could happen again at any moment. My accomplishments, my job, the esteem of my colleagues, none of that is really secure. I can't bank on it. If I make one wrong move, I'm going to be right back to where I started." And look, I can appreciate why that fear is so compelling. I mean, you're running from an invisible monster here.
[00:31:11] Gabriel Mizrahi: Definitely.
[00:31:12] Jordan Harbinger: My first thought is, I'm not sure if you're already there but, surprise, surprise, it would be great to explore this in therapy. You have a lot to unpack. It touches on so many rich themes, trauma, childhood identity, values, this possibly faulty barometer of success that you seem to have. Specifically, there's this thing you touched on, the impulse to constantly beat yourself up. I think that is one of the keys to your personality these days.
[00:31:38] Gabriel Mizrahi: Mm-hmm.
[00:31:38] Jordan Harbinger: Because I suspect that the impulse to beat yourself up, that reflects the two halves of you, the half that uses your past to motivate you, to hold yourself to impressively high standards. And there's another half that uses your past to will yourself to do better, to outrun the life that you're afraid of falling back into, which clearly comes at a high cost.
[00:32:01] Gabriel Mizrahi: And I'm guessing that sometimes it can be hard to know which one you're really doing because they look so similar, and because punishing yourself, I imagine that might feel like the only way you know to make sure that you're doing everything you can to succeed and get to the next level, and yes, to stay safe.
[00:32:17] Jordan Harbinger: It paints a picture of just how strong she really is.
[00:32:19] Gabriel Mizrahi: Mm-hmm.
[00:32:19] Jordan Harbinger: Anyway, that's another theme I would absolutely bring into therapy. In the meantime, I want to invite you to hold a few other ideas in your head. First, let's just appreciate how much you've accomplished in your life, how meaningful those accomplishments are. You've had a fascinating and successful career. You're making good money. Your company is banking on you as a leader, that they want to invest in. These accomplishments, those are real, and they were through your hard work. They weren't accidents. Those things probably can't go away in the blink of an eye. You need to integrate those accomplishments as real and as your own. You are bringing a lot to your life and you are generating real results. So I'm not going to tell you to ignore the voice that says that you're not safe and you don't have to. But in those moments, I think it would be helpful to take a step back and remind yourself that your background has really skewed your definition of safe.
[00:33:13] Gabriel Mizrahi: Mmm.
[00:33:13] Jordan Harbinger: When in reality, you've built a life that is sustaining you in a pretty incredible way.
[00:33:18] Gabriel Mizrahi: So well put, and I would even go a step further and say that your childhood might have created a feeling that there is no safe.
[00:33:24] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:33:25] Gabriel Mizrahi: No matter what, even if you were doing everything perfectly, even if you felt that you were further along than your peers and they were envious of you and all of that, it's very possible that you would still feel unsafe. And that's a bit of a sobering thought. It might be a little disturbing, like, "Well, sh*t, if I can't ever feel safe, then you know I'm really in trouble." But here's the bright side, once you realize that you might have a script in your mind that is telling you that you are unsafe no matter what, or that all of the safety and the security and the success that you've wrapped around yourself could just somehow be taken away from you in an instant, and you would be right back to where you started. Once you see that script as a script, that might be kind of liberating because then you see the trauma thinking as trauma thinking. It's just a belief that persists whether you're actually in trouble or you're absolutely killing it, and you might not feel the need to beat yourself up to accomplish even more to outrun it. Because as long as that script is running, you might not be able to outrun it because it's not a problem that can be solved only through more achievement.
[00:34:27] Jordan Harbinger: Ah, yeah. Good point, Gabe. It's like the one thing she can do to cope with the feeling of being unsafe is only reaffirming that she doesn't feel safe.
[00:34:35] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yes, which only makes her want to achieve more.
[00:34:38] Jordan Harbinger: Which then creates this cycle where it's never enough and she can't outrun it. It's fascinating.
[00:34:43] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yes, exactly.
[00:34:44] Jordan Harbinger: It's a cycle I'm sure so many people are caught in, and that's not to say that money doesn't help, it obviously does, but to your point, there's more to this feeling of insecurity than dollars and cents. There's also a comparison piece here that we have to touch on. You're comparing yourself to your peers, which we all do, and you're drawing the conclusion that we all draw, which is that we're never doing enough. And we could talk for hours just about that, but I want you to check out the episode we did on why we compare ourselves to other people when it's helpful, when it's harmful, how to stop. That was episode 22. We're going to link to that in the show notes. Wow, that's a long time ago.
[00:35:21] So listen, what we've shared is just the beginning of working through this experience, but I have so much confidence that you're ready to find a new relationship with your ambition. You're already onto yourself here. You clearly have the inner resources to do this kind of work. And while you do that, please try to remember just how far you've come and how much you're showing up in your life, and how much the world has your back, how it's had your back since you were born, which is a remarkable thing. It's time to learn how to achieve and grow without beating yourself up, without freaking out. The moment you realize you don't have to do both in order to succeed, that's when the real fun begins because you can relax a little bit and you've got this, we're rooting for you.
[00:36:02] You know what definitely won't take you below the poverty line? A great deal on one of the products and services that support this show. We'll be right back.
[00:36:12] This episode is sponsored in part by the Something You Should Know podcast. With over two million podcasts out there, finding a great new one can be frustrating. So let me save you a bunch of time and tell you about a podcast I've mentioned before called Something You Should Know with my friend Mike Carruthers. In each episode, Mike talks with leading experts on topics that really affect you, like The Lure of Cheap Crap, which is a great title, undeniably a great title. Will AI take your job? Lots of the topics and guests are fascinating. And what's great is Mike actually asks questions that really get to the heart of a topic, the kind of questions you would ask. If you think I'm a good question asker, Mike is also a good question asker in my opinion. Something You Should Know is a fun and entertaining podcast. You're going to learn something new and useful in every episode, and it was listed in Apple's Shows We Love and listeners have given it thousands of five-star reviews. Give it a listen. Search for Something You Should Know where you get your podcast, and when you see the bright yellow light bulb, start listening and you can thank me later, Something You Should Know.
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[00:38:04] Now, back to Feedback Friday.
[00:38:08] Okay, next up.
[00:38:09] Gabriel Mizrahi: Dear Jordan and Gabe, after a failed marriage and a few girlfriends, I finally found the love of my life a year ago. She's sweet, caring, and beautiful, and we're emotionally very compatible. My daughter likes her a lot too. The issue is our different beliefs around medicine and health create some tension at times. She works as a physiotherapist and uses a blend of traditional therapy, quantum reflex integration and doTERRA oil treatment. Her sister also studies homeopathy and sometimes provides my girlfriend with additional treatments. As a regular listener of your show and a person who's more rooted in science, I'm skeptical about these treatments. I'm fine with the fact that my girlfriend pursues her desired career, and I don't look down on her for her beliefs in alternative medicine, astrology, and the like. The issue is that she sometimes tries to convince me of her beliefs. I try to be sensitive in my counterarguments, but she ends up being hurt when she fails to convince me. She says that she respects my, quote-unquote, "beliefs" in science. She would appreciate it if I could acknowledge the possibility that her beliefs are true too. I could live with her having different views from mine, but I'm afraid that one day, important health decisions for our kids will cause major conflict. I'm also worried that her non-evidence-based approach might lead her to troubling conspiracy theories or into the arms of charlatans, but then I'm also afraid of losing her if I shatter her self-worth. Should I tone down my resistance to her non-scientific views? Or should I try to open her up to my position? Signed, A Man of Science Caught Between Defiance and Compliance While Maintaining This Alliance.
[00:39:49] Jordan Harbinger: Wow, Gabe, really bringing the occult and the pseudoscience today, huh? First, it's ghosts and purgatory and now, it's pseudoscience and essential oils.
[00:39:57] Gabriel Mizrahi: Eh, I just thought I'd give you like two reasons to get worked up today.
[00:40:00] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. Well, mission accomplished. I am definitely getting worked up.
[00:40:03] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah, I can feel it through the mic.
[00:40:04] Jordan Harbinger: These beliefs can really drive a wedge in a relationship, whether it's with a parent or a partner. I mean, it's tough. So look, you listen to the show. Maybe you've heard some of our Skeptical Sundays. I am just not a big fan of most of this stuff. In many cases, I think this nonsense medical pseudoscience stuff, I think it's downright harmful, especially when it comes to health claims and treatment, the essential oils world especially, but that's more because it's an MLM scam. Plus it makes health claims all over the place. Gabe, I know you dabble in the oily arts and maybe have a different lens on these treatments.
[00:40:40] Gabriel Mizrahi: I do like my orange blossom wafting through the apartment from time to time, but I wouldn't trust doTERRA to like heal my melanoma or whatever.
[00:40:48] Jordan Harbinger: No, of course not. We all know that healing melanoma is a young living MLM scam job.
[00:40:53] Gabriel Mizrahi: Exactly. Yeah. You got to know which predatory pyramid scheme to trust with your fatal illness.
[00:40:58] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. Bring out the big guns.
[00:40:59] Gabriel Mizrahi: Exactly. Look, I'm probably more open to alternative or complementary medicine than you are Jordan. I'm definitely a skeptic in general, and there are tons of charlatans out there, no doubt about it. But plant medicine has its place. It is real. I mean, it has a tradition of thousands of years and there are tons of different approaches out there. I don't see the harm in responsibly blending different therapies or treatments, especially in her line of work. I mean, look, she's helping people I imagine, with pain, with back issues, recovering from surgery, stuff like that. She's not like treating people for cardiomyopathy or something like that.
[00:41:30] Jordan Harbinger: Right. That's fair. I do think that matters. His girlfriend isn't completely off the map here.
[00:41:35] Gabriel Mizrahi: Right.
[00:41:35] Jordan Harbinger: Plus the placebo effect from some of this stuff is real.
[00:41:39] Gabriel Mizrahi: Mm-hmm.
[00:41:39] Jordan Harbinger: The astrology thing, that's not a point in her favor in my opinion, but she's complimenting traditional evidence-based therapies with these alternative treatments. So she's not banging on about how mainstream medicine is total hogwash and Pfizer is sterilizing the population or whatever. She sounds like a person you can at least have a conversation with. So to be very direct here, I really sympathize with you here because I would feel the same way about many of these alternative therapies.
[00:42:05] What a lot of people who believe in pseudoscience don't understand is your, and I'm putting this in air quotes, belief in science has hard evidence behind it. You know, it has science behind it. Whereas many of her beliefs have anecdotal evidence or just straight-up mythology behind them. So you know, not science, but that doesn't mean your girlfriend doesn't know things that you don't know or that these complementary therapies aren't playing a potentially helpful role.
[00:42:32] So when she says she'd appreciated, if you could acknowledge the possibility that her beliefs are true too, I guess I can appreciate her perspective. My caveat to that, and this is a huge caveat, is that there needs to be some kind of evidence for those beliefs in order for them to be true, like she says they are. There's got to be something. It can't just be, you know, one of my patients said he felt better when I wafted peppermint on his face and shot a laser at his knuckles for an hour. I'd want to see some studies, some data, some experts with real credentials. Not people who sell essential oils saying that this works.
[00:43:04] Gabriel Mizrahi: Mmm.
[00:43:04] Jordan Harbinger: Just basic homework. I don't think it's unreasonable to ask your partner to hold that standard.
[00:43:09] Gabriel Mizrahi: Well, the beauty of that stance is then you're not arguing about who's right, who's wrong, whether you can support each other's worldviews. You're saying, "Hey, look, I'm open. I'm a student, and if you're willing to be a student too, then show me the research and let's look at this together." Then, you guys are on the same page. But the page isn't, "I'm right, you're wrong," or vice versa. The page is, "Let's be objective and look at the data and see where it leads." If you guys can get on that page, then I think you'll be fine. And my hunch is that that's skeptical, but still curious approach that will confirm that yes, you are probably right, and that sum of what your girlfriend is integrating is probably useful too. Isn't that always kind of how life works, right? Like it's rarely as simple as it seems. There are always complementary approaches to any problem.
[00:43:55] Jordan Harbinger: I like that approach, Gabe, even though I'm obviously more on team our friend here. I do worry that he's going to bust out some PubMed scientific study and she's going to bust out doTERRA marketing materials and be like, "These are my sources." I mean, sometimes when people have unrealistic culty beliefs, there's a quote that you can't logic someone out of a belief that they've mentioned themself into.
[00:44:16] Gabriel Mizrahi: Ooh.
[00:44:16] Jordan Harbinger: I'm butchering the quote, but basically, if she wants to believe this because she likes it, it's going to be very hard to convince her with logic and science that it's not true.
[00:44:25] Gabriel Mizrahi: But to me, that's the conversation. The conversation doesn't even need to be about who's right or who's wrong, but whether they can agree on what is a legitimate source. You know what I mean?
[00:44:33] Jordan Harbinger: Right. Look, what worries me is what also seems to be worrying him, which is that his girlfriend's views could compromise health decisions for their kids, and that's a real thing. And I see this a lot.
[00:44:42] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yes, for sure. That is a very real concern.
[00:44:45] Jordan Harbinger: So that's the part that I do think they need to be on the same page about.
[00:44:48] Gabriel Mizrahi: Mm-hmm.
[00:44:48] Jordan Harbinger: Because the last thing you want is for your child to get pneumonia or something. And dad's going, "We got to get him to the ER and let the doctors give him amoxicillin." And mom's like, "Oh no. The body knows how to fight these things. All he needs is an LED face mask and some lavender on the bottoms of his feet." That's when you're going to have a real problem. And we joke, but people die from this bull crap all the time.
[00:45:09] Gabriel Mizrahi: Mm-hmm.
[00:45:09] Jordan Harbinger: You end up getting your kids taken away from you, either by nature or by the freaking police, because you believe something that is ridiculous and you just can't listen to reason and logic, and doctors.
[00:45:20] Gabriel Mizrahi: Mm-hmm.
[00:45:21] Jordan Harbinger: Gabe, I'm thinking about Steve Jobs. They found out he had that weird form of pancreatic cancer.
[00:45:25] Gabriel Mizrahi: Mm-hmm.
[00:45:25] Jordan Harbinger: They caught it super early. They're like, "We need to have surgery." And he is like, "Nah, I got this. I'm going to eat a ton of apples or whatever, fruit."
[00:45:31] Gabriel Mizrahi: Right.
[00:45:32] Jordan Harbinger: I joke, but he was a fruitarian. This is one of the smartest dudes around. And look what happened. He died because of it.
[00:45:37] Gabriel Mizrahi: Mm-hmm.
[00:45:37] Jordan Harbinger: Obviously, that was his choice. It was the wrong choice, but he's an adult. When there's a child in the mix who can't make this decision themselves, the stakes are really high and the victims are innocent.
[00:45:47] Gabriel Mizrahi: Sure.
[00:45:48] Jordan Harbinger: So there you have it. Be a skeptic. Stay open, be rigorous. These are important values. If your girlfriend can hold them too, that's a good sign. But if she can't. Then, either you're going to have to accept that and decide if you can live with it. I know I couldn't, or you're going to have to consider if this is somebody you can build a family with, and that's your call. But it is a crucial question to ask and not to put off until later. So good luck.
[00:46:12] All right, what's next?
[00:46:14] Gabriel Mizrahi: Hey, guys. I listen to the show every week and I love what you do. Your passion for understanding people's situations and your commitment to putting out a super solid product each week really comes through. I'm doing work that I find really meaningful too, in a completely different field from yours. But I struggle sometimes with staying connected to it. I have no doubt that I'm doing the work that I'm supposed to be doing. That's not the problem. The problem is finding the motivation to keep going on days when I'm just not fired up. I get really disillusioned and worried, and frankly a little embarrassed when I don't always enjoy this thing that I think I genuinely care about. And I fear that I won't be able to eventually make good money from it. How do you guys show up day after day, week after week? How can I stay more consistently connected to my purpose? Or is this a sign that this isn't my purpose and I'm just not listening? Signed, Trying to Cash In When I Only Have a Ration of My Very Real Passion.
[00:47:16] Jordan Harbinger: Huh, this is such a good question. First of all, I want you to know, and this is really important, what you are feeling is totally normal.
[00:47:25] Gabriel Mizrahi: Hmm.
[00:47:25] Jordan Harbinger: I feel it despite what you might think. I'm sure Gabe feels it.
[00:47:28] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yep, absolutely.
[00:47:30] Jordan Harbinger: It's universal, and I used to kind of beat myself up for that, like in my early to mid-30s, I felt like if I wasn't 110 percent psyched and pumped to be doing what I was doing every single day, I don't know, there was something wrong with me or I was failing, or I was diluting myself about what I was meant to be doing. But over time, I've really come to appreciate that you can be passionate and just not feel passionate every single second of every single day. Because the reality is the longer you do something, the less sustainable it is to be in that intense, heightened, almost manic state of excitement about your purpose all of the time.
[00:48:04] Gabriel Mizrahi: Mm-hmm.
[00:48:05] Jordan Harbinger: And that doesn't mean something is wrong. It's just how it works. It's kind of like falling in love, right? There's that period where you're just head over heels being in a little psycho, your brain and your body, you're on fire. It's like your soul did a bunch of cocaine or something, and then four or five, six months in, you calm the hell down, you settle in, and if the relationship is right, the passion is still there. In fact, it's only getting deeper, but it's quieter.
[00:48:29] Gabriel Mizrahi: Mm-hmm.
[00:48:29] Jordan Harbinger: There's something more substantial and sustainable forming. There's real love there, but it's not the kind of love that makes you want to stay up till three o'clock in the morning every night talking. It's the kind of love that makes you happy to go to sleep, because you get to wake up at a decent hour and you get to see them over breakfast and you get to do the stuff you guys like to do, if you know what I mean. So that's the first thing.
[00:48:48] The second thing is even really purposeful work. It can suck sometimes, and it can make you feel all sorts of things, and you just have to accept that. There's this myth out there, especially with young people, that when you're doing super meaningful work, you're never going to be unhappy. You're never going to be stressed, you're never going to be confused or uninspired, and that is just nonsense.
[00:49:08] Gabriel Mizrahi: Mm-hmm.
[00:49:08] Jordan Harbinger: In fact, I would argue that the more meaningful your work, the more it puts you in touch with these difficult feelings because you actually care. Because you're probably pushing yourself to do things that are hard.
[00:49:20] Gabriel Mizrahi: Mm-hmm.
[00:49:20] Jordan Harbinger: And because the results actually matter to you. And that's another thing that I remind myself of when I wake up and I got to read a whole book and interview a big guest and deal with sponsor drama and manage a new partnership and blah, blah, blah. All on top of being a dad and the husband and the human being who doesn't freaking want to do any work today. Not every aspect of those tasks is fun, but they are in service of something that I know in my bones I care about.
[00:49:45] Gabriel Mizrahi: Mm-hmm.
[00:49:46] Jordan Harbinger: And that's what makes me willing to do them. I've mostly let go of the idea that it should all just be pleasurable all the time. And I got to tell you, that really does help.
[00:49:54] Gabriel Mizrahi: Uh, that is such good advice, Jordan. You just kind of made me think about my own stuff in a new way. I wish we could talk about this for hours because this is probably one of my favorite topics ever. And we can do that by email if you want. But I would just add a couple of things. First, having a partner and having solid commitments to other people, that really helps. Part of the reason that this show is such a joy for me to do personally is that I get to do it with my homie.
[00:50:17] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:50:17] Gabriel Mizrahi: And it's two minds on the problem at hand and that is powerful. It's generative. It's inspiring. It's super fun. But on a more practical level, it also creates, you know, real accountability — and just whenever I hear that word, I kind of want to jump out the window for some reason. But it's a real thing. I've seen it in my writing work too. When I've developed projects with other people and we have meetings or FaceTimes three days a week to push forward on a story. That session is happening. I can't bail on that. Whereas, you know, when I'm writing alone, it's very easy to go, "Ey, you know, I'm not feeling creative today. I can skip a day. You know, no one's going to care if I faff off. But when there's somebody else there who agreed to do the thing with you, that really keeps you connected on those days when you were just not really fired up.
[00:51:00] Now, I don't know what kind of work you do. Maybe you work alone and that's great. I'm not necessarily saying that you have to have a partner in order to stay in the game, but creating touchpoints with people, you know, could be scheduling a Zoom with a vendor you want to sell to. It could be a product design session with a customer. I don't know. It could be a coffee chat with somebody who agreed to read a draft of your article, whatever it is. Maybe that's your collaborator for the day and then you know, like, okay, I got to finish this deck because I have to present it on that Zoom on Thursday. Or I definitely got to get that article done because I promised my friend I would send it by the weekend. It's kind of silly, but those small sources of accountability really do wonders because they force you to work. And if you can just keep working, you almost always rediscover the sense of purpose that can very easily get covered up by the avoidance and the frustration and the monotony and the self-doubt.
[00:51:51] Jordan Harbinger: Man, that is so true. Sometimes I think I wouldn't get anything done if I didn't have interviews and phone calls scheduled. Because when I have to talk to a four-star general on Thursday at three, I don't have time to sit there going, is this really what I want to be doing with my life?
[00:52:06] Gabriel Mizrahi: Right.
[00:52:07] Jordan Harbinger: Read the damn book cover to cover. Think of good questions. Get in the right frame of mind.
[00:52:11] Gabriel Mizrahi: Right.
[00:52:11] Jordan Harbinger: And to your point, Gabe, as long as I'm doing that, I always feel the purpose start to kick back in. It's kind of funny how that works.
[00:52:17] Gabriel Mizrahi: It's so interesting, but the fastest way back to the passion is just to keep on working in my experience. I also just want to say that I recently went through a dip in my creative career. In my writing. I was kind of like, do I really like this? Like do I want to be doing this? And there were a few weeks, maybe months when I was like, I don't know, it's been a hard road and I haven't seen all the results I want to see. And it got a little bleak for a moment, but I came out of that dip. Things are looking very different now, and I've finished a few really big projects that I'm super proud of. And I was looking back at that time and I was trying to figure out like, were those signals meaningful? If I could go back and listen to it differently, does that mean I wasn't my purpose? Or is this the truth? You know, on the other side of it, this is my purpose now. And I just want to say that I think sometimes in those moments you kind of have to accept that your passion, your purpose, whatever you find meaningful might not be super obvious. You might not feel it like, in every cell of my body, I know that this is the thing I'm supposed to be doing. Sometimes, it's just this very quiet little voice that's just going, "Yeah, you still kind of care about this." And a great test for that is, do you still think about it when you're going to bed at night and do you still have fun dissecting little issues related to your field or whatever it is? I used to have this expectation that I was just going to be lit up with passion at every moment, but I think more often it's just this more subtle low-grade, consistent curiosity, that is very important. And if that is alive, then I do think you're still connected to your purpose and it is the right purpose. If that goes away, that's the moment, I would say listen to that and see if there might be something more meaningful to you.
[00:53:52] Jordan Harbinger: Right on. Look, I hope that helps. There is so much to this topic. We don't have enough time to get into it all.
[00:53:57] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah.
[00:53:57] Jordan Harbinger: I do want to point you to an article and a deep dive that Gabe and I did about this way back when. It's called How to Keep Going When Your Purpose Starts to Suck. That was episode 205. We'll link to those in the show notes for you. I think that material's going to be gold for you right now. So just keep working, man. Trust that it's enough. And if you ever get to a point where you think you don't love your work anymore, hey, that's okay too. I'm not telling you not to listen to that inner voice. I think it's important, but as long as you feel intuitively that you're doing work that matters to you, don't let the ebbs and flows of passion throw you too much. Everyone, the pros included, especially the pros, they experience the exact same thing.
[00:54:37] Hope you all enjoyed that. I want to thank everybody who wrote in and everybody who listened. Thank you so much. Don't forget to check out the episode with Scott Lyons, Dr. Scott Lyons, if you haven't yet. Really interesting episode. Producer Jason's favorite of the year so far.
[00:54:49] If you want to know how I managed to book all these great people, all these folks for the show really come through my network and warm introductions and people that I know. I'm teaching you how to do the same thing using the same software, systems, and tiny habits that I use every single week or every single day for that matter. It's our Six-Minute Networking course. The course is free over on the Thinkific platform at jordanharbinger.com/course. Dig the well before you get thirsty, folks. Build those relationships before you need them, jordanharbinger.com/course.
[00:55:16] A link to the show notes for the episode can be found at jordanharbinger.com transcripts in the show notes. Advertisers, deals, discounts, ways to support this show, all at jordanharbinger.com/deals or go try the chatbot. That's jordanharbinger.com/ai, working out the kinks, getting into the future of ChatGPT-4, whatever we're on now. I'm at @JordanHarbinger on both Twitter and Instagram. You can also connect with me on LinkedIn. And you can find Gabe on Instagram at @GabrielMizrahi, or on Twitter at @GabeMizrahi.
[00:55:47] This show is created in association with PodcastOne. My team is Jen Harbinger, Jace 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'm not your lawyer. Do your own research before implementing anything you hear on the show.
[00:56:03] Dr. Margolis' 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 Dr. Margolis at drerinmargolis.com.
[00:56:20] 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 can use the advice that we gave here today. In the meantime, do your best to apply what you hear on the show so you can live what you listen, and we'll see you next time.
[00:56:36] We've got a preview trailer of our interview with Navy SEAL and Veteran Jocko Willink. Like you've never heard him before.
[00:56:43] Jocko Willink: Leadership is the most important on the battlefield. Every characteristic that you can have for a leader can be taken to an extreme, even the most important characteristic that I talk about all the time, which is humility. You've got to be humble as a leader. You've got to always look, okay, how can I improve? Why I need to listen to other people? Well, as a leader, you can actually be too humble where you don't stand up when somebody's telling you to do something that you don't think is right, but you're like, "Hey, I'm humble, so I'm going to do it anyways." Well, if you don't think it's right, you actually shouldn't do it. Every positive characteristic can be taken to the extreme that it becomes a negative, and that is why as a leader, you have to be balanced.
[00:57:18] Jordan Harbinger: Be humble or get humbled is a term that I love. Can you tell us what this means?
[00:57:24] Jocko Willink: The nature of the world is if you're not humbled, you are going to get humbled. So that's a good attitude to have and it's a good attitude to always think, you know, I need to stay humble, but, and this is the dichotomy, this doesn't mean that you're completely passive and there are times as humble as you should be, there are times when you need to stand up and say no.
[00:57:49] You know, Leif and I joke about it sometimes that most we'd get to sleep was when we were in the field. There's a funny picture of myself and Dave Burke on a rooftop. It probably looks like it's about 11 o'clock in the morning. And we're both sitting there, we're both asleep. We're both sitting there.
[00:58:01] Jordan Harbinger: 110 degrees.
[00:58:02] Jocko Willink: It's 110 degrees. And we're both asleep and clearly this was the first time we had to rest in 24 or 48 hours and you'd learn to sleep anywhere on concrete and floors and stairwells and whatever else.
[00:58:15] Jordan Harbinger: For more with Jocko, including why we should stop being the easy button for those we manage and lead, and the concept of leadership capital, how to build it, when to use it, and when not to use it, check out episode 93 right here on The Jordan Harbinger Show.
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