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Episode explores COVID's impact on business, living with troubled brother, and dangers of victim mentality. Emphasizes prioritizing own children and reflects on personal responsibility in helping others.

2023, Stefan Molyneux

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Generated Shownotes


0:00:00 The impact of COVID on business and family decisions
0:01:49 Moving away and helping brother escape a difficult situation
0:02:55 Observing behavioral issues and challenges of living together
0:09:07 Sacrificing Relationships for Brother's Welfare
0:10:33 Family's Knowledge and Manipulation
0:12:20 Recognizing Manipulation in the Brother's Actions
0:12:41 Enabling a Brother's Terrible Life
0:14:41 Taking Responsibility for Brother's Life
0:16:00 Excuses for Brother's Irresponsibility
0:17:37 Brother's Inertness and Lack of Accountability
0:19:24 Family as a License for Bad Behavior
0:21:54 Teaching the Power of Victimhood and Manipulation
0:23:49 Temptation of a Life of Dependency and Free Resources
0:25:24 When Does Charity End? Teaching Responsibility to Children

Long Summary

In this episode, we delve into a complex and personal story shared by one of our audience members. They recount how the government's response to COVID gradually degraded their business, impacting their income and leading them to sell the business to recoup losses. They decided to move back to their hometown with their spouse and parents, but before the move, their brother attempted suicide once again. It became clear that their parents mishandled the crisis, and they felt the need to remove their brother from that environment. They offered him a fresh start, but living together has revealed some behavioral issues, including screen addiction, passive-aggressive behavior, and a victim mindset. The main speaker grapples with the decision to protect their own children from these negative influences while trying to help their brother.

The conversation then delves into a broader discussion about learning through reason, experience, and the dangers of enabling a victim mentality. The main speaker raises concerns about the audience member potentially being manipulated and emphasizes the importance of considering the opportunity costs when helping someone. They question the trustworthiness of the brother and caution against sacrificing the well-being of their own children for others.

The conversation further explores the main speaker's personal experiences growing up, the struggles their brother has faced due to parental abuse, and the need to prioritize what is best for their own children. They discuss modeling adult responsibilities, the reward of victimhood, and the distinction between genuine victims and those who exploit victimhood for personal gain. The main speaker cautions against providing resources to the immature and manipulative, as it can create entitlement and negatively impact their children.

The episode concludes with reflections on the brother's current behavior, potential wasted opportunities, and the influence it may have on the main speaker's own children. They express doubts about the effectiveness of simply giving things and removing responsibilities, believing that true change must come from within. The main speaker urges self-reflection on the motivations for helping someone and highlights the importance of not inadvertently teaching children that being sad gets rewarded.

Overall, the conversation provides a lens into the complexities of family dynamics, personal responsibility, and the challenges of trying to help someone while ensuring the well-being of one's own children. It prompts listeners to consider their own actions and motivations when faced with similar situations.

Brief Summary

In this episode, we explore a complex story shared by an audience member. They discuss the impact of COVID on their business, a move back to their hometown, and the challenges of living with their brother who exhibits troubling behaviors. We delve into the dangers of enabling a victim mentality and emphasize the importance of prioritizing the well-being of one's own children. The conversation prompts reflection on personal responsibility and the motivations behind helping others.


episode, complex story, audience member, COVID, business, move, hometown, challenges, living, brother, troubling behaviors, dangers of enabling, victim mentality, well-being, children, personal responsibility, motivations, helping others

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The impact of COVID on business and family decisions

[0:00] All right, so sorry about this to the listener. This is a question that slipped through the cracks.
My apologies, let's see if we can get it answered. This is going to be really important for everyone.
So, you know, please, please listen up, pay attention.
Right, so when COVID hit, the government response began a gradual process of degradation of our business.
After the three months shut down and a year of keeping it afloat, I realized that my income had been knocked back down to what I was earning five to six years prior.
And with my increased expenses, the business had become non-profitable.

[0:28] Luckily, I was able to sell the business and recoup some of my losses. It was around this time my wife and I decided to leave the politically aggressive progressive big city and move our family to my hometown to live with my parents until we could welcome our third child to the world, congratulations by the way, and I could figure out a way to get our lives back on track. A few weeks before we made the move my brother attempted suicide for the second time in his life. I will also mention that he was an ADHD kid and was heavily medicated for several years as a young child. As the, days and weeks went by following his second attempt I realized through discussions with him and my father that the way my parents handled the crisis was nothing short of terrible. So much so that my father finally recounted exactly what happened and how he handled it. That when my father did this the only thought that went through my mind was what the F is wrong with you? In that moment I realized I had to get my brother as far away from them as possible. To make it, even more obvious that I had to do so he was living in a terrible neighborhood break-ins and murderers and drug addicts and working a terrible job in which in, the low-rent factory which was destroying his health. He was just over 200 pounds at his heaviest and essentially never sleeping which has.

[1:37] Contributed to short-term memory loss issues. I should also mention that my parents chose that job for him as well as the house he was living in and never seriously considered helping him change either of them to improve his life. Soon.

Moving away and helping brother escape a difficult situation

[1:49] Soon after, I suggested to my brother that I could arrange the sale of his house, move across the country, and he could live with us and take a year off work and not have to worry about paying bills, to which he enthusiastically said yes.
Thanks to some fellow FDR friends, I found a place in a great neighborhood in a small town and I began the process of setting up our lives across the country and coordinating the sale of his house to make it all happen.
Since being here, I've helped him lose 50 pounds, and my wife and I have given him advice on where to work, and his new job is going well.
We've also had many conversations about our relationships with our parents, but this is increasingly challenging to do with three little kids who need us.
He is helpful with our kids and often plays with them enthusiastically, as well as contributes to cooking and cleaning and buying groceries.
But now that we are living together, I'm observing what his behavioral issues are, since I could never rely on my parents to tell me the truth about his struggles, given that they are the, ones who caused all of this.
He is addicted to screens, watching and talking about silly CGI movies, and has almost weekly bound to passive-aggressive behavior as well as a complaining slash victim mindset.
All things I want to keep miles away from my kids for obvious reasons.

Observing behavioral issues and challenges of living together

[2:55] The added challenge is that because he was physically and verbally abused by my parents as a child and verbally abused as an adult and was quote forced or quote pushed through every level of school by my mother and had everything done for him he is now a feminized adult.
Now, Walt, meaning he can't get through the day without lots of entertainment and small talk chit-chat, takes almost no initiative on his own, gives up easily and struggles to take responsibility for his choices.

[3:21] He's made some progress since we've been here, taking responsibility for certain important financial choices and I do continue to see slow gradual process. We've begun to build a cabin in our backyard so he can have his own personal space and he's contributing to the work albeit with quite a bit of negative self-talk and our goal as a family is to eventually move him into his house either somewhere in our neighborhood or two separate houses on an acreage. I feel like we've taken care of the easy part which is getting him out of a bad situation and getting his health back on track but the more challenging aspects of this are getting him to realize that in order for him to continue to heal his abusers have to suffer and that if he continues to use their language he has not escaped anything. Any help or direction you can provide in navigating this challenging time would be greatly appreciated. Well that's I mean it's a terrible story and I have of course massive sympathy for everyone involved except you know.

[4:12] Perhaps the parents but yeah this is okay this is you know nobody's gonna like me after this but that's okay I mean the purpose is to tell the truth as bluntly and as directly and as usefully hopefully as I can do it and you can see if there's value in what it is that I have to say. Now you don't mention how old your brother is but given that you have three kids and you've had a business I assume your brother is in his 30s or his 40s and there's a certain like it's funny you know because I'm a nice guy I want the best for everyone one but I also do have a very sort of absolutist streak and it's funny that you talk about your brother being feminized when you're trying to mother him. You're also talking about how your brother, let me just get this paint, so.

[5:02] You're saying your brother is a feminized adult because he was forced to push through every level of school by my mother and had everything done for him right so you realize you're doing that right you're you're doing everything for him you're you're taking over his life you're trying to displace his consciousness in a way with yours so in my life I will let you on on a big great deep secret about life and you have to be ruthless about this like no effing around you have to be ruthless about this because life is short and you owe, your children, right? You owe your children.
People into three categories, all right, this is super important. You must divide people into three categories. Why? Because there are three categories of people. So, from best to worst, the first category is people who will learn through reason.

[5:58] Right, they don't have to wait for things to get terrible, they don't have to wait, to hit rock bottom, they learn through reason. These people are the most, helpful in your life. They learn through reason and of course I think this audience obviously is part of that category. The people who learn by reason that's number one. Number two the people who learn by experience. They won't, listen to reason but when their experience gets bad enough they will change. So you think of the addict right? If somebody is drinking too much and you say dude like what's going on you're drinking too much he's like yeah you know what you're you're right I mean I just counted up how much I drank last night, I looked it up man, I'm heading down a dangerous path, thank you so much.
And then you talk about it and they reform their behavior because you are talking about it.
And this is all that's available to adults. Now the other kind of alcoholic has to lose his wife, his job, his house, his savings, he hits rock bottom and then hopefully he changes and bounces, though with unbelievable scar tissue.
So people who listen to reason, people who learn by experience.
And then there's the third category, people who don't learn.
People who don't learn.

[7:13] Don't learn. Now you must, you must, you must be strict about this and in particular I'm emphasizing, I mean I think this is important no matter what, but in particular I'm emphasizing this because you are a parent to three wonderful innocent lovely young children and if I were to make a guess I would say that, your brother if he's in his 30s, I'm just gonna say it sounds like he's in his late 30s. So if he's in his late 30s and it doesn't matter if he's younger or older in particular, if he's in his late 30s and he was 50 pounds overweight, he, was living in a terrible neighborhood, he was in contact with constant abusers and he had a terrible job that was wrecking his health, then he had not listened to reason because I'm sure you'd reasoned with him, he didn't listen to reason and he wasn't learning from experience. So when we try to help people we must, always always always think of the opportunity costs. The opportunity to.

[8:22] Help is a rare thing. To help people is a rare thing and every person you help is everyone else you're not helping. So every minute, every dollar, every scrap of, thought that you put into your brother is subtracted from everyone else. You see, it's really really important that the missing, the opportunity costs, the hidden, that's what's important. I can't even imagine how many thousands of hours and thousands or tens of thousands of dollars you've poured into your brother and he's in his late 30s. So he's 35 years past near-permanent personality formation.

Sacrificing Relationships for Brother's Welfare

[9:07] Whether you help your brother, this is what you're focusing on, I gotta help my brother, I want to help my brother, my brother's doing badly. It's that you're, not spending quality time with your wife, your friends, most importantly your, children, your children. Now you have taken on a parental role with your, brother. You have taken on a parental role with your brother. I'm going to give, you a possibility that needs to be considered. I'm going to give you a, possibility that needs to be considered. That you are being manipulated. That you, are being manipulated. That your brother, see here's the thing with family man, here's the thing with family, they know you so well. In fact in many ways your family of origin, they know you better than you know yourself because they see you from the outside. Now you know what is love? Love is handing over power, over you to other people. Love is handing over power over you. Love is vulnerability. Love is telling people your deepest darkest secrets. Love is telling people your history. Love is saying to everyone here's where my buttons are. Here's where my levers are.

Family's Knowledge and Manipulation

[10:33] Care as that old song goes. Love is surrendering to potential manipulation.
You can't love someone without surrendering to potential manipulation which is exactly why the people you love better be good people. They better be really good people because you're giving them power over you. It's, deeper than giving someone your life savings. It's deeper and more powerful than giving someone your life savings. Would you give your brother your life savings? Would you hand over your life savings and saying listen can you just hang on to this and take care of it for me for a year? Come on that's a great test isn't it? That's a great test. Would you give your life savings to your.

[11:23] Brother or your wife or your mother or your friend because you understand you, I mean legally you're giving your life savings to your wife when you get married you're giving her control over your life savings because she can divorce you and take your stuff. So if I look at the process your brother by being in a terrible situation and telling you about the terrible situation he knows you and he knows what you will do. He knows what you will do. What you will do is you will rescue him. Now why do you rescue him? I understand look it's agonizing to look at a family member and realize how badly they're doing but you, are acting for him you have rescued him you have transferred tens of thousands, of dollars and thousands of hours of time and mental energy and thought processes and conversation and every time you have a conversation about your brother with your wife you're not having a conversation with your wife about your life. You're not connecting with your wife, you're talking about your brother.

Recognizing Manipulation in the Brother's Actions

[12:20] So when I look at this, adult. Okay let's just say he's manipulative. Okay manipulative is when you gain resources by making other people feel bad or offering to make them.

Enabling a Brother's Terrible Life

[12:41] Feel good. Now your brother has parlayed his terrible life into you taking over, his existence, you becoming the new parent.
But you're not his parent. You say, oh well, but without my energies, without my resources, without my time, without my money, he's just going to have a terrible life.
Well, maybe, but the worse his life became, the more likely you were to give him tens, of thousands of dollars worth of time, effort, and money.
The worse his life became the more likely you were to scoop to swoop in and rescue him. Be aware that victimhood is one of the most profitable occupations known to man and devil. Victimhood is one of the most profitable occupations known to man and devil and you view him as a victim. Come on, you view him as a victim.
What do you say? What do you say?

[13:46] Heavily medicated for several years as a young child. Absolute victim. I'm a, hundred with you, hundred and fifty percent with you, a hundred and fifty, percent with you. But then you say well the way my parents handled the crisis, was nothing short of terrible and you don't give any details but I think we can assume what's going on. You say the way that my parents handled a crisis was terrible. Well what about the way your brother is handling his life? I mean why should somebody be in their late 30s be reliant upon their parents right? And you said what is what the F is wrong with you with regards to your your parents handling your brother's suicide attempt it was that moment I realized I had to get my brother as far away from them as possible right you say oh my parents, chose that job for him no they didn't he's an adult he's an adult so my parents chose that job for him as well as the house he was living in and never seriously considered helping him change either of them to improve his life so.

Taking Responsibility for Brother's Life

[14:41] You said oh I can arrange a sale of your house I can move you across the country can live with us and take a year off work, not have to worry about paying bills. To which he enthusiastically said yes. So you are saying that if somebody has a bad life, taking them away from all responsibilities is just the way to make everything better, to treat them as a child. So you helped him lose weight, giving him advice where to work, new jobs going well, and he's got this passive-aggressive stuff, and you say, look at this, the added challenge is that because he was physically and verbally abused by my parents as a child and verbally abused as an adult and was quote forced or quote pushed through every level of school by my mother he had everything done for him now he's a feminized adult. You can't get through this.
Of entertainment and small talk chit-chat, takes almost no initiative on his own, gives up easily and struggles to take responsibility for his choices. Gee really? Really? You're parenting him, you're giving him a responsibility free life and you say gosh he's having trouble taking care of his responsibilities and you say because he was physically and verbally abused and pushed through every level of school by my mother and had everything done for.

[15:49] Him he's now a feminized adult. So you view him as inert, you view him as someone who's acted upon and you give him excuses, excuse after excuse after

Excuses for Brother's Irresponsibility

[16:00] excuse. Well he was an ADHD kid, well he was medicated, well my parents chose this job for him, well they chose where he lived, well he can't do this, well he can't do that, well because he was verbally abused he's like this and because he was pushed through school he's like that and it's like no. I mean, maybe he was a drug addict and maybe he fried his brain or something like that that maybe he drank maybe he has messed up his head in some way and if I mean if that's the case right if he's drunk a lot or done drugs or whatever then you, know he may have fried his brain in which case you can't fix it like this like going to some homeless guy who's grabbing at imaginary squirrels in his brain and saying well it's okay I'll give you a place to live and I'll fix everything up it's like well you can't because the brain is broken I mean people who fry their brains that to me I'm no doctor obviously this is my particular opinion. But people who fry their brains are like people who've lost.

[16:55] An arm. You can't just say well I'll give you a place to live and your arm will regrow. That's not the way it works. So you say he's addicted to screens, watching and talking about silly CGI movies, almost weekly bouts of passive aggressive behavior as well as a complaining victim mindset, all things I want to keep miles away from my kids for obvious reasons. Because that's, who you make your decisions on right? Your brother's suffering, you have taken responsibility for by making him a victim. Was he a victim? Yes, absolutely. Is he a victim in his late 30s? Nope. No, he's not. And he's getting away with being, irresponsible because irresponsibility got him a year off work and a free house.

Brother's Inertness and Lack of Accountability

[17:37] Now, I know he's working and all of that.

[17:42] Caused you to suffer and then you stepped in to are you are you trying to help him or are you working to alleviate your own guilt and suffering? You know it's tough when you do better than a family member it's tough and you're doing a lot better than your family member you're doing a lot better than your brother and that is tough and I sympathize I really do. What's the solution? Well is he someone who listens to reason? Nope. Is he someone who, listens to experience? Nope. I mean he was in his late 30s and living in a terrible neighborhood and overweight and still under the thumb of your parents, and and so on right? So is he someone who learns it all? Well of course you're, giving him some, you're giving him money and you're building him a house and and you put him up and you take care of him and you give him companionship and so on and so he knows that the gravy train ends if he behaves too badly so he's not going to behave too badly. But what's best for your kids? I mean this is this it's so simple like you just boil it down to one thing and one thing only what's best for your kids? What's best for your kids? Do your kids benefit? They, say oh well he plays with the kids. Okay I'm sure he does because he's half an, infant himself right? So I'm sure he can be goofy and play with the kids and do silly things. And there's nothing wrong with being goofy and playing with your.

[19:02] Kids doing silly things but you also need to model adult responsibilities and so on. So yeah he helps with the kids for sure and I'm sure that they like that goofy funny side and that's all very nice. But what's the message?
What's the message? Victimhood gets rewarded. Victimhood gets rewarded.

Family as a License for Bad Behavior

[19:24] Victimhood gets rewarded. And what you're also saying is that I mean if this guy was just some guy you met at a party or you I don't know met around town or it, as a friend of a friend you wouldn't be doing all this for him. Say, ah but it's family. Okay well I understand that. Okay so you're you're saying to your kids, that you can behave terribly if you're family and you'll get rewarded. You'll, get rewarded. Family is a license for bad behavior. Say, oh no but my brother's a, victim. Well if he is a victim let's say he's a, genuine victim. So let's say that something happened completely outside of his control that fried his sense of identity and responsibility. Let's just say that he's nothing, it was nothing to do with him, he had a head injury, accident and and he just he can't get his life together. He's a real, he's a real victim. Well then you can't save him any more than you can regrow someone's.

[20:24] Arm when he's lost his arm. So if you say he's a real victim then he might need professional help, he might need some sort of involvement to give him some sort of comfort, but you can't.
If he's genuinely a victim, right, now if he's not genuinely a victim, then he's getting a lot of resources by being the victim.
Why does he have to grow up? Why does he have to grow up?
I mean, his parents give him resources, you give him resources, you're there for him, and why?
Because he's your brother. Okay, then that's fine. Listen, I understand that.
Then you're saying to your children that family matters more than virtue.
And I understand that's basic tribalism and I know that that's a very strong component of human life.
You're saying family matters more than virtue. In other words you're saying family is the ultimate substitute for immorality, for a, lack of accountability, for irresponsibility, for immaturity.
You can be a fool, you can be immature, you can be irresponsible, you can be inert, you.

[21:33] Can act in ways that are negative or destructive to self and other and family will ride in to rescue you. But you don't have to be responsible, you just have to be related. You don't have to be responsible, you just have to be related.
And your children are absorbing this lesson. Now your children are going to.

Teaching the Power of Victimhood and Manipulation

[21:54] Have a wide scattering of personality traits. Some of them are going to be more, independent, some of them are going to be more dependent, some of them are going to be more direct, some of them are going to be more manipulative, that's just the way the dice rolls with personality and you are not your brother's keeper, you are not your brother's parent. You can't parent him because he's in his late 30s can't parent him. But what you can do is you can teach your children how incredibly powerful victimhood and manipulation is in the gathering and acquisition of resources. That's what you're honestly I believe this deeply you're creating a great temptation for your children and that temptation is wow so if you're responsible and productive you have to provide resources to the immature the unproductive the petty the, manipulative and the victims you understand that you're teaching your, children that there's two ways to get resources you can work hard be.

[22:54] Responsible, be productive or you can play the victim and you can be irresponsible and you can suffer and then other people will ride in to rescue you from that and give you a free house, free land, free groceries, free money, free everything. Oof. Now when you look at your kids, you say little kids, your, third's coming, so they're all little kids. Okay, so from the point, from the perspective of your children, which life seems better? Which life seems better? A A life where you kind of get to hang around and play and watch videos and chat about fun stuff and giggle and laugh and have everyone else take care of you.
From a child's perspective, is your life better or is your brother's life better?
Your life of worry and concern and guilt and obligation and hard work and concern and responsibility and right?
Does that look fun? Or does it look fun to giggle over CGI movies, watch endless videos, laze around and get free stuff?

Temptation of a Life of Dependency and Free Resources

[23:49] You say, oh well, but if I don't take care of my brother, what's going to happen to him?
That's not the question. It's not about you. Oh my god, I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry because I keep feel like I keep having this conversation because I do. It's not about you. It's about what's best for your kids. It's about what's best for you. You say, oh yes, well I'm modeling compassion for my children. I'm modeling taking care of people for my children. Yes, but at their expense.

[24:13] Everything you provide to your brother is subtracted from your family. Every conversation, every thought and you know you're with your kids and you're thinking about your brother and you're subtracting from them. Everything that subtracts from your children is a theft to your integrity. Your brother is not a victim or if he is, he's to help. Oh well I can make him more comfortable and yes you can absolutely you can make him more comfortable and he can spend and maybe he will spend the, next 50 years sitting in a little house in your backyard watching Marvel movies on his tablet. I mean come on he's not he's not gonna get married he's never, gonna take on any responsibility he's never gonna have any savings he's just gonna hang around you taking stuff for the next 50 years and that's a great temptation for your children to follow down that path. What's best for your, children? When does charity end? Well my charity will end when he becomes more, responsible. It's like well why would he become more responsible? Clearly he's a reactive person. You say he doesn't take any initiative so he just responds to environment, he just responds to stimuli, that's it. That's it. So he's never, leaving, he's always going to continue to take and he's going to get more peevish.

When Does Charity End? Teaching Responsibility to Children

[25:24] As the years go by because he's going to get this great feeling that his life is gone? That he didn't achieve anything? The kid's living in a state of perpetual adolescence and not really working to change it. Is he going to therapy? Is he doing self-help books? Is he recording his dreams? Is he trying to figure out his unconscious? Is he trying to take... No he's not doing any of that stuff. He's watching silly movies and complaining about the free house he might be asked to help build a little. And that's just going to teach your kids that really the best way...
You're efficiency experts, right? You have to work and all your brother has to do is be sad and complain.
You have a great life and that means you have to pay for the people who make bad decisions.
From a resource acquisition standpoint, remember kids start amoral, from a resource acquisition standpoint you're the sucker and he's the winner.
He has the power and you pay. And are you doing it to genuinely help your brother?
I don't know how to genuinely help your brother.
I would have no idea. I mean if he wants to call into the show he's welcome.
I don't know how to help your brother. I don't believe that just giving him stuff and taking.

[26:24] Away responsibilities and doing things for him, I don't think that helps. So I don't know how to, help your brother. But you believe that you do and you have to be really strict with yourself when you say am I helping this person because I know how to help him make him better. You, understand nobody knows how to help people like this in particular. I mean maybe some therapy but they have to want to do the therapy in the first place. Nobody knows how to train people out of a a multi-decade habit of victimhood and complaining and passivity.
Nobody knows how to do that.
It has to come from within. Are you trying to help your brother because you know how to help him and you're the one person in the whole world who knows how to change people's lives from the outside when they don't have any motive and you're paying them to not change their lives in many ways, it's certainly their attitude.
Are you helping your brother because you genuinely want to help your brother and you know how to do it and you know how to fix it and you're the genius who's figured this out?
Or are you helping your brother because you feel bad when he's sad?
Now, if you're giving tens of thousands of dollars and thousands of hours of time to your brother because you feel bad because he's sad, you're simply training your children.
And feeling sad gets you gold. Oof. What's best for them?
Hope this helps, brother. My sympathies.

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May 2024

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