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The masculine masks that hurt men
Finding true fulfillment by embracing a new definition of masculinity
“Be a man.” “Man up.” “Start acting like a man.” These are things we hear all the time – in the locker room, in the media, in our own homes. We’ve been conditioned to adopt certain beliefs about what “masculinity” is, and we routinely force those ideals and expectations upon others, and upon ourselves. But what has this cost us?
In this episode, Tony’s editorial director, Ana Yoerg, sits down with Lewis Howes to talk about the masks men wear and how he learned how to break through the walls that hold men back to find true happiness.
Who is Lewis Howes?
Lewis Howes is an entrepreneur, performance coach and host of a top-ranked podcast, The School of Greatness. He authored a best-selling book by the same title as well as his book The Mask of Masculinity: How Men Can Embrace Vulnerability, Create Strong Relationships, and Live Their Fullest Lives. He is also a speaker and philanthropist.
Lewis was a two-sport All-American who went on to play football professionally. He built his podcast into a global phenomenon. And he became financially and professionally successful beyond his wildest dreams. By all accounts, Lewis fit the cultural ideal of what a masculine man is expected to be. Yet he still didn’t feel fulfilled. That’s when he began his personal journey.
The masculine energy
According to the law of polarity, human beings have either a masculine or feminine energy. The masculine energy is strong, decisive and purposeful. The feminine energy is open, loving and free. When we are able to live in the pureness of our true energy, we feel happy and fulfilled. But oftentimes our life experiences cause us to become something we’re not.
As Lewis realized, the masculine identity can also be built on misguided beliefs about what “masculinity” really is: dangerous, false ideas learned from stereotypes in the media. And like so many men, Lewis grew up to be angry, frustrated and always chasing something that was never enough.
So at 30 years old, Lewis began a personal journey to let go of the past and shed the many masks that he and so many other men wear, and to discover who he is at his core. He sought advice from some of the world’s best psychologists, doctors and household names – like Tony Robbins himself. And he learned how to drop his mask and find a new level of freedom he never thought possible.
The most common masks
In this episode, you will hear Lewis discuss three of the most common masks men wear: the Stoic, the Material and the Know-It-All.
- The Stoic: Stoics are the strong, confident hero. They need to learn openness, honesty and vulnerability.
- The Material: The Material believes their resources make them powerful, attractive and manly. They need to learn to be themselves instead of projecting an image.
- The Know-It-All: This mask believes that men must always know what to do. They need to learn to connect with others more deeply.
Dropping the masks
Masks do serve a purpose. They cover up our pain. As children, they help us earn the love of our caregivers. They can even help us fulfill our deepest needs. Yet as we move forward in life, they often no longer serve us.
As Lewis explains, most men aren’t even aware of the things that are holding them back emotionally. He says, “I was achieving everything at the highest level … Yet why was I so unfulfilled constantly?” Asking himself these questions began his journey into his own masculine energy.
Are you ready to drop your own masks? As Lewis says, being “a well-rounded human is what we must all be focusing on.” Both men and the women who love them can focus on becoming who they really are. You can find freedom, inner peace, fulfillment and self-worth. You just need to drop the mask.
[01:04] Ana introduces the episode
[01:30] Lewis Howes – a brief background
[03:15] Welcome Lewis
[04:00] Why Lewis felt the need to explore masculinity
[04:15] Holding on to trauma, anger and resentment
[05:15] “I didn’t have the emotional capacity to be alone”
[05:55] The culminating moment of his anger
[06:35] Understanding why his anger took a hold of him
[07:00] Opening up about sexual abuse
[08:05] Shame, embarrassment, guilt
[08:35] Releasing emotion and finding comfort
[09:30] The loving reaction from other men
[10:40] “It took me a while to feel okay”
[11:05] The decision to open up to his family
[12:15] Sharing past trauma with a broader audience
[12:45] Making a real impact in the world
[13:35] The terrifying experience of sharing on his podcast
[14:15] The reaction from his audience
[15:15] More to learn about the masks we wear
[16:00] 1 in 6 men have been sexually abused
[16:15] So many men have been suffering in silence
[17:30] Why opening up allowed Lewis to shed his masks and accept himself
[20:05] How the masks he wore worked for him
[21:45] Men are taught to hide their pain
[22:35] What sports engrain in men
[24:35] What Ana fears as a parent
[25:05] Lewis’s advice to parents
[26:35] Whose love did you crave most?
[28:15] How Lewis saw his father
[29:55] When his father transformed
[30:35] His relationship with his father
[31:35] The feeling that you’re never really yourself
[32:05] Awareness of the mask you wear
[34:15] Lewis’s catalyst / interruption
[34:35] Wanting acknowledgment as a child
[35:15] The simple shift parents can make
[36:05] Shifting away from the traditional idea of masculinity and femininity
[38:15] The stoic mask
[40:15] Why some men have few people to talk to about their emotions
[41:15] Why so many men commit suicide
[42:25] Women are constantly expressing their feelings to others
[43:15] Shedding the stoic mask
[44:55] You don’t have to take a bullet to lose your life
[45:35] Men are easily influenced by the women they are in a relationship with
[48:55] The material mask
[49:55] Lewis’s own experience with the material mask
[51:15] You’re attracting people based on what you’re putting out there
[52:45] Are you building wealth to create your value?
[54:45] When men are more concerned with talking about themselves
[55:35] The “Know-it-All”
[56:15] Advice to men who act like they have the answers to everything
[57:45] Be the person with the biggest heart
[58:35] If you always have to be right, that means someone else has to be wrong
[59:35] The life you gain when you shed your masks
[1:00:35] Freedom, inner peace, fulfillment, self-worth
[1:02:20] Living a life of service
[1:03:15] Taking time for yourself to heal
[1:04:25] The Mask of Masculinity