Lewis Howes | The Mask of Masculinity (Episode 688)

Lewis Howes (@LewisHowes) rejoins us to discuss his latest book, The Mask of Masculinity: How Men Can Embrace Vulnerability, Create Strong Relationships, and Live Their Fullest Lives.

“We aren’t able to fully heal until we start sharing the things we’re most ashamed of, the things we’re most afraid of, and the things we’re most insecure about.” -Lewis Howes

The Cheat Sheet:

  • What masks do we wear when we’re not being our genuine selves, and what compels us to put them on in the first place?
  • How do we know when wearing a mask is serving a purpose and when it’s time to put it away?
  • Understand how bottled-up childhood trauma — more common than many realize — can make us wear lifelong masks that turn us into strangers with ourselves.
  • Lewis Howes shares real-life examples of what’s happened to him from wearing the wrong mask at the wrong time.
  • Discover the catalytic turning point that led Lewis to find out who he really was beneath all these masks.
  • And so much more…

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Society expects people to play certain roles, so when we defy these expectations, we run the risk of being shunned by society. But if we want to make progress as a society — and as individuals — shouldn’t we be examining if the roles we’re playing are just roles, or if they reflect who we truly are?

In his latest book, The Mask of Masculinity: How Men Can Embrace Vulnerability, Create Strong Relationships, and Live Their Fullest Lives, Lewis Howes contends that successful, happy men are not confined to a cookie-cutter ideal of what men should be like. Successful, happy men are the ones who are true to themselves in spite of the ideals to which they’ve been conditioned. He rejoins us to discuss how men might identify and shed the masks they wear and help women understand if they’re seeing the masks men wear or the genuine article beneath. Listen, learn, and enjoy!

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Here’s a question for the men in the audience: do you feel as if the person you project to the world is a representation of who you are and the values you hold dear, or do you feel more like you wear a mask of some kind to cover up that authentic self when you face society at large?

It’s almost a trick question because of course the women in our audience can relate to the feeling of putting on a mask — at least sometimes — when under scrutiny of the public eye. It’s a very human thing. But today’s guest is Lewis Howes, who returns (check out his last time on the show here) to discuss his latest book, The Mask of Masculinity: How Men Can Embrace Vulnerability, Create Strong Relationships, and Live Their Fullest Lives.

Lewis happens to be a man, so naturally his book is from the perspective of a man. In fairness, he’d be putting on a mask if he tried to present his case otherwise — so when a woman writes The Mask of Femininity, we’ll be happy to talk to her about that book, too!

So back to masks. Everyone wears them at least sometimes, and over the course of a lifetime, we may wear many. Here are the ones Lewis has identified in his latest book.

The Masks of Masculinity

Stoic

Because every man must be invulnerable and tough, emotions are carefully managed and suppressed. There can be no crying, no pain, no feeling. So he puts up a wall between him and the world, to protect himself, to pretend he doesn’t feel the things he does. While wearing a Stoic Mask, he views weakness is an invitation to scrutiny and judgment and rejection. Only through its removal can he feel emotional freedom, experience deeper relationships, and move towards inner healing.

Athlete

One of the clearest ways a man can distinguish himself is on the field or on the court. He is like a modern-day gladiator whose weapon isn’t death, but domination. Sports are how men prove themselves, and a good athlete is a good man — period. He spends hours in the gym to get in shape. It means fighting through injuries and pain and fear, to win at all costs. And of course, if for some reason a man isn’t good at sports, he had better compensate for that by loving them and knowing everything he can about them.

Material

There is no clearer sign of a man’s worth than the amount of money in his bank account. Not only do men work incredibly hard — and sometimes do questionable things — to make as much money as possible, it’s all for naught if other people don’t know how much money he has. In this way, his cars, his watches, his houses, and his social media feeds become a representation of who he is. A man’s net worth becomes his self-worth.

Sexual

An alpha man is defined by his sexual conquests — his worth determined not only by his bank account but by the amount of women he’s slept with. Relationships? Those are for lesser men — for quitters and settlers.

A real man loves them and then leaves them — but he’s so good in bed, they’re left fully satisfied, of course.

Aggression

Men are aggressive. It’s their nature. They’re violent and tough and they never back down. When they see something they want, they take it. Men hate; men have enemies. Of course they have a temper, of course they break things, and of course they get into fights. They’re the hunters, not the gatherers. It’s what men do. A man who thinks otherwise is not a man and is responsible for the weakening of the world.

Joker

A man has a sense of humor and a wit that can repel even the most withering critique or the most nagging doubt. Talk about his problems? Okay, Dr. Phil, maybe later. Cynicism and sarcasm and a sense of superiority, these are the intellectual weapons that a man uses to defend against every attempt to soften him or connect with him. If you want a man to let you in, expect a knock-knock joke, not an open door.

Invincible

A man does not feel fear. A man takes risks. Whether that’s betting his life savings on a company or cliff diving or smoking and drinking in incredible quantities, a man doesn’t have time to think about consequences, he’s too busy doing. Other people (i.e., women and betas) have “problems.” But men? Men have it all under control. They’ve “got this” and they’ll be fine.

Know It All

A man is not only physically dominant but intellectually dominant too. If you don’t understand why that is, a man is happy to explain it to you — along with all the other subjects he’s an expert in. He went to a top school, he watches the news, and he knows all the answers. He certainly doesn’t need your — or anyone’s — help. He knows it all.

Alpha

At the most basic level, men believe that there are only two types of men: alphas and betas, winners and losers. No man can stand to be the latter — so a man must dominate, one up, and win everything. A man can’t ever defer. As a man, he must be in control, and he can’t ever do anything a beta (or a woman) would do.

People who wear this mask are the ones most likely to parrot tired catchphrases like “cucked beta” in their reviews of this book on Amazon.

The Masks of Lewis Howes

“I realize that I was driven by sports and to win and the desire to be right all the time because of my need for acceptance,” says Lewis. “The Material mask necessarily wasn’t the biggest mask for me my entire life; there was a phase of a few years where I was driven by money and I was focused on and fixated on it. But it wasn’t like I needed to have the fancy car, the nice house. It wasn’t my go-to.

“The Stoic mask was something that I lived by. The Sexual mask was definitely in high school and college in my twenties — I just wanted to sleep with a lot of girls. But it never filled me, and so it was just something that I could use to be like, ‘I’m cool, I can fit in, I can talk about, I can brag about.’ The Aggression mask was definitely something I lived with as an athlete. I never was able to turn it off, and I was always in competition mode.”

This isn’t to say wearing masks is always a bad thing. Lewis admits the time in his life spent wearing the Athlete mask drove him to go above and beyond to achieve success in a football career. The Material mask inspired him never to go dirt broke to the point where he had to sleep on his sister’s couch again, so he fixated on making lots and lots of money.

The problems arise when a mask is worn past the time it serves a purpose. The Athlete mask was a boon to Lewis when he was on the field and trying to compete and win, but not so great when he’d forget to take it off on dates and in business relationships.

“Everything was a competition,” Lewis says, “so I always wore the mask. Again, it got me big results; that’s why men wear masks — because it gets us results. But when we suffer inside and it’s never enough and there’s never fulfillment with those results, that’s when we get to look within and say, ‘Well, what am I doing that’s not working for me?'”

Listen to this episode in its entirety to learn more about Lewis’ real-life problems that arose from wearing the wrong mask at the wrong time, the turning point that led him to find out who he really was beneath all these masks, the traumatic childhood experience that gave him his first mask to wear, what happened when Lewis started identifying the origins of these masks and understood the roles they played in his life, and lots more.

THANKS, LEWIS HOWES!

If you enjoyed this session with Lewis Howes, let him know by clicking on the link below and sending him a quick shout out at Twitter:

Click here to thank Lewis Howes at Twitter!

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Jordan Harbinger - author of 952 posts on The Art of Charm

Jordan Harbinger has spent several years abroad in Europe and the developing world, including South America, Eastern Europe, and the Middle East, and speaks several languages. He has also worked for various governments and NGOs overseas, traveled through war zones, and been kidnapped -- twice. He’ll tell you the only reason he’s still alive and kicking is because of his ability to talk his way into (and out of) just about any type of situation. Here at The Art of Charm, Jordan shares that experience, and the system borne as a result, with students and clients.

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