It seems incredibly silly now, but I used to think that everyone thought the same way. I had no idea that people have different temperaments, unique skills, learned beliefs and that everyone processed information differently. The idea that two people could experience the same event and come up with totally different meanings was completely baffling to me. Learning that we all process information differently and have unconscious beliefs that direct our thinking processes has been a game changer for me. I am more tolerant of people with vastly different opinions, even when they are presenting their knowledge and opinions in ways that are less than polite. I am more curious to know and understand what another is thinking and have deeper relationships now. And I’m always open to learning more, so that I can better understand myself, the people I love and those I want to be part of my life.
So when I saw Lewis Howes interviewed by Marie Forleo, I was all ears. I immediately added his book, The Mask of Masculinity, to my book list on Amazon. I got anxious to read it and put aside other books I wasn’t done with yet. And I’m really glad I did. Now I can’t help wanting to recommend it!
Lewis talks about the cultural pressures that men have to deal with and how they create “masks” or stories about themselves that they live within that help them navigate unattainable societal standards. Fitting in is a survival instinct that is hard wired in our brains, and is incredibly powerful in how it dictates how we show up in the world. There are many “masks” that men use to define themselves and protect their self-worth and their feelings. The mask of the athlete, the high earner and the joker are ones we’ve all seen.
Masks can be protective, but they are also limiting and prevent men from being their best and from fully expressing all that they are. And it robs others of knowing and experiencing all that men can be. Men are more likely to need help in their emotional lives and less likely to seek help as it’s still a societal taboo for them to do so. Men’s rates of suicide are significantly higher than women’s, and their rates of addiction are through the roof.
My youngest son lost 3 male friends during his time in high school. Two were suicides. The last was a tragic dirt bike accident that might have been prevented if his friend understood the boundaries of his skills and capabilities. We experienced addiction within our family and have seen it destroy the lives of others we know.
THIS NEEDS TO STOP!
Any steps you can take to understand yourself or the people in your life, whether it be a husband, child, father, boss, co-worker, friend, etc., is worthy of your time and attention. We can all make a difference in the world when we know how to understand and relate better to the people around us. People need people, and relationships can be the bane or utter joy of your existence. We are all capable of working towards making the world a better, happier, healthier place.