March 2, 2023
Author, podcaster, and former professional athlete Lewis Howes joins Jameela to discuss his mental health journey, why healing is such important work we all do, why men struggle with processing their feelings, his personal mental breakdown and how The School of Greatness was born from it, the priorities he has in a relationship, and more.
Check out Lewis’s newest book – The Greatness Mindset: Unlock the Power of Your Mind and Live Your Best Life Today – out March 7th wherever books are sold.
You can find transcripts for this episode on the Earwolf website.
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152 — Greatness with Lewis Howes
Jameela Intro: Hello and welcome to another episode of I Weigh with Jameela Jamil, a podcast against shame. I hope you’re well and Happy International Women’s Week. I know that this was a weird time to choose a straight white male to be on my show but I felt like it was an important choice. Because I believe that for women, men are sadly our biggest threat, at times our biggest enemy. Not all men. Not all men. Not all men, but way too many men. And I believe they can be our biggest ally and some of our great collaborators and my hope is to continue to work to bridge the gap between men and women, to seek to understand men so we can understand what’s going on with them because they are not OK. We can see that statistically in the mental health statistics, in the violent statistics towards each other. We can see that in the violence towards us. We can see that in the violence towards themselves. The suicide rates are alarming and they’re getting younger and younger and younger. It’s just not OK what’s happening to them, and because they are their gender, still very restricted, socially restricted from really coming out about how they feel and their fears and their vulnerabilities.
They’re just not having an appropriate outlet to discuss how they can seek a happier life, and my guest today Lewis Howes is a prime example of what happens when pain and trauma and abuse is internalized by someone who’s trying to portray a kind of macho and tough exterior. How that can just decimate you from the inside out and how that can bleed on to the people around you. I think it’s a very very common story. One, much more common than we realize and because we don’t have those conversations, we don’t understand and if we don’t understand we can’t fix it. And if we can’t fix it then it just gets fucking worse and then you end up where we are now. And we need men, you know. We need them because they are the ones who predominantly run the world and they are the ones who can stop other men from taking away all of our human rights which we continue to see globally even in the most developed countries in the world. We are seeing bodily autonomy and privacy laws and freedom laws being stripped away from women, predominately women, not only women, also some gender nonconforming people, but it’s fucking terrifying and it’s just not going to work if we don’t collaborate. And if we don’t work together and if we don’t empathize with each other and that means also hearing them out.
In this episode, we discuss Lewis’s mental health journey and the path to healing that began after his personal breakdown in his late 20s. We discuss the emotional state of many men and how men’s aggression could sometimes be linked to the fact that they have no spaces to safely share how they feel. We discuss the difference and the ideas between toxic masculinity versus pain, being the only toxic thing men carry. It’s a really eye opening episode, and one that I’ve shared now with a lot of men in my life who have really resonated with it but a lot of women have also already reached out to me about this episode and I really appreciate that and I hope you enjoy this listen.
I will give you a trigger warning that there is a mention of sexual assault, a mention of rape in this episode and that is something that happened to Lewis when he was very young and we do discuss that. So if that’s not something you can handle listening to today, maybe skip this episode. But it’s a a beautiful chat between two people who come at the world from, you know, optics wise, very different background experiences but who actually have a lot in common. If you enjoy Lewis’s work then you can find him on The School of Greatness Podcast and he also has a book called ‘The Greatness Mindset: Unlock the Power of Your Mind and Live Your Best Life Today’. It’s out March 7th and you can preorder it now wherever books are sold. This is Lewis Howes.
Jameela [00:01:15] Lewis bloody Howes. Welcome to I Weigh. How are you?
Lewis [00:01:18] Good to see you.
Jameela [00:01:20] So good to see you.
Lewis [00:01:21] We’ve had a journey together. I met you what like ten years ago or something. When was this?
Jameela [00:01:25] I think it was eight years ago. It was like almost as soon as I moved to Los Angeles, I, I remember us sitting down. I think we were at, like, some sort of wanky Soho House brunch or something. And we started talking. And I remember like having a go at myself after meeting you because I immediately judged you the second I saw you. And I was like, I’m not going to talk to him. I have I have nothing in common with him, like you’re this, like tall, handsome, very muscular, like, like an athlete. And I, I don’t know anything about sports, and I don’t like moving my body at all. I was just like, No, no, no, no. We’re not going to have anything in common. This is an all-American like superstar. And then very quickly within chatting, realize that we have a lot more in common than I ever could have realized. And so I officially apologize to you now, eight years later, for judging a book by its cover.
Lewis [00:02:20] You know, it’s interesting, I accept your apology. It’s all good. And, you know, it’s interesting because I feel like we have a lot in common because I think most of your life you’ve had to break down the barriers of people assuming and judging you for being something. And just like you said, that’s been my life as well. People look at me I’m this tall guy. You know, I’m an American guy, I’m a former athlete, and they just judge and assume based on looks and assumptions.
Jameela [00:02:43] You look like the. You look like the Oxford definition of like, like all-American hero, like. You literally look like a hero. It’s fucking ridiculous so.
Lewis [00:02:53] But it’s interesting, though, that it’s you know, we both had that struggle and continue to have that struggle to to break down the barriers of just being judged by are people assuming something about us? And I think a lot of people have this experience in life. They assume something about them that may or may not be true.
Jameela [00:03:11] Whether they be underestimated or overestimated or not even estimated at all. And so I agree. You are you are here today talking about a multitude of things that are very, very close to my heart. But also you have a new book out. You have a new book coming out called The Greatness Mindset Unlock the Power of Your Mind and Live Your Best Life Today. Now, again, if people who listen to this podcast, they Google you and see a picture of you and they’re like, well, you know, he would be able to unlock the power of his mind and live his best life today because he is a tall, white, non-disabled, straight man. But there is so much more to your story. And and I think that actually it’s very easy to dismiss positivity in a culture in which so much like positivity is kind of like saturated the market. But what you have to offer is very practical advice based on having to pull yourself out of such deep, dark depths. And and with your permission, may I partially retraumatize you by visiting your story? Yeah. I’m not sure I can understand the context of sure of why I think it would be so helpful for you to be here today. And thank you. Thank you for being here. I really like I really admire you. I really look up to you and a lot of ways and I’m I’m especially happy that we have a man like you. And I feel this way whenever we, you know, the rare occasions we get men on this podcast to come and talk about their mental health, it is vitally important that someone who represents the antithesis of the man normally associated with vulnerability, that you are going out of your way to encourage everyone, but also mostly men to be vulnerable.
Lewis [00:04:59] Yeah, yeah. I appreciate it. Yeah. And I’m happy to dive in. Anything you want to talk about?
Jameela [00:05:03] Well, I guess I’d kind of like to ask you. What has your mental health journey been like throughout your life?
Lewis [00:05:11] I mean, right now I feel very peaceful. I’m very, very feel very peaceful. Free and clear.
Jameela [00:05:18] Great.
Lewis [00:05:18] And for many years, I felt very like I was living in a lot of pain. I felt trapped. I felt afraid. And I felt unclear and unsure of myself. I doubted myself a lot. And I put on masks to project, to fit in, to feel like I belonged to some type of, you know, friend group and tribes and things like that over the years to just sort of to have a kind of a sense of survival. So I did things to show people that I was strong enough, good enough, smart enough or whatever. But at that time, I felt like I was insignificant, you know, dumb, all these different things. I didn’t think I was worthy, lovable or acceptable at all for a long time. But that’s why I was driven to accomplish and achieve so that people would acknowledge that I had some type of talent. And that only got me so far that only that that allowed me to accomplish a lot of goals and have outward success in terms of accomplishments with sports and then business. But it left me feeling so empty, so alone, and so scared inside that I would just have breakdown after breakdown in my life because my emotions were were trapped. My emotions were not free. And it wasn’t until about ten years ago when I started to unpack, unwind, and start a journey of healing. And as you know, healing is a journey. It’s not an event that happens at a moment. And then it’s like, okay, I’m never triggered ever again in my life. It’s a journey of integration and alignment around the meaning we create from those memories, the meaning from the pain, the trauma, the big T, the little Ts that we have, and finding the beauty and the meaning behind some horrific things that might happen to us. In a no way am I here to talk about, you know, all the traumas that I’ve gone through and make them more or less than anyone else’s. But we all face different things that cause us to doubt, to feel insecure and do things to fit in. And I had my own set of instances, you know, I was sexually abused by a man that I didn’t know when I was five. For 25 years, no one knew this about me because I was so ashamed of it. I was so insecure and and so afraid that if anyone knew this about me, no one would love me and no one would accept me. No one would be my friend. No one would believe me, and no one would anything if they knew this story about me. So I embodied the all-American athlete. I was just like, I’m tough, I’m strong. I’m never going to cry. I’m never to do these things, and I’m going to be the hero that these people want on these sports teams. I’m going to do whatever it takes to train as hard as I can to be a valuable asset to the team and accomplish my goals. And that fuel was extremely powerful in getting me to set goals and accomplish them and getting me to get up early and train hard and getting me to stay later than other people and work hard. And it gave me fuel, but it left me feeling extremely unfulfilled and unhappy.
Jameela [00:08:28] Because while you’re running on that treadmill, you’re you’re running away from your problems.
Lewis [00:08:32] It’s exhausting.
Jameela [00:08:32] Yeah. Yeah yeah yeah yeah.
Lewis [00:08:32] It’s exhausting. And I still kind of, at the end of the day, look myself in the mirror and say that I loved myself and I accepted myself not in like some egotistical, narcissistic way, but just a a healthy identity way. So that’s been a it’s been a journey.
Jameela [00:08:49] Yeah. And thank you. Thank you for sharing that. I wonder. Is part of your physique. You know, because you’re like a big, broad, muscular man. A response at all to having been attacked when you were younger and, like, making yourself look like fucking un
Lewis [00:09:04] Yeah.
Jameela [00:09:05] Breakable. My way was the opposite way. You know, I was a similar age when I was abused also by someone older than me. And I. I just I part of my anorexia, I think, was me trying to kind of disappear and have control over something. And I was just wondering if there was any correlation with men because, you know, I haven’t met a lot of men who experienced such a thing. And I wonder how it manifest physically sometimes.
Lewis [00:09:31] I mean, I was always kind of a tall, skinny kid. And so I just wanted to be stronger because I knew it would help me accomplish my goals as an athlete. So I was always trying to get like stronger and bigger to to not essentially. I mean, it was really just to like, be great as an athlete and defend myself in sports. It wasn’t thinking like, no one’s ever going to do this to me again. As I became older, I was just naturally stronger and I was like, Okay, no man’s going to do this to me as an adult because I can push them off of me and I can defend myself. Now I couldn’t defend myself.
Jameela [00:10:02] Rip their fucking head off.
Lewis [00:10:03] Yeah, I was like, I can’t defend myself as a five year old. But after ten, 15 years of training as a, you know, football basketball player, it’s like I had speed, skill and strength and, you know, basic capacity to like, push someone away and strangle them if I needed to or something, you know. So but it was more of just like the emotional wounds caused me to, to defend myself and react so much in life. If the littlest things were happened where I felt like someone was taking advantage me or abusing me in any way.
Jameela [00:10:36] Give me an example of how small this would be.
Lewis [00:10:39] I mean, someone cuts me off in the street or someone just looks at me the wrong way. I mean, it’s like as as a teenager, you know, someone you don’t know and you’re out down in the street or you’re at the gym or whenever you’re going to a party or at the movie theater or something. As a 16 year old and some other kid you don’t know looks at you the wrong way. It’s like, What? What are you going to do? You know, you kind of I would defend my. The vulnerability is inside of me that was uncomfortable with just kind of receiving the world is as it is and being peaceful and calm. So I needed to project this identity of like, don’t mess with me or, you know, what are you going to do? Or, Ah, don’t come at me. Stuff like that. I mean, as I got older when I was driving, it was like if people cut me off in the car, I was like, They’re trying to beat me, they’re abusing me. I’m going to go and fight them or whatever it is. Because just like any little thing in life or in business, if I felt like someone was doing a deal or they were just trying to use me, that would really trigger me. And I’m sure you know, in your career in Hollywood, if you feel like someone’s not paying you fairly or if they’re not putting you in the right position fairly, you know, for me, that would have triggered me to react as opposed to respond from just, okay, well, that’s that just doesn’t work for me. And this is my boundary and here’s what I’m going to ask for. I get defensive.
Jameela [00:11:56] I’m not. I think anyone who’s followed my Twitter for ten years can say I’m not reactive. I am very calm.
Lewis [00:12:03] Exactly. Exactly.
Jameela [00:12:04] I am cool as a cucumber, my friends. Yeah. No, no, no, I, I fully identify with that.
Lewis [00:12:11] But this would come up in a lot of different ways. And again, this is not to, like, stack, you know, my traumas or something, but just to share. You know, when I was five that happened sexual abuse. And then when I was eight, my brother went to prison for four and a half years. This was my hero. He was 11 years older than me and he was a hero of mine. He sold drugs to an undercover cop. And in the nineties, early nineties, it was the war against drugs in America. So they were just like giving the harshest.
Jameela [00:12:38] Yeah, they were making an example out of people.
Lewis [00:12:41] Out of everyone. So his first account, you know he was 19 he was he just got caught up in it and while he was in school and then he went 6 to 25 years his sentence and he got off on good behavior in four and a half years. But every weekend for four and a half years, almost every weekend, except for maybe a few times, I would drive with my family, my two older sisters and my parents. We would drive about 2 hours on a Sunday and go visit the prison where my brother was because they would have like visiting hours, you know, a certain times on the week. And so as of eight year old, I was in a prison a lot of times for four years. And and also as an 8 year old growing up in a small town in Ohio. You know, the neighborhoods, everyone knows what’s going on, at least in the neighborhoods I was in. So the moms of the kids in my neighborhood wouldn’t let their kids hang out with me because, you know, I must be just as bad or do something like my brother did. Because in my town, it wasn’t like in that small neighborhood, there weren’t a lot of people going to jail. And so it was like.
Jameela [00:13:49] There’s a feeling of contagion, I feel like.
Lewis [00:13:51] Yeah, exactly.
Jameela [00:13:52] Especially in that generation. Especially in that generation. I feel like they felt like they would ostracize a lot of people be it gay people, not people specifically in Ohio. But I just mean like that generation’s attitude towards homosexuality or towards race or towards like fat people, towards disability would always just be like, stay away from it because you can catch it.
Lewis [00:14:11] Mm hmm. Exactly. So there was just like, I just felt alone. I just didn’t have friends for those times. And I know there’s other people that are listening that can probably relate to the feeling of feeling alone as a kid. And so I felt very alone. And then
Jameela [00:14:26] Was your brother your best friend as a kid?
Lewis [00:14:29] I mean, he was older than me, so he would kind of just come hang out with me when he had time. But he was off, like doing teenagers things.
Jameela [00:14:34] Yeah, that’s one of those. That’s like me and my brother. My brother was ten years older than me and he was my best friend, but I was definitely not his best friend.
Lewis [00:14:41] Right. Right. I was like, You’re my hero. Play with me, you know? But it was more like he was off doing whatever he was doing and, you know, having girlfriends and doing stuff with guys or whatever he was doing. But he but I have the memories from like when I was five until eight of, like him, you know, playing with me and him going in the backyard and playing sports and him teaching me like boxing stances and just goofing around. And so,
Jameela [00:15:06] yeah.
Lewis [00:15:06] he was a hero to me. But it was it was very challenging to go to a prison and see your hero in a blue suit, you know, jumpsuit, and then be around 50 convicts and their families in the visiting room and just be like, Huh? But my brother’s a good guy. Like, he didn’t.
Jameela [00:15:27] Yeah. And knowing that he’s living such a hard existence and you couldn’t at that age, thankfully know the full extent of how scary that is. But similarly, I was. I was a little bit younger than you. My brother was like my entire existence. He was just my whole life. And being being South Asian in England was a very dangerous thing in the nineties. And he was racially targeted and bullied so horrifically that he was just not he was just going to take his own life if we kept him here. So he went to live with my grandmother in Spain, and so I had to say goodbye to like my anchor. I didn’t really have friends in school. And so he was like my everything. And he left when I was about six. And it’s that thing of and I couldn’t really see him very often because he was, you know, in another country and he’d sort of lost his mind for a while. So it’s not the same, but it’s also just like that is such a destabilizing thing. And, and again, those things add up to, well, there’s no one here to protect me now I have to defend myself and
Lewis [00:16:28] It all adds up.
Jameela [00:16:30] And also, like, the unthinkable has happened really quickly. So I have to control everything in my life.
Lewis [00:16:36] It all adds up. Yeah. I mean, when I was. Yeah. So when I was also from 5 to 8, two of my uncles committed suicide on different families, on different ends of the family, two uncles. So. And it was like, I’m going to funerals and I’m like, What is suicide? What? What do you mean? He shot himself.
Jameela [00:16:54] And the knock on effects on your parents, I imagine was quite intense.
Lewis [00:16:57] Yeah, I mean, so my parents are. First off, I left home at 13. I begged my parents to send me away to a boarding school. It’s usually the other way around when the kid is really bad and they get sent away. They didn’t want me to leave, but I begged them to send me to a school.
Jameela [00:17:13] Why did you want to go to?
Lewis [00:17:13] I went to this kind of like, you know, camp. They would send me this camp, like kind of like a Christian camp every summer for a couple of weeks. And when I was after seventh grade, I went to this camp. It was like a two week camp. And it’s like all these kids were really nice. And I grew up with kids that weren’t nice. The kids that were kind of bullying, making fun of me. I was in the special needs classes, so I always had tutors. And when I was in recess, kids were in recess. I was in like a study hall learning how to read and write because I just was a slower learner when it comes to academics. So I just felt like kids were always making fun of me, you know, my brother being in jail and that type of stuff. And also just being I was almost as tall as I am when I was like when I was like ten or 11 years old. So I was very skinny. I know you were tall and kind of awkward looking when you were growing up, so was just kind of a combination of things, right? I just was, well, if there was a cool kid, I was not that kid. I was the complete opposite. The back of the class made, you know, made fun of picked last on sports teams, you know, in elementary school. So all these things just kind of made me not feel like I was lovable, made me not feel like I was enough and made me very insecure. And when I met these kids at this camp, I was like, man, I want to be around more kind kids. I want to be around where I’m accepted. And I felt kind of accepted. And a lot of them went to this school, you know, near this camp, which was in St Louis, Missouri. So right after I got off the plane from this kind of two week camp, I within minutes, my parents picked me up at the airport and I was like, Hey, I think I want to go to this school that these kids go to. And there’s a boarding school part of it. There’s like kids that go there who live there, but also there’s boarding, you know, and I was like can I go? And they’re like, No, we can’t afford that. We’re not going to send you away. There’s no way. And every day I begged them to send me away that summer. And one of the reasons was is because, like, they didn’t show affection or love to each other. And it was always a level like stress when they were around each other. And I just never felt. They loved me, but they didn’t love each other and I didn’t feel safe in the environment emotionally. I didn’t even know. I just assumed everyone was going through the same thing. But I was like, I just want to get away from here.
Jameela [00:19:33] Mm hmm.
Lewis [00:19:33] And so I begged them to send me away. And it was it was the start of a new chapter of Wow. As I’m developing and kind of maturing and going through puberty and, you know, all that. And actually, now I’m becoming a better athlete. Like, I’m just growing into myself, and I kind of felt like I could be who I was and be more accepted there. I still had tons of fears and insecurities, but I, I felt like kids were like, kinder and
Jameela [00:19:58] It’s a bit of a fresh start.
Lewis [00:19:59] Fresh start. And I really felt like I needed space for my parents, to be honest, because they were they were fighting it felt like what was every week and they eventually got divorced a couple of years later, they probably should have been divorced but before I was even born, they had, you know, they had my brother when they were 19. They didn’t know how to they didn’t know healing and emotional intelligence and how to communicate and effective, you know, conflict resolution. They didn’t have those skills. So I don’t blame them. And they were great to. They were great to me individually, but to each other, I just felt stress and I didn’t feel safe or peaceful because there wasn’t a sense of like love with them. And so all these things kind of like shaped my emotional mind and really put me in a state of insecurity, fear and self-doubt. So all I was trying to do was get to safety, peace and.
Jameela [00:20:53] Control.
Lewis [00:20:54] Well really self-acceptance. And I was doing it through control. But I realized that wasn’t the answer that I needed to learn how to heal and find meaning from these painful memories. I needed to find resolution to eliminate the shame and insecurities. But for the next 15 plus years, I just leaned into wearing masks and saying, I’m going to fit the archetype you want me to be. I’m going to be the best athlete I can be. I’m going to add value here. I’m going to do whatever it takes to succeed. But success, I’ve learned, is extremely selfish. It’s about me. It’s about what I want and greatness I’m leaning more into that is about, you know, healing, coming from an authentic place to pursue what you want and your dreams and your talents, but including others in impacting others around you in a positive way. And so I was driven by success to feel like I was I had meaning, but it just left me feeling unfulfilled. And it wasn’t till I started to heal in the last ten years. And it’s a journey, as you know. It’s not a one time thing. It’s an ongoing journey where I was able to find a lot of peace.
Jameela [00:22:11] So you mentioned earlier on that you’d had a lot of breakdowns before you were able to, like hit whatever that rock bottom was that propelled you into recovery. Can you tell me what those breakdowns looked like? Mine were more like a sort of fugue state. What did yours look like?
Lewis [00:22:31] I mean, I feel like I was kind of always like a low level breakdown internally, but when I hit 29, right before I hit 30, I moved to L.A. for a girl that I was dating long distance. The day I landed, she broke up with me.
Jameela [00:22:47] A classic tale.
Lewis [00:22:48] Right, you know, when after went after it.
Jameela [00:22:51] You know what? James dumped me the day that I moved to Los Angeles as well.
Lewis [00:22:55] Really?
Jameela [00:22:55] Yeah. Yeah.
Lewis [00:22:56] See we have more in common than you know.
Jameela [00:22:57] I mean he came crawling back within a few weeks. Yeah, but it’s a real fucker, because this is a really lonely town.
Lewis [00:23:06] Oh, man it’s a crazy town.
Jameela [00:23:06] And then so you’re like, shit now I don’t know anyone.
Lewis [00:23:09] Now what? Exactly. So, you know, we. We got back together for, like, off and on for six months, but it was kind of like this emotional rollercoaster that eventually it was like, okay, this isn’t the right thing. And now I’m out in L.A., and I moved here for this, but I don’t want to be here anymore. It was like I was living in New York, living my best life. I moved for a girl, didn’t work out, so I was really kind of beating myself up of making that decision. I was like, Why’d I do this? Why did I go after some girl? What was the point of this? I’m an idiot. It’s a constant, like self-criticism for decisions, which I think is the wrong thing to go about it as well. But I decided to to stay for this first year. I’m still in L.A. I actually love it now, but that first year I didn’t love it and I was frustrated that I made a poor decision. I was frustrated this relationship didn’t work out and it caused a lot of stress and emotional heartbreak. I was going through kind of a business partnership breakdown where we weren’t aligning on our vision anymore of what we were creating, and we were just kind of snapping and each other and getting frustrated really easily and to the point where I’m in the middle of Times Square at one point with him. On like a work event trip. And I feel like I want to punch him in the face in Times Square. And I’m like, we’re like yelling at each other in the middle of Times Square about some something that doesn’t even matter. But we were just so frustrated that we didn’t have the tools and how to effectively communicate when there was conflict in a peaceful, loving way. And I remember thinking like, I want to punch this guy so bad right now and thinking, what is wrong with me? Like, we’re in the middle of Times Square and I’m having this feeling I didn’t do it, but I was like, okay, I don’t know how to manage my intimate relationship. I don’t know how to manage my business partnership. And I just started feeling angrier and angrier in life.
Jameela [00:24:55] Mm hmm.
Lewis [00:24:55] And I and I’m a and I know that I was a fun loving, joyful human being at my core. But for whatever reason, I was getting triggered and feeling taken advantage of and abused. And I wasn’t even aware that that’s what was happening. I was just reacting.
Jameela [00:25:09] So does everyone kind of become your abuser? Like in that moment, there’s like on some cellular level.
Lewis [00:25:16] That’s how it felt.
Jameela [00:25:17] Everyone who you and listen like something I just want to stop with, which is that like, you know, there are some people who, you know, especially when you’re socialized as a woman, you you’re not really allowed. You’re not given the space to act with aggression because you’re treated as though you’re crazy. You know, if you even raise your voice or like, double text. So we live within, like, ridiculous parameters. But I think what’s important for me to ask you is that do you think that this is what the prevalent issue is with a lot of men’s aggression and violence, is that there is not that they were necessarily all abused when they were younger, but is this a pattern that you have found, you know, over the course of your career and speaking out and teaching men about your own vulnerability journey? Do you find that there is this underlying cause of pain in men? Because it’s what I think, but I think that we’ve become so accustomed to kind of demonizing men, which comes from an understandable place of just being fucking fed up. But not to make you the spokesperson for all men. Sorry, I know they’re not a monolith, but. But I do think it’s just interesting. Do you feel as though men have reached out to you with similar ways of responding to their own trauma? Because I can almost guarantee nobody is born this way.
Lewis [00:26:32] 100% yeah. I have an email. I have an email that I haven’t responded to just because when they come in, I try to be really mindful of it. And the the title of the email is Sexual Abuse as an Entrepreneur. And so as a man, I’m not going to say his name, but he wrote a whole long essay to me talking about this, you know, sexual abuse that he faced and how it’s affected his entire life as an entrepreneur and intimacy. And he doesn’t know what to do. And I think. You know, I’m not just saying this for men. Women have their own challenges and things they have to face in their own way. But I think as a man, from my experience growing up in this society and the culture that I grew up in, I wasn’t allowed to show any vulnerability. I just wasn’t. Or if I. I guess I take that back. I was allowed to show it, but then I’d be made fun of it. I’d be made fun of it. You know, I’d be kicked out. I’d be picked on
Jameela [00:27:33] Ostracized. Yeah.
Lewis [00:27:34] Yeah. So it’s like, okay, I can do whatever I want to do, but there’s consequences to these actions. And I think there’s a lot of men suffering. There’s a lot of men in a lot of pain that won’t even say they’re in pain because I was one of them. I was like, No, I’m fine. I’m good, I’m fine. Because they’re so conditioned to act that part that I had everything figured out, that I was okay, that I was successful. Nothing bothered me when in fact everything bothered me. And yet I was just unwilling to face it. I was unwilling to speak it. It wasn’t even something I could say for 25 years that I was upset. I was like, No, I’m not upset. You’re upset. You’re just coming at me the wrong way. You don’t understand me. You know, this is kind of like this thing. And I think I’ve gotten so many essays from men message me because I talk openly about, like, the sexual abuse stuff. And I’ve. And I don’t feel traumatized by it anymore because I went through a healing journey of it, because I’ve faced it in a lot of ways. And I and I and I urge men and women and everyone to to do it in a way that works for them. But for me, I think there’s a lot of men who are in a lot of pain, a lot of suffering, and they don’t feel like they have an outlet or a safe environment to communicate it. I’m sure you studied a lot of the stats about this as well, but one one in four women have been sexually abused in some way and then one in six in men.
Jameela [00:29:01] And we never hear that statistic.
Lewis [00:29:03] Right.
Jameela [00:29:04] We never hear the statistic about men. And it’s very rare that men will ever talk about it.
Lewis [00:29:09] And they don’t talk about it, and they don’t talk about it.
Jameela [00:29:11] Your own like people that you’re close to. They still don’t talk about it.
Lewis [00:29:12] Exactly. And again, it’s traumatizing for anyone. It doesn’t matter man or woman or anyone in between. It’s traumatizing for anyone. The the the thing that becomes scary for society and for men is when men don’t have the ability to to heal, when when men don’t have a safe environment to heal. And here’s what happens. Especially men who I believe are good men that just don’t have the tools and emotional regulation. They make poor decisions. They have poor behaviors when things come up that they don’t know how to process. So I just think they make poor decisions. Obviously, every decision has to be accountable for and whatever they do. But I feel for some men because I felt for myself, I can have compassion for who I was and what I experienced and realizing that it’s very confusing, very confusing. And when no one there was no tools or no heroes that I could look on TV who were speaking out about like, Hey, if you’re sexually abused as a young boy, here’s the process to go through. This would never happen. My parents never said, Hey, if someone ever does this to you, here’s what you should do and look out for and here’s how to emotionally handle it for the rest of your life. These tools were not taught to us in school, at least for me they weren’t.
Jameela [00:30:26] And even not specific to abuse. I think emotional regulation is something that like women are taught in a way of just like suppress, suppress, Jesus Christ, suppress when you’re with your girlfriends alone, then maybe you’re allowed to express right there. But men don’t even have that.
Lewis [00:30:44] They don’t have men don’t have, men don’t have one guy friend. Most men don’t have one guy friend. If you literally asked all the men in your life, anyone listening or watching right now, if you asked all the men in your life, do you have one male friend you feel like you can say anything to? I would be willing to bet a lot that most of the men would say they don’t have one male friend that they can share everything to. Whereas you ask women in general, they will say to any one of their girlfriends, their mom, their sister, like every day, here’s my insecurities, my vulnerabilities, here’s what I’m going through, what I’m struggling with. Again, I’m generalizing this. But when I talk to women about this and I’m in a room and I’m speaking about this in a room of hundreds of people called 5050 men and women, I say, for the ladies in the room, raise your hand if once a week you talk to another girlfriend or a group of girlfriends about challenge you’re facing, insecurities, adversities, you know, marriage issues, relationship stuff, work stuff, Anything you’re going through that you feel vulnerable about. Raise your hand If you do this once a week, almost the entire room raises their hand of the women in the room. And I say, okay, now keep your hand up. If you do this on a daily basis, you’re calling someone, you’re talking about they kind of a laugh. And they say, yes. And I say, Men raise your hand. If once a month you get together with one, two or a group of men, you talk about your body issues, your challenges, your insecurities, your relationship issues, how you feel insignificant, how you feel like you’re not enough in certain areas of life, raise your hand. Of the hundreds of men in these rooms that I talk to, maybe two or three will raise their hand. And I and I usually quickly make a joke and I’ll say, Are you guys part of a mandatory church group that does this? And they kind of were like, Yes, we are. It’s a church group. It’s like a safe environment where we feel like we’re not going to be judged. And I go, okay, so ladies in the room, imagine, just imagine if you only got to speak about this once a month like anything that was on your mind vulnerabilities. Just imagine. How would it make you feel? Like I’d probably go crazy. Like I couldn’t do it and I go, Imagine not speaking about it for a year or holding on to these things for an entire lifetime. That is typically what a lot of men will experience. They will never open up about their shames, their guilts, their insecurities, the things they’ve done wrong, the things they can’t forgive. They’ll never talk about it. And again, I’m not saying it is okay.
Jameela [00:33:14] No, I know you’re not excusing anything.
Lewis [00:33:16] Yeah, there’s no excuses on if they do that and then cause harm to others. That’s not okay. And everyone’s accounted for. But to see it from a lens of some compassion for that, for men in general, not the men who have done bad things to you, but just for the men in general. If you could say, if I never was able to share these things, how would it make you feel? It would feel like you’re you’ve got poison in your veins and it feels like you’re going crazy. And I think. That’s where men tend to use anger and reaction with anger or extremes, stoicism and they just kind of keep it all together, you know, And they’re just like, okay, I’m going to be the strong one and hold it all together all the time and make sure I’m taking care of everything. That’s where you see men who are in their forties who look healthy, having heart attacks. That’s where you see people that don’t have the ability. They explode and they explode on anger. And you see it in the news, in the press. And you see all these shootings from men who are angry that don’t know how to express their emotions in a healthy, conscious way. And so this is the only way they can really do it. And that’s, for me, a scary thing. And and here’s the challenge, Jameela. I don’t know the solution for for everyone. I know what’s worked for me because when I talk to men who start processing and they say, you know, I’ve been married for ten, 15 years, I never felt like I’ve been able to be vulnerable with my with my wife. And I’m going to try it. I’m going to get the courage to finally, like, open up to show like I’m going to show I’ve never cried in front of her, so I’m going to try it. I’m going to be vulnerable and let my guard down. And I’m like, Awesome, Let me know how it goes. They come back to me and they say, I don’t know if I can do this again because she wasn’t able to receive it. She told me, like, if I’m in breakdown, you can’t be in breakdown. If I’m emotional, you can’t be emotional because then I can’t trust you. I don’t feel safe. And I’m not saying all women do this. Obviously, a lot of women are like really receptive to this. But for the men that don’t feel it’s even safe in their intimate relationship because their woman has never seen them that way, and they’re like, Oh, this is a new thing. I don’t know how to handle this. It’s just then where do we go from there? So it’s it’s an understanding of allowing healing for everyone, you know, men, women and everyone to to allow healing to occur and to encourage it. And maybe you are not able to receive your partner being vulnerable with you, but encouraging them to do it with someone else until you are able to do that with them. And I think it’s just a journey. It’s a process because we’ve all experienced certain traumas, big T little T that affect us today. And unless we’re willing to heal and integrate those healing lessons continuously, it’s going to be hard to regulate emotions and we’re going to cause pain and upset in others.
Jameela [00:36:13] I often talk about the fact that if it would be so much better for women, you know, where the vast, vast, vast majority of the violence that we receive is from men, it would benefit us tremendously to find a portal for men’s emotions and to create coping skills and to have rejection destigmatized as kids and and really like nurture boys. Like not just expect them to know what to do given that they are in every way taken away from what would be the correct intuitive response. Like they are conditioned and programed. I’m sure that you’re aware of this kind of really like rapidly growing. It feels like in the last three years, especially the kind of red pill sort of movement, they believe that it’s not toxic masculinity, you know, or like the the pressures of masculinity that are causing the pain. They think the pain is what is toxic.
Lewis [00:37:13] Mm hmm.
Jameela [00:37:14] So, I mean, I don’t even know where to start, and I’m nowhere near adjacent to that group of people, you know, In fact, they probably think because of the way that I’m projected in the headlines, that I hate them and that I’m a feminazi and I’m against them. And it’s not how I feel at all. I, I really worry for the, you know, these next generations of boys who are growing up and I think so do a lot of the mothers and fathers who listen to this podcast. Like how do you feel about all of this? Despair the way I do?
Lewis [00:37:45] I mean. I’m not really in it that much, so I kind of like will see stuff here and there, but that’s not really the content I’m consuming, so I’m not aware of it. And it’s funny because I was asking a friend to get it fully clear. I was like, What is actually Red pill mean like these days? Because isn’t red pill from the matrix, like seeing the lights and like, you know, lifting the veil and actually stepping into like seeing the world in a different way as opposed to being numb to the world. So that’s kind of my view of Red Pill of like Matrix movie, like you’re taking the action on that and you’re waking up, but I feel like it’s in a different light today. So I don’t think it’s actually portrayed the right way, but I’m just a big believer that. It’s tricky because you need discipline in life in order to create certain things that you want. You just can’t sit around and be lazy all day and expect to live a fulfilling life if you don’t have a mission you’re going after. If you don’t have meaning with a mission that you have that is using your talents, your gifts, and your uniqueness to to then impact others in a positive way. At least that’s what I think a meaningful mission is. So I think people are being led in like, you know, work hard, work out, make money, and you’ll start to get the things you want, which is again, the reverse.
Jameela [00:39:00] You’ve been down that road.
Lewis [00:39:01] It’s the reverse. It’s the wrong emotional intelligence is is is be do have, it’s not have. And then you’ll be happy, you know, have the car and then you’ll be happy, have the girl, and then you’ll be fulfilled. It’s the opposite. It’s like be happy with who you are and the daily actions you’re taking that you’re disciplined, that you that you are your word, that you’re kind and generous to people, that you. I’m a big believer in like, you open the door for people. You say, Yes, sir. Yes, ma’am. You’re you’re trying to be as polite as possible in the context of what society allows you to do, but you do things that a gentleman would do if you’re kind of a young boy. That’s the way I was raised. It’s like you open the door. You know, I open the door for my girlfriend and she likes it. She’s not like, No, let me do it. She’s like, Thank you for being a leader in our relationship. So it’s being aware of, you know, the environment you’re in. But I’m I’m a big believer in being a giver, being a generous gentleman. And in order to be a giver and generous to society, to the people around you, to strangers, you must be also generous to your own heart. You must be open and loving and kind. You must be compassionate to yourself. You must also take full accountability for your mistakes and your shortcomings. You must reflect on all your insecurities and say, You know what? These insecurities don’t work for me anymore. I’m going to make a list of my biggest fears and I’m going to start going all in on them so that I can overcome my own challenges. I can overcome the older version of myself and get closer to an authentic, aligned version of who I want to be and bring that person closer to me now. So I just think it’s like they see certain people talking about it, this kind of red pill thing, I guess. And speaking of like, look at what I have. Look at the women, look at the cars, look at the money. And they’re inspired by wanting that, but they’re following not based on their heart and true alignment, but more of like when I have that, then I’ll be fulfilled. And I just really feel like when when young men, which is extremely hard to be fulfilled, when you’re broke and you’re in college or you’re just left college and like, who am I now? What’s my identity? How do I make a living? How do I get a job? How do I get a girlfriend? It’s extremely challenging to figure out life in that stage because it’s so uncertain and you don’t know what you’re doing. So it’s very easy to be susceptible to. Well, these guys made a bunch of money. They have girls, they have planes, they have cars.
Jameela [00:41:27] They look happy.
Lewis [00:41:28] Yeah, they look happy, Right. But when they’re getting locked up in jail or they’re overdosing or they’re, you know, they go bankrupt or whatever it is, that’s not the life. That’s not the the the fast lane is not the life that you want to live. And eventually you’ll have to learn the hard way how painful it can be if you did it in the wrong ways.
Jameela [00:41:49] I’m a like quite a spiteful little asshole sometimes, right, Lewis? And one of the things I wish I wish on people when I’m angry and I’m petty, right? When we know when they go low, I go lower. Right. Just to be very clear, paint a picture here. Now, one of the meanest things I like to think about people when I dislike them is I fucking hope all your fuckin dreams come true. I hope you win that Emmy. I hope you like make that million. Because to me, there is nothing crueler than the reality that I had at 26 when I became super successful, you know, in England. And I had everything that not only I could ever want, but everyone wanted. I’ve never been more suicidal. I have never been lonelier. I have never been more bereft or empty. I think we spoke about this when I came on your podcast. Like that was like my real like, Oh shit, I’ve built completely the wrong existence. And so there’s there’s something so crushing about when you’ve set all of your sights on something and you have stepped on everyone you have to, and you’ve treated people like shit. Not that I did that, but they do that, you know, to me because like, you’ve burned everything to the fucking ground and now you’ve got the trophy and it feels like nothing, which is why people need to take so much cocaine or drink so much alcohol when they win like awards a lot at the time because they need to feel something. Because they don’t feel something. I often walk up to people as soon as they’ve won an award, and this isn’t like the most normal thing about me, but I’ll sometimes, if I can see they have that slightly panicked thousand yard stare, look in their eye, I’ll go. You don’t feel anything, do you? And they’re like no. What’s wrong with me? I’m like, It’s okay. It’s completely normal. Have some champagne. I was like, You’re just going to need to move on with your goals from tomorrow, but enjoy the night. You know you’re not broken.
Lewis [00:43:36] It’s not enough. You have to go to the next goal. The next goal to feel something.
Jameela [00:43:40] Yeah, yeah, but. But my, my point just being that, like, there’s there are fewer things worse than putting your estimations in a goal weight or a goal, you know, financial bracket, all these different things. I’m not saying that the privilege that comes with them can’t soothe and ease your life.
Lewis [00:43:59] Of course. Doesn’t mean it doesn’t solve some problems.
Jameela [00:43:59] Are we disingenuous.
Lewis [00:44:00] But it doesn’t solve every problem.
Jameela [00:44:02] No, and if anything, it highlights what’s really wrong, because then you really just feel like nothing. And then you’re like, Fuck, if this didn’t work, now I have no idea what to do because I’m completely without the tools. And so I feel like we we feel quite similarly about these young boys who are being trained to move away from everything. It’s so funny, like because more men are on antidepressants and because more men are talking about their feelings, they’re seeing this as the downside of men opening up rather than the fact that we’re just hearing more stories of, you know, it’s a bit like when we would hear those, you know, like I think a few decades ago, we suddenly noticed there was a huge rise in women reporting being sexually assaulted. And we were like, oh, my God, they’re being sexually assaulted more often. It’s like, No, no, no, no. They’re just talking about it more.
Lewis [00:44:51] They’re having the courage to talk about it more.
Jameela [00:44:52] And so I think we’re seeing like a similar panic and it terrifies me. Can you talk to me about what what you have done, like tangibly what you have done to pull yourself from that place of being lost and angry and defensive? I know it’s a lot, but just kind of just break it down for me.
Lewis [00:45:09] Well it’s interesting, because yesterday Jameela was my ten year anniversary of my podcast. I think I told you this on the call last week. That’s so I had a lot of time to
Jameela [00:45:18] Congrats.
Lewis [00:45:18] Thank you. I had a lot of time. Like yesterday was the first, you know, first day ten years ago that I launched my first episode and I had a lot of time to kind of reflect in these last few weeks since it was coming up, because it’s kind of also been the journey of me healing and and being the guinea pig for all of this stuff. Like, like bringing on different people who are who are experts or have more wisdom than me and saying, okay, tell me what I should try and I’m going to go try it. And I saw I’ve done a lot of different things over the last ten years, a lot of weird crazy out there, things because I was like, I’ll try whatever essentially. The only thing I haven’t tried is drugs, because I believe, you know, there’s some people that think there’s great things that are from psychedelics and mushrooms and all that stuff and cool to work for them. But I believe we we have the knowledge within us if we’re willing to seek courageously and ask the questions and do whatever it takes, if we’re in complete breakdown in like suicidal and maybe it’s time to like, try those things.
Jameela [00:46:14] You don’t mean all meds, you just mean literally, like the drugs.
Lewis [00:46:17] Like, like, yeah, it’s just.
Jameela [00:46:18] Like ketamine therapy or extacy or
Lewis [00:46:19] Psychedelics. Yeah.
Jameela [00:46:20] Psilocybin.
Lewis [00:46:21] I feel like. I feel like a lot of I feel like try other stuff first before you feel like there’s no way out. I’m willing to do anything, but it’s not working, then that’s my opinion. But so I haven’t tried that, but I have tried a lot of.
Jameela [00:46:34] Same. I’m also just afraid.
Lewis [00:46:35] Yeah. And I and I just don’t want to mess my brain up in that way because I don’t know what it will do. So. But I’ve heard it’s done great things for people. So if that’s your thing, cool. But I’ve tried a lot of different stuff, starting with ten years ago, doing a doing a lot of different emotional intelligence workshops. There’s a, there’s a workshop called the Hoffman Institute. A lot of celebrities have done now, which was a similar one that I did, where you’re experiencing the past in different games and exercises and role playing to process as something I did ten years ago to going to Poland and doing Wim Hof, you know, training, breathing techniques, meditation techniques and diving the ice of physical releasing in ice. I’ve done extreme heat training to release things from the body. I love again, the book, The Body Keeps the Score. I believe we’ve got to release the things from the body and try different modalities of support, as I’ve done many different therapy exercises and therapists over the years to try different processing from relationships. I went to India to study to be a meditation instructor for a number of weeks. I’ve tried lots of different modalities and the thing that works for me is all of them, to be honest, because every time I do anything new, it unlocks something else and then I have to. But the key is integrating the awareness. It’s like, okay, now I’m aware I’ve had a I feel stressed or a breakdown or this or something’s off. Let me go try something to see what I can create awareness around.
Jameela [00:48:06] So do you have therapy like do you have that safe space?
Lewis [00:48:08] Every two weeks. I go. Every two weeks. I have an emotional coach I go to and things are really great. I feel peaceful, I feel free, I feel clear in my life. But I go because it feels great. I you know, I’m a I’m a big fan of like when the best athletes in the world reach the top and they win the championship. They never say to themselves, You know what, maybe I don’t need a coach anymore. Like, I figured this out. Coaches got me here. Now I’m just going to do it on my own and train on my own and hold myself accountable. They actually say, Well, let me go find 3 to 4 other specialty coaches to help me improve my game so I can stay at the top. And I know you talk about therapy as well, but I think a lot of men don’t like the idea of having an emotional coach. And I just called an emotional coach. If you don’t want to call a therapist, it’s someone who.
Jameela [00:48:56] Is it someone who is a therapist or is it someone who is an emotional coach?
Lewis [00:48:59] She’s an emotional coach that does therapy as well. Yeah.
Jameela [00:49:03] So just trying to figure out if that was different things. So she’s still a therapist.
Lewis [00:49:06] And so I just call it emotional coaching.
Jameela [00:49:07] Yeah. Okay, great.
Lewis [00:49:08] She’s a therapist for the last 30 years done a lot of different types of therapies and stuff like that, but.
Jameela [00:49:12] I love emotional coach That feels good.
Lewis [00:49:14] Yeah. And I think it’s just framing it and packaging it in a way that works for you. I’ve got a business coach, I’ve got a fitness coach, I’ve got a nutritionist coach, and I’ve got an emotional coach. And for me that supports me and and and having accountability outside of myself, being able to talk about different things, being able to show different things, here’s my goals, here’s what I’m looking to create in my life. Can you give me some feedback? Here’s where I had a breakdown. Can we talk about it? And I can process it. Awesome. It’s just getting to a place of making sure my energy feels good. I feel clear I feel free and peaceful so that when life happens as as you know, it’s the last three years, life has happened to all of us in many different ways. And it’s going to continue to happen. It’s not like there’s not going to be tragedy and adversity and pain and suffering. This will continue to happen for as long as we live. But how can we be peaceful when there is a lot of stress around us? How can we control the control balls inside of us? And for me, I just feel like that’s really it’s asking a lot of ourselves to do it on our own without community, without support. I’m not saying you have to hire coaches and all these different things, but having an outlet to express these things and have accountability and friends who are also accountable to you I think is supportive, especially in the societies or the industries we’re in, where there is a lot of pressure in lots of different ways. And so for me, that’s the way I handle it. I put myself through extreme challenges that also works for my personality type as an athlete. I’m like, Bring it on, bring me whatever you want. I’m willing to be so uncomfortable. I don’t like it. I don’t like going to coaching every two weeks and like, I’d rather just watch a football game half the time than talk about things. But I know the benefits of it. It’s just like, I don’t like going to the gym every time, but I know the benefits the results is going to give me. I don’t like eating salmon and, you know, vegetables. I like ice cream, but I know the benefits that it will give me of doing it consistently, not just once in a while, but consistently. So that’s what I do. But I’m also. I feel like I just had a lot of inner suffering for a long time and I was really good at masking it, that I was just sick and tired of feeling that kind of ball of pain in my chest off and on that I was like, I’m just I’m willing to do whatever it takes. And I think that’s just been my personality.
Jameela [00:51:42] Do you think that’s gendered at all? In in the way that we’ve been raised? Right. So I just I, I just wonder about it. Like, do you think that there is something that is more because of the ways in which we are socialized that is maybe more accessible? Like I’ve I’ve seen Russell Brand and a bunch of other people. A lot of it’s mostly men I see talking about like Wim Hof or like putting themselves through these kind of like extreme physical, tangible,
Lewis [00:52:05] Yes.
Jameela [00:52:05] Tangible like activities that, like, require discipline and maybe a bit of suffering and a discomfort and you get to externalize the internal discomfort.
Lewis [00:52:15] Sure.
Jameela [00:52:15] Is there anything that you think specifically appeals to to men about that.
Lewis [00:52:22] I just think. I think it appeals to certain personality types of men. You know, not all men, but I think, you know, I took I took 13 guys on a trip to Poland to see Wim Hof a month before the pandemic started and.
Jameela [00:52:34] So you all got a cold. And you all started the pandemic.
Lewis [00:52:39] Exactly. Yeah. I think I think they I think they all got COVID actually on the way home because they are sick for like couple of weeks. And we’re like, what is this? And I think it was kind of before all that, but it was but I brought a collection of guys. I brought artists and poets, I brought musicians, I brought athletes. So, you know, lots of different personality types, but I brought guys that I knew who I thought might be into it also. And half the time we were sitting, we were only in the ice for 10 minutes a day. It’s not like all day you’re freezing in the ice. It’s like 10 minutes at a time, a few times a day. The rest of the time we’re breathing and we’re sitting in a circle crying. Being vulnerable. And everyone is going around and sharing about different challenges they faced in a safe environment for men to open up. And men are talking about the struggles they have as fathers with their kids and the insecurities they face as dads, the insecurities they face with their wives. They feel like they’re not enough after they finish one career and their identity was over. Now who are they in the world after they were this champion in a previous life? And now do they have value in the world? What is the direction? What is their intention moving forward? So, you know, there’s seasons of life that men go through, just like women, where they face these insecurities, like they they feel like they need to be the man. They’ve got to be responsible for everything. They’ve got to make the money and provide They got to be strong at all times. And I know women have their own set of demands that they feel like they got to look perfect all the time and be sexy and be kind funny and all the things as well. And so it’s just allowing for men specifically to have a space to be vulnerable and process. And it doesn’t have to be with your your wife or your girlfriend or your best guy friends, but encouraging men to do it with someone if it’s with an emotional coach, therapist, priest doesn’t matter to me. Finding a modality that works for you. For me, Wim Hof was a fun experience and a challenge, but also a way to release. And that’s why I like those challenges.
Jameela [00:54:36] Yeah. No, I just remember James and I both being faced with the proposition of the kind of Wim Hof technique and the ice baths and everything, and James just jumped straight in. And I was like, Not on your fucking life.
Lewis [00:54:46] No, I’m good.
Jameela [00:54:47] You couldn’t pay me a million fuckin dollars to get in that ice bath. Like, I would rather just, you know, I’d want to call a friend, have some pizza and fucking talk it through. But he loved it and found it so changing and healing. And I’m sure that, by the way, like any gender, you know can go and enjoy and find great value in those things. I just wonder if there’s something that feels more appealing initially to men when they’ve been told like, fucking have a task, don’t fucking do it it’s all conditioning it’s not like biological.
Lewis [00:55:18] Yeah.
Jameela [00:55:18] but it just is interesting.
Lewis [00:55:21] Everything can be a Trojan horse too. It’s like, okay, come and do this extreme challenge. But really what we’re going to do is open up and
Jameela [00:55:26] yeah.
Lewis [00:55:27] Be vulnerable. And that’s what is the catalyst for people that are typically uncomfortable communicating vulnerably vulnerably. Then I think it’s a beautiful catalyst finding something like that. I think, you know, growth has never been comfortable for me. I’ve never been like, yay, Like, this is comfortable when it’s challenging. It’s always on the other side where you like, you learn the biggest lessons, but we’ve got to be willing to face them in order to grow and get uncomfortable in some way. It doesn’t have to be an extreme, you know, ice bath or sauna sessions, but and or going to, you know, top of a mountain in India or something for for months. But it’s like, what is the way that’s going to be challenging for you? And maybe that is having a conversation with your dad or your mom in a way you’ve never had it before. Maybe that’s all it takes and having the courage to speak up.
Jameela [00:56:14] But just know that there’s a multitude of ways out there that you can find like a path it might not be the whole of healing, but it might be a path to healing. And Lewis has tried them all.
Lewis [00:56:24] There’s there’s more that I get to try I’m sure. And and like you said, it’s a journey. Like there’s no way where I feel like I’m fully healed or something. There’s definitely I still get stressed, I still get overwhelmed, I still get triggered. But I’m very intentional and aware when it happens.
Jameela [00:56:41] Yeah.
Lewis [00:56:41] So I don’t react from a place of anger, fear, resentment or scarcity. I’m able to pause and breathe because I’ve been integrating and practicing it, and I’m I feel like I’m in a safe, comfortable environment where I can respond differently. Am I always responding perfectly? Absolutely not. But I feel the consistent integration supports me. And that’s why the accountability of an emotional coach every two weeks supports me in staying on top of it so I don’t go back.
Jameela [00:57:14] 100%. So your book is called The Greatness Mindset. Right? And I think that a lot of people can see that and imagine it’s like just a capitalist, you know, reach the top of the, you know, like, get all the Bugattis and reach the top of the like, you know, the food chain manifesto but my for myself, having like watched your podcast over the years and watched like, your own definition of greatness.
Lewis [00:57:39] Mm hmm.
Jameela [00:57:40] Change. You know, even when I was on your podcast and I was challenging, you know, the idea of legacy and your idea of legacy and, you know, I’ve watched you shift and what you consider greatness to be. And it feels much more it’s feels much less materialistic.
Lewis [00:57:57] Yeah. Yeah of course.
Jameela [00:57:58] Not to say that you can’t have those things and you don’t want those things. And you know, you personally don’t aspire to those things. But this book is is not that. Can you explain. For anyone who might feel very, you know, who might feel a bit.
Lewis [00:58:12] Sure. Well, everything for me is a Trojan horse and everything I do is is creating it for the person I once was that needed it and the person I am today that needs it. So it’s always something like to support me in becoming a better version of myself. And I want to add a couple of things around this. Five years ago I started researching and interviewing people and taking notes around this concept for this book because I came to the conclusion that self-doubt is the killer of dreams. Like when we doubt ourselves, it’s really hard to take action on something, or if we doubt ourselves and we take action from the wrong way, which is to prove people wrong or to win at all costs or whatever. We succeed like you talked about, and we still doubt ourselves. It’s still not enough. And so it’s just it’s never enough. And that just is the killer of you living an authentic life. And so I wanted to be successful. And I think this is kind of like the red pill theory now, today, I’m not really sure is like go for success and do anything at a success and treat people this way to get success.
Jameela [00:59:17] Go for materialist success.
Lewis [00:59:18] Exactly. And I would definitely say, like when I was growing up, I wanted to be successful and that was I wanted to be great and successful. But I didn’t know, like the the differences. And for me today, success alone is just selfish. It’s for me where greatness includes my dreams and serving other people around me. It’s improving the people around you on the path of pursuing your dreams and accomplishing them or not accomplishing them. It’s like. You know, I’ll give an example. I was on the USA Men’s national handball team for the last eight years, essentially, and I always wanted to be an Olympian and go to the Olympics. That’s why I, I had the dream of making the team training with the team for eight years and we never qualified. But just because my dream of being an Olympian never happened didn’t mean it wasn’t a dream come true. From all the experiences I had of traveling the world with Team USA, USA playing against other Olympians, national teams from all over the world, and getting to experience something that brought me a lot of pride in what I was overcoming and developing in myself. So just because the dream didn’t happen didn’t mean it was a it wasn’t a dream come true experience. And I think. When we can think about greatness as pursuing our meaningful mission, which includes service to other people in a positive way. Then it actually doesn’t matter if you accomplish it, you might be let down or disappointed, but it’s not going to ruin your life or ruin your identity and your self-worth. And I think a lot of people put their self-worth in their accomplishments, in their money, in their success in the Oscar awards. But then it’s.
Jameela [01:01:06] In the body image.
Lewis [01:01:07] In the body image in the surgeries. And it’s still not enough when they have it because their self-worth is wounded. And I know this because mine was wounded for a long time, and I have compassion for people. And this is not a make wrong or a judgment. It’s just if you’re at a stage where you feel like, why am I not feeling like enough still? I’ve worked hard. I did what my parents told me to do. I got the degree, I got this thing, I’ve been pursuing this. But why do I still not feel like I accept myself fully and I’m enough? That’s what this is for. It’s is creating a new process. This is the process I wish I had when I was 16, 21, 30. Like it would have saved me a lot of pain if I just would have followed this process. That’s why I was so committed to finding the answers over the last ten years of what is the solution to overcoming the insecurity and doubt inside of me. It’s step one getting very clear on a meaningful mission not success, but a meaningful mission which allows me to use my talents, my powers, and also the things that I feel powerless in, where I get to overcome them in the journey, and then solving a problem that I’m inspired by. Finding a solution to to problems that I’m inspired by that is a meaningful mission when you can create and develop that and it changes over time. But in that pass, learning how to say, okay, what is within me that is holding me back from pursuing this or afraid, I need to identify the three fears that hold everyone back and figure out which one holds me back the most. And at the root of that, I’ve got to learn to start mending and having these conversations, either with a coach, a friend, journaling, whatever it is for you, so I can start creating meaning from the past, which holds me back today. And I think once we go on that journey and this is a journey, it’s going to be one for me as I enter into being a husband one day and having kids one day, and there’s going to be new things that uncover. It’s that’s what this is all about. It’s not chasing success. It’s being led by by service. And that’s greatness.
Jameela [01:03:11] Fantastic. And God knows that also, it’s not just men who need to hear this. It’s also, you know, when it comes to learning how to assert yourself and doing it from the right place and going after your dreams and being allowed to be ambitious is something that all genders reserve the right to be able to do and those ambitions.
Lewis [01:03:26] 100%.
Jameela [01:03:26] Those ambitions don’t have to be anything commercial, you know, or catalyst. Like those those achievements can be as fucking meaningful or esoteric as you want. But but women especially are never encouraged to really, like, go after what we want and to be maybe a little bit selfish and self-serving, or to feel like we’re allowed to give to the community and give to ourselves. And so I think a lot of people would find this book very interesting. And I like your Trojan Horse approach and,
Lewis [01:03:55] Thank you.
Jameela [01:03:55] I’m really glad that especially men have more role models out there like you because we’ve never needed it so much as in the rise of this very old fashioned rhetoric coming back.
Lewis [01:04:08] I appreciate it. Yeah. And and to just add to that, you know, 60% of my audience everywhere is is female is women. And I think the reason they come is because I’m always talking about healing. That’s probably why they come to do it. But I’m always bringing out female experts, talking about how to heal and mend and all these different things. But I am I’m a big believer that it doesn’t have to be some grandiose commercial thing. Like you said, for me, greatness is about like, how can you first serve yourself to feel healthy, whole and lovable? That’s what it is like. That should be priority One is you feel whole, healthy and loved because you are. But we have to remember that a lot of times. So that’s priority one. I even told my girlfriend when she asked me this, I don’t know if we have two more minutes left, but when we asked, my girlfriend asked me before we started dating, You’ll love this. She asked me. She asked me. We were like casually dating, but not committed, right? She said, Lewis, what are your priorities in life? And the old priorities question from the girlfriend, Right? So what are your priorities? And I said. Well, I’m going to. I know what they are, but I don’t think you’re going to want to hear the truth. So do you want me to be honest and authentic, or do you want me to say what you’re going to like? She said, I want you to be honest and authentic. I said, Are you sure? Because the women I have told in the past did not like what I said, and it caused a lot of pain and it caused a lot of friction. And I’m I’m not about that anymore. So I just want to know if you’re clear that what I’m about to say, you’re probably not going to want to date me or hang out with me anymore when I’m telling you my truth.
Jameela [01:05:49] Fucking hell go on spit it out.
Lewis [01:05:49] So she’s like, Tell me. She’s like, What do you mean? And I go, okay, well, most of the time I hear that women in a relationship with a man, that the women want to be the number one priority to that man. And I don’t believe that is what should happen. And my number one priority in life right now for this season, this may change, but right now my number one priority is my health, is my emotional, spiritual and physical well-being, my health. And because if I don’t have my health, I can’t be a good partner, you or two or help anyone. So number one is taking care of me. And I think that needs to be priority number one for women as well, taking care of their health. And that means doing whatever they need to support their emotional well-being and their health. Number two, for me personally, this season of my life, you won’t be my second priority and no woman wants to hear that. Number two, priority will be my mission because I feel like I’m here to fulfill a mission and to be of service to people in a big way. For this season of my life, maybe in 20 years is going to change. But right now I’m on a mission and I have a big purpose for me to serve that mission. And if I feel like my my health and my energy is low, then I’m not going to be able to fulfill my mission and I’m going to be on an unhappier human being. I’m going to be frustrated and then I’m not going to be a good partner. And that’s where, number three, my relationship, my intimate relationship will be my third priority. Making sure that you are taking care of that you are supported, that you’re elevated, that you’re seen, that your loved. But I need to make sure one and two are just a little bit above that so that those don’t fall short. Because when those two are number one and two, you’re going to feel like the biggest priority in the world. You’re going to feel like you have all of me all the time. And and she said, So I said, Are you ready to
Jameela [01:07:35] Probably not all of you all the time, but probably like when you’re there.
Lewis [01:07:38] All of me all the time, when I’m with you.
Jameela [01:07:40] But when you’re there, you’re really with you. Yeah.
Lewis [01:07:42] With you all the time. When I’m with you. And she. I said, so are you scared? And she goes, This is amazing. I’ve always wanted to find a man who had a purpose. But all these men that I dated in the past made me their purpose. And I was always like, No, but what’s the thing you’re supposed to do that you feel called to do in this world? Like, go do that thing. And none of them ever could figure it out, she said. And she said, after a while she was like, But you got to go figure that out. You got to go do the thing that you’re called to do on this planet. And so it matched us perfectly.
Jameela [01:08:13] Yeah. James and I would say we’re like two and a half on each other’s list.
Lewis [01:08:17] Exactly.
Jameela [01:08:18] Which feels good.
Lewis [01:08:19] But, but I think all women should be saying I get to and deserve to make sure my cup is full with my emotional, physical and spiritual health first.
Jameela [01:08:28] Amen.
Lewis [01:08:29] Then I can go after I can be there for my kids and fam family, or if I’m building a career or whatever it is, I can do that second. But as you know, is if you’re drained and you don’t have energy and your health is out of whack, you can’t be good in a relationship or your career. And so we must take care of our health first.
Jameela [01:08:46] Very well said. And I hope loads of people go out and buy this book and I hope people follow you online, everyone to listen to your podcast. Lewis, You’re a light. You’re a fuckin light. I’m glad that that light shines on the inside, not just on the outside for all of us.
Lewis [01:09:01] Appreciate you. Thanks, Jameela.
Jameela [01:09:03] Well done on all this work. It’s very inspiring.
Lewis [01:09:05] Thank you.
September 28, 2023
This week, Jameela is joined by crime journalist and activist Isla Traquair and they cover her long spanning career reporting on true crime to recently becoming a victim of emotional violence and stalking herself.
September 21, 2023
Jameela is joined by campaigner and writer Gina Martin, and in this optimistic conversation about creating change for equal rights around the world, they discuss how anyone can show up and support activism (especially offline in real spaces) and what this activism work can look like.