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How to be a man in the 21st century

Could a better understanding of the men in our lives bring more harmony to the world, and true equality for everyone? We ask five very different men what needs to happen for their mental health to flourish, how to abandon ‘toxic masculinity’ and create a new future for all mankind



”The more I talked about my trauma, the less power it had over me”

Lewis Howes is The New York Times bestselling author of The School Of Greatness and a lifestyle entrepreneur. A former professional American football player, he is currently in the national men’s handball team. His The School Of Greatness podcast has been downloaded 75 million times and is ranked one of the top 100 podcasts in the world on iTunes. In 2013, Howes was recognised by former US president Barack Obama as one of the top 100 entrepreneurs in the country under the age of 30. ‘In my personal life, and my career, I’d always subscribed to traditional notions of masculinity. Work hard, be tough, win at all costs, be aggressive.

As a straight “jock” guy, I was not allowed to share my emotions,’ he says. ‘My pain, my fear, my anxiety? I had to swallow them or be called multiple derogatory names. Until my late 20s, about all I was doing was suff ering. The torment of my school years – having trouble reading, being big and awkward and enduring my fair share of bullying – was so profound, I could hardly stand to be alive. Four and a half years ago, I opened up about being raped by a man when I was five years old. For 25 years, I had kept it a secret. I didn’t tell anyone. I was so ashamed and embarrassed. I thought no one would love me if they knew that about me. Once I started to process the trauma, I could start to heal. The more I talked about it, the more power I had over it and the less power it had over me. For 30 years, I would sit in bed for hours, suff ering with anxiety. Once I learned to heal the trauma, I could sleep again. It gave me inner peace,’ he says. ‘Even if men haven’t experienced trauma, I want them to be able to access a wide range of emotions, and also to be able to express them.

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