Aggressive Mask: Part IV – What Can We Do Right Now?

“In the middle of my conversation with Ray Lewis, I asked him about his definition of a man and whether it had evolved as he got older, had kids, became successful, and ultimately retired. By way of answering my question, he told me a story about when he came to a deeper understanding of the challenges the men in his family have faced.

He was 33 years old. He’d reengaged with his long-absent father, and his father wanted him to meet a man named Shady Ray Whitehead who lived in some little trailer 6 hours outside of Charlotte, North Carolina. He had no idea where they were going or who this man was they were visiting, but when they arrived, he and his father walked in and his father said, “Meet your grandfather.”

Ray sat on the floor while his dad sat on the couch, and they talked. One of the first things out of his father’s mouth was a question to his grandfather that had also run through Ray’s head nearly every day of the first 17 years of his life: “Dad, why’d you leave me?” To say this blindsided Ray would be an understatement.

“Ray sat with this information for a while, listening to his father and grandfather, and started to think about the men in his family who struggled in their relationships. Ray’s realization is something out of a novel, or a sermon:

This is a generational curse, man. My son is 21, I’m 41, my father is 61, my grandfather’s 81. His father is 101. Five generations. Twenty years apart. What are we doing? I rode back home with my father for 6 hours while he kept talking, and I never said a word. When I got done listening to him, I said to him: “You know what a man is? A man accepts all of the wrongs, never complains, forgives, and then moves on.” That’s what a man does, because you can never replace him not being at a football game. Never replace him not being to a wrestling match, or a track meet. Beat up by a group of kids? You can never replace him not being there. You can never replace that. So what you can replace is you can replace it with moving on.”

“This is our work to do. The rewards are, indeed, waiting for us, but they will not make themselves known until we begin the process of dropping our Aggressive Mask.”

Replace it with moving on.  It’s time to top off the chapter with my own story.

My father, in 1999, dropped my brother, my sisters, and I off at a doorstep of a house before driving away.  He said, “knock on the door and ask for your mother.”  We did, and he sped off, not seeing him again for the ensuing months.  It was odd, me being only 11 years old and living in more than 5 different households over a year span.

In 2000, I saw someone walking down the street and said, “that looks like my dad!”  Minutes later, I went back home and I was right.  It was my father….and him being in the same household as my mother, went nuts.  Not necessarily on his end, but my mother bursts into anger anytime she hears the name “Willie.”  He wanted “in” our lives, and so my mother granted that if we wanted it.

I remember he was on the phone and I was suppose to go to him that weekend.  I said, “dad, do you have the video games?”  What sounded like video games weren’t, but my father was a master at lying.  After naming three videos games, the third one being my favorite, I bursted into tears of joy before going upstairs to tell my mom.  My mother eavesdropped on the conversation because you could do that by picking up the other line 18 years ago.  I told her what my father got and she said, “he didn’t get you those games. He’s lying.”

I said, “you never did anything for us.”

She cried.

I felt absolutely wretched….even more wretched because she was telling the truth.  My dad was a liar from day 1 and I never knew it until of course that day.  I remember seeing him maybe late 2000 after he came over.  After that, I never saw him again, only hearing his voice on a bus in 2007 and looking square into his eyes in another incident (on the bus) one year later.

I’m blaming him for being the amazing man I am today.

“A man who struggles with aggression needs, first and foremost, to channel his energy and anger in a constructive direction. There are a number of ways to do this at a practical level:
▸Create a wrecking room in your house where you can get it out safely. Fill it with things to smash, push, hit, and pummel. If you can’t get a room, get a pillow. Beat the hell out of it. And repeat.
▸Do cathartic shouting exercises once a week. Scream it out!
▸Take a boxing class, work out, swim, or run.
▸Create an affirmation (e.g., “I’m a peaceful, joyful, loving man”) that you say when you want to break something or get aggressive. – Lewis Howes

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Lewis Howes: Aggressive Mask – Introduction

Imagine the moments before a fight.  One of the biggest fights that I’ve ever watched had to be Tito Trinidad vs. Ricardo Mayorga.  This was big on so many levels because it was the Puerto Ricans versus the Nicaraguans.  At one point in one of the rounds, Ricardo Mayorga began taunting Trinidad and there was an uproar in the house, people literally screaming at the television.  At the specific moment I couldn’t hear a word that was being said by my friend and he was standing six inches from me.

Fast-forwarding to a fight when Miguel Cotto got pummelled by Antonio Margarito.  I remember seeing the state of Miguel’s face and wondered, “how does he look that bad?”  Later, Margarito’s trainer was seen by Shane Mosley’s camp — putting plaster into the gloves of Antonio.  If you guys don’t know the horrific story of Billy Collins, this is exactly what probably took place during the Miguel Cotto fight.  Plaster, after being consumed and inundated with sweat, begins to harden.  Miguel said during the fight, “he got stronger as the rounds went on.”  There’s no real evidence, but we all know the truth.

That was from 2004, to 2008, and then after seeing interviews by boxing greats such as Evander Holyfield, Riddick Bowe, Thomas Hearns….I couldn’t understand a word that was being said from their mouths.  Why? They lost more than 50% of their speaking capabilities because the constant blows to the head.

So after seeing everything take place the way it did over decades of being a boxing fan, I no longer supported the sport.  Human beings literally raging in the stands, shouting, cheering on an assault between two men or two women.

Welcome to the aggressive mask.

Andy Cona, who’s a British cage fighter, said this…

“The first fight I ever had was like a release. Like, “I’m allowed to hit this lad, and it’s making me feel better.” See, I don’t have a family. Me and my brother were put into [foster] homes. He was everything—he was my mom, my dad, my brother, and my sister. He was everyone, and then he killed himself. I’ve never, ever told anyone that. I don’t like to show people weakness. I’m broken inside, I know I am.”

Lewis Howes went on to say, “but still, there’s something scary about taking years of childhood issues and pain and channeling them outward at a total stranger for money and fame. As Andy’s story reveals, for the most part, the pain you inflict on others never reduces the pain you are trying to escape from within yourself.”

If you look at the majority of athletes, especially in America, they’re all inner-city kids.  Mike Tyson had a horrendous childhood and be brought along a lot of those problems outside the ring, becoming a very polarizing character in the 1990’s.

Thai prison systems, which are very controversial, has inmates practice Muay Thai and fight – fighters outside the prison yard.

What is it with aggressiveness and pouring on all your childhood pain, mistakes, and suffering onto another individual rather than honing into 100%?  Sure, no one asked to be molested.  I didn’t deserve to be dropped at a doorstep myself in 1999…however, it happened.  Did I make that my story to why I’m such a “f*** up?” No.

Ray Lewis, who had upbringings beyond comprehension, is the greatest linebacker to ever play the position in the NFL.  Fierce, ferocious, tenacity, inspirational, hungry, and just a demon on the field……he was able to unleash his childhood tribulations into wrestling first (in high school), then onto the football field.  His mother was abused for a long time by her bf….and Ray Lewis asked, “mom, you have two black eyes! Let’s go!”

She said, “no.  He’s our only means of financial stability. We can’t leave.”

Ray Lewis used a deck of cards to relieve himself of so much pain by doing pushups.  1-10; jacks, queens and kings are ten; ace 11; and jokers were I think 11-21.  I’m not sure what the exact number is, but I’m sure he did over 300 pushups.

At 41, he said this in Lewis Howes podcast interview.

“There are certain moments in a child’s life that a father should never miss because when you replace [that influence], most of the time you replace it with things that get you in trouble. I replaced it with dominance over another individual. I had hate for my father, and that hate turned into fuel. I don’t encourage anybody to live the way I lived.” – Ray Lewis

It’s like young men don’t have an outlet to their anxiety, anger or other things.  I saw the students, when I was a student, sit in class and stay quiet while they were getting bullied by other aggressive kids.  Then the shooting massacre in Colorado happened in 1999.  I was listening to Gary Vee yesterday and he was saying that poor parenting results in bullies and children being bullied.  Why do children have this aggressiveness that generates into an Alpha Mask.  Stories of Ariece, P’Allen, and Marcos (childhood classmates) will be in my podcast down below! Time to welcome in this introduction!

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The Masks of Society, Identifying Yours & The Journey

1.The Stoic Mask: Because every man must be invulnerable and tough, emotions are carefully managed and suppressed. There can be no crying, no pain, no feeling. A wall is put up between him and the world to protect him, to pretend he doesn’t feel the things he does, because weakness is an invitation to scrutiny and judgment and rejection.

2.The Athlete Mask: 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. This means spending 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.

3.The Material Mask: 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.

4.The Sexual Mask: A man is defined by his sexual conquests—his worth determined not only by his bank account but by the number 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.
5.The Aggressive Mask: 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.

6.The Joker Mask: 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.”
7.The Invincible Mask: 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.

8.The Know-It-All Mask: 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.
9.The Alpha Mask: 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.

Excerpt From: Lewis Howes. “The Mask of Masculinity.” iBooks.

  1. This has to be one of the strongest misrepresentations of the African American community.  Turn on your TV in America and see a man berating the airways by Lavar Wall, preaching that he’s a man because of whatever reason.  People, especially men, who cry, are not men….period.  I’d have to say a good 70% of American men have this “Stoic” mask on, but luckily I’m not one of them who suffers from it.
  2. On part of the other book I’m doing by Darren Hardy, his father was definitely a representation of the “Athlete Mask.”  Football coach among so many other things taught Darren to be “tough,” but that toughness also equated to amazing habits and unshakable discipline that manifested millions upon millions of dollars.   However, if you look at the “jocks” of high school – you need to have a letterman jacket, a car, and a ton of girls to be considered the “cool guy” of the school.  I still remember a handful of those boneheads that walked around school with their chest out – and all of them are working 10$ hour jobs at the age of 30.  Damn.
  3. INSTAGRAMMERS! How many of you have scene those men, “motivational” (although fake) posts of guys in ultimate, luxurious suits strutting those high end watches in front of Ferraris? Yeah, these are the fakes.  These are the men who seriously believe their bank accounts and being successful only means the dollar signs.  90% of American men MUST suffer from this, because it almost seems like every Instagram post I see has a link that says, “click the link to make six figures.”
  4. This is more of the Generation Z tribe.  I remember also being in school and hearing African Americans (just trying to make a point about a specific group) that would spew sexual rhetoric towards their friends: “did you f*** her yet? Ahhh n*gga you a b****!”  Yeah, welcome to my junior and senior year of high school in North Las Vegas.
  5. Men who club. PERIOD! I believe clubs are grounds for the worst people, including women.  How often do you hear of the “big fight after a night club closed” news?  Go online and type “fight at the club” and hundreds of videos will pop up.  These are men trying to claim their territory, most notable men such as singers Chris Brown and the singer from Canada (completely forgot his name) who got into a massive scrum inside of a nightclub.  Short-tempered thuggery is what I call it, but this also happens at football games in Europe (Serbia) where hooligans throw chairs and all kinds of objects at each other…..for…..nothing.
  6. Yes, and no.  There is a colleague I have that just uses endless amounts of jokes and doesn’t take anything serious. That’s not necessarily a mask, though. There have been a few people that tread this line before, but nothing very blatant.
  7. MY BROTHER! My goodness.  This made me laugh out loud.  Drinking, smoking, etc…he also has the know-it-all-mask.  Try telling him anything and he wants to argue to the point a fight breaks out.  If the sea looks black, please agree….or else.
  8. Shaquille O’Neal, Kobe Bryant, along with so many other athletes who try showing that they’re “macho” blur out this “Alpha male” bs.  There’s no such thing as Alpha.  If there is, it’s a man who’s beyond insecure to show his true side.  My best friend, who lives in New York, tried being an Alpha male….but there were times I saw his weak side (that he doesn’t want to show).

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