So many men are hurting, and then hurting others.
People don’t want to hear that.
But men feel like they’re emotional prisoners.
They are committing suicide at much higher rates. They are the ones performing mass shootings. They are reacting in violence.
We have to allow men ways to process their past and to express their emotions in order to become the people they are meant to be.
It’s not important to “be a man,” it’s important to be human.
On today’s episode of The School of Greatness, I talk about the definition of masculinity with a man whose mission is to mentor boys: Jason Wilson.
Detroit’s Jason Wilson is a husband and father of two, and the founder and head instructor of the Cave of Adullam Transformational Training Academy, also known as CATTA. In 2015, he received the Campaign for Black Male Achievement Innovation Accelerator Award. In 2016, Wilson received the President’s Volunteer Service Award in Washington D.C.
Wilson has also been a guest on The Dr. Oz Show where he discussed his Emotional Stability Training® approach. In 2016, Wilson was a presenter at the White House for the My Brother’s Keeper Showcase presented by then-President Barack Obama.
What Jason is doing so needed in the world.
Like Frederick Douglass said, “It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.”
So get ready to learn how to heal past trauma, rule your emotions, and “man down” on Episode 745.
Lewis: This is episode 745 with the inspiring Jason Wilson. Welcome to the school of greatness my name is Lewis Howes a former athlete turned lifestyle entrepreneur and each week we bring you an inspiring person or message to help you discover how to unlock your inner greatness. Thanks for spending some time with me today, now let the class begin.
Hellen Keller said it best “Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it.” Today’s episode is with a new friend of mine who we’ve been connecting over the last year and year and a half on the topic of fighting for freedom from emotional incarceration and also toxic masculinity and other things around that, and we’ve really connected well online messaging each other. He came to the summit of greatness but I never got to meet him in person until this moment when we had him on. Jason Wilson is the director of the Cave of Adullam Transformational Training Academy, a program of the union non-profit organization that he’s founded in 2003. And as the founder of one of the country’s most esteemed youth organizations, Jason has decades of experience in strengthening the physical and mental emotional spirit of boys and men. This is an important and powerful interview and I really hope you dig in and share this with your friends because we talked about the importance of men having a way to express their emotions. We also covered what men can do to practice ruling their emotions. Why pain is not meant for us to push through but to understand and how man and woman can support each other in all types of relationships that and so much more, I was so moved by his book ‘Cry like a Man’ and I share a lot of his videos that goes viral on my Instagram as well and the lessons he has, the wisdom that he shares in this interview is really going to inspire you, it doesn’t matter who you are this is going to be a powerful interview so make sure to tag me @lewishowes and tag Mr. Jason Wilson on Instagram to let us know that you’re listening and make sure to share with your friends lewishowes.com/745 for the full interview and show notes and information about that.
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I’m so excited about this one let’s dive in with the one and only Mr. Jason Wilson.
Jason: This is really exciting to be here.
Lewis: I’m so glad you’re here, I think I learned about you 2 years ago on social media probably from one of the videos that went viral or something. I think what you’re doing is so neat in the world and you just a mass of inspiration and I acknowledge you for that and I appreciate you because so many men are suffering and are hurting and hurting others because of it. And we’re on a time right now that men are suffering as part of like women don’t want to hear.
Jason: That’s true.
Lewis: So I think there’s a fine line of having a conversation about this but in the video you talked about the other day the statistics are that men are committing suicide more than women. Men feel like they’re prisoners emotionally more than women and many other things and because of those reasons I think men in general suffer worst and they cause harm on other people and themselves because of that.
Jason: Statistic show that this is affecting us more than women and I like to say that we’re both hurting and so you’re right if we focus on one gender than the other, you know automatically one side becomes defensive. But the reality is that we’re both hurting especially in my community in African American community it’s a, we were trauma like a badge of honor because of all that we’ve gone through and what we go through now. And so because of that if you stay in a traumatized mind you really can’t enjoy the blessing of the present. So your threshold is always here as soon as the slightest thing happen you snap or you have a traumatic experience or a break up like we were talking about is compounded, because you have released what happened 10 or 20 years ago. So it’s very important that how to be human, you know we are more concern being masculine. When I looked up the word masculinity it was amazing it’s attributes that are traditionally [?] to me as strength and boldness, but I said they’re not ascribe to being human. So I don’t think it’s a thing as force masculinity because really if you just say you’re operating in being masculine all you gonna exude are those masculine attributes, like depression, being strong but no compassion, no caring and no sensitivity. So because of that we’re not comprehensive and you know again when we judge ourselves of what this world says the man is and so you say like gardening for instance.
Lewis: You know I think the more I’ve learned about myself and just humanity in general I really believe that masculinity is of service for me. You know that’s what I would think of a man and somebody who is masculine serves up to people, serves himself and dreams and is of service to other people. It doesn’t matter what if it’s a strong emotion, if its compassion or something else like as long as they’re of service they might need to pull strength, they might need to pull compassion but all of that makes us human.
Jason: But that’s why see I like the word comprehensive you know comprehensive man basically you go in and out of each attribute. I remember when I was training in martial art and my instructor ask all of us there “Who are you?” and we said “I’m a warrior, I’m a king.” And he started laughing and he said “Next time someone asks you that I want you to say you’re anything that you have to be at given moment.” And he was the first one I written by my book, actually I’m here to learn how to fight the streets of Detroit but he would show me how to deal with my emotions. He was the first person that told me to operate it with a passive-aggressive mindset. So when he revealed that to me that I can be strong, courageous and compassionate and so that allowed me to experience, I experience a different type of life now growing up when I couldn’t hold a woman’s hand without getting [?] by my boys or getting beat down in Detroit.
At a rap concert you couldn’t walk holding hands with your girlfriend or getting rush beat down. So now I’m studying to find out that holding hands actually releases pain in the body. So here it is we’ve denied all of this things, this great expression that God has given us for the sake of being called a man.
Lewis: There’s study in science that shown that hugging someone for more than 3 seconds like crazy sense of compassion and love and comfort and all these things. So when we don’t have physical touch we’re denying ourselves of this feelings that we really desire.
Jason: Exactly you know that’s other thing about being comprehensive, I mean I could finally live from how my heart wants me to. So when you ascribe to just being masculine you can only operate in those attributes. But if I want to love my wife or carry or dance with her or tell her I love you or say you hurt me, I can’t because those aren’t masculine attributes. So I refused to be like limited to that anymore you know, we misconstrue masculinity for being humanity.
Lewis: It’s right it’s funny because if you’re a man looking to attract the right partner or attract a great partner, my friend Matthew who is like a dating relationship expert and coach to woman. He is always talking about how for men like it’s not that you’re strong that’s attractive, it’s that you’re strong and you’re sensitive. You know it’s not that you’re funny all the time and make me to laugh all the time, it’s that you’re funny and you can be like rounded it’s both and the contrast that makes you even more interesting and unique in the world, as opposed to ‘I’m always strong, I’m always a provider.’
Jason: You can’t be strong all the time anyways. So it’s amazing I talked with a friend of mine who desires to get married and I did a video on it and it was hilarious, we were just talking and he was “She has to always see Batman not Bruce Wayne.” So with my wife we got it together, you know we got our first house together of course the children together but everything non-profit without my wife it couldn’t have happen. So it’s sad to see so many man mess what they could have based on what they don’t have.
Lewis: I think the wise men listens to his body and his emotions and knows when to stop and checks ego at the door. I learned over the last 5 years the hard way because when I started doing cross fit 5 or 6 years ago I was just like “Keep pushing.” And then my back goes out for 2 months and I can’t workout. The wise human is the one who listens and checks their ego, you can still be competitive, you can still thrive and succeed and win or whatever but when you feel something is off if you’re gonna get injured stop.
Jason: Interesting we talked about like there’s so much injury in football, but like with traumas it’s the same way you know it’s like if you had an all-star basketball team and he fractured his ankle, you’re not going to throw him right back out there. Unfortunately in society we experience emotional fracture, we expect that we just go back out and start our day right over and go again then we wonder why that broken heart ever really heals, why the next relationship fails like the previous one because we haven’t allowed our time to get ourselves to really heal. So that’s the same also with woman as well, it’s like when you’ve been letdown by so many man and you have the right one coming and. All of us as humans in this society need to get up and keep going, we can’t grieve longer than a week and if you have that breathing time that time is actually spent planning the funeral. So we never really have time to grieve and we wonder why we’re more sad and we always performance based.
Lewis: You’ve been through a lot of trauma you’ve written on your book when did you realized that your life was filled with trauma and how did you learn to start processing pain?
Jason: Because I grew up expecting trauma was just a part of the black experience and it’s not. You know when I was in 8th grade a good friend of mine had gotten shot on the head you know. It was the first school shooting in Detroit history and a classmate was passing a gun around which is hard to really discharge if you don’t know what you are doing and a bullet went off and shot her in the head. I didn’t revisit that until I wrote about it in a chapter and it’s hitting me now because a guy says “I need you to go back, you didn’t grieve that.” I literally went my backyard and start throwing ninja stars because I didn’t know how to process and in our community, in the black community we don’t have an abundance of councilors so when the tragedy happens there’s 2 social workers for 400 kids. So I didn’t realized this was playing a role until my marriage was in jeopardy.
Jason: I mean literally when I can experience joy I would be on the couch folded up not in a feel position but I won’t talk to you I’m mad and just stay there. I didn’t realized until one day I prayed to God to break me because I’m a strong will person and I know he needs to use me to help people. And people were so tired of religion and all these other stuffs. So I said “God can you please gracefully break me because I’m tired of fighting this was.” And that process started with me almost dying from a shoulder surgery.
Lewis: When was this?
Jason: 2009, and I knew something was gonna happen so much so that I have my beard dyed and my beard was cut and my son’s hair was shaved. So I made it through the surgery thank God my wife for being there because my lung started filling up with fluid. After that my mother was diagnosed with dementia and as a man you want to be strong but when you see someone you love so much like with your father deteriorate before your eyes, a man who championed you and support you when everyone else would tease you and just there for you and now he’s not half the man he used to be, you have to cry you have to release it and it was so heavy Lewis I couldn’t be this masculine man anymore. That’s when I said “Wait a minute this is trauma, I can’t just go throughout my day saying it’s okay.” And a friend of mine told me one day “Jason that’s your mom, it is okay.” As a man everyone wants to be hard but we don’t really want to do anything that’s hard we do everything, but expressing how we feel without balling up a fist punching holes in the wall we don’t want that.
Lewis: Why is that?
Jason: Because we’ve been indoctrinate into this form of manhood that’s not really being a man, we’re human you can’t tell a man that he can only be strong, a warrior and provider. I mean it’s like having a dog or something and you only want him to be in attack mode all day.
Lewis: It’s not a fun dog.
Jason: It’s not a fun dog and he probably won’t even live that long. A dog has to have the love the caring, he has to have a family where he can show different side to.
Lewis: I think anger really hurts us a lot.
Jason: Yes it does. It’s a power though it’s a great power that allowed the process. I love the scriptures be angry but do not sin. So anger is a great power so think about what you’re doing, for instance why I admire you so much, you refused to allow what has happened to you the things that you’ve went through to affect others, it’s okay to process things with anger but don’t allow it to rule you.
Lewis: Don’t act from anger.
Jason: Well you can but you can’t allow it to make you do something that can hurt someone.
Lewis: But it’s from a place of love.
Jason: Yeah, because of the mistreatment of other people. What I love the most I call my brothers and sisters from another mother they join in a movement as well because they were angry. So you can see how anger to be use in a beautiful way if we allow it to process. And that’s what a lot of my boys in the video you just shared with my son boxing, I said “Why are you crying?” We just want to be in a safe space and say that I’m hurting and not be condemned.
Lewis: It’s so hard because we feel condemned when we express that we are hurting, we don’t get rewarded for expressing hurt we get made fun of, picked on, bullied sometimes the woman are like ‘Man up, I need you to be stronger now.’
Jason: But then when you say ‘man up’ you’re insinuating that he is not doing right. So I don’t even like the word ‘man up’ I like the word ‘man down’ basically we share this masculinity just living out of masculinity. There’s a time to be masculine again but I want men to operate being comprehensive human. It’s amazing you know I find that women good women that they appreciate when a man expresses that side of himself.
Lewis: So what should a man do if he expresses a hurt side of himself and his female partner doesn’t accept it or makes him wrong? Or is scared of it or whatever maybe, how do you get through that?
Jason: For me you have to find peace within yourself so if I cry, I remember one time I was in an event and I was moved by something that happened on stage and I started crying and there’s a lot of guys there that are strong you know, I think it was a weightlifting competition something a guy did a demonstration. I was comfortable in my humanity because I’m comprehensive. So if you’re not comfortable with who you are you’re always going to be performing space. So, I’ve got tested before when I was crying one time at another event and the guy thought he could just come and try to body slam me, I saw a young man just wanted to give his life to God and it moved me. I had to grab this boy before I knew it put him in a control hold.
Lewis: He tried to body slam you because you cry?
Jason: He thought I was weak. This is the first time I cried in front of a group of men and this was years ago. Now the thing is that I said “Wait a minute there’s nothing wrong with me crying, but my reaction was wrong.” So even though I wasn’t fear of my life I was more embarrassed that he tried to call me a punk pretty much.
Lewis: But you tried to make him look like a punk.
Jason: I had to but as I grew past that, now when I cry in front of my student’s fathers I give them the freedom to cry. So funny that I can cry in front of cameras it doesn’t matter anymore because I’m free, I don’t live from what I do anymore I was performance based, I would work 12 hours in the studio trying to make hit records and stuff, even as I got to working with youths and non-profit that I realized ‘why am I doing this?’ because of the lack of affirmation I received from my father and other men that I desired it from.
Lewis: So you do it to gain affirmation?
Jason: Yeah from people that’s where pleasing comes from we’re trying.
Jason: Exactly like I know who I am. This is one thing that’s interesting a celebrity and I wanted to text him a heartfelt message something he had did was very powerful and impacted me and I simply said “If I can’t text him this he can’t be my friend because this is who I am.” So I have to operate into who I am and that’s what men are scared of. See the conflict comes when because we feel it, you feel it and the relationship you want to love without limits but you’re [?] and that’s where conflict comes in.
So one day I came to my daughter I fell to my knees and I said “I’m sorry for everything I’ve done.” She said “Well dad you’re just trying to protect him.” No, I was able to trace it back to the wounds that were inflicted upon my heart by my own father. So you have a lot of good men who are hurting and that really, I don’t think this is an uphill battle Lewis they are ready to release it. The guy from Saturday night live just posted he doesn’t want to live anymore. Men are tired, emergency rooms are now seeing an influx of mental health issues because there’s nowhere for us to go and so we’re tired of being just the barbershop because everyone there wears the mask of masculinity.
Lewis: Making fun of each other.
Jason: That’s why I love your documentary men you did a great job because you allowed yourself to be vulnerable, you didn’t post in you being tough, you show what really happens when you’re not really taking care of yourself and living from what you really wanted.
Lewis: If someone is listening to this and they feel like tired, how can man start to process? What’s the first couple of steps to? That’s a lot of stuffs man are holding onto.
Jason: My best advice is to get a councilor that you can trust that would be number 1. But we’re not going to do that right off the back, so what I had to do is to allow myself time to deal and to allow myself to feel you know ‘why did it hurt you so much earlier?’ If I don’t process that at night.
Lewis: For years.
Jason: Exactly. The next situation you might want to pullover is needless fight because you didn’t allow yourself time.
Lewis: I’ve always got enough fight here in L.A before I started like processing all this stuff.
Jason: You must fight a lot of time.
Lewis: So one time I was in traffic and I literally chase someone down, this was like 5 and a half years ago. This is when I knew that something was wrong with me because I was driving like a few blocks away. I was driving and when you stop at a stop sign and typically look left to see whose coming and I pulled too far forward and I guess there was a runner coming by on the right and he’s like coming up and he like stopped and punch the car. So he starts running and I screech out of there and chases the guy down in my car. I chase him down and he starts running away I started screaming at him like ‘stop let’s talk man to man’ and then I finally like pullover and go after him and he starts to go the other way and it was like it was a good thing he didn’t come up to me because I was out of control to not want to fight him right now.
Jason: You probably wouldn’t be here right now.
Jason: So with that said imagine starting at home sitting still processing it there and be able to walk with it. So this country a lot of training I’ve been to for meditation, a lot of people in this country thinks meditation is concentration and it’s not. You should be able to stay seated there laying down and staring and fight. So I would tell men to sit still and express how you feel, express the pain to see if you’re married and your wife says something earlier. I always say to always go tour before you go to bed, basically don’t hold on to anger that long. So I would man first to sit still and process how you’re dealing with, how are you feeling? Why you felt that way? Write it down and revisit it so you can see and start tracing what triggered you and that’s the best of beginning steps.
Lewis: When I started to process all my past all my hurt and pain, it was the first time I would go to sleep like within a few minutes. My whole life it would take me like an hour to 2 hours to go to bed, I would try to go to bed early no matter how hard I work out or how tired I was it was rare if I fell asleep in 10 minutes. Then about 5 years ago when I started to process it all and at night I would sit down and either to myself or write down to what I was grateful for the day or express it to my girlfriend at the time and say what I was grateful for, it was like I can complete the day in peace and go to sleep as opposed to pain or fear or anger, which is what I was living in for 25 years.
Jason: Every time I come home and lay down on my back my legs folded and allow myself just to release everything that’s happened, I’m okay I’ve given my best for the day I’m not staying up late because I got to get up early. So that’s the benefit of being able not be a slave to your emotions.
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Jason: One of my pet peeves is when I go out with my family to a restaurant and I get bad service. So how many times do we leave the restaurant angry, didn’t experience the night that we desired and we didn’t really articulate what this means. What I do now is when I see the waitress or waiter come over and I can tell they’re not here, they’re not present with me either something happened with the last table or they may have a bad day, I say “Hi, excuse me I’m with my family and I’m really paying to have a great experience and it seems like you have a lot on your mind can you please get someone to help us because I really want my money’s worth and I really want to enjoy my evening.” So when I give them an opportunity to express by me being able to express myself without being irate.
Lewis: Or maybe.
Jason: One guy was so troubled about paying for school and I said “What’s your faith?” He says “I’m a Christian.” That’s okay cool, I said “Me and my wife we’re gonna act like we’re ordering but we’re gonna pray.” So we’re praying but act like we’re ordering food, we had the best experience ever. That’s all because I learned how to express the emotion and the same like so many men wanted to be the best lovers to their wife. Every man considers themselves a great lover but when you get married you know making love to your wife over and over again. What takes it to another level? So for me I found and my wife can testify to this is when I became in tune with my emotions and willing to be vulnerable. Now we’re able to connect on a much deeper level. I remember early in our marriage we would use toys in the room and I didn’t like those because to me it’s like a replacement for me. Like I can’t really keep with a rabbit toy. But what I learned I decide like ‘wait a minute if this piece of whatever can do this things I’m a spirit man.’ But it took for me to get in tuned and free and not look at 4 players’ labor but love it’s like that’s my desire, like I can’t make love to my wife I don’t know like I’d rather her reach that place because the connection is so much stronger and once I became comprehensive and able to express myself throughout every area of my life, man it’s a game changer and although you and I were discussing earlier there’s a bit of challenges but the person that can rule their emotion can master them all.
Lewis: So how do we rule our emotions?
Jason: Practice. For instance, I say everyone wants to get in shape and so for me my desire to remain faithful to my wife until we’re gone. You know I was on a plane coming here and saw an elderly couple holding hands and comforting each other because there’s turbulence. So but we know we have temptations and so one day when I was trying to get caught up I saw in my cabinet a bag of lays potato chips, because my relationship with God I am a spirit man and the spirit is in me. So I walked by and you know what 2 chips won’t hurt me but he knows my desire, if I lose to that how much easier will it be for me to lose to a woman that’s a beautiful and attractive and save me and my wife getting in argument and this woman follows me on social media and knows everything what makes me tick, now it’s so easy now because they can just follow you.
Lewis: Seduce you.
Jason: Again, we have many opportunities in life to practice ruling our emotions like road rage. You know the guy cutting you off it is not worth it, learn to look down the road. In a matter of a second you can’t because you can literally lose your life.
Lewis: And everything it’s not worth it.
Jason: It’s not worth it.
Lewis: You started this non-profit cave.
Jason: The union is non-profit the cave of Adellum is the middle academy.
Lewis: And when did that started?
Jason: 2003 I started the non-profit.
Lewis: And the cave has been you know talked about and it’s been in TV shows and movies and examples of, I think it was in this is us too right?
Jason: It was a father son, we call it father and son up ceremony.
Lewis: Yeah the ritual it’s very powerful. What is that ceremony?
Jason: It’s an initiation process. So basically we teach and train transform uninitiated boys into comprehensive man. So, I don’t know if you’ve been in there initiated into manhood but majority of us have it and that’s why majority of grown men are stuck in childish things. So we take them to a series of basic training, they have to learn things about God the bible, how to rule your emotions on that level as well in the world. But then we also challenge them physically because I used the arts of physical training to break them down so the emotions can arise and that’s what I really want. And the beauty is that when they pass their part they still have not completed the test unless their father comes on a mat and there’s the push up with them. So fathers are really emotional because they desire, they wish they had their father’s take them through this. So it’s symbolic at saying that “No matter what you go through son I’mma be here with you throughout the journey pushing you.” So that’s basically what’s the initiation is and then once they pass there they go through another 5 phases and then they go through a final test where they’re honored by a community as being man.
Lewis: What’s the final test?
Lewis: Physical or emotional test?
Jason: It’s comprehensive so they’re train on adequate growing basically short in skills. A course martial arts combination of jujitsu, aikido, judo, boxing just to test the emotion because you can fake it intellectually based rite of passage program. You can do all the answers, answer all the questions look [?] you’re strong and ready to go and now they send you off not in the cave of Adellum we’re gonna test you, we’re gonna see if you really know what you know, we’re gonna see if you really grew that emotion. So we challenge them in that way and so they leave there tested meaning that we have a saying “Everyone has a moment on the mat, everyone will face their greatest fear, everyone will face insecurity you cannot escape.” So my whole thing is to give you the test now before you go in life to take the final exam. So could you imagine as you go through all of these phases the final test is you test it on all of these phases, it’s a 2 day training and then you cross with your fathers in front of you.
Jason: It is very powerful and so something I always desired. So as broken man instead of living from a brokenness start practicing living from what you long for. Mr. Douglas said “It’s easy to buildup children or raised up children than appear to be broken man.” Something like that and I actually love that quote the problem is I’m sure that he didn’t mean to leave man broken and that’s what’s happened to society, we focus on the boys and the children [?] and that’s what men are doing.
Lewis: What would you say your biggest insecurity still?
Jason: Dancing is one. Like I was a DJ now how can a DJ not know how to dance, but a DJ just has to mix so up here I’m good. So then insecurity of being laughed at you know no one wants to be laughed at and martial arts the biggest issue with not executing a technique isn’t that it’s not complicated, it’s the fact that you don’t want to look nasty doing it. Every man wants to look good doing a certain technique but that’s the problem you leave your ego outside. So I would say just being you know the dancing piece, but I don’t know if that’s insecurity let me see.
Lewis: I thought you dance and martial arts.
Jason: It is the same. Me and my wife were messing around maybe a couple of nights ago, I tried a little something you know but that’s something I am going to work through so that’s a prime example. Do I let that fear stop me? I can’t because it plays out in other areas of my life. Honestly man still affirmation and I’m just gonna be transparent with you.
Lewis: What do you mean by that?
Jason: I train in martial arts for over 22 years never attained my black belt in any of my disciplines.
Lewis: Still to this day? Why not?
Jason: Because my basis was trained in a system where they taught what belts was for, it really was never about the belt it was about the knowledge of self. Training yourself to become better and then but everyone wants that’s like getting a degree.
Lewis: It’s like going to college for 20 years but never finishing.
Jason: Yeah. So I didn’t understand until now like this hurts, God why have you deny me? Like I could have fought through these things and stay with different arts but it was a blessing that I learned a lot.
Lewis: It became comprehensive.
Jason: Yeah comprehensive in my approach but more so now that I am here what I am no one can take credit for what I do except God. And although it hurts even to this day I find myself fighting to go back to Brazilian jujitsu that’s my favorite now. But a mother told me this one day she says “You got to get yourself out of the way of those boys.” What she was telling me is “You’re living in the past son, you have more than enough to need what you need to do.” Another one of my martial arts friend who was a black belter in jujitsu says “Jason you don’t need another belt rank, you need four walls.” And when I listened to him.
Lewis: What do you mean four walls?
Jason: I need my own space and start teaching. If how you gonna create something for now if you’re training with dinosaurs you have to evolved, that’s another reason why I love Brazilian jujitsu because it evolves, it adapts and I love the camaraderie but I’m not called to be the master of any art. I always say I’m not a martial artist I’m a man with a martial heart, a man who can love without limits, a man who won’t allow the fear of being hurt to stop me from helping those who are hurting. I didn’t grow up with a father so the affirmation piece I think will always be there but I’m thankful for brothers like you, you know your messages is really encouraging even though it’s just something light but just you reaching out to me is affirmation you know that and that’s what I need.
Lewis: Absolutely the connection.
Jason: And I would say that still a source [?].
Lewis: What’s your biggest insecurity as a father? Now that your daughter has moved away to the big LA city.
Jason: Not being able to get to her in 20 minutes. As I wrote in my book I should try to be God in her life.
Lewis: You use to be that.
Jason: Basically controlling her destiny. I’m so religious man that she would have a vision or an idea if it wasn’t from the bible it wasn’t from God. That’s why so many kids run away from God and churches because it’s like this is condemning.
Lewis: Or judgmental
Jason: It’s like you got to do this and that and typically the person who judges that way don’t even leave that way. So here it is I’m that way trying to be controlling, worrying like I can control what my daughter does and I had to apologize and get out of God’s way and say ‘Hey you created us all to be individuals.’ And it was very tough for me to even resolve with my spirit that she is going to be in LA. But I had to learn at every stage in life we have to learn to let go. So when she was going into high school I had to learn to let go, when she went to college I broke down crying packing my truck I had to learn to let go. Now I got a beautiful daughter who is intelligent and I mean she, when I mentioned your name she. Because I may not agree with it doesn’t mean it’s not which is supposed to do.
Lewis: You gonna agree with her me on her vision board?
Jason: You the man. What I need to let her know is I got your back if all doesn’t go well I get you ticket today. So give to them the opportunity to be, I’m a dad man I’m a protector you know, I’d run through a wall for my you know but it’s not good for my health so I need to learn how to express it cry so that I can love. But when I can cry and release the stress out of my body I’m able to reset emotionally and that’s how we are able to have a good relationship we have now.
Lewis: How often do you think men should cry?
Jason: Well, I tell you this and this is interesting so women now that the book is selling pretty well and this hasn’t been release yet and they’re messaging me saying “What can we do to help our men work through this?” I say “Get a lot of tissue listen with compassion and don’t respond with condemnation because this is going to be a lot of crying.” So I’m 48 I get myself crying just thinking of something that hurt me. My mother just passed 2 years ago it still wasn’t a long time, I think about my brothers not being here like man he would be proud like that’s worthy of tears because it’s worth it.
Doctor William said that he discovered that tears contains stress hormones the tears that are due to emotional stress. That’s why when we cry from emotional pain we feel better typically afterwards. So many men I say we need emotional enema because we’re backed up and so once we have that enema, as our woman you know this is as you said earlier it’s unfortunate, seem like our women always have to be there for us. For African American for instance I’m probably just 2 generations away from slavery. So how do I expect my father to know how to father? He doesn’t, I was talking to another friend of mine who was Irish American he talked about this bravado that came with being Irish and how his father didn’t love their mothers and things like that and how he has to work through his emotions. But then when you find out there’s an old Irish Proverb that says “Never trust a warrior who cannot cry.” Then when you look at Sir Lancelot the story of him crying over the woman he’s in loved with, or the samurai crying in war and then after the war. So something happened to society and it’s really hard to pinpoint but man cry and we should cry as often as we feel we need to, there’s no judgement man you know the greatest warriors can cry in front of. Listen this is what’s comical so you can win me you can win the super bowl we’re players on the same team, we could cry and no one says a word. But yet when I experience trauma my friend shot or a relationship or a breakup I get the motive a job and this is what crushes my spirt. When I see my brothers from another mother specifically we say white, successful bankers and you hear it they lose their job and go home and kill themselves and entire family.
Lewis: It’s crazy.
Jason: What’s happened is that they can’t release the pain, they’ve been put on this pedestal that they have to perform there is no fail. So, I lost my job I’m done we’re gonna lose the college tuition also and there’s no reason to live, and that’s a lie because you made it. There is a difference in our culture a good friend who was trained in aikido he was telling me “It’s different for you, you have to work harder the system is against you.” So you can lose your job and you come back and he admire the fortitude and I had to tell him “You can lose your job and come back because you’re able to manifest the work ethic to get it, you can get another job it’s not over.” And until we as men regardless of ethnicity can say ‘Okay, this does not defined me. Me not winning a championship does not defined me, me not getting the pay raise does not defined me.’ See we allow this world to find what success is for us, my success I’ve already succeeded there is no failure anymore. I have a family with beautiful daughter and son and I’m healthy.
Lewis: What should define us?
Jason: In my opinion who we really are, who we are behind closed doors when no one is looking, how the people see us and love us the person that I can be here. But if I go home and I’m an Ahole what is that? So to me when those closed to you when the lights are off and no one is looking and you’re the same person, you’ve arrived because it doesn’t matter where you go there is no pressure anymore I am free, I may have a little nervousness that’s coming but after a moment I say “Hey, what’s the worst that could happen?” I got my family, even if I lost my family say a tragedy God forbid, for me being a spiritual man I know I can see them again. You know you can’t threaten me with heaven and so to find that place in life every man desires it we just have to learn to live from it.
Lewis: What would you say the greatest lesson your dad every taught you?
Woman: It’s so many I feel like I’ve adopted many things from him even like my vision statement to be something that I haven’t seen. But to just be authentically unique like if I can’t be like you said earlier we don’t need to be in relationship if I can’t be myself. I feel like I’ve learned so much but I think that the top that I admire is his ability to genuinely be him and I feel like that plays a role in everything that I do.
Jason: You do a great job on that.
Lewis: Showing up as me?
Jason: Well I just want to get to know you more because I see other things, I see a smile but I see hurt and I have hurt as well. The key is being able to process and keep processing it and release it.
Lewis: It never goes away I mean it goes away, it’s always there and as a reminder and it can come back as pain if you don’t continue to release it when it comes up.
Jason: Or again like a breakup. I could grieve I’m really grieving for me losing my mother 2 years ago not really over a 6 month relationship, but it’s compounded because I haven’t had time to release that and so as helpful as you are to millions of people I can tell you wake up like “Man I got to say something to inspire somebody.” You are wired that way. My thing for you is your friend to make sure my friend Lewis is saying “Hey let’s sit down I just want to flush some things.” That’s what I would want, that’s admirable that she wants to be a change world but I want to make sure you are a change for Lewis.
Lewis: I have the awareness to have really good friends and spiritual mentors that I lean on a lot and talked with and processed a lot with, because I know if I hold it in then I’m gonna suffer and I know I don’t have all the answers and people are much wiser and more experienced than me so I’m always reaching out to them.
Jason: The same way I listened to a child, you know I don’t know it all and I don’t really want to know it all I just want to learn and keep growing. You know it is a journey and but I said this in a video about suicide, just because something is wrong with you doesn’t mean anything is wrong with you. So just because I am sad today or I’m depressed, many people shun those emotions because that is going to stop me from attaining my goal and I got to follow the 7 steps to happiness. What if that sadness or being depressed at the moment is to get you out of a bad relationship? But if you keep faking it you’re gonna miss that blessing that could come from sitting still and that sadness.
Lewis: Make sure you guys get this book it came out recently.
Jason: It’s pre-order actually it came out in novels.
Lewis: It’s called ‘Cry like a Man Fighting for Freedom from Emotional Incarceration.’ And it’s funny because I’ve spoken out a prison a few times and freshly visited prisons many times. My brother he was meeting me he was in prison for 4 years and you saw perform I think.
Jason: Yes I did.
Lewis: So, I would visit him every weekend for 4 years when I was a child 8 years to 12 years old. So I would go to a prison and I’ve been here to prison here in California in the last few years, I did some workshops on the mask of masculinity and it was always fascinating to be in a prison because sometimes there are man behind bars who are emotionally free, not all of them but you meet some that are so at peace and are emotionally free and are able to cry. Finally and there are men who are on the outside world who are prisoners in their hearts, in their minds and you know there’s nothing worse than being free physically but emotionally trap.
Jason: You know we cry just looks different, it may not be physical tears but pornography, alcoholism, spouse abused its gonna come out so why not allow it to come out the healthy way and that’s what’s happening. You know I was studying on like mass murderers and violent crimes and it was interesting the only few times we saw women like it’s very rare to see a woman mass murderer, we started noticing that it was in tandems it was a man and a woman. I mean this is some interesting stuff so could you imagine if men learn how to process this emotion before they go grab a gun and go shoot up a place.
Lewis: They probably won’t shoot up a place.
Jason: They just need a way to process. There was a guy he killed an elderly man on Facebook live and he says.
Lewis: He was on Facebook live and killed a man?
Jason: It was called the Easter massacre or something. But he said this some punk stuff man in the video he was just ranting. So I’m not saying that’s why all mass murderers do what they do but in those cases you need an outlet man.
Lewis: If you don’t have an outlet you’ll create an outlet.
Jason: Like I said crying like a man isn’t just about shedding tears it’s about releasing emotional pain and trauma we held in our heart and minds for years.
Lewis: Setting yourself free. You got some amazing chapters in here I really enjoy getting through it I’m gonna finish the rest of it soon but powerful stuff. Final few questions this one is called the 3 truths it’s your final day here on this physical earth and you get to picked the day many years from now, but you get to leave the world with 3 final truths or lessons that you’ve learned. No one has access to your work anymore or video or content you’ve got to take that with you but you get to write down on a piece of paper 3 things you know to be true that the only thing you get to leave behind what would you say your 3 truths?
Jason: Number 1 there is a God. Number 2 when you love yourself for who you are instead of what you do there you will find peace because peace is not an environment, peace is what’s in you. Number 3 family is a blessing, I never had it growing up so I cry now because I am thankful that I have. All those years going through so much violence and losing your love ones to gunshots, gun violence is just, I haven’t had a whole much stable home everything is an adventure and to have that for my kids they experience the love from a woman who loves me for who I am, I mean it’s a blessing and I don’t want men to miss it because their hurt and there is insecurities. It is the greatest blessing a man could ever have, everyone wants to be wealthy but you can’t create one without a family it’s the greatest gift God has given us.
Lewis: That’s great. If there is a microphone in front of you right now and every man in the world got to put on headphones and listen to you, what would you say to all the men out the world? 1 message
Jason: Be free, be human express yourself. Live from the love that you feel and not the fear be free, be human that’s what I would tell them because every man still is a human being, stop allowing masculinity with humanity. Live from your heart love and watch how much free you become.
Lewis: I want to acknowledge you for a moment Jason for just being the example, being the father that the world needs. Because I know that you didn’t have the relationship with your father or the example that you wanted and you’re creating that for so many young boys and men and myself and you’re being an example of what’s being possible for us in this generation, in this time of mental confusion. So I just want to acknowledge you for your heart, kindness, love, generosity to humanity it’s very powerful and you’re setting a great example for me as well. So I appreciate that.
Where can we connect with you online?
Jason: My handle is @Mr.JasonOWilson and for the cave of adullam, actually just go crylikeaman.com and eventually that’s going to be a hub for mental and emotional health services for man.
Lewis: Final question what’s your definition of greatness?
Jason: My definition of greatness is the same as success ‘Every person has to define it, for me it is being a servant of God, a loving husband, a faithful father and a community servant.“ I love people congratulating me by with a lot that’s going on, it’s not really celebratory to me because I’m on a mission to me this opportunity is like God dropping a pallet of ammunition in the middle of battlefield. I have my life or whatever M-16 or M-15 and running to go get this ammunition to go help boys, men and families. So I’m content I’m taught to be content in all things, does that mean I don’t strive for this? No, but I don’t burn out chasing anything anymore like I used to. I’m okay with going to sleep and define other things that didn’t get done. So success for me is having a family and being content life is too short to be chasing.
Lewis: There you have it my friends such a powerful and moving and inspiring and emotional interview with my friend Jason Wilson. Make sure to share this with your friends’ lewishowes.com/745 all the show notes and information is there. You can get his book cry like a man check it out right now it’s a powerful read and give it to a man in your life as well.
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And to bring things back to the beginning of this interview Hellen Keller said it best “Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it.” It does not matter what you’ve been through, it doesn’t matter how much you suffered you have the ability to rewire your emotions to change this story about what has happened to you so that you are in control and have the power back in your life and those situations of traumas don’t have power over you. I love you so very much and you know what time it is, it’s time to go out there and do something great.