In this On Purpose episode, Jay Shetty is excited to have a guest return to his show, Russ.

He is a famous rapper, singer, writer, and author. Russ' career has been recognized by Forbes magazine, and he wrote a book called It's All In Your Head. Today, they are discussing Russ's new music album, Santiago.

Being Enough

Russ shares with Jay Shetty how he had felt "not enough" since childhood when he tried to meet his dad's high standards. Despite loving- his parents, the rapper felt they had expectations that seemed impossible to meet. This resulted in an inner voice, which began as his dad's voice but became his own, always saying he wasn't doing enough. He didn't feel happy even with achievements like platinum or earning millions.

People link happiness to external achievements. So did Russ, explaining to Jay Shetty how he thought particular successes or possessions would make him happy. But when he got everything he wanted, he still felt empty. Instead, he should have been looking inside himself for happiness.

Russ' song, Oasis, captures precisely this feeling. While he seemed successful and happy on the outside, inside, he was struggling. He slid into unhealthy habits like overeating and drinking. But all those were hidden behind his fame and success. He used the song to poke fun at himself and highlight that what we see on the surface isn't always the truth.

Men Show Less Emotion

Jay Shetty notices how we often get distracted by shiny things and how it's hard to recognize when we're lost in these distractions. Russ shared that men often hide their pain and emotions. In his view, society expects men to be strong and carry burdens alone.

Even though Russ was successful, he faced inner turmoil and chaos. There came a point when he couldn't hold back his emotions any longer. Moments before a European tour, Russ had a breakdown. He had to cancel the tour because he couldn't perform. Luckily, therapy helped him navigate this difficult time, and it gave him a space to understand his feelings.

Russ believes men struggle to connect with their emotions because society tells them to "get over it." He and many others have seen older generations, like their fathers, brush off their feelings. The rapper revealed that some of his songs were cries for help. When these songs became popular, the real emotions behind them got overlooked, and he felt even more isolated.

Behind The Mask of Perfection

Jay Shetty discusses men's pressures, particularly in expressing emotions and seeking mental health support. He notes that often, men feel they shouldn't have these pressures. Russ, however, found a way to intertwine mental health issues in his music without sounding cliché.

The rapper has always sought meaning in music as a listener and artist. When creating his songs, he's tried to understand his feelings and experiences, hinting at these discoveries in his work. He describes himself as naturally curious, aiming to comprehend his thought processes and where they originated.

Russ admits to Jay Shetty that earlier in his career, he seemed overly confident, which was a mask for his insecurities. This stemmed from his perfectionist tendencies, influenced by his father's standards. As a perfectionist, he felt he couldn't be wrong and viewed help as criticism. Jay recalls a conversation where Russ mentioned he sometimes records music alone, allowing him to experiment without fear of judgment.

Russ' close friends and family are supportive but were initially concerned when he sought therapy. This concern arose because he has always been the caregiver in his family, never showing signs of needing help. Russ believes that society is becoming more receptive to men asking for assistance. Moreover, he emphasizes that the traditional image of emotionless men isn't sustainable. Men need to communicate, collaborate, and support each other.

Seeking a Tough Partner

Jay Shetty wanted to know how women perceive men who show their emotional side. Russ explained that women's reactions vary. Some appreciate vulnerability in men, but others find it unattractive, preferring their partner to be "tough" without sharing their struggles.

Russ noted that many women are attracted to men with a "tough" exterior and assume such men have faced pain, but they don't want to hear about it. This poses a challenge for men: when they open up, they fear they might appear less attractive. Russ's lyrics emphasize that some women want a man to be tough but are turned off when he shows his emotional pain.

Jay Shetty agreed that people who've been through hardships have stories to share. It is unrealistic to expect someone to be assertive without acknowledging the experiences that made them that way. Russ observes that some women want emotionally open men but might inadvertently make them feel they should keep their pain to themselves.

Many men fear appearing unattractive by showing vulnerability because society often equates strength with silence. They've been conditioned to think that showing emotions is not a sign of a strong man. Russ admitted to Jay Shetty that he sought answers out of desperation. Being somewhat isolated from societal pressures allowed him to express himself without worrying too much about others' opinions.

Open About Mental Health

The rapper could stay real because his fans supported him. He's always been honest with them about his feelings and mental health. When he had tough times, like canceling a tour, his fans understood because he's always been open about his emotions. Russ wasn't worried about fans leaving because they liked his songs about love and heartbreak.

Jay Shetty shared a memory from when he was a teenager. Back then, he didn't understand how people could feel sad or depressed. But, as he grew up, he experienced hard things and understood those feelings better. He learned that sometimes life teaches you about things you don't understand by making you share them. Now, he tries to be understanding and curious instead of judging others.

Money Doesn't Fill All Voids

Jay Shetty and Russ touched on success and what it means. Jay explained that while he's happier now with money and success than when he was broke, the absolute joy comes from feeling like he's helping others.

On the other hand, Russ used to think that winning awards and becoming famous would make him feel important and accepted. But even after getting all these awards, he still felt like something was missing. The rapper soon realized he was looking for his father's approval, which he didn't always get when he was younger.

To fill this gap, Russ chose rap, a field where it takes work for people like him to get approval. He thought if he succeeded there, he would feel entirely accepted. However, the good feeling didn't last even when he achieved big things. He'd quickly go back to feeling down.

Validate Yourself

Jay Shetty reflects on his relationship with his parents. He especially remembers how his dad often didn't support him during his childhood events. He felt the absence deeply, recalling instances where his dad was reading a newspaper while Jay was swimming or when his dad failed to show up for his rugby games. But this experience taught Jay Shetty a unique lesson. His father's definition of success didn't bind him. Instead, he got the freedom to decide who he wanted to become.

Jay views his current relationship with his father more as a friend than a parental figure. A twist in his story was the introduction of monks into his life. Meeting them at age 18 was a turning point. They became the positive male role models Jay Shetty had longed for. These monks, however, needed to provide validation. They taught him to find self-worth internally.

Russ reflects on his musical journey. He emphasizes that everything he was chasing - validation, love, approval - he had to give himself. Russ realized the importance of valuing oneself. He gave examples like going to the gym, not for vanity but to celebrate health and life. Another instance was his approach to music. Rather than seeking the next hit, he treated every studio session as a celebration.

Jay Shetty and Russ stress the value of inner reflection, self-worth, and the courage to confront one's emotions.

Clouds and the Sun

Jay Shetty shares that we often think we should always be cheerful and perfect. He shares a monk's teaching that even though we sometimes see our negative thoughts (the clouds), we should remember the good inside us (the sun) is always there. We'll have cloudy days like the weather, but it doesn't mean the sun is gone. This made him feel like a fraud sometimes.

Russ felt like a fraud, too. He struggled when people complimented him because he saw his flaws (the clouds) and doubted their praises (of him being the sun).

Russ also talked about his parents' divorce. He used to be the peacekeeper in his family. The divorce made him question his role and identity, primarily when he was used to being the savior. Getting hate from people affected him deeply because he always wanted everyone's approval.

Jay Shetty stresses that our identity shouldn't just be based on the roles we play for others. It's crucial to understand our values because they are what truly define us. Russ agreed, mentioning how losing his identity roles felt devastating but also helped him grow.

Growing Down

Jay Shetty asks Russ about "growing down" and exploring the deeper parts of oneself. Russ admits that earlier in his career, he cared more about external validation, like followers and money. But now, he's trying to understand and accept who he truly is. He mentions a challenging realization: he didn't like himself. He felt ashamed of past decisions and was too focused on external success.

Russ also expressed that denying his insecurities led to harmful behaviors, like drinking before interviews. He learned in therapy that accepting and admitting insecurities is crucial for genuine growth.

Jay Shetty shared his own experiences; without a goal, he feels insecure. He believes many people feel insecure at significant events, even if they seem confident. Russ agrees, suggesting that people could connect more genuinely if they were honest about their feelings.

Resisting Insecurities

Russ shares that he often thought he didn't belong in the rap and hip-hop world because he was a white guy without cultural support. To cope with this, he acted with overconfidence because he desperately wanted help.

He mentions his song Do It Myself about facing challenges alone. Russ says some people in the music industry praised him, but no one mentored him. He admits to Jay Shetty he was hard on his younger self but now wants to be proud of his past and give himself some credit for his achievements.

Give Grace to Yourself

Russ would tell his younger self he was safe and cared for. But his more youthful self might push help away, even though he needs kindness. Russ believes everyone should be kinder to themselves, especially when they make mistakes. He thinks it's essential to be happy with doing your best and to understand that you can't know everything.

Change Is Welcome

We often judge ourselves and others based on one mistake or decision. Jay Shetty says we wouldn't judge a book by just one page. But we often treat people that way. Russ says that on social media, one mistake can label you forever, and people aren't allowed to change their minds or beliefs. This makes it hard, especially for famous people, because their past words can trap them.

Jay Shetty shares that he once believed all rich people did something terrible to get money. This belief held him back. He learned that you can earn with honesty and use money for good. Russ admits he used to think he was always right. Now, he's more open-minded and understands that he can be wrong. Both emphasize the importance of personal growth and knowledge that everyone's journey and beliefs can change over time.

Rethinking Beliefs

Jay Shetty talks about the contradictions in life. He says people are often told there's only one correct answer, but life has many layers and perspectives. It's not always black or white. There are many things to understand and sides to every story.

Russ mentions a book called Atomic Habits about how people label themselves, like "I'm an athlete" or "I'm a rapper." But when they no longer do those things, they can feel lost. Instead, thinking about qualities like "I'm hardworking" is better.

Russ also talks about his earlier rigid views of manhood. He used to believe that men shouldn't show emotions or ask for help. But now he understands there's strength in being open and working with others. He's learned that real leaders aren't just challenging and scary. True leaders work well with everyone and earn respect naturally.

Jay Shetty agrees and mentions that real leaders don't demand respect but command it. They don't need to show off to be noticed. Russ thinks there should be a shift in how men and women see their roles and identities. They should understand and be true to themselves instead of trying to fit into a specific mold.

Russ also shares how he's grown personally. He's now 30 and has learned to take better care of himself. He feels he's living a more honest life now and is grateful to have passed his challenging younger years without severe issues.


Jay Shetty described ego as the times we pretend to feel safe, even when untrue. Even he might avoid admitting he's wrong to his wife to protect his feelings. Similarly, Russ shared how he feels he must save his family emotionally, especially his mom. He feels scared to see them struggle, but sometimes they're okay, and he thinks they're not.

Jay Shetty compared ego to trying to play God, thinking everything depends on us. He believes we should help people grow but only do some things for them. Russ observed how this behavior makes others doubt themselves, thinking they can't handle situations. He realizes he needs to change, but it's hard because he's always felt he has to rescue others. He is still learning to support people without taking over their problems.

Inspired By Paulo Coelho

Jay Shetty was curious to uncover the inspirations behind Russ' latest music, particularly the influence of Paulo Coelho's The Alchemist. Russ shared that he first encountered the book when he was around 17 or 18, gifted to him by his best friend. Over time, the book became like a Bible for him, offering wisdom and insight at different stages of his life.

Russ felt compelled to interweave Coelho's narrative with his personal experiences to create his music. When he began working on his album, Paulo Coelho surprisingly started following him on Twitter. Given that Coelho only followed a handful of people, Russ took this as a fortunate sign. He felt even more connected to the book's themes of recognizing life's motions and pursuing one's legend.

Jay Shetty appreciated this synchronicity and praised Russ for his unique approach to interpreting the book's message. He highlighted the beauty in how Russ managed to use the story of Santiago, the book's protagonist, to craft an album that spoke to universal truths and personal narratives.

More From Jay Shetty

Listen to the entire On Purpose with Jay Shetty podcast episode on “Russ ON How to Change Your Self-Critical Mindset & the Truth Behind the Emotional Struggles of Men” now in the iTunes store or on Spotify. For more inspirational stories and messages like this, check out Jay’s website at

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