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PAX~World News

The official e-newsletter from Alison Armstrong. Things that intrigue and inspire her, new developments and lines of inquiry.

PAX-World News Embraces Squirrels

Issue 40 - 1/11/2012

One of the biggest complaints women have about men is that "it's soooo hard to get through to them." There are several reasons for this and one of the biggest is: Because Women Avoid Using Men's Words.

Case in point: Women never have problems. Oh, no, no, no. You will not catch us with a problem. Problems are taboo. Instead, we have issues, concerns, complaints, challenges and things we need to talk about. These are the words we use instead of saying, "I have a problem."

And you want to know the problem with that??? Men understand "problem." Men are compelled to solve "problems." Problems have solutions. Problems are finite. Solving problems can even be fun! READ MORE...

But "issues?" As my husband, Greg, said about issues, "I'm heading into the swamp. Bye guys. Nice knowing you."

Try this: Interview the men in your life about all of the above words. Ask them what each word means to them and whether it makes them want to act...or something else entirely. This might inspire you to go have some problems...

As one man said so eloquently: "A problem to a man is like a squirrel to a dog!"

In Celebrating Men, Satisfying Women, we explore the top 6 words that communicate with who men are and how men are motivated. Used in partnership, these words are a gift to men and the source of much satisfaction for women. But they are all uncomfortable to say and mean. "Problem" is the 7th word. Use it well and often and sincerely!

Happy New Year, everybody!
Alison


PAX-World News Has Orgasms by Choice

Issue 39 - 12/13/2011

I'm presuming we've chatted enough to get into it... So, can we talk about sex? Specifically, can we talk about the Big O?

If you've been in Understanding Women: Unlock the Mystery with me lately, you already know that I'm on a bit of a rant about orgasms. Or, you might have heard Dennis Prager's reaction to me saying, "Husbands could have more sex if wives could have fewer orgasms." Dennis was sure that I had misspoken. Surely, I must have meant, "if wives could have more orgasms."

NOPE! I meant what I said, exactly. Let me explain:

Before the popularization of the female orgasm, and the capacity for multiple orgasms, a woman could merely provide sex for her husband and be considered a good wife. Since Masters & Johnson and Kinsey threw back the sheets, a good wife - a good lover - must not only happily provide sex but also deliver the orgasm that validates her husband's prowess in bed. This additional requirement can turn an innocuous request for sex into a demand to go to work late at night. A real drag!

Now, if you're a man, you might wonder how having an orgasm could possibly create a problem. My dear friend, and co-creator of Celebrating Men & Sex, Leslie Rice, puts it like this: "Having an orgasm can be like trying to catch a fish with your bare hands...and they are slippery little buggers."

Ladies - can you relate? God bless the easily orgasmic - but that's a distinction for a reason. For many of us, chasing an orgasm for the edification of our partner can turn something beautiful and fun into a chore.

Being the Queen of Freedom and Truth, I propose that orgasms be a choice, not a chore. There's more to be said about this that's a little too graphic for this forum. For now, could we entertain that there are other outcomes of sex that are equally valid? Harkening back to PAX-World News Has Favorite Feelings, November 14, we might ask or tell our partner if we'd rather be left with a loving feeling from our sexual encounters, than with a fish.

As always, in partnership,
Alison


PAX~World News Has Favorite Feelings

Issue 38 - 11/14/2011

Thank you for your responses to "PAX~World News Thinks Men Make Lousy Pets." Your appreciation for my straight-talk gave me one of my favorite feelings.

What are your favorite feelings? And why do I ask?

One of the greatest difficulties facing man-kind is that femininity is a Feelings-based world, while masculinity is a Fact-based world. To put it another way: women value the people who cause them to frequently feel favorite feelings. And who don't cause them to feel the feelings they do everything they can to avoid. I call this being a "feelings-based organism." Read on...

As a woman, notice what you do to cause the feelings you want; for example, how you decorate your home (and re-decorate for a new feeling); how you dress (and when your closet doesn't hold the feeling you're looking for); the people you seek out and the people you keep at a distance. All day long, women consciously and unconsciously gather the feelings they cherish.

As a man, you might be thinking, "Aha! Find out what causes the feelings all women want and I've got it made." Beware! Women don't all have the same favorite feelings. You can't generalize about what women like to feel. For instance, serenity to one woman could be boredom to another. Excitement and adventure could be one woman's cup of tea, and feel like chaos and danger to her sister.

This means you've got to do some research. I recommend asking these questions of all the women you care about (including yourself, if you are one):

  • What are your favorite feelings? At home? At work? With your friends? With your lover or partner?
  • What causes you to feel your favorite feelings?
  • What feelings do you avoid?
  • What causes them? How do you avoid them?

Being feelings-based also means that respecting my feelings equals respecting me; being interested in my feelings equals being interested in me. So, just asking the questions here, are likely to give a woman some very nice feelings.

To your favorites,
Alison


PAX~World News Thinks Men Make Lousy Pets

Issue 37 - 10/27/2011

Many beautiful and extraordinary realizations have come out of the new Hero's Challenge. This isn't one of them. When I led the last pilot course in September, I was inundated by feedback from men that told me many of our graduates had missed the point.

I think you count on me to give it to you straight and I'm completely invested in that saying, "The truth will set you free." So here we go again...

It seems that some women have taken what they learned in Celebrating Men, Satisfying Women to alter the way they relate to their men, instead of transforming it. Where they used to think they were misbehaving and react with punishment, now they treat them with more humor, affection and tolerance. Men went from horrible to adorable -- But they are still being treated like PETS!

How can you tell if you're treating a man like a pet? Learn more...

You might be relating to a full-grown man like a pet, if...

  • You are hesitant to let him be accountable for important things
  • You resist his compulsion to solve problems, instead of embracing it
  • He gets the most appreciation when he acts like a woman
  • You are happiest with him when he's compliant and adapting to you

Okay, so treating men like beloved pets is an improvement over distained pets. But men are so much greater than any kind of pet. The possibility of a man is PARTNER, not pet, no matter how well behaved.

What would you do if you related to a man as a partner? Try this...

  • Support his Single Focus by controlling your impulse to interrupt him
  • Embrace his resistance to your way of doing things as healthy and an opportunity to learn from each other's genius
  • Welcome the gift of him being accountable for the big results
  • Ask for his input in the decisions you're making
  • If you're asking him to "hold the trash," make sure you set him up that this is a very effective way to HELP you SOLVE a PROBLEM (otherwise, he's sitting there, cooling his jets and having his Testosterone turn into ESTROGEN!!!)

Men are so willing to do what works, they even sacrifice themselves. This loyalty may remind you of a beloved dog. But if you treat him like merely a pet, he will shrink before your very eyes. Please remember the celebrating men part as you ask for what you need to be a satisfied woman.

Blessing upon us all was we continue to transform,
Alison


PAX~World News Illuminates the Competition

Issue 36 - 9/8/2011

There I was, getting ready for my 30th high school reunion. As I dressed, I congratulated myself on resisting the compulsion to diet all summer. Then, I speculated on which of the girls I went to high school with probably did diet, and of those, which had been successful. In my mind's eye, I saw the posture, the walk, the way of being that goes with the losing of unwanted weight. You know, we get a 'tude when we're proud of our bodies.

Then I pictured the boys-now-men that would probably be there, the same ones that attended the 10th and 20th reunions. Again, in my imagination, I saw their reactions to all of us women gussied up for the occasion. And, you know what? Even my imagination knew that they were just going to be happy to see us. Oh sure, they'd notice how we looked. But, for them, it just wasn't the point. For them, it was the joy of our smiles and our excitement in being reunited with them.

So, if not for the men, who was the dieting for? That's when I saw that, while we think we get our bodies in shape to impress men, the truth is that who we diet for is other women. Huh? Yep, it's all about the competition with other women. In the heat of this intense competition, for who we think is looking good, the men fade into the background.

This musing led me to ponder the effects of competition on women and I got sad, then mad. Such wasted energy! And the biggest cost - the loss of true collaboration and empowerment between women. What we call "collaboration of Queens." This was the moment that I committed myself to wrassling the dragon of female competition and defeating it. This was the moment that Queen 2, the advanced Queen workshop, was conceived.

In classic PAX fashion, we defeat our enemies by heading straight into the fray. In Queen 2, we illuminate the nature of competition, with whom we compete, and what is the moment of "game on" that kicks the whole gross process into gear. We shine a bright light on the most primitive workings of our cavewomen minds and bring out of the darkness the unbidden thoughts that undermine our relationships with the women most precious to us. It's challenging, sometimes sickening and ultimately, freeing.

Graduates of Queen 2 have been telling me, up to two years later, that the ugly head of women-to-women competition has not risen again. They've told me about the peace and joy they find in the company of other women. And my favorite: recently sitting in a group of women and watching the older women uplift the younger ones. Not in a patronizing way. Rather, from expecting each generation to naturally be more beautiful and brilliant. And in our ability to celebrate their beauty and brilliance, we're finally able to recognize our own.

To your beauty,

Alison


PAX~ World News Recognizes the Accountable Feminine

Issue 35 - 8/18/2011

Many years ago I heard someone say that people were more accurately described as "Human Doings" than Human Beings. If you are almost too busy to read this, you can probably relate.

In our productivity-oriented culture, the value of a person is often calculated by how much they produce and how much they are in charge of making happen. In other words, folks are as valuable as they are accountable. Since women survive by adapting to the prevailing values, women have become increasingly productive and pursue leadership and accountability as if their lives depend upon it. The result: women are exhausted by spending so much of their time and energy being masculine because accountability is inherently masculine.

But what if there was a feminine version of accountability?

I suggest that the "Accountable Feminine" pays attention not to doing, but to being. The Accountable Feminine provides extraordinary ways of being, as her contribution to others. Another name for this? We call her the Queen. Please take a moment out of your busy-doing day to celebrate the Queen you are and the Queen's you have around you. What extraordinary qualities of being can you be counted on for? What extraordinary qualities of being do the women you love bring to your environment every day?

You can count on me for Freedom, Truth, Partnership and Contentment.

Whatever we appreciate, we get more of naturally. I'm for more being - if only because it makes all the doing more satisfying.

Love,
Alison


PAX~World News Gives It Away

Issue 34 - 8/5/2011

In response to your requests to know how to Heal with Honor, without having to go to the many sources named last issue, here are the instructions. Hey - we're happy to give it away. Use it, share it, spread it around - we're grateful! The following is excerpted from the current PAX Mastery & Leadership program, where courageous men and women are using the information to make their world a better place - one healing at a time. This is longer than usual, but worth the read.

Before you attempt Noble Healing, make sure you are WILLING to be healed. Otherwise, it will NEVER WORK. Don't waste your or another's time if you are not completely pulling for being free of your injury - including the many benefits you may received from it, like sympathy or feeling normal in a culture that expects the walking wounded.

Read on to find out how to leave your injuries behind...

One thing that might get in the way of healing is thinking that if you are healed, you have to let the person who injured you back into your life. You don't have to forgive or speak to or have a relationship with the person. Being healed is not for the other person - it is about healing you. You have complete freedom to set your boundaries. Try thinking about it like being hit by a car: Whether it was accidental or on purpose, the person who ran over you is not going to stitch you up. The doctor at the hospital will. And you are free to decide if you want a relationship with the person who ran over you, regardless of being healed by the doctor.

Exercise:

Make a list of times when your feelings were hurt or you were crushed by being dishonored, disrespected or betrayed. This may include being disrespected by your time, energy or resources being wasted. General rule: If you think about it, it is worth writing down. Watch the tendency of something being too small or too big. Your mind might try to dismiss the hurt so you might think "It's not worth it; I shouldn't be hurt by that." Or "There's no point in going there; I have been working on that forever."

You can start small but don't be afraid to go after the big thing - the thing that has most affected or is currently affecting your life. This process works just as well for extraordinary injuries, if you are willing to be healed (e.g. the hurt of infidelity, being left or broken up with, being dishonored by one's father or one's mother, the disrespect felt in a long term relationships, or a tragedy or accident). The Key is the WILLINGNESS to be healed. Yes, I'm repeating myself!

Willingness to be Healed...Consider these questions:

  • Who would you be without this injury? (It may have become your identity.)
  • Who would you be without anything to prove? (You may believe/think "I need this to succeed.")
  • Would you be willing to find out who you are without the emotion attached to this injury? Without that hurt, anger, hatred, guilt, etc.?

The Process of Noble Healing:
Three People is recommended for people who don't know they can count on each other. It generally allows for more thoroughness and no one attempting to dominate another. Within a trusting partnership, two people can be very effective as well.

1. Person A: State the Injury simply. The person being healed will simply state what happened without details. The trauma lives in the details; don't relive them. The language should also fit the period and time of the injury, considering age, education and thought at the time of injury (not a more sophisticated version of it).

"(Name), my (relationship to them)"

  • Hurt My Feelings by/when ______________
  • Disrespected me by/when _______________
  • Dishonored me by/when _______________
  • Discounted/Disregarded me by/when _______________
  • Betrayed me by/when _________________
Example: "Elizabeth, my ex-wife, betrayed me when she turned my children against me."

2. Person B can take notes and it is OK to check with the person being healed to make sure they have it right; this is a partnership. Person B asks if Person A is ready. Person B then apologizes, using the words the injured party used, matching the tone, energy, emotions.

Example: "I am sorry that Elizabeth, your ex-wife, betrayed you when she turned your children against you."
Person B can also use their intuition if there is something else they are feeling the need to say, but don't force it.
Example: "And I'm sorry for the pain that has caused you. And what it cost you as a father."

3. Person C can come in as needed. Encourage person A to breathe it in and allow space. Then, ask person A "on a scale of one to ten (ten is the original intensity), what is it now?" Healers (persons B & C) must let go of any attachment to the outcome or the number given. At zero - Congratulate them and let them share how it was that for them.

4. If person A does not say zero - ask, "Do you want to try to go to zero?" If yes, ask "What else about that?" Let person A say anything that is there; it could be one thing or twenty things, just let the person go until there is nothing left. It may come out either controlled or messy, let it be. Keep apologizing and checking in. Repeat as needed until the person wants to stop or you reach zero. Remember to Breathe and Allow space.

Who the Noble Healer is being: This is an extreme act of generosity. What the healer is providing is a complete honoring of the injured person's reality and experience. The healer is not proving their ability to do this.

This healing can be used in unlimited ways: Reciprocally; Asking someone to heal you; Offering someone a healing; Stealth healing (sneak in an "I'm sorry" for a stranger you've seen dishonored); Over the phone; and healing groups for common harm done to them.

Noble Healing came to me in stages and I can not take credit for it. But it clearly wants to be used, so please be generous at generously honoring others.

In partnership for our wholeness!

Love,
Alison


PAX~World News Heals with Honor

Issue 33 - 7/26/2011

This is the second PAX~World News keeping you up-to-date with our discoveries through the miracle of our new men's course - A Hero's Challenge: Being an Extraordinary Man. In the 2nd pilot workshop, I had the unique opportunity to watch the profound effects of honor in action. I share them with you in the hopes that you'll take it and RUN with it.

The Background: When the Masculine (in a man or woman) is dishonored, it creates a wound that can last for weeks, months, years, even decades. In addition to the emotions surrounding that wound, the dishonor creates a drive to PROVE that person WRONG. This drive can literally take over a person's life, affecting every major decision to act and every reaction to others. Their life is no longer an ever-evolving expression of their essence, their gifts, their unique self. Read on...

The wound can also generate an INSATIABLE NEED. Meaning that no amount of love, admiration, success, money, sex, or food, etc., can fill the hole created by that dishonor. For each person the Insatiable Need may be different.

What can a person do when they have wounds in the wake of being dishonored by a parent, a teacher, an employer, a spouse, an ex? Whomever causes the wound, it can be healed by receiving "Noble Healing" from another. From whom? Anyone willing to provide honor to fill in the hole created by dishonor.

At PAX we've doing this for years. In Understanding Women, it's the magic of "I'm sorry I hurt your feelings." In Celebrating Partnership with Alison Armstrong CD set, it's the healing of the masculine and the feminine we teach. In the Couples Retreat, it's the healing we referee within a couple. And in a Hero's Challenge, it's the generosity the men provide each other during the workshop.

Although we've been providing these tools to heal others with for years, it's only from a Hero's Challenge that I finally understand how it works. It's not the setting and it's not getting the words just right (though that helps). It's the willingness of a human being to completely honor the experience of another. Without reservation, justification or explanation. Just flat out honor them.

Thank you, gentlemen, for embodying honor so well that I could finally see it for all it's glory. And all it's healing powers.

Love,
Alison

P.S. On September 17 & 18, we'll have another Hero's Challenge!


PAX~World News Wants Men to Have More than They Deserve

Issue 32 - 6/28/2011

This will probably be one of many articles in the aftermath of A Hero's Challenge: Being an Extraordinary Man. From leading our first workshop about men/for men NOTHING at PAX will ever be the same.

I'm not exaggerating. What I learned about men last weekend will change every workshop at PAX, every interview I give, and, even, our mission and principles.

Why? Because the premise in the creation of our company and the Celebrating Men, Satisfying Women workshop was that we had to have a triage approach to this man-woman thing. In our view, both men and women were suffering painfully and needlessly from women's inability to celebrate men. We thought that the majority of the problem could be corrected by addressing the misunderstandings and mistaken beliefs of women.

I honestly thought that left to their own devices, without being emasculated by women, men would do just fine. I was wrong. The need for men to celebrate men is just as critical and urgent. Why? Because, even with great PAX graduate women committed to men having what they need, it's still not happening... (read on)

Let me spell it out:

  • Women are terrible at getting what they need because they'll only demand what they think they deserve
  • Demanding what you need creates Resistance. The other person can only submit or resist and neither create a sustainably nurturing relationship.
  • Women determine what they deserve by calculating all they have given, all they have sacrificed, and the level of "importance" (read status) that they think they have achieved.
  • Men are terrible at getting what they need because they'll only demand what they think they deserve (yes - exactly the same! Big surprise to me since I thought men were better at this)
  • They demand what they need at their breaking point. This makes them very cranky. And it creates resistance just like for women (above)
  • But get this: Men determine what they deserve by adding up all the good they've done in their lives and then subtracting any wrongdoing they haven't forgiven themselves for (and they don't forgive themselves)
  • The result of this calculation is that men end up deserving much less than they need to be great men - less sleep, less appreciation, less affection, less support, etc. etc.
  • SO MEN ARE RUNNING AROUND BEING NOT-GREAT BECAUSE THEY THINK THEY DON'T DESERVE WHAT IT WOULD TAKE TO BE GREAT

For both men and women, our needs have to be disconnected from our pasts. What we deserve will never be sufficient for what it actually takes to be great. Think of it this way tonight - get a good night's sleep not because you earned it. Get it because of who you will be able to be tomorrow - more patient, more focused, more resilient - whatever sleep provides for you. PLEASE!

Love,
Alison


PAX~World News Has a Great ASK

Issue 31 - 6/8/2011

A persistent problem we all have is getting what we need from each other. For men and women, with our same gender and the opposite sex, not getting what we need is our most frequent complaint, the sorest point of contention and the greatest source of hurt feelings, and experiencing being disrespected, disregarded and unappreciated.

What if you could fix this by developing a Great Ask? What if the best compliment you could give another is, "Wow, now that's a great ASK!"

Fresh back from Colorado and Core Partnership, I'm bursting with gratitude for learning how to have a great ask. If you want one too, keep reading...

Elements of the Great ASK:

  • TELL: What I need is (stated simply; one word or sentence)
  • TELL: What that would look like is (say what happen and what would not happen)
  • TELL: What this would provide for me is (describe what you could be, do, have, express, think, contribute, enjoy, etc.)
  • ASK: What do you need to give me what I'm asking for? (and then give them the space to think about it and listen with an open mind).

These elements are bulleted rather than numbered, because the order in which you say them depends on your partnership. In a solid partnership where the fact that you need it is sufficient to get their interest, you can start at the top and let the dialogue evolve from there. Your partner will often ask for most of the other information if they need it to agree.

In a work relationship, without a history of responding to your needs, it may work better to start with what it would provide - specifically, what you'd be able to be/do/have/contribute to them. For example, to your boss: "I know you want my most creative, out-of-the-box solution for this problem, and there is something I need to be able to think like that..."

With someone who has less confidence about being able to satisfy you, you may want to start at the bottom, e.g. "In a moment I'll ask if there's anything you need to help me with this. Could I explain what I need and why?"

Having a Great ASK - and then making sure to APPRECIATE the effort someone puts into providing what you need - can quickly clear up most of the frustration people have in this area.

To your freedom,
Alison

P.S. After you develop a great ASK, the amount of pressure you exert, and the aftermath must be worked out. Some of us exert too much or too little pressure. Some of us micro-manage the delivery and drive our partners crazy. While others abandon our partners to work out fulfilling on the request without sufficient clarity, support or appreciation. I'll address these problems in future issues.


PAX~World News Gets on the Winning Side of Pressure

Issue 30 - 5/12/2011

Ladies, think of a time when you were in a car with a man and he was yelling at another driver. Or perhaps you're at home and he's frustrated and cursing out the computer. Or maybe yelling at a football coach on television. Is it coming back to you? Most women hate these moments and the reason is this: We end up on the losing side of his pressure.

He is exerting the tremendous pressure of a warrior intent upon killing or overcoming the obstacle or enemy in his path. He's trying to push that thing off a cliff!

How do we end up on the losing side? Our connection to everything around us has us identify with the other driver, the computer, the coach. We feel the pressure as if it was on us! So we defend them or we try to create compassion and understanding for them. We try logic, criticism, even derision, to get our man to STOP with all that pressure and its commensurate yelling, swearing or accusations.

Why doesn't it work? Because we are, in effect, pushing back! This causes the pressure to persist and even to increase. And it leaves our man knowing we're not on his side. That we're supporting a stranger instead of him; that we're for the inanimate object instead of for him.

What to do? Try this: 1) Notice you're identifying with someone or something that doesn't care about you like he does; 2) Shift your allegiance back to your guy; and 3) PUSH! Yes, help him push the damn thing off the cliff! How do you do this? Get on board-with his energy, with his sentiment, with his judgment. It is a generosity and a victory of Human Spirit.

For example, I have a dear friend whose husband was watching the Pro Bowl. He starting yelling at the coach on T.V. She noticed her inclination to defend the coach and instead matched his words and intensity, saying, "You're right. He is a @%&*# idiot."

You may think this would just make things worse. It didn't. Her husband cracked up and said, "You'e adorable." And it was over. Just like that.

I taught this concept to a man who taught it to his wife. Even knowing what she is doing, it still works for him. He can't help but laugh and release the energy. It is a great service she provides because the last thing he wants is that frustration.

You may worry that you have to agree with him to get behind him like this. You don't. It's called having his back and it's always adorable.

P.S. It can work with women too!
P.P.S. Obviously, this applies to situations where there is no actual danger, e.g. the driver can't hear you!


PAX~World News Appreciates the Difference

Issue 29 - 4/26/2011

For two decades, I've been learning about the motivations of men. What compels and inspires them; what sends them to a job day-after-day, even if they hate it; what has men go the extra mile for others, even when it's out of their way; what gets them up off the couch to help, even when they're dog-tired. The words are Honor, Duty and Obligation. And it's important to understand the difference.

We could go into the dictionary and explore the nuances between each of these words. But more important is how men experience the difference. For instance, a man will do something for his mother out of duty and obligation. Not because she nagged or pressured him but because taking care of her is part of his definition of himself as a man. He may hate what he has to do; he may even complain about it every time. But not doing it is not an option. Not because he's afraid of upsetting his mother. It's not an option because of who he is.

So what's the difference between something being a duty or obligation and an honor? Whether or not it is appreciated! Same effort, same action, same use of energy and resources...completely different experience for him, when it's appreciated. A duty or obligation can become an honor, all because of how well it is received.

If the men around you do what you ask but complain about it or drag their feet, you're probably not providing enough appreciation. Either because you think you shouldn't have to, or you're holding out until they do it perfectly. Or you might be appreciating them in your world, but not in theirs. Try this: Ask the men in your life how they like to be appreciated. Ask them what forms of appreciation make the biggest difference for them. You'll probably be surprised. It's often a smile, a sincere "thank you," or a soft touch on the arm. Baked goods and B.J.s are popular too! (You count on me for the truth, don't you?)

This means YOU are the difference between duty, obligation and HONOR. Men are honored to care for those who truly appreciate what they are doing ~ spending the one life they have making yours a little easier, better or more beautiful.


PAX~World News Breaks a Bad Habit

Issue 28 - 3/29/2011

If you've been following the PAX~World News for awhile, you know that I get a lot of inspiration from being in Colorado with my young horse, Hallelujah, and my friend Michele Skerl. Lately we've been distinguishing what Training looks like in the context of Partnership. By reverse-engineering the way Michele trains horses, we've distinguished several phases in the creation of a new, empowering skill, practice or way of being.

The first phase is "Breaking a Bad Habit" and, as I've talked to Michele about it, I've discovered that intuitively we're pretty darn good at this at PAX. These are the steps we've identified to break a bad habit:

  1. Assume there's a good reason for it to exist in the first place and find out what it is. The reasons will include long-standing perceptions and beliefs that have made that habit a good idea. For example, women have a habit of emasculating men. But it comes from the misperception that men are misbehaving and therefore, deserve to be punished and need to be weakened to keep us safe.
  2. Examine the mechanics of the habit. What are the actions, step-by-step, that add up to the unproductive behavior? In Celebrating Men, Satisfying Women®, we unravel each step of the unconscious thought process that result in men being emasculated.
  3. Completely illuminate the cost of the habit. Since 1991, I've been talking to women about the short- and long-term effects of emasculating men. The short- term effects are a loss of power and an emotional response of rage or fury. When is enraging a man ever a good idea? And the long-term effects reveal that emasculating men has men relate to women the opposite of what comes naturally to men. Instead of naturally admiring and cherishing us, emasculated men will distrust women and compete with them. Instead of respect and generosity, an emasculated man will have disdain for women and be stingy. And instead of protecting women-the most natural thing for a man to do-an emasculated man will protect himself from women.
  4. Create a new commitment. Bad habits aren't actually broken-they are replaced. Since each habit is actually a day-by-day expression of an ongoing belief and commitment, the trick is replacing an old belief and an outdated commitment with one that is new and empowering. This actually takes all the struggle and effort out of "breaking a bad habit." The new commitment naturally finds ways to be expressed without a lot of struggle. If you're a graduate of Celebrating Men, Satisfying Women®, you have probably found that being in partnership with men and celebrating them is easier than you anticipated.
  5. Find like-minded people who share your new commitment. This step isn't necessary but it's helpful and makes creating a new, good habit a lot more fun.

Blessings to you and yours,
Alison

P.S.Each of our workshops starts by addressing the bad habits women have that undermine their relationships with men and other women. For example, in Celebrating Men & Marriage™ we start by illuminating the way women already relate to romance and commitment that prevents them from having satisfying partnerships.


PAX~World News Wants to be a Videogame

Issue 27 - 3/4/2011

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of sharing an airplane ride with a magnificent young man on his way to a college recruitment visit. When I asked Aaron what he did for fun, he said, "videogames" and went on to explain how he had to be careful not to spend too much time at them. Writing this now, I can just imagine the groans coming from some women. Whether a man in your life in entranced by videogames, or not, there is a lot you can learn from why men love them. In fact, if you were more like a videogame, men would be equally enchanted by you!

Why? Let's take this point-by-point:

  1. In most videogames, if he just moves his player, he gets points. Translation: credit for effort! I've had men say to me, Why is there only 100 points or 0? Why don't I ever get 80 points? They're speaking to the way that women zoom in on what's missing or wrong instead of giving credit for what they're men did accomplish, even when it isn't perfect or the final result.
  2. If he takes bigger risks and succeeds he gets a lot more points. Translation: extra credit for being bold and swinging out! Do you like surprises? Then he's got to get points just for going for it, whether or not it's a home run.
  3. If he takes a risk or makes a wrong move and dies, he can push the reset button. Translation: if he totally blows it, he can try again. This is what it means to be truly forgiven. It means the world.
  4. The learning curve is graduated; the game starts out simpler, then as he masters each level, he gets to choose to up the challenge. Translation: men move from one success to another. A man who is winning with a woman while dating, may take on the "girlfriend" challenge. When he's mastered making his girlfriend happy and knows he can give her what she needs, that makes it possible for him to take on a bigger challenge~marriage.

So, who wants to be a videogame?


PAX~World News Listens to a Man about Valentine's Day

Issue 26 - 2/11/11

Many of you have read my rants against Valentine's Day in "Searching for Intimacy in a Box of Chocolates" and "Averting the Valentine's Day Disaster." (http://www.understandmen.com/ktp/index.html )

This year, I'm turning the podium over to Michael Friedlander, who leads Celebrating Men, Satisfying Women with his wife, Bette. I love what he has to say and wholeheartedly agree. Thanks, Michael, for the sage advice.

Love and hugs to you all,
Alison

SAGE ADVICE FOR A MADE-UP OCCASION
If your fourth grade experience was anything like mine, Valentine's Day meant decorating the classroom with paper hearts and cutting, coloring, gluing and writing Valentine's intended for exchange with our classmates. Sure, there was some tension involved when we wondered how our cards would be received by a "favorite" girl but, for the most part, it was good, clean fun.

How I wish that were still true as an adult.

I have lived through many, many Valentine's Days since fourth grade. Prior to my February 14, 2000 marriage to Bette, I can't recollect too many wonderful Valentine's Days. Since then, they have all been great because we create days that work for us both. However, before I met Bette I can remember years when February 14th was a real disappointment, either because of inflated expectations or just plain lousy food and service.

Since February 14th is a totally made up "occasion," and one which causes untold distress for many men and women alike, why don't we try fitting Valentine's Day into our lives instead of shoehorning our lives into Valentine's Day? And, if you're single, either by choice or by circumstance, reject any notion that you're "less than" just because you're not part of a "couple."

If you want to make this year special, for you and for a special man in your life, here are seven suggestions for Valentine's Day success as offered from a man's point of view:

  1. It's a Monday, for Pete's sake!
    February 14, 2011 falls on a Monday. On a day when restaurants are recovering from their busy weekend, many will be pushing an overpriced, overhyped, prix-fixe dinner rushed out of the kitchen to an overcrowded room by overworked wait staff. It's a workday for most of us, the lucky ones who still have jobs, so we now have to shift from a full business day to creating a memorable romantic evening... because why?

    If you're going out to eat, wouldn't it be better to enjoy the restaurant when they can be their best? Why not offer to celebrate one evening during the weekend before or after Valentine's Day? You'll have more privacy, better service and your food will likely be far more carefully prepared.

  2. Please don't stifle our romance
    Men love romance. We do! We love to see your eyes sparkle, your skin glowing, and your hair shining in the evening light. We want to you be happy most of all. The problem is that Valentine's Day forces us to create romance on demand. There's no freedom to be spontaneous. Valentine's Day turns what would otherwise be appreciated as gifts of generosity into delivering what's expected. Yuck.
  3. Ask for what YOU need, not what"s expected by others
    In "Celebrating Men, Satisfying Women" we discuss getting what you need and what will make you happy. On Valentine"s Day, what you need is whatever would make you upset if you didn't get it. Being told you're loved and cherished, or appreciated in another way, might be a need for many. Time alone with a loved one, a time when you feel special, could be needed by many as well. A $200 dinner plus card, flowers, chocolates and champagne? Is that really something you need? Or is it something our culture says you should have?
  4. Ask for what would make you happy
    Let him know what you need from him to feel loved and special, and then allow him to provide it in his own way. Also, be specific about what would make you happy. "Honey, after I've snuggled in your arms and read the card you chose just for me, what would make me happy is a 20-minute foot rub. I'd also be really happy if we could celebrate by going to that great restaurant we both love, but instead of on Valentine's Day, I'd prefer either this weekend or next, when it won't be so crowded."
  5. Don't begrudge reminders
    Remember, men don't come with the ability to read women's minds, but we so want to win with you. Unless you tell us, we won't know what you need and might likely guess wrong about what would make you happy. Don't make that mean we don't care. We care, but we're not women. We need your help. We also might need a reminder or two. Strategically placed Post-its, emails, voicemail messages, they all help keep us on track.
  6. Appreciate the effort as well as the result
    Men live for the appreciation of the women they love. Appreciation is the fuel that fires our engines. Please remember it's never our intention to disappoint you. If what was provided didn't match the picture you held in your mind well, we might not have had that picture. If the food or the flowers or the candy isn't perfect, that doesn't mean we wished otherwise. Appreciating his efforts will keep your man wanting to provide for you, and that let's you both win.
  7. Above all, love yourself
    If Valentine's Day is about love, than who better to love than yourself? Take the time to reflect on everything that's wonderful in your life. List all the lives around you that you touch. Toast your own qualities and accomplishments. Give yourself something no one else would ever think of. Make the day your own. Or, ignore it completely. Whichever you choose makes it the right choice for you.

Best regards,
Michael Friedlander
Workshop Leader


PAX~World News is Still Learning About Men

Issue 25 - 1/25/10

Every few months I have another realization, or inspiration, about the nature of men and women that seems so obvious that my thrill is nearly overcome by my feeling of stupidity~for not having seen it before. This is one of those.

For nearly two decades, we have been teaching women that men are "providers and protectors" and distinguishing all the ways that this influences a man's behavior. Take the masculine relationship to doing, for example, that has men pay attention to what any task will produce or what it will provide versus the time, energy and resources it will require to execute it. If the equation is not in favor of the difference it will make, that thing is simply not worth doing. It must be heavily in favor of its impact for him to be excited about doing it.

What I saw recently is that men are not "providers and protectors." Rather, the masculine orientation to life (meaning a woman can have it too) is Protect then Provide. Protecting is always the first priority. This is why something that will provide a great benefit may still be vetoed because it threatens the family's physical, emotional or financial safety.

Next month, at the PAX~World Tour co-ed workshop, we'll be investigating the nature of Fatherhood. We'll be looking at being, having and supporting fathers from many angles. No doubt, Protect then Provide, will be one of them! Already it has illuminated by own father's behavior as well as Greg's.

P.S. If you're experiencing a desire to protect me from my feelings of stupidity, please don't worry about it. They pass.


PAX~World News Waits for the Hero

Issue 24 - 12/15/10

Every once in awhile my brain makes a connection that is so glaringly obvious -- in that moment -- that I feel like an idiot for not having seen it years before. I made one of these connections just last weekend during Celebrating Men, Satisfying Women.

For years we have been teaching women to "Wait for the Well" and to honor men's "Transition Time." The first involves waiting patiently for a man to think before answering a question. We recommend counting to 30 and he'll usually start talking in 18-20 seconds. We encourage women to do this over and over again, not assuming a pause is the end of his response. Because men are not shallow; they're more like deep wells. The second involves leaving a man alone while he transitions from one focus to another. This can take a couple of moments (to shift how he's listening, for example) or a half an hour or more to get his body and brain home from work.

The insight I had this weekend is that we not only have to Wait for the Well, we also need to Wait for the Hero. You may recall my airport adventures - another way of looking at that fiasco is that I didn't wait for my hero to get his bearings and then lead the way. I charged off without him. Translation: I act as quickly as I speak, prepared to change course if necessary because I have not committed to a plan. Unlike my hero, who takes the time to create a plan and commit to it, then execute it for my benefit.

If you're like me, you might be moving very quickly during the holidays. After all, there is so much to do! I'd encourage you to pause for partnership. Tell a man how he can make your life easier - and then wait for him to get his heroic arms around it.


PAX~World News Sorts Out the Airport

Issue 23 - 11/24/10

Thank you to the many of you that wrote back how our last, "PAX World News Plows through the Airport," made a difference for you. It was fun for me to share and I want to give you the next installment.

What I didn't say was that, as a result of how horrible that trip was, I was dreading all the time I scheduled to travel for PAX next year with Greg. I'll be leading Celebrating Men, Satisfying Women in Boston and Atlanta, and Understanding Women: Unlock the Mystery in Austin, San Francisco, Minneapolis and one other to-be-determined city. I was sure I should change the plans, I'd be better off on my own, I'd arrive to lead a program in a mess, etc., etc. I'm sure you can relate. It seems that women in particular project what's happening now infinitely into the future.

Thank goodness for our couples retreat! Every year, Greg and I demonstrate the making of a deal. Since it was fresh and upsetting, our airport excursions seemed like good raw material. We started with Greg going first, completing the sentence, "If I had it all my way..." Everyone laughed when he began with, "If I had it all my way, we'd arrive at the airport the day before." He continued to describe how I would stay at his side the entire time ~ he'd never have to chase after me, follow me through the airport, or wonder where the "heck" I was. He finished with, "We'd arrive at the gate an hour before the plane took off and not go anywhere else. We'd just sit and anticipate our trip."

Again, thank goodness for following the instructions for making a deal (taught in the workshop-to-go, Celebrating Partnership) because I suppressed my reactions and had him tell me what having it his way would provide. Smart thing to do! What he described was me getting to travel with the man of my dreams: the guy that takes care of me, organizes me, and holds the string so I can fly like a kite without fear of hitting the trees.

Then it was my turn. I took about 15 minutes to describe several steps based upon my experience of airport travel:

  1. he'd interview me about my experience of the specific airline and airport to determine the food supply and how far in advance we should arrive to account for the vagaries of check in and security;
  2. he'd plant me in the check-in line and find out all the gate and on-time information and report back;
  3. he'd recognize that on the other side of security is... a MEADOW! And he'd ask me if I wanted anything down any of the other corridors before we headed towards our gate;
  4. he'd assume I had to pee;
  5. he'd ask me if I wanted to GATHER anything to make our trip more enjoyable, and decide whether to accompany me or enjoy his time seated at the gate until I returned;
  6. he'd overcome the hunters instinct to conceal plans and keep telling me what he had handled and what was next so I'd feel confident in leaving him in charge.

As I told him all this, Greg's eyes got bigger and bigger. He had no idea how much I was willing to have him be in charge. Later, I found out how much it surprised the men in the course that I kept wanting to know what was happening. I acknowledged that after a few trips, he wouldn't have to say, because we'd have the routine established.

Best of all was when I got to describe what this would provide for me: I'd get to be with the Greg that always thinks of even better ways to take care of me; and he'd be masculine and accountable ~ leaving me "to sprinkle fairy dust throughout the airport."

The conclusion was Greg heartily adopting all my way ~ because it served him even better than what he'd thought of. It's often the case when you take the time to listen to each other that our partner can see things we'd never think of. He does this for me all the time.

An interesting note: a man asked me later, "Since you're clearly more of an expert in this area, why wouldn't you just want to be accountable?" The answer is simple: Accountability tuckers me out, so I'm very careful about what I choose to be accountable for. If it isn't my self-expression, I'd much rather empower someone who wants the job.

I hope this helps in whatever travelling you're doing over the holidays. As usual, every interaction with the opposite sex is an opportunity to be frustrated or fulfilled!


PAX~World News Plows through the Airport

Issue 22 - 11/3/10

I had the pleasure for my birthday of taking a long-distance trip with Greg. It involved two unfamiliar airports in foreign countries, with different languages and cultural customs, government Customs, strange food, over 21 hours of travel time ~ and a fair amount of stress. And to summarize, let's just say that, for me, it was not a victory of human spirit from moment to moment.

What was present instead is the instinct I call "Bigger & Stronger." The way it seems to work is that, in every situation, we instinctively (automatically) assess which one of us is the Bigger and Stronger; in other words, which one of has the wherewithal to best get all of us through this. Our inner caveman and cavewoman assess all types of mental, emotional, physical and financial strengths, resources, connections, experience, etcetera, to determine who should be the Provider/Protector that everyone else should get behind because they will win the day.

This is a very useful instinct; it's handy, energy efficient and works much of the time. One circumstance in which it causes a lot of problems is when two people both assess that they should be the Provider/Protector; this creates "Dueling Providers." In our case, with Greg and I both unconsciously deciding we should lead, and me being a little quicker on my feet, it amounted to him following me through foreign airports out of range, out of sorts and out of partnership.

Don't worry, we had breakthroughs in our relationship from it (I can be counted on for that) and have whole new ways of interacting when we go on our Understanding Women: Unlock the Mystery tour next year (to Texas, San Francisco and Minneapolis).

But the real lesson didn't hit home until I was leading Celebrating Men, Satisfying Women last week in San Francisco. I was teaching the group about men being Heroes. How being a Hero is an integral part of being a man, meaning the question for women is not whether he wants to be one, but rather, it is always, "Will you let them?" And right there on stage, it struck me: Greg so wanted to be my Airport Hero, but I didn't slow up long enough to let him. He would have taken care of me magnificently ~ it's a passion of his ~ but I did not let him.

I've since apologized to Greg and recommitted to reigning in my instincts long enough to let Greg be the Provider and Protector he loves being, and for which he is uniquely suited by virtue of at least ten times more testosterone blazing through his veins.

It's good to be back from my travels. Please give thanks this month for all the heroes in your life. And, for gosh sakes, slow up a bit to let them fulfill their purpose.


PAX World News Enjoying Space and Intimacy

Issue 21 - 9/30/10

This past week I had the pleasure of having Greg, my husband of almost 18 years, in our Core Partnership program in Colorado. He participated fully and used every moment to transform his relationship to himself, partnership and, even life itself. It was a pleasure and an honor to have him in the course and the impact on our relationship has been immediate and profound.

The first key topic of this Horse Course is "Space and Intimacy." I assert that it's the first element required for Partnership. I'm going to attempt to communicate the concept here. We'll see how I do!

For many women, Space and Intimacy are opposing options. If one maintains one's space, enforcing boundaries, the cost is intimacy. Or, many women unconsciously believe that once we allow intimacy, we've given up the right to more space. We often worry about our partners' reaction to our changing needs for space and intimacy, fearing that we'll annoy or alienate them. My assertion is that there is no Intimacy without Space.

One way to think of Space is as the room one has to be one's Self. In relationships, it's common for women to collapse their space in the desire for intimacy. We often don't maintain boundaries for physical or emotional space, or even for the need for quiet time or alone time. This happens in romantic relationships, close friendships and with our children as well. But Space = Self and when we collapse our space, we lose ourselves and have nothing to bring to Intimacy.

In Core Partnership, participants practice enforcing a physical space to an exacting degree. They find out that they can ask for, and receive, exactly the amount of space they want, from moment to moment. And then something magical occurs - they notice the effect on their horse partner: that as they create a space for themselves, they are simultaneously granting their partner space. Instead of being off-put, their partner is relaxed and content, enjoying their own place to be. And then, moments later, they joyfully respond to an invitation for a snuggle.


PAX~World News is Freed Up!

Issue 20 - 8/25/10

I recently had the pleasure of being a guest on Dr. Jen Freed's radio show, "Signs of Change." During our interview we discussed:

  • How to listen to men to get more intimacy and information
  • How to better appreciate men
  • If men aren't task oriented, what are they after?

I also shared an illuminating imitation of what normally happens to us from both women's and men's Points-of-View. You have to listen to this show!!

When the recording begins you will hear a brief advertisement. My interview follows immediately after. There are two ways to access this recording:

  1. Click on this mp3 link: http://drop.io/lnigriw/asset/01-deep-in-the-underground-1-mp3
  2. Go to http://www.jenniferfreed.com/signsofchange.html and look in the "Archives" column for the July 15 show with Alison Armstrong, "Deep in the Underground"

PAX~World News Alison Armstrong & McLean Masterworks VideoShop Series

Issue 19 - 8/13/10

Over the last year, I have developed a partnership with Jennifer McLean, of Healing with the Masters, which has proved to amplify and nurture my expression of the principles behind Celebrating Men and all the work of PAX. Recently, Jennifer and I teamed up to create a series for her membership site where I get to teach some of my most favorite topics old and new. She created a forum for me with a live audience to express these ideas to your benefit, including the principles explored in our latest program with horses. What you will find here is a succinct, relevant and quite magical experience of men, women, instinct, human spirit, sex, dating, partnership and much more.

The 6 episodes aired FREE, for 48 hours, in August. They are:

8/15: Episode I: The Duality of Human Nature; Understanding the Hunter/Warrior
8/16: Episode II: The Amazing Development of Men, My Fascination Never Ends
8/17: Episode III: The Fastest Queen Workshop I've Ever Lead!
8/18: Episode IV: Getting Down with Dating and Relationships
8/19: Episode V: What We Don't Know About Sex~His, Hers and Ours
8/20: Episode VI: The Principle Elements of Partnership

You can still see these videos by becoming a member of the McLean Masterworks Healing community. Her membership provides unlimited access to these videos, including downloading the audio. To join the MasterWorks Healing community click heres: http://www.mcleanmasterworks.com/AlisonMembership

If you have questions, need clarification, etc please email Jennifer McClean jenniferm@healingrelease.com Enjoy!


PAX~World News and A Semi-Truck

Issue 18 - 7/28/10

Thank you for your profound response to "Changing Lanes." I'm thrilled that so many of you found insight, inspiration, relief and, even, healing, in a seemingly small thing that effects our time with the opposite sex in such a big way.

To continue the dialog: Since learning about the effect of changing lanes on my feelings of safety, Greg has modified the way he drives. On a recent trip back from Oregon, he apologized for getting close to a semi-truck as he negotiated the holiday traffic. His apology was sweet but unnecessary. As I said to him, "Honey, chillin' the cavewoman is a partnership. I just reminded myself that, as a hunter, you track moving objects much better than I do and the fact is you've never plowed me into the back of a truck! So I calmed myself down."

I tell you this because understanding our instincts and having a victory of human spirit is something we can all do. On one end, it's making an accommodation to not antagonize another's most primitive reactions. On the other, it's being responsible for having them and talking yourself back down off the cliff edge. Being willing to act from whichever end you're on is a gift to our partners -- and just plain smart. Using the information about our greatest weaknesses and demanding solely the accommodation from our partners isn't fair or in true partnership.

Speaking of partnership, I'm off to Colorado for three weeks of bliss with some of my favorite two and four-legged partners. PAX World News will return in September renewed.


PAX~World News and Changing Lanes

Issue 17 - 7/7/10