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  • Valerie Hope

Ep. 35 - Time To Come Alive: Attack Of The Cavewoman With Adrienne Dworak, PAX Programs Facilitator

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Time To Come Alive: Attack Of The Cavewoman With Adrienne Dworak, PAX Programs Facilitator

Good morning, good afternoon, or good evening, wherever you are in the world. Welcome to the show. We have some amazing guests who have wonderful conversations with us. The idea is to make us more conscious as individuals but also more connected to the community or the people around us. It is because of that connection that we then get an opportunity to be even more creative in the world. That's what I hope that you get out of this conversation.

In a moment, I'll introduce my guest. As you know beforehand, I have a couple of notes for you. Please share with your community what you're talking about because it will enhance your conversations and your relationships with them. This topic specifically will be a big one. You'll want to have this one at your dinner table, for sure.

Before we get started, I like to make sure that we prepare ourselves for how we're going to this conversation. I invite you to sit up if you're sitting down or if you're standing, make sure that your feet are planted firmly on the ground. If you’d like to close your eyes, you may if you're in a safe place to do so. If not, you might want to soften your gaze and gaze inward.

Take a deep breath and slowly release it. As you do that, I want you to think about the people in your life, specifically the men and women in your life who've contributed to who you are. See if you can find in your mind's eye someone. It might be the parents. It could be your siblings or perhaps relatives, aunts and uncles. It could be husband, wife, boyfriend, or girlfriend. Look at all those relationships, the close ones that you have, perhaps at work even, like colleagues, mentors, and bosses.

Find those relationships that have meant the most to you and bring them up. I want you to think about your relationship with that individual or with those individuals. Keep breathing. In some ways, you might find there's a lot of gratitude in those relationships. If that's the case, bring that gratitude up. What are you most grateful for for having those individuals in your life? What have they brought to your life that has enhanced it? Think about the partnership that you've created with them.

You might also see that there are some areas or some of those relationships that might bring up some discomfort, pain, or resignation. Think about what might need to be healed in those relationships. Keep breathing through it. As you have those relationships in front of your mind, I want you to consider the information you're going to receive and how that information might enhance the gratitude that you already feel or perhaps begin to address the hurt and the healing that needs to happen. Take another couple of deep breaths and release them slowly. When you're ready, refocus your gaze or open your eyes and rejoin us. Welcome back.

I have a wonderful guest here in Dallas, Texas, who also happens to be in the vicinity of the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Adrienne Dworak and I met a year ago. I interacted with Adrienne because she's a facilitator of PAX programs. We'll talk more about what that is in a moment. She'll share some more details about that. I went to a course that was about men's and women's relationships and how to enhance them. It was game-changing. Some of you who are close to me know because I've been such a promoter of these courses because it's made such a difference in my relationships.

One of the things that I most admire about you is not only were you giving great, solid information and providing validation, but your excitement about delivering the information that you delivered. It was your openness and your vulnerability in sharing why it was such important information for you to teach because of your life, how you grew up, but then also the impact that it has had on your marriage. You were so open about everything that was happening in your marriage at the time and even after you've learned that. That was so inspiring and the other courses I’ve taken with you. You gave us hope. I invited you because I would love for you to share that hope with everybody. Is there anything else you'd like to add to that introduction?

No, thank you. It made a tremendous impact on my life. It made such a difference. I love sharing this information with everyone.

First of all, this information is about how men and women can be better partners. Tell us a little bit about PAX programs so we have a context for what we're going to talk about later.

Our company was founded almost twenty years ago by a woman named Alison Armstrong. I'll tell them the frog farming story.

That's great.

She had a failed marriage and failed relationships. She was struggling in her relationships with men. She went to a workshop. The workshop leader, who was a man, told her that she was a frog farmer or told her friend, but she realized as soon as he described it that way that it was her. We've all heard the story about a princess who kisses a frog and turns him into a handsome prince. She discovered that the reverse can work as well. A man can start out great at the beginning, and after a certain amount of time, the relationship goes downhill and into a downward spiral. If it happens often, we call that frog farming.

She was thrilled when she found out. Since she knew that there was something she was doing to cause it, that meant there was something she could stop doing so that it wouldn't happen or things that she could start doing to have it not happen. The only problem is she didn't know what she was doing to cause it. She treated men the way that her friends treated men, her mother treated men, and all the women in her life, even the women on TV treated men. She decided to have a project that she thought would take three months max because men were so shallow to figure out what it was that was causing her to be a frog farmer.

Thirty years later, she's still researching men and it's still one of her favorite things to do. Her research is showing no signs of slowing down with relationships, men and women, and everything changing in our environment. What was fascinating is that she discovered that all men are both part princes and part frogs. As women, we have a lot to do with which one we get. It was so empowering that she realized this.

Through all of her research, she has discovered all these ways that we can bring out the frog. She discovered the things that we can stop doing to not bring out the frog and the things that we can do to bring out the prince and the men in our lives. The goal of it all is to help women get what they need with less effort and in what makes them happy. What I love most about it is that it honors how men and women are designed. It's so exciting because all of her research was social research and interviewing men. All of our work comes from men interviewing them, men and women. It's been fantastic.

Not Quite Strangers | Caveman Attack
Caveman Attack: The goal of it all is to help women get what they need with less effort.

What's so exciting is in the last ten years, science is proving everything we've been teaching. She's been teaching this for twenty-some years. Science is proving everything, and it's incredible. Scientists have documented an astonishing array of hormonal, structural, and genetic differences between men and women. It has a profound effect on us.

What I love about our work is we've discovered and science has proven that men and women are different. They're not defective. They're different in a way that can't be cured with therapy. What I love is that given that we're different and given how we're different, what we teach is what to do about it, how can men get what they need, what makes them happy with how women are designed, and how can women get what we need and what makes us happy while honoring how men are designed.

It's so beautiful because it honors both. It provides for all the things we need and all the things that men need to bring out the best in both of us. It also provides how to empower us both to be our best and truly have what we need so that we can be happy and be better partners. My experience has been, being able to have this upward spiral, a beautiful partnership that keeps getting better. My husband and I are so happy. He says it all the time. We’ve never been happier and our relationship keeps getting better. I love it so much.

I don't know all the details of the story, but some of the things that you brought up initially that attracted you to Alison's work were very similar to mine. There was some healing that I needed to do in my relationships. I'm curious about what it is that drew you. Tell us a little bit about maybe how your upbringing influenced who you are or who you were at the time before you found Alison and what's been the impact.

My mom was amazing. She's incredible. She was one of the first-wave feminists. She worked so hard for everything in her career. She always was such a hard worker. My aunts are incredible women who had incredible success, but it was hard for them. As a gift to me and my sister, she tried to raise us to be strong, self-sufficient sisters doing it for ourselves. I'm so grateful for it.

Her experience in the workplace was that she struggled. She thought if she tried to raise us in a more masculine way, we would be much more successful at work. We weren't allowed to cry because if you ever cried at work, nobody would respect you. There were different things that she did. She was reinforcing those values to set me up to be as successful as I could be in my life. She was trying to raise me in a way that she thought would make us great at work.

Both my sister and I ended up having great careers. I went into computer science and business and then worked for Ernst & Young and Deloitte. I was in IT consulting for many years until I found Alison and started working full-time for her. My sister went into the Marine Corps and became a pilot in the Marine Corps. She’s not a normal Marine Corps. She's an officer in the Marine Corps. I'm 5’3 1/2” and she's shorter than me. That girl can lift a 200-pound man over her shoulder and carry him at the length of a football field. That's what's required for them to be able to be in combat. She's incredible.

She flew the president for four years. After that, she got to plan all the trips for the president around the globe. She worked at the Pentagon. She was an attache to a general. She got promoted. She's going to be the first CO, which is Commanding Officer, in aviation for the Marine Corps that they've ever had. I'm so excited. There have only been two other women who've been commanding officers ever. She's only 42 years old. We're so proud of her.

I can tell. I'm curious. Both you and your sister, because of the upbringing, it sounds like, also went into very male-dominated fields. Give me an example of what it was like being raised to be more masculine. What was that like? What did you do or say that maybe had an impact on those relationships?

In my romantic relationships, it was always a struggle because I was in more masculine mode all the time.

Give us some examples. What did that look like?

It served me very well at work. I was always great, very focused, driven, productive, and all that at work. It was great at work and great for my sister at work. My sister's ex-husband used to always complain that he wanted to be married to a girl. He was like, “I want to be married to a girl.” I've researched over 1,000 men in the last nine years and many say the same thing.

In my own relationships, it was a power struggle. We call it dueling providers. You can imagine locking horns. It is like, “Let me be in charge. Let me do this.” It’s a very strong masculine energy now that I know what I know. It was a lot of battling, a lot of fighting, a lot of power struggles, and not a lot of cherishing or worshiping as the girl in me wanted. I could see in my past relationships how it was competitive and that got in the way. There was not a lot of support. There was a lot of fighting, tension, frustration, challenges, and struggles. That's what brought me to Alison in my marriage.

I've been with Joe for almost 20 years, but we've been married for 17 and a half years. We went through a time when we were struggling. Joe has two children from a previous marriage, Ryan and Amy. I've been with them since they were only 4 and 6, so they were young. He had been through a divorce when they were very young.

We were struggling. There was a lot of tension, frustration, and lots of struggles. We didn't want to put the kids through another divorce, so we worked on it. We tried all the books. We went to therapy. We did marriage workshops. We did these weekend things at churches here in Dallas for marriages. We even went on family camps for many years where we would get marriage counseling during the day and the kids would do camp activities. We'd all be together.

We did a lot and spent a fortune on counseling. It would help for 2 to 3 weeks. Everything seemed to help for a little while, but we would go back to the same frustration, tension, hurt feelings, disappointment, and lots of fighting. I remember thinking, “I don't know if I can do this. This is bait and switch. I can't do this forever.” I thought Joe was the problem because he had already had a divorce. I thought, “He didn't get his issues fixed and brought his issues into my marriage.” I thought he was the problem.

My sister found Alison Armstrong and She was in Camp Pendleton, that huge marine base. They had a lot of courses in LA and San Diego, so she thought, “Before you do anything, let's take these courses. Worst case, it will help us with our careers.” At the time, all of my projects had been mostly men. In the Marine Corps, it's 97% male. It was amazing. I flew to California and took the Understanding Men course. It was fantastic. It made a difference for us.

What was the first thing that you got from that course that you started to apply in your marriage?

That first night, I'll never forget that I called Joe and apologized to him. He said it was one of the most poignant moments in his life. I could see all the things I was doing to bring out the frog in him that I didn't even know I was doing. It was a whole list. There were things that I did that I didn't even realize the effect that it was having. That was huge. All the criticizing and complaining. We teach women what to do instead, but it is learning the effect of all the things that I was doing that would bring out the worst in him, which is what we call a caveman attack. It’s bringing out the frog.

One of the things that I used first was how to listen to men and how the female instinct is when you’re talking to another woman to be like, “Me too.” You interrupt so that she knows that you're listening, but you're giving them enthusiastic, “That's great. That's fantastic,” or, “Me too.” I would do that a lot. That's one of the tools that we teach women.

I'll never forget how much more he shared with me when I stopped doing that when I could listen and not interrupt. I couldn't believe it. I'd been with him for 10 years at that point or 11. He had never shared as much as he had once I learned these tools for listening and speaking with men. That was for sure one of the first empowering tools, the things to bring out the prince, that I used and learned. It was great.

I wonder how that impacts other women. I remember the first same thing. Maybe it was after the whole weekend because it's a Saturday and Sunday course. At this point, when I took the course, I had been divorced for 13 or 14 years. It had been a long time. We had a lot of those same challenges. He would ask me, “I need you to be more of a woman.” I would be deeply insulted by that. I had no clue what he was talking about. I was like, “How much more woman do you need? Biologically, I'm there.” I did understand the emotional and mental part of it and called him after fourteen years of being divorced.

Although we have rebuilt and healed a lot of our relationship, I realized that I needed to clean that part up because I didn't realize I'd made a mess. I called him and told him, “Do you remember those times when I would argue with you about doing this a certain way and how you didn't do it right so I was like, “Let me do it instead.” If I think about it, I am so horrified by some of the things that I said even when my mom was visiting. I would diminish his contributions like, “I'll drive because you don't know where we're going anyway,” and little things like that.

Although it wasn't intended to punish or hurt him, I thought that I could take care of it better, and I made it very clear that I could. I remember I gave him some of those examples and said, “I'm so sorry because I didn't realize the impact that it was having on our relationship. I didn't realize that it was emasculating to you for me to have that attitude. I thought that I was doing my part to contribute.” He was silent for a while as I was sharing.

After I stopped, I was like, “I want you to forgive me.” He was like, “There's nothing to forgive. It's been fourteen years. What's the big deal?” I said, “I want to be responsible. I want to take responsibility.” He paused and said, “Thank you. That means the most to me.” It had such an impact. I'm curious about what are some of the things that men or women come to you for. What are the challenges that they're having? I want people to read about this. This could be a small, common thing that we're not even aware of that could be having such a detrimental impact.

It could be a small, common thing that we're not even aware of that could have such a detrimental impact.

Thank you. Your story is beautiful. A lot of men will say, “I want to be married to a girl.” We can be in what we call hunter mode all day at work and be in that awesome kick-butt mode. When we come home if we can't shift and we're the same, I don't want to call it dictator, but you can see that energy of like, “We got to get this done,” being in that mode is hard for them to recharge and relax. I never realized it because the way I was raised was a strong, self-sufficient sister doing it for herself.

I went to college at UT in Austin. The message was, “Have your career first and do lots of amazing things with your career. Maybe later, you can think about a family. You have plenty of time.” For me and what I hear a lot from couples was that I was in this masculine mode. As you know from the workshop, Alison is moving more toward gathering mode and hunter mode. The words that couples use when they come to me or men and women use when they come to me are masculine and feminine words. I'm going to use it here. That's what it was for me. I was in this masculine mode all the time. I had no idea the effect that femininity had on men.

It's incredible because femininity has been devalued by our society, but it hasn't been devalued by men. It's been devalued by women. I could see it. I felt it all the way through college and all the way through my career. I dressed like a man. You should have seen the clothes I had. I had loafer shoes that were like a man's. I had black pants, and then I had long-sleeved button-down shirts like a man. I was so much in that mode.

I learned more about the effect of femininity on men and how it recharges them, renews them, completes them, and balances them. It is like plugging your iPhone into the charger and charging your phone overnight. It can recharge them and empower them. What they get from being with a happy woman who's smiling and that feminine energy is like nothing else.

They say over and over, “I don't want to date another guy. I don't want to ask out another guy.” When we stay in that mode, that's what it can feel like, whether we’re dating or we’re in a relationship and we don't shift out of that work mode when we get home and when we’re with them. It makes such a difference for men when we can shift.

It's so important for our bodies too. Men have 10 to 32 times more testosterone than we do. Women make their testosterone from their ovaries and their adrenal glands. Testosterone is the fuel for being in that work mode. When we’re in that work mode all day, we’re burning it. We do need to use it because we need to be great at work and produce results. When we come home, if we stay in that mode, then we’re pulling from our adrenal glands and pulling it from our ovaries.

It's causing tremendous health impacts on women and tremendous effects. Women are having tremendously high rates of thyroid problems. Adrenal fatigue is almost an epidemic for us. Women are also having heart failure. It's incredible the amount of heart disease and heart failure that's happening among women at a very young age. Infertility has never been before.

We've achieved so much success. My sister and I have had incredible careers and tremendous career success, but so many women are struggling with reproducing and struggling with miscarriages or not being able to get pregnant. It’s because we're pulling so much testosterone from these parts of our bodies and burning out our adrenal glands. Once we start having adrenal problems and thyroid problems, it's so hard to control our weight. It's so stressful for us. It's healthy for us to shift out of that masculine mode and that hunter mode and relax a little bit

The best part is it is so great for our men to be around a woman who can shift into that more feminine mode and be happy and relaxed. When we can be in that mode, we can be so much more encouraging, appreciative, acknowledging, happy, and supportive. We’re like a cheerleader for the men in our lives. The effect that it has on them is tremendous. I love researching men about this and the effect. When you ask them, “What do you love about women?” or, “What are your favorite things about women?” When you listen to them, everything they describe is all of these aspects of femininity. It's not, “She comes home and she’s a man like me.”

I want to clarify something here. One of the reasons that I feel assaulted or offended when my ex-husband would bring up I'm not girly enough or I'm not feminine enough, I thought I had to do something with more of the exterior, like dressing a certain way or having a certain type of nails or hair. I thought it was the packaging. When women describe women, we say how girly some women are, but what you're talking about in femininity and what I learned was unexpected to me. Can you give us a few clues about what is feminine to men?

It’s not how we’re dressing or looking. Although my husband does like it when I do dress up and put that effort into going out. I always get a great reaction from him, but it's not that. It is about the way of being, so more masculine and feminine ways of being. If you think about when you're in the grocery store and you’re rushing and you’re in what we call hunter mode, you’d be mowing people down, going up and down the aisle, looking down at your list, and walking fast. Picture being in that energy and in that mode versus if you’re at the grocery store and you’re not in a hurry. You’re in what we call gathering mode or the more feminine mode. You’d be taking your time looking at the produce, smelling shampoos, and things like that.

Picture how we are in that energy. That's a good way to picture hat mode. Imagine being at home or being together with our partners or romantic partners. On a date, it's like a job interview and you’re asking them all these questions. That would be more in that masculine mode. Imagine being with them in the evenings and spending time with them and we're like, “I got to get this done.” We’re running around like the Energizer Bunny, being productive, and getting results instead of shifting and being more open and more relaxed. It is shifting that way of being so you can feel more intense energy and busy energy versus more relaxed energy.

You can see if they've been working all day how recharging and relaxing it would be to spend time with a woman who'd be more open to listening to them. Men love it when we listen to them. That's why the listening skills we teach women and the understanding men course are so fantastic. When we are more in that relaxed energy and that feminine way of being, we can be open to them. They can relax because we’re more relaxed.

We can be more open to being supportive of them, positive, and encouraging. There is a lot more appreciation and a lot more acknowledgment. You can see that when we're more in that relaxed energy, then all those things naturally come. We're much more likely to be happy and even impressed by them. We're much more able to be smiling. You could picture all of those different things, supportive, encouraging, being like a cheerleader, when we're relaxed in that energy and spending that time with them. It restores them and renews them.

Not Quite Strangers | Caveman Attack
Caveman Attack: We can be more open to being supportive of them, encouraging a lot more appreciation and acknowledgement.

Imagine If we're together and we're being that to each other how it would restore us. It refuels us. It re-energizes us. It will balance us when we've been in that hardcore work mode all day. We can see it with ourselves, the effect that it has. It makes perfect sense that men would want us to be in that mode. The effect of a smiling woman is so powerful on men. When we are in that hunter mode, we're not smiling very often. That’s one of the aspects of that feminine way of being and what it provides for men.

There are always so many questions I have not only for myself, but I'm asking on behalf of the women in my life too. I’m curious, first of all, about a couple of things. When you talk about the workplace, there are so many of us who are spending so much time in the workplace. Even if we're not at an actual company and organization, we're in work mode at home. We’re in work mode taking care of the finances, taking care of the home and the house itself, cleaning, etc.

Tell us a story, whether it's you or someone that you've spoken with. What does that shift look like and what's the impact, especially in the work environment? I feel like sometimes, it's hard for us to balance what that looks like at work. The impact of being more feminine at work is even impactful on relationships. Can you give us an example?

A lot of times, we will have to be in hunter mode at work because anytime, we need to produce a result. We're responsible for producing results. They wouldn't hire us if they didn't want us to produce results. If we have our own businesses, then we're going to be in this mode of producing results. It's okay to be in that mode of producing results when you're working. In an example of driving to work, if you can give yourself to leave a few minutes earlier, then you're not stressing your body and stressing your adrenal glands driving to work. It can be easier on our bodies at work. Even though we are still producing results, we can give ourselves little breaks to relax our adrenal glands. We can also give ourselves more time to schedule things.

One of the things I've done is instead of having this legal pad for all of my to-dos, and this perpetual to-do list is so much pressure all the time, I can put it in my calendar. I have that space to get that item done. Having 15 minutes, 30 minutes, or 45 minutes increments of those to-dos helps me have more space. Do you know how your heart is pounding and you feel that pressure like, “I got to get this done in the next few minutes” As I was overscheduling things, I was spending all day with my heart pounding like that. It was one urgent thing after another. That was taxing my adrenal glands. If I can schedule it, it's amazing how I'm not killing my body and I can still be productive. That's one thing that we can help, for sure.

A lot of times, when we're at work, we'll have other people that we're working with that are in hunter mode. They're focused on working. Sometimes, we'll be working with people who are in a more relaxed mode or that gather mode. What's important to understand, and we take people through it in the course, is all the things that people need in gathering mode and what people need in hunting mode. The secret is what we call synchronization. It's identifying what mode they're in, knowing what mode you're in, honoring both, and seeing what I need versus what you might need.

Not Quite Strangers | Caveman Attack
Caveman Attack: The secret is synchronization. It's identifying what mode they're in, knowing what mode you're in, and then honoring both.

Let’s say you don't have any meetings. We work together and you’re in this more relaxed gathering mode. You want to talk to me about your vacation or the weekend and I'm like, “I've got so many things to get done.” It could drive us crazy as you're going on about your weekend, vacation, or vice versa. What we want to do is synchronize and honor us both. One example would be saying, “I'd love to hear about your vacation. Can we talk about it at lunch? I have a lot to get done,” or “Could you give me the two-minute version of how your vacation went? I have a lot to get done today.” I'm letting you know that I'm in that hunter mode. I have a lot to get done, but I'm still honoring you. In that mode, women will have this need to connect. It will make them feel safe. Connection makes us all feel safe.

Think about a time when you've texted somebody and they don't text you back. In that tension that you feel, you're like, “Wonder what's wrong? Are they mad at me? Why aren't they replying?” You scroll back to see maybe what you could have said. You’re like, “Why would they be mad?” You're worried about it. Sometimes, we'll even text them and say, “Did you get my text? Is everything okay?” It is that same tension. It's that instinct that we have to connect.

If you cut her off, shut her down, be gruff with her, or something, then she'll have that tension of like, “Is she mad at me? Why? What's wrong with her?” or “She's so mean.” It is those types of things. You can calm her down, honor her, and let her know, “I would love to hear about your vacation. Could you give me the two-minute version?” She'll feel like, “She likes me. She’s busy.” It will get out of her system to share that two minutes worth of her vacation or know that we’ll talk about it over lunch.

By honoring her, she can relax. She's not going to have that tension. She's not going to worry that I'm mad at her. By honoring myself, then I can relieve my tension because I'm getting pissed and upset that she keeps going on and on. We can honor us both by seeing which mode we're in and what each other needs. I'm going to have tension if I don't get back to work. We're both happy we both get what we need. It empowers both people to be more productive on that day. That's a great example. It's so great to be able to recognize it and synchronize. There are so many things during the day at work that we can do to synchronize to help each other.

I love what you said about that because I also noticed it. I'm a coach. I didn't realize before I took any of these courses how, especially with the men, I was in hunter mode as well as a coach. Driving for results sometimes had them shut down a bit in some ways. For example, you mentioned listening. What I shifted is how I listen. I’ll be prompting them once, and then as they begin, I interrupt with another question, “What about this? What about that?” That would create some shallow responses. They weren't necessarily as forthcoming in certain issues.

I didn't understand why, but what I've done since I learned how to listen is I put that proverbial duct tape over my mouth when I ask a profound question. I sit and watch. A lot of them are over Zoom, so some of the cues I have to focus on are their body language to see how much more they might have to pull from to answer my question. That's been impactful. Tell us a little bit about how men have a tendency to listen to women and how women have a tendency to listen to men.

I love that you shared that. I’ve been teaching around Dallas. I've been teaching this information for nine years. I can tell you there's nothing that women have said more than that that has helped them at work and helped them work with men. We need that information. We need them to go deeper to do our job better. We need them to be able to share information. Besides our romantic relationships, we want our guys to open up and share so we can have that intimacy. At work, it's so powerful.

The differences in how men and women listen are as a woman if you're talking with me and sharing a story and I have a stoic face and I'm not reacting, then we read that as, “Something is wrong. She doesn't like what I'm talking about. Why isn't she saying anything? Is she even listening to me? Is she thinking about something else?”

We'll get worried because when women talk with each other, how we know that they’re listening and that they're into the conversation is when they're engaging with us. It's nodding our heads like, “Me too. I love going there as well,” or “I had never been to Cabo, but I love Cabo. We went for the first time last year and had such a great trip. For years, people have been telling us about Cabo too. I agree.” As she's telling me about her vacation to Cabo, I would be compelled to share, “I love it too.” That's how I can communicate with her. Like her, I'm into this conversation. It is like, “I'm listening to you because I'm responding this way.”

Because we have that instinct, when we're communicating with men, we want to interact. Women often listen for connection points. As I mentioned with texting, when we feel connected, everything is good. If we feel disconnected, we'll have that tension. As women are speaking or anyone is speaking, we'll be listening for those connection points. It's a “Me too,” moment. We release a hormone that is called oxytocin that causes us to bond and feel great. It's a great feeling. We want to communicate to anybody that we're listening to like, “Me too,” and have that connection or enthusiastically listen so that they know that we like them and we're listening closely.

The problem is that because men are single-focused when they're speaking, they'll be communicating what they're trying to say. When we do that, we'll interrupt them. It can often inhibit them from going deeper. We like to think of it as a well where the shallow answers are on the top. Jack and Jill lower the bucket to get water. If you imagine, if you ask a man a question and he's sharing, he's lowering the well, getting that information, raising it up, and sharing it with you. If we interrupt with the “Me too”and a comment about what he said, then it interrupts the well that it stops it.

We feel like they're giving us shallow answers and they're not going deep, but it's the way their mind works. It's because of the effects of testosterone. It causes compartmentalization in their brain. The communication and verbal centers of our brain are three times larger than theirs because, in utero, we have as much estrogen as a full-grown woman.

For the first 24 months when we're born, we have these high levels of estrogen. It causes this incredible communication center, emotional processing, and emotional memory. The verbal communication center is three times larger. For men, they have as much testosterone and utero for the first twelve months once they're born. That causes different structures. We have different structures and different genes. The hormones interact with those to cause different behaviors and different developmental structures and myelination.

With men, the part of their brain dedicated to sex is two and a half times larger than ours. It explains a lot. In that listening and communication, we have so many synapses firing. We have this larger part of our brain. That's why we're so quick to say something, interrupt, have a response, and add to what they're saying. It is because of the way their brains are designed through all that testosterone and utero in the first twelve months that it doesn't work that way.

When we are interrupting with these comments, gestures, and the, “Me too”, then it can interrupt that well. If we can pause, wait, which we call putting on the imaginary duct tape, and wait for the well, so waiting for him to go down into the well to share, then we don't interrupt that train of thought and that compartmentalization. He can give us a deeper answer. Even if he pauses and is thinking, that's great.

It could be torture for a woman. As soon as there's a pause and a conversation between two women, one of us is going to jump in. That's excruciating for most women to be listening and having a pause while they think of the next thing they want to say. It’s so important to be able to get the quality information that we need, not interrupt them to be able to put a Mona Lisa's smile on or an imaginary duct tape, and let them share. If they pause, it's okay. Wait. Let them think of the next thing they want to say. It's tremendous, especially as you've learned in coaching.

I love researching men. I love it. With all the men that I've researched, they give me more gold. The most important tool that I've learned is to listen to them. I'll be blown away by what they shared with me. I'll wait with my imaginary duct tape and then they say something even more amazing. It's incredible. It's one of the most important things we can do.

It's been the most important tool—to listen.

It will help us so much at work to be able to listen and get more details about the problem that we are trying to solve. It will help us get all the information that we need to do our best at work and be the best at our jobs when we stop interrupting them and wait until they’re done sharing. We can then ask another question. Putting on that imaginary duct tape and not interrupting will help us tremendously in our romantic relationships because we want our men to share.

I found it helpful too. I know because of my conditioning, with what you are saying had I listened to that before all this knowledge, I would've been like, “We accommodate already so much. Are you saying that now I have to wait for him to talk?” What I've learned is that the idea that men listen for what's the point in the conversation and what's the problem made it so easy for me. I have three brothers and I have no sisters, so I practiced a lot. My boyfriend gets a lot of the benefit too.

When my brother answers the phone and says, “What's up?” I know that he means, “Why are you calling? What's up?” rather than me telling him, “I was at the store. I did this. I did that. I was with Mom.” I would launch into this whole story and they're like, “Can I call you back?” I would be like, “You're cutting me off?” I know he means, “What's up?” I can start with the point.

That's fantastic.

When I want to connect, they have the option of saying, “Can I call you back later?” or “Let's talk this weekend,” or “What's up?” We then have this longer conversation. I can get to the point and say, “I need to know what we're going to do for Thanksgiving,” and then he goes automatically into that moment. It's been such a relief.

Do you know how when we speak French and another person speaks German? I’m like, “I'm speaking French so you are going to have to make do.” That's how I felt before. Now, I know, “That doesn't make sense in German. I need to say it like this.” It has made all the difference in our relationships. It has made all the difference in the communication. I get that. The initial thought was like, “I don't want to accommodate again.” Learning to speak the language would make the most sense in this situation.

I was talking about listening. Men, when they're listening, hunt the point or hunt the problem. Women have an instinct to give a lot of details. It's because of how we are designed. If you asked me how our Understanding Women workshop was and I said, “Fine,” you would be like, “Is she mad at me? What's wrong? Why isn't she sharing details?” We don't want to communicate that. By getting to the point, it feels like we're being mean like that, which is how we would say it to a girl if we were mad at her.

By giving details, then you know that I like you and I love you. I'm sharing, “It was amazing. The couples were so cute. By the end of the workshop, they put their arms around each other. The looks on the men's faces were like, “No way. That can't possibly be true.” If I'm sharing details like that with you, then you know everything's good. I'm happy. I love you. I like you. Things are great. That's why we have an instinct to give those details.

It's so hard for men who are hunting the point and hunting the problem to be like, “Is that the point?” With what you said about your brothers where they’re like, “I got to go,” it’s because it’s overwhelming. When we can get to the point and then share more details later if they want them or get to the point and say, “I want to connect,” it relieves so many hurt feelings on our part.

When I would call, share, and give all those details and he cuts me off or he needs to go, it's so hurtful. I feel like, “He doesn't love me. He doesn't care about me.” When we feel they don't listen and they don't remember, it is because we drown them in detail. You're so right. Getting to the point is huge. It is getting to the point of the problem and then also letting him know when we do need to connect. When they're available to hear all of that, they can let us.

You're right. Even in hunter mode too. When I'm in hunter mode, I want to get to the point. I sent someone an email. I was in the class and someone sent an email. I was like, “Right before I go to class, let me respond.” I was very curt like, “Here's the answer.” I remember I was like, “I'm still in hunter mode right now.” It was the woman I was emailing. I went back and said, “I'm in class. I'm focused right now.” I realized that when I'm in hunter mode, I also go into, “Let's get to the point. I don't need the extra details,” or “We only have an hour to get this done. If I have a deadline, I need to make sure that we maximize it.” You are so right.

Let's move it from the workplace. Let's talk a little bit about the family dynamic. I'm curious about a couple of things. I have a lot of friends at this point in life where they're either married or in relationships. They are men who are a little bit older. I know one of the great things that I learned was all these different stages of manhood that made such a difference. Specifically, I want to focus on maybe the tunnel or the midlife crisis that happens. I feel like a lot of my girlfriends are closer to that range. Maybe you can speak to that a little bit about what happens in the relationship because it becomes almost fragile at that point in time.

This is so everybody has a picture. In Alison's research, she discovered all these ways men are responding to women. That's a lot of her work and all these tools and things that we can do so men respond in a different way. She learned all these other ways that men are not responding to women that have nothing to do with how their mother raised them or their ex-wife or their ex-girlfriend. It didn't have anything to do with women at all. It had to do with being a man.

One of those things is what we call the stages of development. At a high level, the first stage is birth through puberty. We call those little guys pages. They're all about action, adventure, movement like rough and tumble play, and things like that. From puberty to about 24 or so is the stage we call knight. It's all about fun, testing their limits, and adventure. It’s that teenage boy stage as we all know.

After that is the prince stage. The prince stage is all about building, and that could be depending on the man, 24 to 48, 50. It depends on how early he found his career. It's all about building, like building his resume, his experience, his kingdom, his bank account, and a relationship. It's lots of building. After that stage is the stage we call king. A king is established. He relaxes a little bit. He can breathe. He has achieved a lot. He knows who he is. It is more of that cake-is-baked type stage once they get to be king.

In between the stage of prince and king is what we call the tunnel. The tunnel can be extremely stressful. It's a time when so many people get divorced. The tunnel is when a man hits a point where he has a plan for his life or what he thinks his life is going to look like. He hits the tunnel and he's looking at what his life is now versus what his plan was. It can cause a lot of uncertainty.

It is this idea of, “Would I want to spend the rest of my life doing this?” If he's in a bad relationship, he'll be looking at, “I've put up with all this emasculation and all of this. Do I want to spend the rest of my life with this? I only have so much time left.” It can be a tremendous time. It's very introspective in looking at who he is and who he wants to be and then comparing it to what his plan was. It can be stressful.

We often call it a midlife crisis because it's a crisis for us. It can be scary to be in a relationship with a man because they'll often struggle with making commitments and decisions. It's a time of tremendous uncertainty for them. We'll feel unsafe. He'll have these new behaviors that seem odd or strange. We’ll worry that something is wrong.

Making fun of it is not what we want to do, making fun of the midlife crisis. What we want to do is be much more supportive. That's the most important time for us to listen. He's sharing what he wants to do for the rest of his life or his career and who he wants to be. It is having that duct tape, listening to learn from them, being there to support them by listening, and not freaking out at what he says. It’s this time that we call the tunnel. He has to go through it himself. The best thing we could do is support him. Being able to be there, be supportive, and listen is the best way that we can support them in handling it.

Be there. Be supportive. Listening is the best way that we can support others.

When they get through the tunnel, because we were there for them and we were that wonderful source of support, they're often so grateful. It can be a time of tremendous intimacy where they're sharing so much. We love it when they share and are vulnerable in that way. We feel so connected to them. It can be a tremendous time for a relationship. It can be a fantastic source of information for us as well as a fantastic type of intimacy. Keep breathing. That’s the most important thing.

What we say is we have a cavewoman and a queen. Anytime we feel afraid of something and we're scared or we feel threatened, anytime that happens, our amygdala is going to kick in. We're going to release hormones that give the stress home hormone. It will trigger that reaction or instinct. It's what we call human-animal. Anytime we feel tension, that means the human-animal has been triggered.

One of the most important things we can do is to take three big deep breaths and know, “This is a biological brain state. My body has released these hormones. Is a tiger going to eat me? No. Is anybody going to die? No. Is my life in danger? No.” We inhabit bodies that are designed to survive in the ancient wild. Our sensitivity to threat and fear is highly calibrated to survive in the wild and it has served us so well. Since we're in much safer environments, it's amazing.

For women, because of the emotional part of our brains, that fight or flight and that fear instinct is triggered much more often by emotional stress. Men aren't triggered by emotional stress the same way we are. Emotional stress will trigger these same hormones that will give us that panicked feeling, that tightness in our chest, and that tension in our bodies that causes us to have that human-animal reaction.

If we can recognize that it's a biological brain state, our instinct is to react, say something, and do something to relieve that tension. If we can recognize this tension, it's like, “My body sensed a threat. Somehow, it has released cortisol and these other hormones that are giving me this human-animal instinct of, “I'm afraid of something.” Instead of reacting to it, you are like, “This is a biological brain state. Can I take three big deep breaths or more, however many big deep breaths it takes, and then calm our bodies down or get the biochemistry down to normal so that we can make a human spirit choice?” That is what we want.

What we want so much for both men and women is whenever our caveman is triggered, our cavewoman is triggered, or our human-animal is triggered, instead of reacting in a way that may not be good for partnership, how can we choose the human spirit instead? How can we make conscious choices that are better for our relationship and better for our partnerships? When you recognize it's a biological brain state, it doesn't have to rule you. You can get your heart rate down, get the biochemistry down, and take lots of deep breaths and then make the best choice for partnership and the best choice for our relationship.

That is so true. I had one of my past guests, Heather Lynn Darby. She talked about how a deep breath is the release of the breath. It is releasing it slowly to help us calm the vagus nerve, the nerve that's connected to our gut and our brain. It’s to get to that relaxation state. It's so true. I started to realize that some of the things that I was doing out of instinct, I could manage. Being aware that it's an instinct and it's a biological response and not necessarily something that I need to act on. I can modulate myself. I appreciate you sharing that. I'm sure that we've piqued so many people's curiosity. What can they do to learn more? What resources do you have available? What classes do you have? Can you share a little bit about where they can learn more about this? is our website. If you go to Free, it has so many great resources. There is so much stuff there for free. It's wonderful to give people a taste and get more information. It's awesome content. We have tons of online courses. They’ll see the Understanding Men online course and the Understanding Women online course. We have a whole course for understanding sex and intimacy and then a whole course, which we used to call Understanding Men and Marriage. Now, it’s understanding relationships, love, and commitment. It’s wonderful because one of the things women want most is a long-term commitment. In that course, they'll learn the twelve things that make us the right woman to marry. It's fantastic.

The whole curriculum is incredible. It's made such a difference in my life. After that first course that I shared, my husband said, “Put it on the credit card. Fly to California and take all the workshops.” It has made such a difference in our lives that we felt we had a moral obligation to bring it here to Texas. That's when I signed up for the Mastery Program and became a workshop leader. I have been teaching this for nine years. It's incredible.

On, we have online courses. For people who like live workshops, on the homepage at the bottom, it says Live Courses. You can click that. Here in Dallas, we have Understanding Men. We call it the Queen’s Code Workshop Live. We also have Understanding Women, which is the Queen’s Code Challenge, live here. It’s great. Online, you can learn from anywhere. There is so much flexibility. For the live workshops, to be in a room with other people and share that experience with other women who are so frustrated with men. It's fantastic.

Whatever your learning style is, I truly recommend our curriculum. It's made such a difference. Our marriage has never been better. I'm so happy. My husband is happy. We have a beautiful partnership. It's what I want most for everyone. All the women I coach who are single, I want to help them find love. All of the people that I coach who are in relationships, I want them to have a beautiful, mutually supportive, and mutually empowering relationship where they are both so happy. This is the best information I've found. I can't recommend it enough.

It's life-changing. Do you have a few more minutes? I have a couple of questions that popped up in what you shared. Too much of our focus has been on women, women's responsibility, or responding to men. I'm curious about what men come to these courses for. Which courses do they have? If there are men tuning in to this who are invested in making and having a better relationship with maybe females that they work with, their daughters, wives, mothers, etc., what resources are there for them? What do they get out of it?

The most amazing course is our Understanding Women course. The live version is the Queen's Code Challenge, Understanding Women. It's incredible because we're different. We're designed differently. They have so much testosterone in utero that causes so many developmental differences. For women, that three times larger part of the brain causes us to speak on average 20,000 words a day. Men speak on average 7,000 words a day. The communication differences are tremendous.

Most men are aware that women are different. I know it sounds silly, but we've been able to do everything they can do. We just assume, “Why can't you do everything I could do?” We are incredible adapters. We're master adapters. They're much more aware that we're different and that they can't do everything that we can do.

It's so wonderful to research men. For all the men that I've taught all over the country and that I coached all over the world in understanding women, they’re so aware that we're different. They want to learn how to win with us. They want to learn how to make us happy. They want to learn how to have successful relationships. They're often so frustrated and baffled by things like our feelings and that we have communication differences. In the Understanding Women Workshop or the online course, they learn so much. They learn how we think, how to motivate us, how to support us, and how to communicate best with us.

They learn how to attract us.

We have a whole section on female sexuality, which they love. It's always their favorite part of the workshop. They hold their phones up. They zoom in on the flip charts. They're taking notes like crazy to learn how to support us to bring out the best in us. We're more likely to want to have sex with them when they do all these wonderful things. They’re understanding how to ask us for what they need, understanding criticism, and understanding why we do need to share.

You need to call your brothers to connect and how much that provides for us. It’s everything that they need to be able to win with us, bring out the best of us, and make us happy. I love it. Alison says it's the most important work she's ever done and I agree. I love the Understanding Women course. It helps men tremendously. We also have a Hero’s Challenge course. It's called A Hero’s Challenge: Being an Extraordinary Man. You can get it online. On that homepage, when you click Live Courses, you'll see options for the live courses as well. We have that coming up in Dallas on October 19th and 20th.

What's the purpose of that course?

It's called Being an Extraordinary Man. What happens is, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me,” is a load of crap because the things that come out of women's mouths and the things that we say when we're hurt can be devastating to men. Things happen in their life. There are disappointments, setbacks, failures, divorces, big breakups, or big disappointments at work. Things happen throughout a man's life that slowly tear a little piece of him. All of these things that can happen over a man's life can diminish his ability to be a great provider.

One of the most important things we do in the Hero's Challenge is that we put men back together. Once we put them back together, we empower them and give them tools to continue to become extraordinary from there. We give them all the things that they need to be their best and operate at the top of their game. We teach them how to ask the people in their lives in a way that works with less resistance and less effort for the things that they need to continue to be their best. We all want strong men. We all want a man to be a strong provider and a strong protector. One of Alison's favorite courses is to be able to empower these men to be extraordinary and be their most extraordinary selves. I can't tell you how many men have told me it's the best thing they've ever done.

It's taught by men too.

Alison teaches the online one, but here in Dallas, it's taught by a man named Calvin Edwards. In Atlanta, it's taught by a woman. In Arizona, it's taught by a woman. It's great. It’s wonderful to have a woman lead it. I've been there. I’ve had the pleasure to be in the back of the room with Alison leading and it's extraordinary.

That's phenomenal. First of all, I want to acknowledge you for the life that you bring to relationships, the amount of passion that comes out of it, the partnership, and the commitments that are cemented because of your work. It's had a tremendous impact on me, my family relationships, my love relationships, and my work relationships. I can’t say enough. That's why I say yes anytime that there's something coming up. I'm like, “I got to be there. I got to learn more.”

I have all my notes here to share with all the people in my life because they see the benefit had on me. I have become a better woman and a better version of myself. I love that you've committed your life, your time, and your talent to help us become better versions of ourselves. I'm so grateful for you sharing this information with us.

For any of you out there, if any of this stuff resonated with you in any way, there are so many resources. There are books to read. There are online courses. There are live classes. All of those have made such an impact on thousands of people's lives. I want to encourage all of you to go out and make your relationships come to life. That's it. Thank you so much for being here. Do you have any last parting words for our guests?

Thank you so much. I adore you. It makes me so happy. Thank you for everything you shared. I'm so happy about the benefits that you've had in your relationships. Thank you so much for this opportunity.

I can't say enough. I’m sure I’ll have you back on again. Out of this, we might have some other interests and other questions. For those of you tuning in, we're so excited. We also have another wonderful guest, Trish Kruse, who will be coming in to talk about how to align work and your values, which is something that we don't ever get enough information about, especially if we want to come alive at work. We want to make sure that what we believe in and what we want to stand for also matches what we do for our living. I am looking forward to that on September 3rd at the regular time. Thank you all so much for joining us. I'm going to sign off. Adrienne, thank you. I can’t appreciate you enough for being here and for sharing what you did with us.

You’re so welcome. Thank you so much.

Bye, everybody.


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