Intimacy is an Inside Job with Allana Pratt
We are thrilled to share this special guest episode of the podcast with Allana Pratt with you!
You may have heard of Allana, she’s a global media personality and go-to authority for those who have suffered heartbreak and are ready to live unapologetically and attract an openhearted, ideal relationship.
She’s been featured on Huffington Post, Forbes, People Magazine, CBS, Fox, Dancing with the Stars, has interviewed Whoopi Goldberg and Alanis Morissette and now is here with us!
This week she is letting us into some of her best advice for intimacy and relationships. Some highlights of what she covers include:
Helping you understand the power of shifting your energy and how it can help you change the reality on the outside
Explaining why intimacy is an inside job
How she coaches people who aren’t feeling heard and listened to in their relationships
We had such a great time speaking with Allana and know you will love her episode. After you’ve listened, let us know which part of our conversation was your favorite!
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CrisMarie: Welcome to The Beauty of Conflict, a podcast about how to deal with conflict at work, at home, and everywhere else in your life. I'm CrisMarie.
Susan: And I'm Susan. We run a company called Thrive and we specialize in conflict resolution, communication, and building strong thriving teams and relationships. Conflict shows up in our lives in so many ways. Most people, unfortunately, are not very good at handling conflict. Most people have never been taught the right tools for dealing with conflict and then it leads to unnecessary friction, arguments, passive aggressive emails, tears, hurtful comments, stuckness, all kinds of things we don't want. We're on a mission to change all of that.
CrisMarie: We spent the last 20 years teaching our clients how to handle conflict in a whole new way. We're here to show you that conflict doesn't have to be scary and overwhelming. With the right tools, you can turn a moment of conflict into a moment of reinvention.
Conflict can pave the way into a beautiful new system at work, a new way of leading your team, a new way of parenting, a new chapter of your marriage where you feel more connected than ever before. Conflict can lead to beautiful things.
We have an exciting guest today, intimacy expert Allana Pratt, is a global media personality and go-to authority for those who have suffered heartbreak and are ready to live unapologetically and attract an openhearted, ideal relationship. Her vulnerability and courage landed her a featured weekly column in the Good Men Project. Featured as an icon of influence and as a guest expert on Huffington Post, People Magazine, Forbes ...
CBS, and Fox, and the Jenny McCarthy show. This Ivy leaguer ... You're so awesome. This Ivy league grad is author of four books and has interviewed the famous Whoopi Goldberg and Alanis Morissette, and hosts the edgy podcast, Intimate Conversations, where listeners learn how to find the relationship they deserve.
A certified coach with close to 5 million viewers on YouTube, that rocks, Allana was asked by Leeza Gibbons to coach her during Dancing With The Stars. Man, you have just hobnobbing with everybody here, Allana. While supporting nonprofits like Rise Of The Butterfly to end human trafficking, huge cause, Allana offers private and group coaching plus retreats so that her clients have a thriving intimate relationship with themselves first, which naturally attracts and enhances their ideal partnerships. Woot, woot! That is such a powerful bio. My goodness.
Allana: Oh, thank you.
Allana: Well, you know, when you just put one foot in front of the other and your nose is to the grind, you just serve every day and you show up every day, but when people read my bio I'm like, "Dang, 20 years is really paying off."
CrisMarie: Dang right!
Susan: I mean, I was doing my research before we started and I was looking, just your story, your personal story of starting out. I think it was you went to Japan or something and lived there and that. I was just fascinated because CrisMarie was saying how successful you are now. And I said, "And she started off with a pretty ... " You just were committed. So you had-
CrisMarie: Tell us about that. Tell us a little bit about your beginnings.
Allana: Yeah, thank you. So yeah, small town, Canadian girl. And I didn't want to be a pharmacist and take over Pratt's Pharmacy, the little drugstore with a big heart, even though my dad did plant seeds about heart-centered living and I didn't want to be a teacher like my mom because they were terribly underpaid and I knew that I was going to be a teacher, but that didn't seem like a path either. And so yeah. I hopped on Uncle Phil's 18 Wheeler semi when I was 19. I quit college to make it in Hollywood and I failed.
I was good enough. Like I was talented enough. I'd been a dancer since I was five. I got the bright idea, I would just dance on a cruise line or dance at Disneyland. So I was good enough, but I didn't have the visa. So with $40 to my name and my dad's credit card to come home to admit failure and go back to college or whatever, I got a job dancing in a show over in Tokyo and I did enough research to be sure that I wasn't going to be sold into slavery or anything.
CrisMarie: Thank goodness.
Allana: Yeah. But over I went and it was the first time I ever wore a G-string.
CrisMarie: Oh my goodness!
Allana: I danced at this hot spring hotel with these really cool dancers and singers and that led to moving to Tokyo and working at like big five star hotels and commercials and I was making, after a couple of years, more than my parents combined being a dancer and a model and a spokesperson and an English teacher just work in my tushy off and having a blast. So the good news there is that I realized that back in "Canada, America, North America," there was shame around the body, shame around sexuality. And one of my first big shows at the Four Seasons when I got there, I mean, Susan, it was like, I put my costume on, I was getting all ready, the big head dress or the gloves and the ... where's the top?
Allana: I'm like, "Oh! Got it! That's why I'm being paid so much money."
CrisMarie: Oh no!
Allana: And I ran out the door because I was so ashamed. How would a slutty, dirty human I am. But none of the other girls had the same point of view. And I was like, "Huh." So I'm like, "Okay, I'm just going to ..." Like the good girl, the Canadian in me was like, "Okay, keep your word, go do your ..." But I was like out of my body, just crazy, ashamed, terrified. My little boobies were being shown do all these like gentlemen in the audience. But as I looked on the other side of the stage, these French girls, Australian girls, they had a different point of view about the body and the men on their side of the stage. I swear they were like Boy Scouts. They would bow, they would honor, but all the men on my side of the stage looked at me like, "Hey, tall glass of water," like slimy gross energy.
And I was like, "Well, what's going on here?" And I went home that night. I cried and I wasn't going to go back the next day, but the good girl in me, the Canadian said, "Oh, go back." And so I started to take on like a curiosity, like what's going on here? And I'm sure you're familiar with like the Tibetan practice Tonglen, when the monks breathe in the pain and suffering of the world and then you exhale out love and compassion. It's a 3000 year old practice. And I was like, "I think ..." I didn't know what Tonglen was at the time, but I was aware. They are allowing, not resisting, not reacting, they're allowing the judgment, somehow and they are exhaling out some different sort of energy. It's almost as if they were saying, "Yes, I am a divine goddess. Thank you for noticing." Or "Yes, this is a divine temple. Thank you for noticing." Weren't stopped by the attention. They were transforming the gentleman's attention.
So I started to practice. I was like very scared, but I would breathe in all this slimy energy and I would affirm inside my being on stage, dancing, no shirt. There I was, okay, but breathing in. And I would say to myself, "Yes, I am beauty herself" and I would exhale out my eyelashes and out my nails and out the sparkles on my costume. I would exhale out and thank you for noticing my regal divine nature. And I swear they started to sit up in their chairs and bow. I'm like, "Holy shit!"
Allana: "Holy shit! We are both meeting our own reality. Wow."
Susan: Oh yes. That's very powerful.
CrisMarie: That is ... Yes!
CrisMarie: And how powerful for you to learn that you could actually shift your energy, which would influence them in that whole piece.
Allana: Yes. And if we ease that lesson into dating, mating, relating, take it into conflict, take it into the bedroom, if you can take this everywhere and realize, "Wait a minute, I'm in charge of managing my own energy, my own thoughts, and I can create a new reality on the outside." We no longer need to be a victim of our circumstances. We no longer need to be afraid to sit in the fire of discomfort and move through and rise like a phoenix.
CrisMarie: Wow, that's powerful.
Susan: You know, different set of circumstances, but totally agree with you. That is such a power and your example is such a powerful one, especially around the body. And how in our Western culture over here, in the North America area, we have made it such a bad thing. And yet, I love how you said, "I just looked over there and they were doing it differently" and who knows whether they were using that particular Tibetan process, but they were using something because they probably didn't even have the same storyline.
CrisMarie: The same judgments, yeah.
Susan: Judgments. They may not have ever had them.
Susan: And isn't that so often that that's such a profound piece of information.
CrisMarie: And tell us what you do now?
Allana: Well, I dance on stages. And no, I'm just kidding!
CrisMarie: You're a famous dancer!
Susan: Hey! I have heard, though, you've taken up pole dancing.
Allana: You know, I haven't pole danced in a couple of years. I've been traveling. But when I lived in LA, probably a good seven years, I pole danced and it was my church. Oh I was so grateful for that. It was a place where there were just women, no mirrors, no men. And where we could be real. We could process our emotions. We could let go of anger. We could cry in the corner in the fetal position. We could be naughty climbed that pole, turned upside down, put your feet on the ceiling, slap your ass, and slide on down, like we can do whatever we wanted. It was really, really healing and rewarding. I'm so grateful for those years.
But yeah, now, I'm an intimacy expert. I called myself first a relationship coach. First, I worked with women. Then when I was going through the worst of my custody battle and I came very close to hating all men forever, the universe gave me a lot of male clients and I realized that we all have the same hearts and that men are good and that anybody whose heart is closed will act inappropriately and it really helped me heal my heart around what was going on with the custody battle.
And then now, as I've been doing this for 20 years, now more and more couples are coming to me to work. I still work with men and women, but more and more couples. And it really it's about this intimate relationship with ourself first. Inside, like intimacy is an inside job in my opinion. Yes, we want to be loved and approved and appreciated and agreed with and all of that. But really that's a seeking, meeting, wanting kind of energy that tends to push that very connection we desire away. However, when we can first begin with this intimate relationship with ourself, it's sure, easy to love our good parts, our looking good parts, but can we love our wobbly parts? Can we be connected to our scared parts? Can we sit with our shameful parts? Not to fix her and make her better and so she looks good again, but like literally, I will sit with you in the dark, throw away the key, and I will sit with you for eternity if that's how long it takes. I love you that much.
CrisMarie: Yeah. Yeah. It's very powerful because I think so often the way we're enculturated, we are taught to hide, put on a strong face, poise, unsuccessful, and we all have all these parts that are embarrassed, disgusted, shame, all those negative emotions that we try to pretend that we don't have, those parts of us, that are part of our human condition. And we talk about it as the beauty of conflict within because so often we want to ostracize those parts and pretend they're not there and that just causes havoc with our life choices that we make.
Susan: And it does sound like, Allana, your definition of intimacy or intimate conversation is very much in alignment, when we talk about intimacy, we talk, we break it down to into me see, which is very much just all about maybe allowing my full self to be able to show up and that does include all those aspects of who I am. And until I can love those parts, it's highly unlikely. Well, even if someone did love them, I probably wouldn't notice that they were loving those because I'm so busy busy grading them.
Allana: Yeah. In a wonderful personal journey to love my stretchmarks after giving birth, to love the, like I lost a custody battle for even though my son and I are very deeply connected now, there was a period where he took dad's side and there was nothing else on the outside to look good. I lost money. I was humiliated. The court thought I was a bad mother. They believed lies, not truth. It was a really rough go where every last shred of seeking approval on the outside dissolved. There was nowhere left to go, but inside, and thank God, because that was my life's journey is to stop trying to look good and get all of that outside in, scrambling, seeking attention, and to really find safety and security and approval and oneness and home on the inside, not just with my Columbia grad, Ivy league kind of stuff.
But no, with the wobbly girl who was humiliated, can I love her just as much? And the more work I did, Oh my God, I could love my authentic sexuality. I could love learning how to be a business woman and ask questions that I didn't know what I was doing. And then I could be the safe space for others to tell me things they've never even sometimes told themselves. Because since I'm not going to judge them, and it's a privilege to be that safe space for another, because just in being heard, that communication cycle of communicating and then it not being received, it just stays spinning in your head. But if the other can receive without judgment, without fixing, without changing, and really receive it, the communication cycle is complete. And there's a rest that occurs inside and then the next authentic truth can arise. And that's where we go so deep into intimate conversations and deep connection and expression, beyond anything we've ever imagined before, because it's our truest, deepest self connecting with another. And yeah, I get to be that with people. It's such a privilege.
CrisMarie: Now often, because I do relationship coaching as well, and often women, their first complaint is he doesn't listen to me. I don't feel seen and heard. So how do you support, and this could be men too, but I'm just, that's often what happens or what I hear. So how do you coach women through that?
Allana: Well, the first part is what are we seeking in them that we're not providing our self first? So if you're waiting around to feel safe, seen, and understood by him, but you're not spending any time with yourself, making sure you feel safe and seen by yourself, that's going to shift things right out of the gate because you're not coming to the conversation empty, needing, which is a lot of pressure on the other person. You're coming to the conversation whole, maybe wobbly, but whole, which gives the other complete space. That's one thing I would say. Second is set him up to win in terms of being in a place where he really can listen. For example, if he's busy at work all day and you're texting him or calling him and he's not able to be present, you're sort of setting him up to fail that way. And if you sort of say, "We need to talk," like he's-
CrisMarie: He'll be freaked out.
Allana: ... late at work every night that week, right?
CrisMarie: Yeah, right.
Allana: It's a very simple technique. I learned it when I was like president of Toastmaster's, different things and he's like, "It's called the sandwich" and it's what we did in table topics. You don't just go for the juggler. You'll put it in a sandwich. So you see something you're grateful for first, like, "Hey sweetheart, I'm so grateful that we get to connect. I'm so grateful that we spend time communicating and that we really care about each other," something authentic at the beginning of the sandwich and then permission, "Hey, can I be straight? Can I tell you what's on my heart?" And wait for the response cause he might be, "Yeah, in 30 minutes when I'm done with this, I would love to." Listen, give them an actual time to respond and then he's like, "Yeah, yeah. What's on your mind?"
And then, "It's not you. It's I. I am feeling scared when you said you would be home but you're not. And I know I'm probably like a crazy person here, but I either you're dead in a ditch or you're with a another woman. Like I know that's crazy. Just be willing, if you're a little late to text me, Oh my God, you'd be my hero. Oh my God. It feels so safe inside. Would you be willing to consider maybe just texting me next time if you're going to be late?" Like that way of presenting something in a sandwich and then maybe the end of the sandwich, "What are your thoughts? What's true for you? What's your idea around this?" Like let them take ownership is so much more honoring of getting the response that you're looking for when I call that setting them up to win.
CrisMarie: Lovely. I mean, when you're working with your clients, what are some of the biggest problems that they come to you? I think we were, this might have even been before we were recording about, we deal with conflict and I think you were saying that's the biggest impediment often in their relationship with their honey, their person.
Allana: Yeah. It's an inability. Well, first I would say like why I think you two are like the shit, that you see the beauty in conflict. Most people have been raised at conflict is bad and wrong and so avoid it at all costs. Now I love sitting in the fire. I love, give me your shadow, let's go. Where's your demon? Let's have a party. I know, through personal experience and working with clients, that that's where the juice is, the transformation is the evolution is, is in the discomfort. So I have a different point of view, but most of us, and me included, were raised that conflict is bad. So the first part when couples come to me is like, what if this was good? What if this was a gift? What if there's something hiding in here like a treasure? I get that it's intense, but hell, orgasms are intense. We have no problem with that.
Allana: I got it. I got it. And if we first have a new point of view and then we learn to sit in fires and stay connected to self, intimacy with self, so we don't need the other to be a certain way in order to be okay, which gives them space to be and allows us to be more curious and hear them actually, because we're actually listening. We're not three steps ahead trying to dominate and control and find a solution. We're just seeking to understand and then get them more into curiosity about what's going on.
So I would say that's one of the reasons they come is that they don't know how to navigate conflict. They don't know how to navigate intense emotions and stay present, whether their own being, and it quite often moves into power games. Well, then sexless marriage and "I'm not going to put out if he's going to be such and such" or "I'm not going to come home if she's going to be a bitch" and they come to me normally because the sex isn't working. But that to me is the effect of a cause that happened a long time ago and yes, I'm committed to them having rocking awesome sex, but just the bridging of genitals isn't really what they're looking for.
They're really looking for safety in the heart, being seen for their deepest, truest self and the incredible flow of life force energy when we are embodied with an open heart, open vagina, this energy in us as us and through us, like that's really what we're looking for, to experience and to share with another. And that physical expression is the same physical or same verbal expression in our communication. It's the same honor and listening and care and really being three steps ahead, wanting to know how can, I from fullness, because I do my own inner work and take care of myself and I have an intimate relationship with myself, from that wholeness, how can I be three steps ahead as a gift to my partner? I've had to make them feel more safe, seen, and understood. Oh, they like gifts. Oh, they like touch. Oh, they like words of affirmation. Oh, they like that I planned that getaway next month.
This generosity of spirit can't happen in emptiness of "What have you done for me lately?" It comes from taking care of yourself, taking responsibility, true forgiveness, which, to me, is, thank you, forgive. The word forgive is in there, like, "Thank you for giving me this experience."
CrisMarie: Oh, I like that. I've never noticed that. That's cute.
Allana: Cool. Thanks. Thank you for giving me this experience because it's given me an opportunity to let go of this, step into that. Something inside of me can emerge. You are my teacher. Thank you. All of these conversations occur in a period of time of working with couples or singles. Yeah.
CrisMarie: I know for even myself when I'm more, "Oh, Susan, you need to do this" or it's because usually, and we were never taught how to feel our feelings, the energy of our feelings. So we're, it's usually when I'm like, "Ah, I want to get away from me, so can you fix me? Can you fix me?" And it's really me running away from this energy that feels like tightness in my chest or desperation or, and the more I can let that energy kind of run through my body, the more I have that sense, one, I felt sense of intimacy connecting to myself, but there's less need for Susan to do something on the outside.
Allana: Well said. Beautifully said. Yeah, I didn't even know I had an inside. I was like my sweet dad, like he's dry now, but he was drunk and stoned most of my life and my mum was checked out just trying to keep it all together, codependent. And so all I knew is how to stay three steps ahead to not get in trouble. That's all I knew. I didn't know how to be on the inside. And when I started to, "Oh, one divorce. Oh, two divorces. Huh? The only one in common's me? Maybe we should do some work." And so I realized that I had no relationship with my heart, my soul, my little you, this, I had no intimacy with self. And as soon as I went to look beneath the chin, slow the spinning down and just be, I was terrified. There was like Niagara Falls bottled up inside of me and I needed help and processes of how to integrate this stuck energy inside of me.
And so I, while I am, I believe I'm like a master coach level, I create extraordinary results, but I'm also a perpetual students. I'm always getting new certifications, always curious about the next level of quantum psychology or brain science. I just got back from Heart Math down in Cancún last week of more like show me scientifically what my intuition knows so I can support more skeptical people of why these processes really work. And we were taught that you can't think your way into coherence, unity, harmony. You can only-