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Kathy Marshack News

Is Mansplaining Keeping You from Being Heard?

Wednesday, April 27, 2016


If men interrupt and hijack your conversations, or you’re a man who does the hijacking and people are tuning you out, then you’re a victim of mansplaining.Do people, men especially, interrupt you and hijack every conversation you try to have? Or are you a man who does the hijacking, and you sense that people are tuning you out? Either way, you’ve become a victim of mansplaining. “What’s that”, you ask? While Merriam-Webster hasn’t included mansplaining in their dictionary yet, they’re considering adding it. Their website defines it as:

“Mansplaining occurs when a man talks condescendingly to someone (especially a woman) about something he has incomplete knowledge of, with the mistaken assumption that he knows more about it than the person he's talking to does.”

A recent op-ed in the NYTimes by Julia Baird summarizes a number of studies and the ramifications of differing communication style between men and women. Here are some of her conclusions…

Women are accused of talking a lot, but social science has found that men are more likely to out talk women in certain circumstances, specifically in professional settings or in larger groups. They discovered that when the setting is more social or more collaborative in nature, women out talked men.

The differences aren’t only in the amount of time men and women spend talking. Men talk more directly and forcefully. Women are more likely to censor or edit themselves. They use phrases like “kind of,” “probably”, “might”, “could”, “maybe,” “um,” and “I mean.” They also turn sentences into questions, as if to ask “am I right”. They worry about being viewed as too aggressive if they speak up.

This shows that having a seat at the table is not the same as having a voice in the discussion. Women have been taught to be self-deprecating, to not make a scene, to keep the peace. So we may learn patterns of speech that minimize our power. As more women assume leadership roles, it’s imperative that we pay attention to our communication style and bring it in line with the positions of authority that we hold. If you do, you’ll find that most men really do want to hear what you have to say.

Perhaps long held thoughts and feelings are holding you back from being heard in professional settings? Or maybe you’re married to a man with a dominating communication style that stifles your ability to be heard? If you want to learn to communicate more effectively, as an individual or a couple, and you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment. If you live elsewhere, we can also discuss best communication practices for business and/or family relationships via a secure video Q & A session. This would come under the heading of Entrepreneurial Couples Remote Education.

Are You Mentally and Emotionally Prepared to Retire from Your Job?

Monday, April 25, 2016


Determine if you’re mentally and emotionally prepared to retire from your job, by answering these questions about retirement, because it’s not just about finances.“If I retired, I’d have more time with the grandkids. I’d get to enjoy my hobby more. I could finally relax. I wouldn’t have to get up so early and always be on all the time.”

Do thoughts like these cross your mind? If you’re of the baby boomer generation, it’s imperative to give retirement preparation serious consideration right now. And not all your decisions should be based on whether you’re financially prepared to enjoy your retirement. Whether your retirement is successful or not depends more on your emotional and mental preparation.

Before you hand in your retirement notice, ask yourself these questions:

Does your present job give you fulfillment or purpose? Then it may not be time to walk away from it. How will you spend your time? What life direction will you take? Do you have something planned that will give you more purpose in life? You don’t want to end up feeling bored, restless and useless.

Do you want to retire because you hate your job? Perhaps retiring isn’t the answer. What you really might need is to find a new career that fulfills you. Why not try volunteering for a worthy cause, which in time could lead you to a new vocation.

How will retirement affect your social life? If your entire social life revolves around work, you may end up feeling alone when you retire. It would be good to make sure you have a good social network in place before you step into retirement. On the other hand, if you’re already regretting the time you don’t spend with your family and friends, then this may be a good indicator that it’s time to think about retiring. Don’t forget to give some thought to how your choice will affect your marriage if your spouse doesn’t retire at the same time that you do.

Do you have realistic expectations of retirement? Sleeping until noon, puttering around, and staying in your pjs all day, will get old and stale quickly. You’re going to have a lot of time on your hands. How will you fill it? If you’re not already involved in activities you love outside of work, then it’s time to begin finding some that you enjoy.

Have you prepared the next generation to take over? When you’ve been at the helm of the family firm, it may be difficult to let go. As a result, your children may not be ready for the responsibility that you’ll be giving them. If they’re not ready, start formulating a plan to train them today.

Have you built up a stewardship? As an entrepreneur, do you take your responsibility seriously to give back to the community who supported your growth? You can read the story of Bob Thompson who is a sterling example of stewardship.

Change inevitably brings stress. Some people are not as well equipped to handle it as they thought. If you find yourself in this situation, don’t hesitate to reach out for help from a professional coach or family therapist. She can help you sort out your feelings and get you back on track. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment.

A No Cost Treatment for Depression, Memory Loss and ADHD – Go for a Hike!

Wednesday, April 20, 2016


A No Cost Treatment for Depression, Memory Loss and ADHD – Go for a Hike!How would you like a no cost way to stay in shape, clear your mind, spark creativity, reduce depression and anxiety, and change the way your brain works? It’s easy. Just go for a hike! Now that spring weather is warming up here in the Pacific Northwest, it’s a great time to get outside and take a hike in the woods. Not only will you see beautiful scenery, smell wonderful woodsy scents, and exercise your muscles, you’ll actually be making positive changes to your brain, as the following studies show.

University of British Columbia researchers found that aerobic exercise increases hippocampal volume in women over the age of 70. That’s the part of the brain associated with spatial and episodic memory. Who doesn’t want a better memory? Hiking will do that and so much more. It also reduces stress and anxiety, boosts self-esteem, and releases endorphins.

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reports on a study about how rumination (repetitive negative thought about self) is affected by urban setting versus a 90 minute walk in the woodsy park. Not surprisingly, they found that spending time in nature significantly decreases obsessive, negative thoughts. It also reduces neural activity in the subgenual prefrontal cortex, an area of the brain related to mental illness. Those who walked through an urban setting, however, didn’t receive these benefits. In fact, the researchers discovered that increased urbanization correlates to increased mental illnesses.

When you go for your hike, leave your phone off! Here’s why…Psychologists Ruth Ann Atchley and David L. Strayer found that creative problem-solving skills are greatly improved by ditching technology and going for a hike. After a 4 day backpacking tip, (without any tech tools turned on), the participants’ creative thinking and problem-solving skills improved 50%. It also improves your relationships since you’ll have more of an opportunity to talk. For your safety, I would suggest having the phone with you, but only turn it on if you experience problems and need help.

Hiking also helps children with ADHD. Frances E Kup, Ph.D. and Andrea Faber Taylor, Ph.D. found that children with ADHD improved their ability to pay attention and control their impulsive behavior when they engaged in nature activities.

We live in such a beautiful area. I hope I’ve motivated you to find a few trails and recharge. However, it’s important to realize if you or your loved one is experiencing serious mental health issues such as persistent anxiety or depression, it’s important to consult a mental health professional for proper diagnosis and treatment. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment.

Understanding Autism - Why Do They Have Trouble Making Eye Contact?

Monday, April 18, 2016


Understand Why people with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) can look you in the eye sometimes (albeit briefly) and at other times they can’t make eye contactWhy is it that people with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) can look you in the eye sometimes (albeit briefly) and at other times they can’t? Until now, ASD researchers have had difficulty identifying the triggers that cause people on the autism spectrum to avoid eye contact.

Psychology Today reports on a new study that is unlocking the puzzle. Researchers at the University of Vermont (UVM) devised an experiment using eye-tracking technology and Skype. The scientists observed and tracked the eye movements of children between the ages six and twelve. Nineteen of the participants were typically developing children and the other eighteen were children with autism.

As they conversed about “things people do” topics, all of the children made eye contact. However, when the conversation switched to talking about “things people feel,” the children with ASD began looking at the mouth rather than the eyes. The researchers also found that the more severe the autism is the more frequently the child avoided eye contact.

The researchers associate the shifting gaze and autism severity with lower levels of executive function (EF). They hypothesize that talking about emotions short circuits their EF, so the children shift their gaze so they won’t overload their cerebral limit. Whereas, the NT person looks for emotional and social cues from facial expressions, especially from the eyes, the ASD child finds it too overwhelming. As a result, children with ASD haven’t developed social skills.

To summarize what lead author Tiffany Hutchins, Ph.D. said:

"When a child with ASD talks with me about emotions, it’s very draining. It's like driving in a snowstorm. They don't just watch passively. They have to monitor my engagement, think about what I'm doing, my tone, and my affect to get my full meaning. They are totally focused, every move is tense and effortful, and their executive function drains away. In fact, we found that decreased working memory correlated with decreased eye fixations, so as working memory decreases, we see fewer fixations on the eyes."

She concluded that pressuring children with autism to make eye contact can potentially backfire. It may be best to recognize their need to gaze away in order to reserve his or her executive function resources. Instead, she recommends changing how you phrase things using “what people do” versus “how they feel” and you’ll have a profound impact on where the eyes go for information. And don’t forget to give positive reinforcement for their good behavior.

Does your family need personalized help with learning how to cope with Asperger’s Syndrome, a high functioning form of Autism Spectrum Disorder? If so, and you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment.

How to Handle the Loneliness of a NT/ASD Relationship

Friday, April 15, 2016


The loneliness you feel in your relationship with one who has Asperger’s (ASD) is heartbreaking, leaving you emotionally bereft, but there is help and hope…I often hear from new members of our Asperger Syndrome: Partners & Family of Adults with ASD group, or those who have found my books, that they finally don't feel so alone. They’re stunned that someone knows what they live with. They tell me that the stories in my books are nearly identical to their own. And they wonder how that’s possible!

It's possible because I know only too well the loneliness of life with Aspies. When I was first coming to terms with the loneliness and how to take back my life, there was no one to help me. There were no books, no knowledgeable psychotherapists, and not even friends anymore. Not only was I alone and trying to parent two children with special needs, but I was dragged into a hostile divorce that intrigued the community (e.g. more than once my situation was front page news).

The main thing that saved me was writing my books. I knew that there had to be others like me. I had a few clients with the same dilemmas too. When I sat down to draft my books, I felt free. Finally I was freely expressing myself about the convoluted life of ASD/NT relationships.

The second thing that saved me was starting the Asperger Syndrome: Partners & Family of Adults with ASD group. Inviting all of you into a worldwide community has made all of the difference to me. We come from all walks of life, from every continent. We speak many languages and celebrate a variety of cultural traditions. Yet we instantly understand each other when we share our stories about ourselves and our Aspies.

If you’re a member of this group, you’re invited to the next free TeleConference where we’ll be discussion: How to handle the loneliness. It will be held on Thursday, April 21st at 2:30 PM PDT. Join us as we break down the loneliness barriers. Come prepared to share your successes and your dilemmas. After all we’re a community and we’re here to support you and to gain support.

One recent member was helped so much by this group that she said: “Thank you for creating this group. Since learning about ASD, my husband has done a lot of work on his emotional awareness and responsiveness, in therapy and on his own. We're doing well! Thanks again for the support.”

If you’re a NT in an Aspie relationship – whether with a spouse, parent, partner, or child – know that there is a community of people waiting to welcome you with open arms. Join the Asperger Syndrome: Partners & Family of Adults with ASD Meetup group and start getting acquainted today.

Read more on my website: Asperger & Marriage and Asperger Syndrome Support.

Men vs. Women When Making Decisions - Can You Leverage Your Differences?

Wednesday, April 13, 2016


Differences in how men and women communicate and make decisions can drive you crazy unless you learn to integrate or reconcile these communication styles.Have you ever wondered why the symbol for "Justice" is a woman and she's blind to boot? Or another curiosity is that the statue in New York harbor, representing the United States of America is Lady Liberty. What is it that these female spirits represent? Why are women the symbol of our judicial system and the country as a whole?

 

One of the most interesting areas of the dynamics between men and women is how they make decisions. One way I sum it up is that men make the first best decision, but women seek out the best-best decision. In the fashion of Lady Justice (where the blindfold represents impartiality), women look at all sides of an issue before deciding anything. They value everyone's opinion in the process of moving toward a decision. They may have a strong opinion themselves, but like the blind Lady, they’re willing to stay impartial until they’ve gathered enough information from others.

 

Men on the other hand seek to move the situation along as swiftly as possible. Regardless of everyone's view, men tend to value the efficiency of getting to the answer quickly. If a man has an opinion, dialogue with others is not always to merely gather information, but to persuade others toward his point of view.

How does this dynamic work when a husband/wife team needs to make decisions together? If they understand each other well, then the decision-making dynamic is powerful. If they don't, then each party can feel very misunderstood.

 

For example, if the wife is gathering information from her husband then she may initiate a discussion with her husband. He often doesn't hear that she wants to discuss the subject. Rather he hears that she wants him to make a decision. Therefore he tells her his decision and considers the discussion completed. She leaves unfulfilled because she wants to toss ideas around before a decision is made. Later when the husband's decision is not carried out, the husband may feel frustrated because he thought a decision had been made.

 

Sound familiar? It's because women tend to have discussions and men tend to go strait to decisions. When a wife recognizes that her husband has a need to get things done as efficiently as possible, she can refocus her energy onto solutions, even if she would like just a little more discussion.

The different decision-making styles can be an asset, if there is an integration of the male perspective and the female perspective. However, often a husband and wife get stuck because they do not recognize the dynamic that is going on. They often find it beneficial to consult with a professional who can facilitate this discussion. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA, feel free to contact my office and schedule an appointment.

 

Read more on my website: Conflict & Communication.

 

Why Do Ones with Asperger’s Syndrome Always Say NO!

Wednesday, April 06, 2016


Discover why ones with Asperger’s Syndrome default to non committal answers when they’re asked questions or given invitations, so you can learn how to cope.If you’ve been around someone with Asperger’s Syndrome for very long, you’ll notice our Aspie loved ones default to non-committal answers when they’re asked questions or are invited to fun activities. Some variations on NO! are, "I don't know," or "I don't want to," or just a blank stare.

How do you react to this situation? Many people become infuriated by this behavior and give up. Hopefully you’ve gone beyond holding your own life back because your Aspie spouse can’t commit. It’s important to make plans without your Aspie.

It might help to understand the reason behind this behavior. That way you can plan accordingly. It's pretty simple really. No is a response that buys time. It doesn't really mean, NO! It means "I don't understand," or "I need more time to process what you are saying," or "I don't see what this has to do with me."

Because Aspies lack empathy, they don't bother to think about why you’re asking or what might be your motivation. They don't consider doing something with you or for you, just for the simple pleasure of making you happy. They may want you to be happy but they can't fathom why that means they have to answer your question – especially since the way you phrase it makes no sense to them.

For example, you might say, "Honey, I was thinking of taking the kids to the coast this weekend. What do you think?"

He/She says, "Have a nice time."

You say, "Well I want to make it a family time for all of us."

He/She says, "You go and have fun. I don't want to go."

You say, "Well it's been a long time since you joined the kids and me for an outing. I'd like you to come along."

He/She says, "I don't have time to go. I have a lot of work to do."

You say, "Why don't you ever want to do anything with us?"

He/She looks at you as if you have two heads and says, "That's not true!"

I could go on but you get the picture. If you’re a member of the Asperger Syndrome: Partners & Family of Adults with ASD Meetup, and you’d like to join 10 other NT members as we discuss this topic, please sign up for the next Video Conference: Why do they always say NO! on Thursday, April 14th 9AM PDT or Thursday, April 28th at 3PM PDT. There are still a few spots left. We’ll explore how to get past this resistance so you can have meaningful conversations that actually get somewhere, instead of pure frustration. I'm not promising you they’ll suddenly be a delight to live with, but there are some small detours around their penchant for saying NO!

Make Better Decisions by Increasing Your Emotional IQ

Monday, April 04, 2016


Make Better Decisions by Increasing Your Emotional IQSuccessful people who always seem to be in the right place at the right time aren't any smarter than you are. They’ve simply learned how to trust an "inner knowing" based upon using all of the resources available to them. They have trained themselves to able to perceive, interpret, and act upon the emotional, mental, physical and even spiritual cues they receive in an effective manner.

This heightened emotional intelligence is an invaluable skill that we all can learn and improve. While there is nothing like practice and life experience, here are a few basic tips to improve your decision making by including relevant feeling information.

1. Always checkout your feelings before making any decision.

2. Inquire after another's feelings before proceeding to decision making.

3. Check your feelings again after arriving at the decision.

4. Remember that "feeling good" about something doesn't always mean that the decision is correct.

5. Be willing to acknowledge that you’re afraid or angry or confused.

Hiding these feelings from yourself may deny you powerful and necessary information. These feelings are telling you whether or not you’re in alignment with your greatest purpose in life.

In practical terms, if you can agree with all of the following statements, your Emotional IQ is quite high.

1. I don’t become defensive when criticized.
2. I stay calm under pressure.
3. I handle setbacks effectively.
4. I manage anxiety, stress, anger and fear in pursuit of a goal.
5. I use criticism and other feedback for growth.
6. I’m a positive person.
7. I can maintain a sense of humor.
8. I see things from another’s perspective.
9. I recognize how my behavior affects others.
10. I air grievances skillfully.
11. I listen without jumping to judgment.
12. I freely admit mistakes.

How did you do? See anything you’d like to improve? Sometime long-held patterns of behavior are difficult to break. Many people have found that consulting with a psychologist give them the support they need to break through any lingering resistance. If this describes your situation, and you live near Portland, OR, please contact my office and schedule an appointment.



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