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Kathy Marshack News

Restore Balance by Strengthening Your Spiritual Life

Wednesday, July 27, 2016


Those who embrace their spirit connection find greater health and prosperity, because the three legs of a balanced life are mind, body and spirit. After struggling for years to make ends meet, many parents say, “I don’t want my children to suffer or work as hard as I had to.” This brings up the question: Is suffering really a bad thing?

Viktor Frankl, a survivor of a Nazi concentration camp, wrote, "Man is not diminished by suffering but by suffering without meaning." Many people do suffer as a result of having allowed their lives to become unbalanced, of crossing boundaries in unhealthy ways, and of denying the inevitability of change.

In order to restore balance, you must create a healthy lifestyle for yourself and the ones you love and work with. If you have been attending to the mind and the body, you are well on your way to a healthy integration of intimacy, family life, and meaningful work. However, until you assess and address the strength of your spirit, you will not achieve true balance or prosperity. How do you do that?

Remember that spirit is not bound by religion. But as Frankl suggests it defines the meaning of life. Many successful people have a strong sense of spirit and they do believe in God. The spirit connection is not just a belief in God but the ability to relate to God, often through communities such as churches provide. The healthiest Americans are often members of those religious groups that have a strong identity with their church. It’s not the religion per se that contributes to overall health, but the intensity of the commitment to spirit, whether by being a member of a religious community or by maintaining a spiritual practice or connection in some other way.

Although most Americans believe in God, many of us are prone to having fragmented and impersonal lives, which leads to hedonism, increasing drug addiction and other health problems. Spirituality in the sense of the expression of our spirit is not a regular part of our lives because so many of us have abandoned religion. According to Kabbani, a physician and author on Islamic spiritual healing practices, religion gives us something to believe in, an identity, a way to know ourselves in relation to others. Churches, therefore, provide a community within which to know ourselves, to belong, and to repair our fragmented lives.

Since for years I’ve worked coaching entrepreneurial couples, I know many of them list church attendance as one of the last things on their list of things to do. After all, you are busy people, working fifty to sixty hours a week. When would you find the time? You barely have a few moments to eat a quick meal and watch television before falling into bed at the end of your day. However, just as you have reevaluated other aspects of your life and business plans, you need to reevaluate your spirit connection.

If you really want to create a balance among intimacy, family life, and meaningful work, you need to repair the third leg of the mind-body-spirit connection. (Furthermore, if you want to live long enough to enjoy the fruits of your labors, you might want to reconsider the use of television as an expedient stress reliever. According to a review of the research by Dale Matthews, M.D., and Herb Koenig, Ph.D., there is a positive correlation between television watching and mortality: In other words, the more you watch TV the shorter your life.)

Chapter 10 of my book, Entrepreneurial Couples – Making It Work at Work and at Home, helps you do a deeply, personal self-examination on living a balanced life. If you have questions about what you read, I’m available for an online Q & A session.

Should You Mold Your Children or Help Them Discover Who They Really Are?

Monday, July 25, 2016


Should You Mold Your Children or Help Them Discover Who They Really Are?Parenting is a full-time job. Every parent wants the best for their children. Therefore, we devote a great deal of time and resources to training, teaching, and guiding them. But is there more to parenting than us teaching them?

Another way to look at parenting is that your job is to get to know your child. Why? Human development is never-ending. Just as you’re assisting your child in the unfolding of his or her identity, he or she is assisting you in the same way.

For example, by taking note of my older daughter’s incredible artistic abilities, even from a very young age, I learned a lot about her, and myself. I learned that my daughter has qualities that I don’t possess. I learned that she’s delightful to get to know. And I learned that I can learn from her, too. This intersecting of the developing progressions of two individuals is referred to as a dialogue. (Thus, the name dialectical psychology – the system of psychology that provides the theoretical foundation for my book, Entrepreneurial Couples: Making It Work at Work and at Home.)

Even though children are dependent on their parents and quite impressionable, especially when they’re young, a child comes into this world with a lot of traits already "hardwired." Any parent who has more than one child will tell you that each baby was different. Even when brothers and sisters have the same parents, grow up together in the same house with their siblings, under roughly the same conditions, they turn out differently. The reason is that each individual is a product of both heredity and environmental influences.

But the development of a child is still more complex than heredity plus environment. Each child uses his or her innate resources (heredity) to perceive and then interpret the experiences (environment) he or she is exposed to. One person may interpret that tingly feeling in the spine as fear, while another person perceives the same feeling as thrilling. As your child interprets or makes sense of the environment over time, he or she acquires a number of beliefs about the world. These beliefs develop into a larger structure within which your child builds a life.

As parents you’re in a wonderful position to be part of this unfolding of your child. However, it’s important that you understand that your job is not to mold and shape your child as if he or she were a little lump of clay. Your child is a dynamic being who is discovering himself or herself while growing up. Your job is to assist in that discovery, to guide and protect, and to provide opportunities for even more discovery; but your job is definitely not to dictate your child's life.

If you as the parent are a strong leader, and if you realize that your job is to get to know your child while at the same time getting to know yourself, your child will develop normally and with positive self-esteem. With positive self-esteem, your child will be prepared to handle most anything that comes his or her way. Knowing and liking who he or she is makes it easier for the child to ask questions, take risks, and correct mistakes. If you show your child that he or she is a valuable person by demonstrating your interest, your child will feel comfortable about going out into the world to discover how to best use his or her talents.

There is no need to wait until there is distance, or even animosity, between you and your children to get assistance. If you need help getting to know your children, and appreciating who they are and what they contribute, please contact my office and schedule and appointment if you live in the Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA area.

If you live outside the office area, please schedule an appointment through a secure video Q & A session. This feature can be found under Entrepreneurial Couples Remote Education.

Entrepreneurs – 9 Warning Signs that You Need to Change Your Life Before It’s Too Late

Wednesday, July 20, 2016


Discover nine warning signs that life is about to change or NEEDS to change – they’ll help you tune into your own unique signals so you’re not blindsided.  Although change is constant, busy entrepreneurs often don’t recognize that change is happening and even go out of their way to try to stop the inevitable. When we do this, we create more hardship for ourselves, and those around us, than if we simply acknowledged the need for change in the first place.

Through my research on entrepreneurial couples for my book Entrepreneurial Couples: Making It Work at Work and at Home, I identified nine common warning signs that change is needed or may be coming. (They’re in bold font in this article.) Outright failure is a certain signal that change is needed, but waiting until that point may be so destructive as to be irreparable.

What makes more sense than waiting for outright failure is to learn to pay attention to those subtle wake-up calls that speak to you each day. Let’s consider some of these warning signs:

Boredom
One such wake-up call is boredom. A common way to deal with boredom is to come up with distractions to keep yourself entertained. However, the answers to boredom cannot be found outside yourself, through a new hobby or some other diversion. What you need to do is search within yourself to discover just what the boredom means. Only then can you make a real, meaningful change to bring a spark back to your life.

Confusion
Related to boredom is confusion. Confusion is another subtle sign that can be easily dismissed by focusing on something that’s less confusing. When we’re confused, we feel uncomfortable, even incompetent, especially if we’re perfectionistic entrepreneurs. But confusion is a valuable sign that a stable pattern has been interrupted. Stepping back, examining your motives and role in a given situation, and understanding your partner’s motives and role are important to clearing confusion and moving forward.

Unproductive Habitual Behavior
A potent warning sign that change is needed is when we engage in habitual behavior, even though it doesn’t work anymore. It’s a strange fact of life that once we get something working, it doesn’t work forever. In fact, just at the point that you get something working really well, it usually starts to decline. Such is the nature of change.

Therefore, it’s very important to assess your habits. You’ve developed habits because they’re convenient mechanisms for getting things done without having to give them much thought. However, when the habit really doesn’t serve the purpose anymore, stop doing it! It’s better to do nothing than to continue pursuing a habit that may have even become counterproductive.

Turning Points
Life's major turning points are another time for important changes. The natural turning points in life, which we’ve come to expect and accept anyway, are also a time to reevaluate our goals and values. Graduating from high school or college, getting married, giving birth to your first child, receiving a job promotion, turning fifty, and losing a parent, are all such turning points. Because of acquiring wealth and the leisure time that goes along with it, entrepreneurs are often able to take advantage of turning points to enhance their lives personally and professionally.

Since these turning points are bound to happen anyway, it seems foolish to deny them. Why not plan ahead? Change is inevitable with each step along the developing progressions of life. Even though you can’t know for certain what each turning point will bring you, you can at least recognize that change is happening and be alert to the phenomenon.

Boredom, confusion, unproductive habitual behavior, and life's naturally occurring turning points are only some of the subtle wake-up calls that you can strive to tune in to as you and your partner progress both personally and professionally. Others include fatigue, weight gain or loss, lack of sexual desire, and forgetfulness, among many others. As you pay attention to yourself more and as you come to appreciate change, you’ll tune in to your own unique signals. This is the kind of self-knowledge that successful people are known for.

Sometimes we need help to identify the signs that change is necessary. Other times we need help accepting the changes that are inevitable and happening right in front of us. If you need help appreciating the changes in your life, and you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment.

If you live elsewhere, we can schedule an appointment via a secure video Q & A session. Learn more by visiting Entrepreneurial Couples Remote Education.

Stumped by Your Aspie? How to Translate What They’re Trying to Say

Monday, July 18, 2016


If you’re stumped when it comes to communicating with your Asperger’s Syndrome loved one, here are some tips for translating what they’re trying to say.Communication – this is a topic addressed over and over again when I counsel family members who have Asperger Syndrome (Aspies) and is frequently the topic of discussion at our Meetup (Asperger Syndrome: Partners and Family of Adults with ASD). Having raised a daughter with Asperger’s I understand the frustration many of you feel when you try to understand what exactly your Aspie is trying to say.

If any of you are familiar with Star Trek, you might envy the Universal Translator on board the ship that automatically translates every language and sends the translations directly to the chip implanted in the brain of every officer on the Enterprise. Wouldn’t that be helpful!

While a Universal Translator doesn’t exist, we do have another option: Always speak to the good intention, whatever it is, even if you are not sure. When you get a confusing message from your Aspie partner or child, always assume it makes sense somehow, someway. Trust that there is a good intention behind the message even if is speaking Aspie.

By maintaining a neutral position, you are better able to answer the question, “Why is he/she telling me this?”

When I get stumped by a confusing message from an Aspie, I use the phrase, “That’s right,” in order to bring me to neutral. The phrase reminds me that the other person is “right” in that they have a good intention, which has meaning to them. “That’s right,” also helps me know that I am “right,” in that I am capable of good intentions. You may not always be able to get the message translated, but at least being in neutral puts you in a much better frame of mind for the attempt.

Here’s a simple example. When my daughter Bianca was 8, she wrote me a note about trouble she was having at lunch at school. She grew up around my home office, so she observed that my office manager and I often exchanged written notes (even with the advent of e-mail). If I was with a client, Bianca would leave me a note, so that I would be sure to answer her when I had a break from appointments.

Notes became Bianca’s version of the Universal Translator. Her penchant for writing as opposed to talking with me should be noted. It is a typical Aspie trait to find comfort in the written word—because face-to-face communication requires empathy and the interpretation of confusing non-verbal messages.

So the next time you feel stumped by your Aspie, put yourself in neutral and then ask yourself these questions:

  • What do I know about this person?
  • What is important to him or her?
  • What are their interests, beliefs and opinions?

Then do your best to speak to those things, instead of relying only on your interpretation of reality. If you want to delve deeper into understanding how to communicate with your Aspie check out my book, “Out of Mind – Out of Sight: Parenting with a Partner with Asperger Syndrome (ASD)", you can download the first chapter for free. If you have questions about what you read I’m available for an online Q & A session.

 

Entrepreneurs - Money Problems Are Really Indicators of Bigger Issues

Wednesday, July 13, 2016


Every entrepreneur experiences financial struggles, yet money problems arise because of how you think or what you believe about money and how you use it.Do you have problems with money? Actually that’s a misleading question. The fact is you really don’t have problems with money. Money is a neutral form of exchange. It’s neither good nor bad. Money in itself isn’t the problem. The problem is how you think or what you believe about money and how you, in turn, use it.

In situations of extreme dysfunction it’s not surprising that money problems surface along with addictions and domestic violence. As I have said several times, once one ethical boundary is crossed, it becomes easier to cross others.

Yet it’s equally true that not all problems in an entrepreneurial relationship eventually cause money problems. Some couples retain their financial wealth in spite of problems in other areas of their business and life. Still other couples are able to keep a problem isolated long enough to work it out so that the balance is restored before the consequences affect the pocketbook. In the case of dual entrepreneurs, money trouble may trigger events that upset the balance of their lives and business.

There isn’t an entrepreneur that hasn’t experienced financial problems. Perhaps your first venture fizzled out. Perhaps a change in the industry forced you to seek diversification. You may have had to borrow money to make payroll on at least one occasion. You may even have faced bankruptcy.

The American Dream is not as easy to achieve as the naive may think. It takes hard work and resilience—often a lot of resilience to fight back when the cash flow has dried up. When you have life and business plans, and when you’ve been attending to your stress level and keeping your developing progressions in a healthy balance, you can face money troubles with determination and creativity. Unpleasant as the task may be, healthy people do what they need to do. Still, you never know just exactly how you will survive a financial disaster until you face one.

Even though your life may not be as out of control as the lives of some, you still may be alarmed by the stories you hear and these may alert you to changes you need to make in your own life. My book, Entrepreneurial Couples: Making It Work at Work and Home provides many Self-Assessment Exercises that can guide you as you build your own personal and couple power plan for total mental, physical, and spiritual health and well-being. If you have questions about what you read, I’m available for an online Q & A session.


Yoga PLUS Exercise Improves Mood Faster than Exercise Alone

Monday, July 11, 2016


Yoga plus Exercise Improves Mood Faster than Exercise AloneHave you noticed that familiar words and names elude you sometimes? If you’re over 40 be assured that this is a common occurrence. While some memory decline is inevitable over time, there’s much we can do to slow it down by how we live and move our bodies.

We’ve known for some time that staying physically active is crucial to mental wellbeing. Interestingly, a New York Times article recently reported on how you can intensify the effect of exercise by adding yoga and meditation to your weekly routine.

In one study, people suffering from depression were asked to meditate before they went for a run. In an amazingly short period of time, they showed greater improvements in their mood than those who did either running or meditation alone.

Another study
, published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, showed that all participants performed significantly better on their cognitive-thinking tests after increasing their exercise. However, only after adding yoga to the 12-week exercise routine, did the mood of the participants significantly improve. Exercise alone was not as affective in altering moods.

They also did brain scans on both groups (only exercise v. exercise plus yoga), which showed improved communication between the brains areas involved in memory and language skills. People who practiced yoga had developed more communication between parts of the brain that control attention, suggesting a greater ability to focus.

Dr. Helen Lavretsky, a professor of psychiatry at U.C.L.A. who oversaw the study noted that the reduction in stress hormones and anxiety likely played a substantial role in the improvement, as well as, an increased level of biochemicals in the muscles. I encourage you to read the entire article here.

If you have severe depression or trauma-induced depression, yoga in conjunction with working with a professional who has special trauma therapy training might be a better treatment for you. Sometimes yoga brings up too much painful stuff to be handled without therapy. If you’re ready to try this treatment and you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment.


How to Cope as our Aspies Get Older

Wednesday, July 06, 2016


Aging in those with aspergers is uncharted waters, so learn how to help them, while at the same time caring for yourself emotionally – 7/14 teleconference.We have so little information on what happens as Aspie's age. (For some helpful hints, read Liane Holliday Willey Ed.D article about caring for her own aged Aspie father entitled, Supporting Elder Aspies.) We have even less information on how to help the NTs who are aging along with them. There are health issues, legal issues and financial issues, but the most profound is the despair that no one understands or can help.

Over the years, our Asperger Syndrome: Partners and Family of Adults with ASD Meetup group has had had many discussions about these mind numbing relationships and how to care for yourself emotionally in relation to a spouse or adult on the Autism Spectrum. In the July teleconference we’ll discuss how to care for yourself as aging moves to the forefront. Disability, health problems, financial security, housing and so much more confront us as we age, but the issues are dramatically compounded when living with an Aspie.

Even if you are young or middle aged, I’m sure you have had fears about what will happen to you or your children if your aging Aspie should deteriorate further . . .or worse if they have to take care of you!

Please, join us in this discussion of how to prepare for this stage of life. You are not alone, even if you think you are. The teleconference, Aging with your Aspie, will be held on Thursday, July 14th at 2:30 PM. Click here to register. You must be a member of the Asperger Syndrome: Partners and Family of Adults with ASD to attend this free, international teleconference.

Read more on my website: Asperger Syndrome FAQ’s.

More Advanced Truths that Stimulate Healthy Communication

Monday, July 04, 2016


Learn these more advanced truths that stimulate healthy communication and avoid the communication traps, such as “but he said’ or “that’s not what I meant!”Communication is the lifeblood of any relationship, whether we’re talking about friendships, marriages, or business partnerships. When you combine these relationships and your business partner is also your best friend and spouse communication skills become even more critical.

Earlier I wrote about two truths when it comes to communication: 1) the explanation used to describe a person or situation is not the person and 2) people do not operate out of sensory experience, but rather out of their interpretation or map of reality.

Today we’ll explore two more advanced truths that foster healthy communication:

#3 All people mean well or have good intentions.

This advanced truth is often hard for people to swallow. It’s that all people mean well or have good intentions. Remember that these are useful presuppositions, not absolute truths. It’s useful to believe that at any given moment your partner is doing the best he or she knows how. If you at least credit your partner for operating out of his or her map of reality to accomplish desirable goals, then chances are the person will feel respected. From respect comes trust, followed by the desire to communicate with you to reach a mutually satisfying agreement.

#4 The person with the most flexibility has control of the system.

The fourth advanced truth is that the person with the most flexibility has control of the system. For example, when your child is screaming in the supermarket, it’s likely that you will not be able to get her under control by asking politely. Just at that moment when you are begging her to cooperate, she throws herself on the floor or knocks several items off the shelf as you push the cart by. If you become embarrassed by her display, you may be tempted to punish or bribe her. You may also try to leave the store as soon as possible, making apologies as you fly out the door. If you take any of these alternatives, you have allowed yourself to operate according to your child's terms. Therefore, she has become the person with the most flexibility, and she is in control. In other words, whatever she does will get a response from you.

On the other hand, if you ignore the tantrum, continue your shopping, or leave the store immediately without giving your daughter what she is demanding, you are the controlling element in the system. You have remained in your reality and have exercised more flexible options than she has. Similarly, when you have a conflict with your partner about business or home life, you are at an advantage by remaining flexible.

By embracing the basic and advanced truths of healthy communication, you have many more options available to you to listen to and understand your partner, and to move both of you toward a mutually agreeable solution.

If you…

  • make time to communicate,
  • refuse to stray off the topic,
  • listen to the well-intended meaning behind your partner's words and actions,
  • remain open to the prospect that you could be wrong,
  • recognize that your partner is so unique that she or he will surprise you daily,
  • are willing to change even though you have always done things a certain way in the past,
  • and refuse to compromise but press for a win-win solution,

then you will be better able to guide yourself and your spouse away from conflict and toward appropriate solutions.

If you’re having trouble communicating with your partner, 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 entrepreneurial couples via a secure video Q & A session. Learn more by visiting Entrepreneurial Couples Remote Education.



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