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Kathy Marshack News

Expats - Do You Know How to Ask for Help?

Monday, September 10, 2018


Expats - Do You Know How to Ask for Help? Don’t you love it when people ask for your help, when you’re in a position to give it? It makes you feel needed, useful and valued. Yet, when the roles are reversed, and you need help, do you hesitate to ask? Perhaps you think, “I don’t want to be a bother.” Why do we have so much trouble asking for help?

"Do it yourself." "Be self-sufficient." "Don’t rely on anyone." Many people, especially those who have grown up in the United States, embrace these ideas and pride themselves on being self-reliant. However, you simply can’t do everything on your own. And when you’re an expat, living in a strange and new location, the sense of isolation can become intense.

To become part of your new community, you need to turn your thinking completely around. You’re not showing weakness when you ask for help; you’re providing an opportunity for others to show kindness and to feel good.

To help overcome your reluctance to ask for help, remember these three important points:

Don’t expect people to be mind-readers. We’re taught to mind our own business, and that offering unsolicited help makes us a busy body. We also develop inattentional blindness as a protective mechanism against the immense amount of information coming at us daily. So people will hold back until you pointblank say, “Could you help me with something?”

Don’t be vague. Be specific with your request and make sure your helper knows why you’re asking him and not someone else. This will make them feel invested in your success and want to help.

Don’t push, if they say no. If the person you’re asking doesn’t have the time and resources to help, don’t take it as personal rejection. Turn it into a request for a referral by saying, “I appreciate your honesty. I really need help, so can you recommend someone else?”

On a practical note: Find the telephone numbers for the closest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for each place you plan to visit and keep those numbers with you at all times. If you lose your passport or are a victim of a crime while living overseas, contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for help as soon as possible. If you don’t have that number, contact the Department of State in the U.S. to obtain information on local services.

Perhaps, as an expat, you need help dealing with the unique challenges of adjusting to life in a foreign country. Or perhaps you were disappointed to discover that your “old” personal problems or family challenges didn’t disappear when you relocated. If so, I offer online counseling for expats. Please contact my assistant and schedule an appointment. I’d love to help you settle into your new life successfully.

Learn How to Talk About Failure in a Highly Productive Way

Wednesday, September 05, 2018


Even if you feel like you’re going to die of embarrassment, you can learn how to talk about failure in a highly productive way. Here are five things that will help you resiliently turn a failure into a positive experience.Have you heard the expression, “Fail Fast”? It’s a catchphrase that today’s entrepreneurs use to remind themselves that failure isn’t a bad thing, because it informs us on ways we can improve as individuals and companies. If we learn from failure, we can work on a better product, a stronger strategy, and a clearer sense of purpose, and what we need to do to achieve our dreams. Failure cultivates humility, builds resilience, and breeds courage.

But for failure to do the most good, we have to be willing to talk about it. In fact, research shows that talking about failure can make us happier and more productive.

Even if you’re the type of person who wants to hide every mistake; even if you feel overwhelming shame and embarrassment; or even if you physical cringe and feel sick when you think about it – you can learn to see the positive in a failed situation.

Humans are not perfect, so we shouldn’t be ashamed of failing. Nor should we be ashamed of the feelings that come with our reaction to failure. How you feel is natural. The important thing is to reflect on how it can be turned into a learning experience for yourself and others. An informative New York Times article outlines five ways you can turn failure into a positive experience. Here are some of the highlights:

1. Focus on the fact that face-to-face conversations around failure are opportunities to build stronger connections among colleagues.

2. Frame the incident as, ‘Can you help me?’ This dignifies the person as knowing more than you and activates the spirit of helping.

3. Remember that discussing failures humanizes you by showing that you’re not perfect. This makes you more approachable and relatable.

4. When you look for the positive in a failed situation, you develop greater empathy for others when they fail.

5. Failure identifies processes and protocols that aren’t complete, so it provides an opportunity to improve on them.

It takes the Resilience Factor to frame failure as a positive learning experience. If you work with your spouse in a family business, it can be especially difficult to discuss failures, because it affects not only your business life, but your home life too. However, it’s critical that you don’t hide your failures. Learn to use them to draw you closer to your business/life partner.

If your family company doesn’t have a culture that welcomes this kind of openness, it might be beneficial for you to start working with a family business coach. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my Jantzen Beach office and schedule an appointment. I also offer online therapy if that works best for you.

What Makes You So Afraid to Speak Around Your Aspie?

Monday, September 03, 2018


Do you fear speaking up around your family member who has Asperger’s, because of how he will react? Do you also worry that others will reject you, if you speak up? I understand. You’re not alone.Many people describe living with someone with Asperger’s as walking on eggshells. This especially is true, when speaking directly to your spouse who has Asperger’s. It’s so easy to say something that will set them off into a defensive tirade.

But this walking on eggshells also extends to when you’re talking with others. You feel like you have to run everything you say through a mental filter of questions like:

  • Will what I say make others think less of my spouse, even though it’s true?
  • Will I reveal too much about my situation and cause others to feel uncomfortable?
  • Or worse, will what I say cause them to reject me or dismissively respond, “You’re overreacting a bit, aren’t you? It can’t be THAT bad.”
  • Will my spouse take offense and bluntly belittle me in front of everyone?
  • Will I face the silent treatment, or worse, once we get home?

After years of running your every thought and comment through this mental filter, you get really good at hiding what you think and feel. Because of your empathy, you still want to protect your spouse from ridicule, even though he (or she) will never appreciate that you’re doing so. You also might think it’s worth it to protect yourself from criticism or open threats and downright terrorism from your Aspie. You just want to keep peace in the family. But is it worth it?

Interestingly, within our Asperger Syndrome: Partners & Family of Adults with ASD group, I notice that roughly half of the members don’t post a photograph or use their true names. This is perfectly fine with me. In fact when I started our group nine years ago, I made a conscious decision to protect the privacy of our members. If people need to protect their identities for safety reasons, I support you.

However, this phenomenon of being secretive is also indicative of fear, the kind of fear that comes from years of chronic emotional stress that comes with living with Aspies. The only way to conquer this fear is to talk about it with others in this group, who really get it.

It’s time isn’t it? Time to take your life back. Time to laugh again. Time to know that the real you is worthy. Time to know that others really want to know you. I do. Please come to the teleconference: “Why are we so afraid?” on Thursday, September 20th and share your story if you wish. Or just support others who take the plunge.

If you’re not ready to open up within a group setting and you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my Jantzen Beach office and schedule an appointment. I also offer online therapy, if that works best for your busy schedule. It’s time you reclaim your life.

Is It Time to Renew an Old Friendship?

Wednesday, August 29, 2018


why it’s good to keep old friendships alive and how you can renew a lost friendshipHow many friends do you have? If you’re like many people today, your thoughts may immediately go to the number of Facebook friends you have. The word friend has taken on a very casual meaning, since social media has become part of our lives. We can “friend” people we don’t even know. Or we can “unfriend” someone with the click of a button.

While there is a place for Facebook friends, it’s not a substitute for close friendships. Between true friends is a special bond of affection and respect that takes time and effort to develop. According to a report in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, an acquaintance becomes a casual friend after around 50 hours of shared activities and everyday talk; a best friend takes more than 200 hours.

Friends are especially important to our health and well-being, as we age. Studies show people with close friends have lower incidences of inflammation and chronic illnesses and higher levels of happiness. Friends help us remember and reminisce about important milestones in our lives.

To have a good friend, you have to be a good friend. Recently I read a New York Times article that reminds us that we shouldn’t let good, close friendships fade away, if we can help it. It also gave some interesting tips on how to revive a friendship from the past. Here are a few highlights:

Why did the friendship fade?

You might have outgrown the friendships for a very good reason, so it’s good to consider if it’s worth reviving. If you’ve kept in touch somewhat, it will be easier to rekindling your relationship.

Why do you want to renew the friendship?

It’s important to be honest about why you’re reaching out now. Your reason can be as simple as you miss the person. If you’re going through a similar life experience, you can use that as a way to make a genuine connection without appearing to be intrusive or prying.

What do you hope to get out of your renewed friendship?

As with any new relationship, it’s good to start slowly and be slightly guarded. Put out some feelers and see if that person is open to renewing a friendship. If you get a positive response, slowly draw that person back into your life. Don’t assume you know them and can trust them. You’re basically starting over, so avoid sensitive topics at first.

Are you prepared for whatever happens?

You have to be willing to be vulnerable to put yourself out there, without being sure of the response you’ll get. It’s a real possibility that your overtures of friendship may be rejected. Do you have enough self-compassion to allow them the dignity of making that choice without taking it personally?

As Robert Louis Stevenson so eloquently stated: “A friend is a gift you give yourself.” Close, personal friendships add so much joy and richness to our lives. Why not think about some friends you haven’t talked with for a long time, and reach out and see where it takes you. I’d love to hear about your rekindled friendships over on my Facebook page.

Love Versus Logic - Why Simple Conversations with Aspies go Awry

Monday, August 27, 2018


Contributing toward the communication gap between those with aspergers and their neuro-typical partners is the Love VS Logic conversation styles.As a parent, you want a happy and healthy home for your family. And your Aspie partner does too. But when it comes to discussing a specific area that needs attention, your Aspie partner takes your comments as a direct criticism of his or her identity as a good marriage mate and parent. So right away defensive explanations begin to fly, and, before you know it, it’s turned into an all-out argument. How did it go so wrong? All you wanted was to open a dialogue and start a conversation.

No wonder it's such a jumble with our Aspies when we try to have a simple conversation. You’re nowhere near being on the same page. You’re assessing everything first from an empathic perspective, which requires tuning into your feelings and the feelings of the other. Your Aspie, on the other hand, is focused on the logic.

Of course, love doesn't lack logic, but we start with love to prepare the space for our conversation. Logic comes second. But not so with Aspies. There often is no second tier for Aspies; it's logic all of the way. It's not that your Aspie has no emotions. It's that they don't use them to assess their interaction with you. Logic is easier and simpler. As a result, they miss the nuances that logic doesn’t assess.

If you want to understand your Aspie, listen to the logic and stop searching for the nuance. You might even disregard the nuance entirely, since your Aspie may inadvertently use the wrong tone or gesture, which only confuses the communication. And certainly don't expect them to integrate your nuances into the meaning of your logic.

Don’t give up hope. It's not as complicated as it sounds.

If you’re a member of my Asperger Syndrome: Partners & Family of Adults with ASD group, please sign up for the low cost video conference: Love VS Logic. It will be held on September 4th and again on September 18th. I'll help guide you through this conversation gap, so you better understand your logical Aspie.

If you prefer 1:1 counseling and you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my Jantzen Beach office and schedule an appointment. I also offer online therapy, if that works best for your busy schedule.

Can Autistics Tell Lies?

Wednesday, August 22, 2018


all people lie, but how Autistics lie is unique. It’s that uniqueness that gums up our relationships. I am not sure who started the rumor that those with ASD don’t lie, and even that they are incapable of lying. Clearly this is not true. Sadly, all people lie, but how Autistics lie is unique. It’s that uniqueness that gums up our relationships.

Without empathy, Autistics lie similarly to psychopaths, although Autistics don't have the ruthless intent. They aren't considering how we will feel when they lie to us. They aren't even considering a "smooth" way to lie. They just lie to avoid confrontation, anxiety, being wrong, or any number of reasons the rest of us may lie.


When confronted with their lies autistics have a variety of defenses that mimic psychopaths too.

  • They tell us they "never said that." 
  • They elaborate the lie. 
  • They change the subject. 
  • They ignore us. 
  • They even lie when the truth would work better. 

What's with that?

It might just be that they need help with what I call the Rules of Engagement. They don't always have the social awareness that lying will cause harm to the relationship. Once they get this, they try harder. This is a tough subject, so I have reserved it for a small group of people who sign up for the Video Conference, “Yes! Aspies do lie” held on September 11th and again on September 25th. Together we’ll get a handle on this.

If you would rather work in-person with me, and you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA, please contact my Jantzen Beach office and schedule an appointment. I also offer online therapy if that works better for you.

2,259 People Exonerated from Wrongful Convictions

Monday, August 20, 2018


2,259 People Exonerated from Wrongfully Convictions | Kathy MarshackBecause of my own experience with being wrongly accused and held in jail on two different occasions, my eyes were drawn to a recent New York Times article. It reported that, within the last year, there have been 139 people exonerated and released from being wrongly imprisoned, some had even been put on death row. They spent an average of 10.6 years in prison.That adds up to 1,478 years these men and women had been wrongly incarcerated.

Can you imagine what that feels like? Spending years behind bars - day after day, year after year, decade after decade - when you’re innocent? It’s not something we want to think about usually, is it?

Yet there’s a group of people who have dedicated their lives to exonerating people from wrongful convictions. They are "professional exonerators," mostly lawyers in prosecutors’ offices and private organizations, like the Innocence Project. They must have a highly developed sense of empathy, which I call Radiant Empathy, to fight so hard for the rights of others.

There’s even an online National Registry of Exonerations, which tracks such cases. According to the registry, there are 30+ conviction integrity units in the nation and 50+ private organizations dedicated to uncovering and overturning wrongful convictions.

DNA was first used in an exoneration in 1989. Since then, 2,259 people have been cleared of their convictions adding up to a total of 19,790 years lost, according to the registry. Sixteen of these exonerations have been in Oregon, with a total of 65 years lost; and 49 exonerations in Washington State adding up to a total of 236 years lost.

What contributes to these false arrests? The Registry lists these factors:

  • mistaken identification, 
  • coerced and false confessions, 
  • bad forensic evidence, 
  • perjury and false accusation, 
  • and official misconduct.

You can read the exonerees' stories on the Registry website. As you look at their photos, it becomes so real that these people have suffered terribly...some put on death row for murdering their children that died, in actuality, from health related problems. It takes a lot of courage, hope, strength, resilience and Radiant Empathy to survive and thrive after an experience like that.

If you’d like to read my story of being falsely accused, feel free to download a complimentary chapter of my new book, “WHEN EMPATHY FAILS - How to stop those hell-bent on destroying you.” If being wrongfully put in jail can happen to me, it could happen to you, too. I’ve written this book to help you protect yourself by learning how to develop the highest form of empathy - Radiant Empathy. You can purchase my book on Amazon.

Post Traumatic Growth: Struggling to Find Meaning in Trauma

Wednesday, August 15, 2018


People can suffer through horrendous traumas, and then they find ways to turn the tragedy into a means for helping others. Learn how they’re experiencing post-traumatic growth and how you can develop greater resilience now.After being gang raped, a woman spends the rest of her life fighting for the rights of rape victims. After losing his legs in an armed conflict, a retired soldier dedicates his life to helping veterans. After surviving the vicious murder of her daughter by members of a different ethnic group, a mother advocates for racial equality. How do all of these people live through such horrendous experiences, find meaning in them, and become such selfless, giving people? While it wasn’t easy, they all experienced post-traumatic growth.

What is Post-traumatic growth (PTG)? It’s a theory that explains how positive transformation follows a trauma. It was developed by psychologists Richard Tedeschi, PhD, and Lawrence Calhoun, PhD, in the mid-1990’s. They hold that people who endure psychological struggle, following adversity, can often see positive growth afterward. Avoidance, on the other hand, perpetuates pain. You can’t fix the harshness of a trauma, if you can’t face it. Only then can you grow and live a better life.

According to Tedeschi, as many as 90 percent of survivors report an aspect of posttraumatic growth, such as a renewed appreciation for life. Some other aspects are:

  • Improved relationships with others.
  • New possibilities in life.
  • Personal strength.
  • Spiritual change.

Post-traumatic growth occurs when someone who has difficulty bouncing back experiences a traumatic event that challenges his or her core beliefs. Then they endure a psychological struggle, like Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. After which, they ultimately find new understanding of themselves and the world they live in. They learn how to more closely relate to other people, and they come to a better understanding of how to live life.

Someone who has resilience when trauma occurs, won't be rocked to the core by the trauma and won't have to look for a new belief system. Less resilient people, on the other hand, will become distressed and confused as they question why such a terrible thing could happen to them.

There’s a lot you can do right now to prepare yourself, before a trauma occurs. Developing the highest level of empathy, EmD-5 or Radiant Empathy, allows you to hold onto your beliefs and values, no matter what happens to you. My new book, “WHEN EMPATHY FAILS” reveals seven ways you can keep your resilience in the face of trauma. I invite you to download the first chapter for free. It will introduce you to the trauma I experienced, and how I thrived. Or you can purchase the book on Amazon to get the complete story, plus seven warrior lessons learned.

Make Your Time Count and Live Life to the Fullest

Tuesday, August 14, 2018


Make your time count and live life to the fullestDo you often turn down opportunities because you don’t have “enough time?” We, as human, have a funny relationship with time. Every week, each one of us has the same amount of time - 168 minutes. In a year, you have 8,736 minutes. In a lifetime, if you live to 80 years old, you have approximately 700 thousand minutes. We talk about “cheating time” or “living on borrowed time.” We act like we have an unlimited amount of time to spend, so we even “kill time.”

However, I believe we live better lives when we stay aware of our limited time on this Earth, because, no matter how much we hate to admit it, we are all going to die. Science agrees with this mindful view of life. According to a new analysis of recent scientific studies:

“Thinking about death can actually be a good thing. An awareness of mortality can improve physical health and help us re-prioritize our goals and values. Even non-conscious thinking about death -- say walking by a cemetery -- could prompt positive changes and promote helping others.”

Knowing that you have a deadline helps you avoid procrastination. So what have you been putting off, until you “get the time?” In reality, the only time you have is the moment you’re living right now. There are no guarantees about tomorrow. When we lose sight of that fact, we forget to focus on what’s truly meaningful...spending time with family and friends or making a difference in the world.

How can you get back in touch with what’s most important to you? Try living a month, like it’s your last. Imagine you’re moving across the world. Who will you miss seeing? What will you miss doing in your community? What will you be giving up? When you believe that you’re never going to see or do something again, you’ll experience them with more intensity and joy. Try this exercise, then come over to my Facebook page and let me know how it impacts your life.

Most people are familiar with the concept of budgeting money to make sure they have enough to cover expenses. Thinking about how you spend time is more important than thinking about how you spend money. Because the truth is...your time will run out. And it will run out sooner if you engage in risky, self-destructive behavior. Life is short; we need to make the best choices so we fully enjoy the time that we have.

You can’t change this harsh truth, but you can grow and thrive from accepting it. That’s what successful people do, as they face life with courage and resilience. If this is something you struggle with, please get a copy of my book, “WHEN EMPATHY FAILS. ” At the end of the book, I offer seven profound tips on how to gracefully handle life and all its challenges.

Mr. Rogers Was a Brilliant Example of Radiant Empathy

Wednesday, August 08, 2018


Mr. Rogers displayed Radiant Empathy - the highest form of empathy where a person holds dear the feelings of others, while keeping personal boundaries clear. For over 30 years, Mr. Rogers quietly and calmly entered our lives, as he put on his sweater and changed his shoes. He radiated kindness, goodness, acceptance and hope to every child he met. It wasn’t an act. His life was a reflection of his firmly held values and beliefs that we are all valuable just the way we are. Even in his last recorded message to his fans, he said,

“I would like to tell you what I often told you when you were much younger. I like you just the way you are. And what’s more, I’m so grateful to you for helping the children in your life to know that you’ll do everything you can to keep them safe. And to help them express their feelings in ways that will bring healing in many different neighborhoods. It’s such a good feeling to know that we’re lifelong friends.”

His faith-based approach to viewing the world as a neighborhood helped him look for the positive in people and see their potential for healing of the world in their own small way. Making a difference doesn’t require big acts. His gentleness was the antithesis of the violence, abuse, and brutality that feeds the minds and hearts of children today.

He recognized the strength that comes from childlike humility, trust and vulnerability. He didn’t buy into the slogans of today - “Win at all costs;” “Do your own thing;” “Might makes right;” “I’ve got to look out for #1;” “The winner is the one who dies with the most toys;” “Weakness must be hidden;” “Winners are better than losers;” and “You’re nothing if you’re not rich”.

No matter what was happening in the news, he was able to hold dear the feelings of others, while at the same time keeping his personal boundaries clear. And that is the very definition of Radiant Empathy. It gave Mr. Rogers a gentle strength that is sorely missed today.

Radiant Empathy helps us let go of the negative and shift to the positive more quickly. I’m busily developing a new resource for you to learn more about Radiant Empathy. Be sure to sign up for my newsletter, then you’ll be one of the first to have access to it.

In the meantime, if you’d like to enlarge your empathic skills, read my new book, “WHEN EMPATHY FAILS,” which is a practical guidebook for enhancing self-awareness and making decisions that protect yourself, while contributing to the betterment of your neighborhood. This is what EmD-5 or Radiant Empathy is all about.



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