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Kathy Marshack News

Obesity Now Linked to Emotional Problems

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Obesity is known to cause serious health problems, but studies now show that it is also connected to emotional problems. A study performed in Australia targeted middle-aged men and women who were overweight and found that they are more likely to suffer from anxiety and depression. For a more complete look at their study, read Being Overweight Tied to Anxiety, Depression.

If you find yourself relating to the situation described, it is vital that you take action to tackle both weight control and anxiety/depression. You may not realize it, but enlisting the help of a mental health care professional is a necessary step to get the help you need. A mental health professional trained in the area of weight control can be helpful in re-educating your habits. They can assist you in getting over the rough spots and redirecting your thinking. They can also help you determine if there may be medical reasons for being overweight.

Do not delay in seeking the help you need. By taking this first step of seeking professional help, you will be on your way to being a happier and healthier you! For more information, visit Weight Control on my website or contact us for an appointment if you live in the Portland/Vancouver area.

Look for Similarities When Searching for a Romantic Partner

Thursday, January 27, 2011

We often hear that opposites attract, but the truth is that you are more likely to have a lasting relationship with someone who is similar to you. We are often attracted to our opposite, especially when we are young or when we are unsure of ourselves. The reason is that at some unconscious level we are trying to find in another person the skills we lack. It is as if we love that person, they will somehow fill in the missing gaps in our personalities or our maturity. The problem is that you cannot grow by osmosis. You can’t just absorb what the other person has taken several years to develop or what they may have been blessed with by genetics. So relationships between opposites generally fizzle out shortly, or at the worst linger for decades providing a boring, or even hostile relationship for the couple. Think about it, if you are opposites, what can you talk about?

It is actually much more work to look for a sweetheart that is a lot like yourself. This requires that you use introspection, that you go on a journey of self-exploration. Knowing yourself first makes it much easier for you to find a partner who shares your ideals and interests. To begin this process of self-exploration take out a sheet of paper and one side list your strengths and on the other list your weaknesses. Cover everything from physical to mental to spiritual.

Once you know yourself a little better, the next step is be honest and clean up those traits that are unfinished or undesirable. If you want a match that is lasting, you will want a partner who has worked on his or her own personal development and who has cleaned up her or his bad habits too. For example, if you love art and music and historical novels, and you are healthy, vibrant and spiritually alive, you will find this same type of person attracted to you. So take the time to get to know and develop yourself before embarking on finding a sweetheart.

If you take the time to get to know yourself, your strengths and weaknesses, and if you take the time to improve yourself and to become the person you have always wanted to be, you will be more attractive to this same kind of person. Remember that personal growth is a lifelong process and to keep love alive, two people need to be engaged in this process forever. If you get stuck along the way, use your common sense and seek out the counsel of a psychologist who specializes in relationship development and personal growth.

For more information, visit Advice for Singles Only.

Keeping Secrets Creates a Tangled Web

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Keeping secrets is rarely a good idea, yet they are commonplace in society. The major reasons for keeping secrets are (1) to avoid disagreement and confrontation, (2) to protect someone from hurt feelings or even physical distress, (3) fear of punishment or embarrassment for a wrong doing.

Consider a few common excuses for keeping a secret and why you should think otherwise:

"What they don't know won't hurt them."

Why are secrets so bad if they don't hurt anyone? This is usually a rationalization. If you have to keep a secret, then it obviously affects other people. The content of the secret may or may not affect the other person adversely, but the question is, will keeping the secret affect the other person adversely?

"But he or she will get mad at me if I tell them the truth!"

No one likes an argument but it is foolish to think that you can go through life without having disagreements is unrealistic. Therefore it is useful to develop conflict resolution skills, rather than avoid the anger. The excuse that the other person will get mad if you level with him or her is a poor one. First, you never know if he or she will get mad. Second, even if he or she does get mad, the discussion doesn't have to end. Be brave and venture into conflict resolution. Third, the person may have every right to be upset that you withheld information (or lied) that affects his or her life. Think about it. How do you feel when a secret is kept from you, especially if your decisions depend upon the hidden information?

"It would be mean to be honest."

The problem with this excuse is that you have no right to assume responsibility for the other person's life or life decisions. When you keep a secret that affects the life of another, you are robbing them of the opportunity to take responsibility for their own destiny. Essentially it can be disrespectful to keep secrets. You are treating the other person as if they are incompetent to handle the truth. What makes you better able to handle the truth than the other person? Sometimes the truth hurts. Sometimes it is embarrassing. Sometimes the truth is a powerful leveler without which you would never know you are in over your head.

There may be short-term gain in keeping secrets, but the long-term outcome is usually not worth the risk. Openness in all things is the answer, even if it is embarrassing, anger-provoking, or hurtful. Don't keep secrets, but if you already have, break them. Admit your failure, apologize to those you have lied to and make a promise you can live with. That is, promise to be responsible for your own actions, and allow others access to their own destiny through the truth.

Recognizing and Hopefully Avoiding High Conflict Divorce

Thursday, January 20, 2011

In my professional experience there are three kinds of divorce scenarios: Business-like divorce, friendly divorce, and high conflict divorce. Unfortunately, in the case of high conflict, this type of couple cannot resolve their differences in either a business-like manner nor in a friendly way. They create a war that is costly and damaging to the children and to themselves. In fact the damage they wreak spreads a wide net into their extended families and friends, and sometimes even into the greater community. In the long run this couple pays the price because they may never be able to restore their lives to healthy functioning.

What does it take to make a divorce high conflict? Two things - Motive and Means. “Means” generally equates to money. If one or both parties have enough money to wage a war and they are not concerned with an unhealthy outcome (or not aware of this possibility), this leads to a high conflict divorce. Another source of means is power, which can come in a variety of forms. For example, being famous or having media connections is a source of power. A third source of means is being irrational and tenacious. Even without money or power, a person can create a high conflict divorce through simple means. If the controlling person is uncooperative, antagonistic, and dishonorable, a high conflict divorce will take shape.

Then there is “motive.” If a person feels aggrieved and they are narcissistic, they can feel justified doing just about anything to trash and burn the other person. This includes dragging the children into the fray. And no matter how self-effacing the egalitarian is, he or she will fight back if pushed far enough. Thus the motive to protect and defend is aroused.

In spite of this disheartening look at high conflict divorce, I still believe it is possible to prevent or at least better tolerate a high conflict divorce. Anyone going through a life changing experience like a divorce, high conflict or otherwise, should seek the support of a therapist, your church, and other groups supportive of your experience. If at all possible work with a mediator to craft a win-win solution to your divorce. Be willing to compromise and to walk away with a “half fair deal.” In the long run, walking away from your money and possessions is worth it to avoid the acrimony.

For more suggestions on how to cope with a high conflict divorce, read Recognizing High Conflict Divorce on my website. If you live in the Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA area, contact my office for an appointment.

Parents - Be Alert to Signs of Bullying

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Bullying has become a major problem for American youths. You’ve probably heard stories in the media recently of young ones taking their lives because of bullying. If you are a parent, no doubt you are concerned about your children and what they are dealing with at school. You may not be able to completely stop bullying, but there are things that you can do to protect your children and help them cope with bullies. The key is for you to be alert to the symptoms and then take proactive measures.

Be Alert to the Symptoms

Your child may be reluctant to tell you that they are being bullied, so you must be alert to symptoms that could indicate that they are being bullied. Here are some things to be on the lookout for:

- physical trauma like bruises and scratches,
- declining grades,
- fear of attending school or regularly feeling sick before going to school,
- change in appetite,
- and a refusal to talk.

Be Proactive

If you suspect that your child may be bullied, you must be proactive and work with your child to handle the situation. By proactive by…

- Asking questions. Work to create an open dialog with your child about what they are going through. Be patient, it may take some time to get your child to open up to you. Try a variety of different questioning methods. You can try being direct, but if that doesn't work, you may have to question them in a more shrewd, roundabout way.

- Having practice sessions. Work with your child by teaching them ways that they can cope with the bully. Teach them that fighting back is never the answer. Practice how to assertively speak to a bully. If that doesn't work, then encourage them to walk away from the situation and tell an adult afterward. Create different scenarios and role play.

- Setting a good example. Your children watch you constantly. If you want to raise a strong and confident child, show them how to do it. Do not be a bully yourself.

- Speaking to the school. Don’t assume that teachers know what’s going on at school. Make sure you voice any concerns immediately so you can come up with a prevention plan.

For more proactive tips, visit the article - How can parents help to prevent bullying at their child's school?


At times, professional help from a mental health care professional may be necessary. If you live in the Portland, OR or Vancouver, WA area, please contact our office for more information.

New Features and Feedback from Asperger Syndrome: Partners & Family of Adults with ASD

Friday, January 07, 2011

Thank you to all who are making the Meetup support group, Asperger Syndrome: Partners & Family of Adults with ASD, a place of support and understanding. You have exceeded my wildest expectations.


I wanted to share with you what some of our members are saying about our group:

"This site is a God send. NT spouses reaching out to kindred spirits for understanding and support. AS is difficult to diagnosis and only those of us who live with it truly understand how emotionally devastating it can be. Thank you Kathy for starting this Meetup group."

"Every non Asperger spouse or family member would find valuable support in sharing their real life experiences living with a spouse or family member with AS.

"Genuine support group, extremely helpful to understanding ASD."

For those of you who do not live in the Portland/Vancouver area, there is new feature on our  Meetup site just for you. I have created message board space for members to post on the same subject we’re addressing in our face-to-face Meetups. I recognize that this is not the same, but I hope that this will help you to connect with us on the topic at hand.

I also wanted to mention that you can email other members via the Meetup site. If you want to connect personally with any of our members feel free to do so. It is all anonymous, so no personal information is given out.

On January 8, 2011 at 1:00 pm, the Beaverton Group will
be meeting to discuss "What did the holidays look like in your household? How did you take care of yourself?"

On January 15, 2011 at 1:00 pm, the Portland Group will be discussing, "Are you invisible? How do you cope with Aspies?"

We hope that you will be able to attend or share your thoughts on our message board. I look forward to hearing from you.

For more information, visit the Asperger Syndrome: Partners & Family of Adults with ASD Meetup website. In order to access information on the Meetup site, please register as a member. All members are approved on the basis that they have adult family or loved ones on the Autism Spectrum.  

Happiness Is Up To YOU!

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Happiness is something that all humans desire, but some find it hard to find. New research is now showing that the level of your happiness is largely dependent on you and your choices. Researcher Bruce Headey of Melbourne University, in Australia, and colleagues in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences state, "Life goals and choices have as much or more impact on life satisfaction than variables routinely described as important in previous research, including extroversion and being married or partnered."

The study also highlights that those who place high priority on family life are also happier than if they place priority on their work or money. For more on this study, read the article, "Key To Happiness Lies in Choices You Make." If you are looking for happiness in your personal life, what are you going to do? Honestly evaluate your life and what you choose to prioritize. If you see that you need an adjustment, then diligently work to make the necessary changes. The outcome will be worth the work!

If you continue to struggle with personal problems, you may need to seek professional help and that’s okay. For more information, visit When to Seek Professional Help for Personal Problems.

How to Manage Work Related Stress

Monday, January 03, 2011

What is a major complaint for most working Americans? Stress! Work related stress can leave you exhausted, frustrated, and angry. It will affect your overall sense of well- being, your physical health, and your productivity.

If it feels like your life is spinning out of control then it’s time to call a psychologist or other mental health professional. However, most of the time there are a few simple things that you can do to manage your work stress:

Get sufficient rest.
Sleep is non-negotiable. In order for you mind and body to function properly, you must rest. If you are not getting enough sleep, whatever negative thoughts you have will only be aggravated. The average adult should get 7-9 hours of sleep per night.

Establish a healthy lifestyle.
General health and stress resistance can be enhanced by a regular exercise, a diet rich in a variety of whole grains, vegetables, and fruits, and by avoiding excessive alcohol, caffeine, and tobacco.

Keep perspective and look for the positive.
Work to reverse negative ideas and learn to focus on the positive. For example, in today's economy, even having a job is a blessing. Even if you find that the positives are few and far between, make a conscious choice to focus on them.

Be balanced with yourself and your workload.
You are not perfect. You will make mistakes. You cannot do everything. Are you the one actually putting too much pressure on yourself to perform in a certain manner? Can you delegate some of the work to someone else? Set clear boundaries with yourself and your work. Establish what your job requirements are and if it is reasonable, then stick to it.

Have a sense of humor.
Keeping a sense of humor is a common recommendation. Laughing releases the tension of pent-up feelings and helps you keep perspective. Research has shown that humor is a very effective mechanism for coping with stress.

Express your feelings.
If you are having problems with someone at work and that’s the cause of your stress, talk to them about it. The goal of the conversation should not be to attack the person, but to come together and create a solution. Holding on to negative feelings will progressively get worse and many times the problem grows out of proportion.

These are just a few steps to take to help ease your work stress level. If problems persists, you may need professional help. Click here for more information on Managing Stress.

Why Do Aspies and Neuro-Typicals Get Married?

Monday, December 27, 2010

Someone with Asperger Syndrome is characterized by their lack of communication skills, social skills and reciprocity of feelings. The Aspie knows what they think and feel but are often unaware of what others think or feel. With a deficiency in these critical areas, some have wondered how someone with Asperger's develops an intimate relationship or even gets married.

The answer is simple, Aspies and NT's (someone not on the autism spectrum) choose partners much the same way as do all human beings. We are attracted physically and intellectually and emotionally. We may enjoy the similarities for the comfort and the differences for the spice!

We also unconsciously seek mates who have qualities we lack. An AS person may be attracted to a strong, intelligent, compassionate NT who can handle the social world for them. The NT may be attracted to the unconventional nature and child-like charm of the AS adult. They may sense that the Aspie will allow the NT his or her independence. It is only later that they learn their AS partner is quite conservative in relating. Instead of supporting independence, the NT spouse realizes that his or her AS mate is just not aware of (and even disinterested) the NT’s interests. The Aspie’s attention is narrowly focused on her or his own interests.

But it is important to remember that Aspies do love. They just love in a different way. The marriage will be trying, but there are things that can be done to help the relationship. If you are in a marriage with someone with Asperger Syndrome and want that marriage to succeed, you must learn how to understand your partner.

My book, Life with a Partner or Spouse with Asperger Syndrome: Going Over the Edge?, was written specifically with the NT spouse in mind, but it can also be beneficial for the Aspie spouse. After reading the book, my hope is that readers can more clearly look at their own situations and, based on the ideas in this book, take the necessary steps to live happier, more full-filled lives. Going Over the Edge is available for purchase or download a free sample chapter.

For more on Asperger Syndrome, visit Asperger Syndrome Frequently Asked Questions.

Love, Hate and Guilt in Family Business Relationships

Monday, December 20, 2010

Love+Hate=Guilt. How many of you have this type of relationship with one or more of your parents? Or how many of you have felt like this at least once with your parents? Or are you suspicious that this is how your teenage or grown children feel about you?

Unfortunately these feelings are all too common among parents and children. They are the natural byproducts of normal human development that has not been allowed to progress to completion. Anger and love are healthy human emotions that emerge often in our daily lives. Guilt, on the other hand, is not a normal nor healthy human emotion (unless of course you have legitimately committed a serious offense). To feel guilty for being angry at your parent or child is a misunderstanding of the relationship.

Dealing with these emotions is vital in any relationship, but especially for those in a family firm. How is the business to prosper if children coming up into the business never correct the errors of their predecessors? How is the business to remain competitive if you hang onto old ways just because you are afraid to confront a parent or grandparent? On the other hand, if you trust that your love for this person and their love for you is strong enough to handle the confrontation, you both benefit by getting things out in the open.

If you want to clear up the Love+Hate=Guilt relationship you have with your parents or children, take a moment to do the following exercise:
  1. As honestly as possible, list your loved one's flaws, mistakes and even downright nasty traits. Make sure you include everything that makes you really angry about this person.
  2. Now list all of those traits you admire and are grateful for.
  3. As you review these lists, ask yourself, which traits are you carrying on, in the family tradition. Be honest. You might ask your spouse for feedback because you may feel so guilty that you cannot acknowledge your parents flaws, or your own.
  4. Finally, make a plan of action to change the negative counterproductive traits.

This little exercise is very revealing. By feeling guilty and by avoiding blame you may inadvertently be carrying on the same mistakes generation after generation. The goal of each generation should be to improve upon the goals of the last, not repeat mistakes. By holding your parents accountable you are more free to do this. I hope by now that you realize that blame is not really the answer, but that accountability is. Be respectful in your confrontations. Tell your parents what they did that hurt or angered you, but treat them as if they are human beings quite capable of accepting responsibility for their mistakes and capable of correcting them.

For more information, visit Entrepreneurial Life - Families in Business.


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