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Kathy Marshack News

How to Manage Anger Effectively

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


Anger is a natural human emotion. When dealt with correctly, anger can be constructive, even providing clarity to a difficult situation. Sadly, most anger is not used constructively, but rather destructively. Anger when uncontrolled can be a danger to yourself and others. Do you have a problem controlling your angry outbursts? If so, you may need practical help also known as anger management.

Here are some tips to help you control your anger:

Breathe Deeply. This is a simple and quick way to gain control over your emotions. Focus and take long, deep breaths. If breathing is not your forte, then try visualization or repeating a mantra.

Separate Yourself. It's okay to give yourself space when you become angry. Step away from the situation and get your emotions under control. Once you have calmed down, you will be in a better place to deal with whatever made you angry and to reflect on the cause of your anger. This will also help you manage your anger more effectively in the future.

Exercise. A regular routine of exercise is highly beneficial for dealing with regular stress, anger, or frustration. If you find yourself getting heating up, exercise is also helpful in relieving anger. Find an exercise that has a calming effect not a stimulating one.

Be Solution Oriented. Take responsibility for your actions and learn from them. Shaking off the blame will only enable you to continue a cycle of anger. Write down what you felt when you had an angry outburst. Include the situation, your emotions, and your response. This will help you to see what your triggers are. Once you have identified those things, come up with a way to deal with those specific instances in the future. Own it!

Anger management takes time and patience to master. You may need assistance from a mental health care professional to help you conquer your anger issues. They can tailor specific anger management techniques to your personal needs. Feel free to contact my office to set up an appointment.

Is There a Disconnect between Cognitive and Emotional Empathy for People with Asperger’s?

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


Does the subject of "empathy" confuse you, especially with regard to your Aspie loved ones? They seem so sensitive at times and yet clueless about your feelings. Could it be a disconnect between what is in their hearts and what is in their heads?

Simon Baron-Cohen, a British researcher, tells us that a defining quality of Autism is a deficiency in empathy. But in practical terms just what does that mean? A deeper look into the research tells us that those with Asperger's may have a disconnect between the two major types of empathy, Emotional Empathy (EE) and Cognitive Empathy (CE). If you have Emotional Empathy (EE), you can feel the emotions of others (or animals, a noted Autistic strength).

But there is a huge problem with having only EE. Can you tell if what you are feeling is yourself or the other person? And even if you can figure out that these feelings are coming from another person, can you talk about it? You need Cognitive Empathy(CE) in order to recognize the bigger picture of who is feeling what and how to talk to the other person "empathetically."

As a neurotypical with a Asperger loved one in your life, have you pondered this dilemma? If so, you are not the only one. Join us on June 18, 2011 in Portland, Oregon for the Asperger Syndrome: Partners & Family of Adults with ASD Meetup. We will be discussing this topic in detail and would love to hear your thoughts on the subject. We will be taking this research a step further into our personal experience and discuss how we live with it and what to do about it.

If you are unable to attend, please become a member online and jump into our online discussions.

Are You an Emotional Eater?

Thursday, April 28, 2011


How do you deal with stress? A common solution for many is to EAT. This is what we call "emotional eating" or using food to soothe negative emotions. Emotional eaters usually turn to food that are high in fat, sugar, and calories.

There are many of situations that can trigger emotional eating. Work, family problems, financial stress, and health problems are common culprits. Emotional eating can be done consciously or unconsciously, but regardless it is habit forming and can cause serious health problems. Emotional eating can damage any weight-loss plans. It also creates an unhealthy cycle of eating (bingeing) and then heavy guilt because of overeating or eating unhealthy foods. Emotional eating is just a temporary fix for the cause of stress – it’s never a solution!

How can you overcome emotional eating? Here are some tips:

· Keep a record. It is important to identify what you eat when you feel a certain way. Start a food log and record what you are eating, when you decide to eat, and how you feel before and after you eat. By keeping an accurate record, you will be able to identify patterns and triggers. The key is to look for what emotion(s) are causing you to eat.

· Think before you eat. Once you have been able to identify you emotional eating triggers, use this information for the next time you feel that emotion. Ask yourself, "Do I want to eat because I feel ______? Am I really hungry or just looking to relieve stress? Why do I want to eat _______?

· Find a new way to reduce stress. Since emotional eating is an unhealthy way to reduce stress, it is now time to find a healthy way. Exercise, relaxation breathing, journaling, talking to a close friend, taking a hot bath, getting a massage, or reading a book are all healthy and simple ways to manage stress.

· Purge your home of unhealthy foods. It is easy to binge on ice cream, pizza, and chips when it’s within your grasp. If you want to stop emotional eating, remove any food items that you are drawn to when you are stressed. Instead, fill your refrigerator and pantry with healthy snacks like nuts, fruit, veggies, and yogurt.

· Therapy. If you cannot seem to get a grip on your emotional eating, then it is time to seek help from a mental health care professional. They will be equipped to help you identify your triggers and give you proper coping techniques. They will also be able to help you cope with the root cause of your emotional eating.

The cycle of emotional eating can be broken. By gaining on control over emotional eating, you will feel in control and have a healthier life.

If you would like help in dealing with emotional eating and live in the Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA area, please contact my office to set up an appointment.

Are You in a Codependent Relationship?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


Are you in a codependent relationship? Codependency is the act of sacrificing oneself for the sake of another’s addiction. It is an attitude, a style of living. People become codependent when they consistently allow their own needs and rights to become secondary to another’s needs and rights. This type of relationship can be harmful and its effects can be devastating.

You can identify if you are in a codependent relationship by looking for specific symptoms. Here are some symptoms to lookout for:

· Are you tired and depressed all the time?

· Does it seem you can’t do enough to please your partner, father, girlfriend?

· Are you the only one who cares if things get better?

· Are you getting more and more headaches, backaches, stomach aches?

· Are you sacrificing your good reputation to help someone who doesn’t give back?

· Feel unappreciated?

· Are you relying on food, shopping, alcohol or other drugs to give you a lift?

To break this devastating cycle, it is important for the codependent to recognize that you count just as much as the person you are protecting. Why are your rights as a person or your health less important than theirs? Secondly, by breaking the cycle of codependence, you are giving back, to the addict, responsibility for their behavior. The first step toward your recover and theirs, is accepting responsibility for your own behavior and your own live. After all, how can they get better if you do it for them?

Breaking codependency is extremely difficult to do without help and regular support from others. Psychotherapy, or marital therapy are necessary. You may want to call self-help groups, such as Al-Anon or Codependents Anonymous, both listed in your local directory. If you live in Portland, Oregon or Vancouver, WA, please contact my office for an appointment.

For more information, visit Marriage Counseling - Breaking the Cycle of Codependency.

Do Women have Asperger Syndrome?

Monday, April 04, 2011


Yes, women do have Asperger Syndrome (AS). It is true that the bulk of those diagnosed are men, there are many girls and women with AS. Women with Asperger's may lead more complex lives than men with Asperger's. To some extent, males with Asperger’s are more accepted because their behavior is viewed as "extreme male thinking." But women with Asperger Syndrome are viewed as cold, uncaring, and selfish because the cultural expectation is for women to be more aware of the needs of the relationship, something which is extremely difficult for most Aspies.

Men around the world are in relationships with women who have Asperger's. Even though the disorder is the same, there are unique differences between a relationship with an AS woman and an AS man. Just like NT women, NT men need to be able to learn about Asperger Syndrome and be able to talk about their experiences.

In order to fill the need that NT men have, I have created two message boards on the Asperger Syndrome: Partners and Family of Adults with ASD webpage specifically for male member. Of course, men do not need to be confined to male only sites, but their experiences are specific and so are their needs. If you are a man in a relationship with a women with ASD or have a family member, please feel free to join our message boards whether it is male only or any others that fit your circumstances.

My book, Life with a Partner or Spouse with Asperger Syndrome: Going over the Edge? can be a valuable resource for both men and women in Asperger relationships. Click here to download a free sample chapter.

Entrepreneurial Couples – How to Make Love the Top Priority

Thursday, March 24, 2011


Entrepreneurial couples have their work cut out for them to sustain proper balance in their lives. Making time for friendship, romance, and family togetherness is difficult, but imperative. As contrary as it may sound, putting love as the top priority is the key to success for any entrepreneurial couple. With so many responsibilities, it is nearly impossible to be spontaneous or wait for the right moment for love and romance. Successful entrepreneurial couples realize that they have to plan for love.

How can an entrepreneurial couple plan for love? Here are a few suggestions:

1. Schedule regular date nights. I encourage couples to have one date night per week and put it in stone. Use this time to focus on one another, not the business.

2. Take frequent mini-vacations. Sometimes you need more time together than a few hours. By taking a few mini-vacations a year, you can relax and recharge, coming home invigorated and ready to get back to work.

3. Volunteer together. Doing things for others can bring a couple closer together. If you have children, volunteer together to help in the classroom or to go on the school field trips. If you do not have children, look for a local cause that you both are interested in and regularly volunteer.

4. Communicate, communicate, communicate! Make time everyday in the morning or at the end of each day for uninterrupted discussions about everything that is necessary to keep the flow smooth. If one of you has to travel out of town, schedule time to talk every day.

All of these approaches help you remember why on earth you are working so hard anyway . . . to share your successes with the ones you love. So, make love the priority!

For more information on Entrepreneurial Couples, visit Entrepreneurial Life - Couples at Work and Home. My book Entrepreneurial Couples - Making it Work at Work and at Home is also available for purchase with advice specifically about the challenges of working with your spouse.

Mind Blindness and the Disconnect in Asperger Syndrome Relationships

Thursday, March 17, 2011


If you have a loved one with Asperger Syndrome, it is vital that you learn about "mind blindness" or "lack of empathy." This is a key feature of what makes your relationship with the Aspie unique. Mind blindness or lack of empathy is the disconnect between emotional and social cognition. A person with Asperger Syndrome has trouble reading nonverbal clues and therefore ignores the bulk of a conversation. The Aspie knows what they think and feel but are often unaware of what their loved ones think or feel. They become so focused on themselves that it may seem like they don't care or love you, but that is not true. What happens is that they just don't notice.

Mind blindness can have some especially serious side effects on the partner or spouse of someone with Asperger's. Even though their behavior is not intended to hurt you, it still does. Then you may reach out to someone else like a friend, but if they do not understand Asperger's they will most likely not understand what you are going through. Without the right care, low self-esteem, depression, and resentment may settle in deep.

If you find yourself in a relationship that has a lack of empathy, realize you are not alone! Many experience a similar situation. As a psychologist and marriage counselor I recognized that there’s a great need to give guidance to families of adults with Asperger Syndrome. Here are my suggestions for you:

1. Seek out therapy from a professional specializing in Asperger Syndrome. Click here to see my specific therapy recommendations.

2. Join a support group. Click here for tips on how to find one that suits your needs.

3. Educate yourself about Asperger Syndrome. My book, Life with a Partner or Spouse with Asperger Syndrome: Going Over the Edge? was written specifically for those in a relationship with someone with Asperger's. My upcoming book is entitled, Parenting with a Spouse or Partner with Asperger Syndrome: Out of Sight, Out of Mind. A free sample chapter is available for download. I have also compiled a list of books that I have found especially helpful - Recommended Books Part 1 and Recommended Books Part 2.

These suggestions will help you to see more clearly your own situation and take the necessary steps to live a happier, more full-filled life.

Interview with Dr. Kathy Marshack on Entrepreneurial Couples

Monday, February 07, 2011


Married couples who share ownership, management and responsibility for a business are known as co-entrepreneurial couples or "copreneurs." This type of relationship is unique and for the marriage and business to be successful, extra patience and thoughtfulness is required.
 
Shani Leccima of MarriedMillions.com interviewed me about this unique type of relationship. The interview is based around my book, Entrepreneurial Couples - Making it Work at Work and at Home. Click here to listen to the interview.
 
Entrepreneurial Couples - Making it Work at Work and at Home is available for purchase on my website. The book examines the traps entrepreneurial couples can fall into and offers practical advice for dealing with them. 

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.



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