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Kathy Marshack News

A New Tool Reveals How the Internet Defines Your Personality

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

technology for how internet defines our personalityThe internet is gathering data on you. It looks at the websites you visit and the items you purchase as its algorithms try to decipher which ads to put before you to entice you to buy. Now, according to a recent New York Times article, "Your Personality Type, Defined by the Internet" there’s a new parameter that they’re tracking…Your personality through the choice of words you use when posting to Social Media.

A Berkeley CA. company, Five Labs, has created a new tool that links to Facebook posts and analyzes the way we write in relation to five personality attributes: openness, extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness and neuroticism. The majority of people who have tried it think it’s fairly accurate.

This is interesting in more than one way. Psychological research has shown that the words we use reflect our personality and frame of mind, so this tool probably is pretty accurate. This little device could become very useful to us, especially when we have difficulty seeing ourselves as we really are. It could be used to help people see areas of their personality that they can change for the better. It also confirms that if we change our words, we can change our attitude and emotions toward life.

What if the results leave you feeling like you need to change? You may want to explore Neuro-Linguistic Programming. It’s a communication technology that has applications in any setting involving human interaction. NLP works because it eliminates the guesswork. Goal setting, negotiating, problem solving, creativity are more streamlined when you know the structure to follow. Consider working with a therapist trained in NLP to assist you in resolving a personal problem or developing your potential. Contact my office to set-up an appointment or to learn more.

Based on my Facebook posts, they classify me as inventive, efficient, sensitive, analytical, and outgoing. Join me on my Facebook page, ( as we discuss the results you get, how accurate it is and how you feel about this.

A Bodybuilder Makes a Difference in the Lives of Senior Citizens

Monday, July 28, 2014

senior getting physically fitDo you sometimes wonder if you matter or can make a difference and a real contribution? Recently I read a heart-warming story about a champion body builder, Mr. Addo, who uses his physical fitness skills and the values from his youth to make a real difference in the lives of others.

You’d expect someone who has won Mr. Ghana bodybuilding championship twice to open up a gym for the elite. Instead, Mr. Addo has found his niche helping senior citizens regain their balance, mobility and strength. As the story explains, “He was raised with the values that improving the lives of one’s elders is of the highest virtue. He brings that to life among this group of retired adults. In his own words he says, ‘They remind me of my grandmothers and aunties back home.’”

This unlikely combination of bodybuilder and the frail elderly has changed many lives for the better. Together they have created a community of people who care about each other, and they work to make each other stronger physically and emotionally.

We can all make a difference in the world when we use our talents to improve the lives of those around us. This giving spirit nurtures both the giver and the receiver. What values and talents do you hold dear, and who can benefit from them? Even our weaknesses can be used to strengthen others. When you find the answer to those questions, you’ll find happiness and purpose. Join us on my Facebook page, ( and let’s continue the discussion about people who inspire you to achieve your greatest potential.

Are You Happy with the Money You Earn?

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

how much money do you need to earn to be happyWe all need money to live. But when is enough, enough? In a recent CNN article, "How much do you need to earn to be happy?", the results of the CNN Money's American Dream poll is very revealing. This poll, conducted by ORC International, asked these two questions:

How much do you need to make in order to be happy? They discovered that…

  • “23% said they'd need between $100,000 and $199,999.
  • Over half of people said it would take less than $100,000 to make them happy.
  • Almost a quarter of the people said between $50,000 and $74,999 would work.
  • 10% said $30,000 would be their minimum requirement.”

How much does it take to consider yourself rich? They discovered that…

  • “11% said they'd need to make $1 million or more.
  • The most typical answers fell between $100,000 and $199,999.
  • 60% thought incomes below $250,000 would be enough.”

The article refers to a Princeton study, which found that “high income buys life satisfaction but not happiness, and that low income is associated both with low life evaluation and low emotional well-being.”

Maybe some follow up questions should be – what do you do with your money? Do you spend it as fast as it comes in? Do you spend more than what’s coming in? Do you save? Are you using your money to achieve specific goals, or is it flying out the window with nothing to show for it?

As a psychologist in private practice I see clients who struggle to find happiness even when they’ve achieved their financial goals. Join us on my Facebook page, ( and let’s talk about this question – Do you define your riches in terms of monetary wealth or life experiences?

How Does Meditation Affect the Brain?

Friday, July 04, 2014

meditations affect on the brainMeditation is a relaxation method that many use today for managing stress, however, new research is showing that there may be many more benefits of meditating. Recent studies are showing that it makes the brain stronger and allows a person to process thoughts and feelings. But what kind of meditation works best for this?

A recent study by a team of researchers at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), the University of Oslo and the University of Sydney learned that the brain works differently during various forms of meditation. They divided meditation techniques into two groups, Concentrative (focusing on breathing or on specific thoughts while suppressing other thoughts) and Nondirective (effortlessly focusing on breathing or meditative sound, and allowing the mind to wander).

The results were unexpected…

One of the researchers, physician Jian Xu said, “I was surprised that the activity of the brain was greatest when the person’s thoughts wandered freely on their own, rather than when the brain worked to be more strongly focused. When the subjects stopped doing a specific task and were not really doing anything special, there was an increase in activity in the area of the brain where we process thoughts and feelings. It is described as a kind of resting network. And it was this area that was most active during nondirective meditation.

Another researcher, Svend Davanger, a neuroscientist at the University of Oslo, commented, “The study indicates that nondirective meditation allows for more room to process memories and emotions than during concentrated meditation.”

Previous studies conducted by researchers at UCLA showed that years of meditating thickens the brain in a healthy way and strengthens the connections between brain cells. A more recent study found that the more years a person meditates the brain’s cortex "folds"(gyrification), which may allow the brain to process information faster.

There are so many forms of meditation practiced by millions of people. Would you like to explore the benefits? A mental health professional can assist you or see if you would also benefit from cognitive-behavioral therapy. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA, please contact my office to schedule an appointment.

So Grateful for Dr. Lorna Wing’s Pioneering Work into Autism

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Dr. Lorna Wing died on June 6th at the age of 85. It is with sadness that I think about the death of this wonderful psychiatrist, researcher and autism advocate. While I didn’t know her personally, I am filled with immense gratitude for all the work that she accomplished throughout her life. Dr. Wing has contributed so much to our understanding of Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome. Like so many of us, she began her research into autism in the 1950’s as she looked for answers to her daughter’s behavior.

Dr. Wing’s outstanding contributions are numerous. She and her colleague, Dr. Judith Gould, determined that autism is not just one single condition, but is rather a wide spectrum of behaviors that stem from a common disorder that she described as “a lack of ability to understand and use the rules governing social behavior.” They subsequently established a clinic, Center for Social and Communications Disorders, that is a benchmark for diagnosis and treatment for autism in children.

She also brought to light the work of Hans Asperger, the Austrian psychiatrist who first described the behavior of the form of autism that is known today as Asperger’s Syndrome. Dr. Asperger’s work had been eclipsed by WWII and was forgotten until Dr. Wing rediscovered it. In his original writings he called this disorder, “autistic psychopathy”, but when writing about his findings, she titled her 1981 published paper as, “Asperger’s Syndrome: A Clinical Account”, and that name has become widely known.

You can read more in the New York Times article: Dr. Lorna Wing, Who Broadened Views of Autism, Dies at 85.

Self-Sabotaging Behaviors that Elicit Rejection

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

self sabotaging behaviors that elicit rejectionA person’s own faulty thinking can cause so much unnecessary pain. Fear of rejection especially entraps people in a pattern of stress and depression. An article by Mike Bundrant recently highlighted five ways a person might be inviting rejection without realizing it. What are these five ways?

  1. Being afraid to ask for what you need. Have you ever caught yourself thinking, “I’d really like ______, but I know he or she will say no, so why even bother to ask.” (You’re making someone’s mind up for them without giving them a chance.)
  2. Wanting something so much that you keep pushing until your partner explodes. (He or she might agree given time, but you don’t allow them that time.)
  3. Avoiding confrontation by refusing to discuss hot button topics. (If it’s a hot button topic, emotions are already involved so it’s going to have to be dealt with sooner or later.)
  4. Hiding the truth. Your spouse notices you have new clothes, but you say, “Oh, this old thing. It’s been in my closet for a long time.” When in reality you just purchased in with the credit card that you both agreed to only use for emergencies. (Not only will your spouse find out this is a lie, but now you’ve violated his trust.)
  5. Agreeing when you really disagree. You promise, “Of course, I’ll cut the grass”, when you’ve already planned to go golfing with your buddies instead. (Agreeing in order to keep peace will ultimately backfire when you don’t follow through on what you’ve said.)

All of these are self-sabotaging behaviors. They’re setting you up for the very thing you’re trying to avoid – rejection. The good news is that you can retrain your thoughts through Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, so you break the cycle of these habits and behaviors. The techniques of CBT are designed to change faulty irrationally thinking into more constructive, solution-oriented thinking. Often people are stuck because they have an irrational belief from childhood that keeps them from living the way they wished they could. CBT is usually considered short-term therapy, perhaps 8-10 one-hour sessions. If you’d like to make an appointment, contact my Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA office.

Learn more about Cognitive Behavioral Therapy here.

Three Ways to Avoid Toxic Life Choices

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Make your choice positive not a toxic life choiceWhen you review the people you’ve let into your life, are they supportive of you or do some of them make you feel bad about yourself every time you talk with them? When things go wrong in life, do you feel like it’s always some else’s fault? When you meet someone, do you find yourself trying to become the kind of person you believe they want you to be, rather than being yourself? All of these responses can lead to toxic life choices.

The level of your happiness is largely dependent on you and your choices. If you find that you’re struggling through the same problems over and over again, it’s a good indicator that you need to consciously make different choices. As Albert Einstein described it…”Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

How can you begin to make better decisions that help you avoid toxic life choices? Here are three suggestions:

#1 Be Aware of How You Feel
It’s important to remember that you always experience your feelings first. Emotions, such as, happiness, confusion, pain, pride, boredom, or fear, determine how we will respond to situations. Closely following our feelings are our thoughts or interpretations that come from those feelings.

Interestingly, those with Autism aren’t as likely to make irrational decisions that are influenced by “a gut feeling”. Of course, this emotional disconnect creates difficulties in social situations, but it enable them to avoid potentially irrelevant emotional information and make more consistent choices. This illustrates that it’s useful to create self-awareness of your feelings so you think before you act, thereby using emotions to make good decisions.

#2 Be Yourself
Rather than worrying about what others think, ask yourself what’s important to you? What do you want you life to be like? How can you be the best YOU? Trying to please others and do things that we think they want, is a pretense and it will lead you to choices and results that will be toxic to you.

#3 Be Vulnerable
It’s a sign of strength to ask for help when you need it. None of us know everything. So we don’t need to pretend that we do. On the other hand, if you always rely on everyone to fix things for you, you won’t learn how to grow. Finding the balance depends on you being willing to ask for help and then being willing to do the work.

It’s never too late to make your life richer and more meaningful. You can change how you react to situations so you avoid toxic choices and can make good choices that support you. 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.

Jumping to Negative Conclusions Can Harm Your Brain

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

cynical thinking can harm your brainCan viewing others positively not only improve your relationships but also actually enable you to live a longer and healthier life? That question prompted a group of scientists and researchers from the University of Eastern Finland to study the affect of cynical distrust on health. They specifically researched people who doubt others, imputing selfish motives to everything’s that’s said and done. The CNN article, Cynicism linked to greater dementia risk, reports on some of their findings.

This study as well as others, have shown that cynical thinking may cause cancer-related deaths, dementia, cardiovascular disease and more. Why does a cynical attitude affect the body so detrimentally? This is a very complex question. The article mentioned a number of contributing factors:

  • People with a cynical attitude tend to make poor health decisions, such as smoking more, abusing alcohol, exercising less, and compulsively eating.
  • Poor health decisions lead to cardiovascular disease that damages the blood flow to the brain, which contributes to dementia.
  • Poor health habits and stress increase inflammation in the immune system, leading to many diseases.
  • Since cynical people doubt what they hear, they also doubt their health care professionals, which leads them to ignoring their advice.

If you recognize yourself in this, don’t despair. The good news is that attitudes can be changed. This can lead you to a much happier life with less stress, better physical health, and better relationships. It’s taken a lifetime to develop a cynical pattern of thinking, so it may require that you seek some professional guidance to help you cultivate a more positive way of thinking. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office to schedule an appointment.

Join my on my Facebook page, ( and let’s talk about what you’ve found helpful in cultivating a positive outlook on life.

To learn more, read on my website: Mind & Body Health.

Do You Expect Everyone to Think and Act Like You Do?

Friday, June 06, 2014

why doesn't everyone think like I doA common expression we hear today is, “It’s my way or the highway.” Perhaps you’ve found yourself even saying that to a child or an employee. Sometimes, people unintentionally alienate others because they expect everyone else to think and act exactly like they do. It never occurs to them that there are many ways to be in the world, and they are all appropriate given the stage of development and personality of the individual involved.

Let me give you an example of one copreneur couple (names have been changed to protect their identities) that was helped to resolve their problems through using Dialectical Behavior Therapy to better understand this issue.

When Arthur turned forty-seven, he knew that his wife was unhappy, though what she was unhappy about remained a mystery. He loved his wife dearly and only wanted the best for her, but somehow he wasn’t succeeding at meeting her needs. Since this was his third marriage, he could hardly deny that he might have a few weaknesses in the relationship department, and he was finally willing to put his ego aside to find some answers.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) required numerous meetings during the week as the couple peeled back the layers to get to the core problem without having to explore the deeper introspection necessary in CBT. Arthur and Leslie examined their work and personal relationship and discovered that most of their conflicts emerged at work. He assumed that Leslie was just like himself, a visionary type of leader, when all Leslie wanted to do was be supportive and run an efficient office. Arthur would rush off with a new idea and leave a project dangling, assuming that Leslie would finish the project. He was happy to have her do it any way that suited her, because he was finished with it. Leslie, on the other hand, was frustrated and bewildered.

Eventually, the patience with which this couple approached their problems paid off. Arthur developed a new admiration for Leslie and allowed her the space to perform at work in just the way that fit her personality. He learned that there are other ways to do things in life besides his own, and that they all work well.

This opened his eyes to his previous relationships within his family and business. He questioned why he had taken the paths he had taken. He wondered if his selfish way of looking at people had alienated him unnecessarily from those he loved. He wondered if he had ignored certain opportunities and dismissed others simply because he wanted things done his way. All of this speculation depressed Arthur. He couldn’t go back in time and do things differently.

Working through the DBT exercises made it possible for Arthur to grow through this depression. He allowed himself the regrets. And he made apologies where he could. He came to recognize this key truth: At any moment in time, we are all making the best choice we know how to, given our level of skill and life experience. Arthur was able to pull himself out of his depression and build a quality life with Leslie because he began to see the possibilities for tomorrow.

How do you push past the regrets and stay positive? Connect with me on my Facebook page, ( and share how you focus on tomorrow’s possibilities.

If you haven’t done so yet, grab your hardcopy or kindle edition of Entrepreneurial Couples – Making it Work at Work and at Home.

Balance Worry with Hope to Come Up With the Best Solutions

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Balance Worry wit Hope for best solutionsDo you worry? I worry. It’s natural to worry about all kinds of things. Not that all of this worrying accomplishes much. However it can serve a useful purpose if it directs your attention to problem solving. I think worriers, more than most take a hard cold look at reality. The problem is you can scare yourself to death if you’re worrying about things you can’t control.

A better approach is to use your worries as incentive to search for solutions. You can do this by balancing your worry with hopefulness. This doesn’t mean that you’re looking only on the bright side of everything, like the proverbial ostrich with his or her head stuck in the sand. You need to realistically account for the negative side of things, so you can plan and live your life fully.

This reminds me of a profound statement by Albert Einstein, “We can not solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them.” If we want something to change, we need to create that change. What are some practical steps to raising your consciousness or level of thinking? Here are seven ways this can be done…

  • Solutions come when we tear ourselves away from our negativity. (Hope tells us there’s a better way to live.
  • Solutions come from focusing on what is right, good, pure, and loving. (Hope tells us that we’ll receive back what we put out to the world.)
  • Solutions come when we first take care of your own mental, physical and spiritual health. (Hope tells us that this will give us the strength and energy needed.)
  • Solutions come when we give ourselves to others. (Hope tells us that we can make the world a better place.)
  • Solutions come when we are grateful. (Hope tells us that every day there will be something wonderful.)
  • Solutions come when we believe that the challenges we are facing are a gift. (Hope tells us that we will see our weakness and strengths and we can grow.)
  • Solutions come when your goals are realistic. (Hope tells you that you can do it.)

If you have faith and hope you will not only come through hardship but you will be better for it. Like me you may still worry, but let those worries guide you to the kind of solutions that can only come from your indomitable human spirit. If you’re struggling in a dark place of hopelessness, get help immediately from a mental health care professional. Life is too wonderful to waste. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA, contact my office and set up an appointment.

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