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Kathy Marshack News

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.

How Retirement Impacts Couples Who Work Together

Tuesday, May 27, 2014


Spouse retiringEntrepreneurial couples journey through many phases in their lives. You have the excitement of starting out in business. Later you enter the phase of managing your business as you juggle the demands of home, family and job. Then comes dealing with the “empty nest” as you both continue to work and get to know each other again as a couple. A phase that often brings unexpected challenges is when one of you decides to retire before the other one is ready to do so.

When couples retire at different times, what issues will arise? And how can you cope?

A New York Times article, Coping When Not Entering Retirement Together”, pointed out two main areas where conflict might arise – how money is spent and how free time is used. This article brought up some interesting topics for conversation that entrepreneurial couples would do well to discuss long before retiring. Some of them are:

  • Are you still energized by running a business or is it creating health problems?
  • When can you afford to retire?
  • Are you going to sell the house so you can more easily afford retirement?
  • Will you want to move to a new location?
  • Will the one income match your expenses?
  • Is your retirement portfolio large enough to support you comfortably for the rest of your life?
  • Will social security kick in before your income stops?
  • What are you going to do to keep living a meaningful life after retirement?
  • Will you be happy engaging in your hobbies, or will you need something else to do?
  • Will the working spouse resent how you spend your free time?
  • Are you prepared for the emotional consequences of this major life event?
  • Will the retired spouse feel guilty, so that you withhold information and communication starts breaking down?
  • Will depression become a problem, because your self worth had been defined by the job?
  • Is it realistic to think the retired partner will want to do all the housework, cooking, shopping?
  • Will the retired individual begin viewing the income from the working spouse as “his/her” income not “our” income?
  • Will spending habits need to change?

As you can see, to make a successful transition to retirement, especially if only one spouse is retiring, open and honest communication is the key. Succession planning also is a key issue that can create conflict if you and your spouse disagree. If you both decide to retire will you sell the business or turn it over your children to run?

You might find it beneficial to talk with a marriage counselor on how to cope with emerging thoughts and feelings you didn’t expect. Join me on my Facebook page, (https://www.facebook.com/Kathy.Marshack.Ph.D) and share what you think will be your biggest issue with retirement.

For more information, read on my website – Maintaining a Strong Marriage.

Does Stress Make Your Allergies Worse?

Thursday, May 22, 2014


Allergy symptoms worsen with stressWhy is it that, while your allergies don’t normally hit you so hard, today of all days it’s much worse? Why does this have to happen right before your big presentation at work? Or the week of your wedding? Your eyes water uncontrollably, you sneeze and wheeze, and your skin rash itches like crazy. Are you just imagining it? Or could there be a correlation between stressful situations and increased allergies reactions? According to a recent study by Ohio State University researchers, stress can indeed be a factor in allergy flare-ups.

The author of the study, allergist Amber Patterson makes this interesting comment, “We know there's a connection between our neurology and our immunology. What we ultimately found is that some people with allergies have a more sensitive neuro-immunologic trigger.”

Knowing this connection, allergy sufferers can alleviate stress by:


A free resource you might want to try is WildDivine’s Schedule of Recent Experience. It’s a tool to help you understand how recent events in your life can be contributing toward your stress levels. Once you gain this awareness, you can take appropriate actions to solve the underlining stressors.

If you can’t get your allergies under control by yourself, consult a certified allergist and ask if stress is a contributing factor. He or she can recommend a trained psychologist who can help you manage that stress. Or you can contact my Portland, OR/Vancouver,WA office and schedule an appointment As a NET practitioner, my clients have found Neuro Emotional Technique and hypnosis to be very effective in treating allergic reactions due to stress.


Please join me on my Facebook page, (https://www.facebook.com/Kathy.Marshack.Ph.D) and share how stress has affected your allergies.

Learn more on my website – Managing Stress.

Get Off the Roller Coaster of Food Addiction by Retraining Your Genes

Monday, May 19, 2014


Get off the Food Addiction Roller CoasterNow that warmer weather is coming, many people are desperate to shed the unwanted pounds that have crept on during the winter. You see all kinds of crash diets being promoted and many try them. Does this cycle sound familiar?

For many, every year it’s the same roller coaster – lose weight – develop cravings – eat compulsively – gain weight – diet again. We all know this is harmful behavior, but knowing that isn’t enough to fix the problem.

The answer lies in our genes.

Yes, some are predisposed to be more sensitive to food than others, just as some are predisposed to the effects of alcohol. However, there’s so much more than our inherited genetics going on in this equation. Our genes have our unique information encoded in them. When our bodies are healthy, the genes easily and accurately transmit their information throughout the body. But if something detrimental is introduced, the genes lose their ability to communicate accurately.

Neuroscience is proving that the types of foods we eat, such as, excessively fatty, sugary, and salty foods alter the brain chemistry at a genetic level. But that’s not all. Other research shows that overeating any food can alter the brain chemistry. When a person dumps all of these excesses into the system, the genes release great quantities of dopamine so that a person gets a feel-good high comparable to what’s felt by those who use cocaine. This becomes addictive, especially if your life is stressful or you have unresolved emotional problems. So you begin a cycle of overdoing it regularly in order to feel good. This pattern of behavior interferes with how the genes communicate.

Once a person has become addicted to food and has rewritten their genetic makeup, can it be reversed? Most definitely yes, you can make it easier for your genes to communicate once again. Each time you choose to engage in a healthy behavior, you are rewriting your genetic makeup.

What are some healthy behaviors that support good genetic function?


Our bodies are amazing machines. Knowing that you can change how your genes function by the choices you make is empowering. You can change who you are from the inside out. Yes, it does take time and effort, but it’s worth it. Would you like to improve the quality of your life by getting off the dieting roller coaster forever? Take the first step and get a physical from your doctor, then consult a mental health professional who can help you stay on track. Contact my Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA office and schedule an appointment today.

For more information, read my website – Weight Control and Holistic Health.

In a Bad Mood? It Could Be Coming from Reading Social Media

Wednesday, April 23, 2014


social media influences our moodThe brain/body connection is truly amazing. Your brain has the power to influence your body in either a negative or positive way. Studies have proven that maintaining an optimistic mood improves health. And our mood is greatly influenced by the people we let into our lives. Does this also apply to the short little tweets or posts we daily read on Social Media?

According to a fascinating new study, the answer is “YES”. An article written by Mike Bundrant, a retired psychotherapist and regular contributor to PsychCentral, discusses how the study was conducted and the discoveries it made.

Researches from the University of California, Yale and Facebook examined Facebook posts created between January 2009 and March 2012. They especially focused on how the weather influenced the posts. They found that the mood reflected in the post generated similar postings. For example, negative comments generated negative posts. However, they found that the positive comments generated more positive posting. Either way, the study shows that the mood has the capability of going viral around the globe.

That’s a lot of power! People have, at times, exploited this power to generate political and social unrest. Since Facebook has 1.23 billion users as of January 2014 and Twitter has 243 million active users, it’s very likely that you are using one of these or a similar Social Media site to stay connected with your friends, family and community. So how can you protect yourself from being infected by the negative posts? Here are some suggestions:

  • Consciously monitor your own mood, before logging onto your Social Media.
  • Be proactive and share your happy mood.
  • Before you get agitated over a comment, make sure you have all the facts. Check the source and verify “facts”.
  • Feeling down? Re-read your post, and make it more positive before you hit the send button. You’ll be helping yourself and others.
  • If someone consistently posts things that alter your mood in a negative way, don’t hesitate to unfollow them.
  • Start your day with positive thoughts, rather than reading Social Media first thing every morning.
  • Increase your face-to-face contact with people who help you stay positive.
  • Log off and go do something you really enjoy – walking, playing with your pet, gardening, and so forth.

This study’s findings are hardly surprising since we’ve known that journaling and reading positive affirmations can empower the subconscious to believe the stated affirmation. It only makes sense that what you read in Social Media will affect your mind and body, too.

Do you have any experiences with this that you’d like to share? Join me on Facebook (www.facebook.com/Kathy.Marshack.Ph.D ). Yes, I’m on Facebook. It’s one way of reaching and helping more people through support and education. But let’s keep it helpful and positive!

Stressed? Take a Break and Let Your Brain Do Its Job

Monday, March 24, 2014


when stressed, take a break and let your brain workYou’ve got a deadline and you’re starting to sweat. The project you’re working on just isn’t coming together as you’d hoped. It’s like your brain has shut down, but now is when you need it the most. What can you do?

Rather than sitting there and becoming more anxious and stressed, we’re commonly advised to get up and do something not associated with the problem, such as taking a short walk, do some cleaning, or listen to your favorite music. Does this advice really work? And if so, why?

If you’ve tried it, you know that it does work. And here’s why:

Your prefrontal cortex (your forehead area) works to concentrate on the task in front of you but it’s also supposed to retrieve stored information from your memory. Then it combines these two elements so you can solve the problem. The problem that’s described above arises because you keep your prefrontal cortex too focused on the task. It can’t do the search and retrieval from your memory. When you get up and get involved in a different activity, it gives your brain a break. Now your prefrontal cortex has the freedom to search through your memory unhindered. It can then put together pieces of stored information in completely new ways.

For your brain to come up with creative solutions for your problems, you need to allow your brain to go through these four phases.

Put the knowledge into your brain’s memory banks. Your brain can’t retrieve what’s not in your memory. By reading extensively, conversing with experts, and attending workshops, you can gather a great deal of useful information. This exploration gives a variety of perspectives that you can apply to the problem.

Give your brain a break. Engage in activities totally unrelated to the subject. If you can, take the sage advice: "Why don't you sleep on it?” Getting away from a problem and letting the subconscious mind work on it often allows creativity to spring forth.

Let the brain combine the present task with the retrieved knowledge. This phase of the creative process is the most exciting because it’s at this time that you discover the idea or solution that you’re seeking. Don’t simply dismiss your ideas because they seem too far-fetched. Instead, jot them down. You can refine them later. And, who knows, they may be the beginning of a great solution.

Have the courage and self-discipline to train your brain to evaluate and Implement. Identify the ideas that are workable and that you have skills to implement. If you encounter temporary obstacles, don’t give up. Failure will lead to better ideas.

If you find that you’re prone to jumping from one project to the next, take a look at my website – Personal Growth/Gifted Adults - for why this might be happening and how you can develop your abilities more fully.

Need help unleashing your creativity? Consider setting up an appointment with a psychologist. You don’t have to be suffering to get help, especially if you want to optimize your mental health. If you live in the Portland, Oregon/Vancouver, Washington area, please contact my office for an in depth consultation.

The Hot Buttons of an Asperger/NT Marriage – Sex, Socializing, and Parenting

Friday, January 24, 2014


Sex Socializing and Parenting are three problems that can challenge a marriage between an Asperger and non-Asperger marriageIt would be nice if marriage was easy, but it’s not. Even with a lot of work, commitment and love, marriages will have ups and downs. If you are married to someone who has Asperger’s Syndrome, you especially face challenges that most people can’t even imagine.

Because of the lack of empathy in your Aspie partner, you will often feel misunderstood and unloved, and this may cause you to think that your marriage cannot survive, let alone thrive. So I wanted to share with an article by columnist, Regina Boyle Wheeler that I really appreciated. She centered on the hope-filled message that you CAN DEVELOP SKILLS THAT WORK in your NT/ASD relationship.

In writing this article, she sought my advice since I’ve written books on the topic of marriage and Asperger’s Syndrome; Going Over the Edge? And Out of Mind – Out of Sight. I was able to share with her insight into three specific areas of life that are critical for a marriage to go beyond merely surviving to actually thriving: Sex, Socializing, and Parenting.

Sex becomes a problem for two reasons. Generally we desire physical contact, yet those with Asperger’s Syndrome may have difficulty with being hugged, kissed or caressed. Shyness can cause a Neuro-Typical partner to be unable to speak about what is pleasurable sexually - you just want your partner to intuitively know what you want. However, those with Asperger’s can’t read your signals. It can quickly kill the mood when you have to talk your way through sex, saying what you like or don’t like.

Socializing becomes a minefield of potentially embarrassing situations. The NT partner is always on the alert to head off potentially embarrassing social blunders or topics, so the social event quickly become an exhausting and stress-filled occasion. Rather than endure this, some choose to avoid social settings, or they turn to misusing alcohol or pharmaceuticals to “cope” so it doesn’t matter so much. Either option is destructive for the individual and the marriage.

Parenting becomes a battle of conflicting views even though both parents love the child. It can tear your heart to pieces when your Asperger mate fails to recognize when your child needs comfort, reassurance, praise, or even loving correction.

There are ways that you can learn to cope and thrive as an individual and in your marriage. A mental health professional who has specialized training in Asperger Syndrome can help you develop the skills you need. Life is too short to be merely enduring a relationship, especially when you can learn skills that will turn things around for your family. Please contact my Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA office and make an appointment today to find out what they are.

Read more about Therapy for Marriages Impacted by Asperger Syndrome on my website.

Simplify – The Secret to Less Stress

Wednesday, October 16, 2013


woman stressedIn our hectic lives we try to do everything, have everything and be everything. We want to be good at our jobs, be the perfect partner, and give our children everything we didn’t have. If you're a baby boomer there’s the additional worry of caring for aged parents. In this pursuit of taking care of everything and everyone, managing stress can be increasingly difficult.

I found a new article on CNN,"Stress less: Keys to a calmer existence", had some good advice on how to simplify your routine, your possessions and how you think about things. Some of the suggestions that were helpful and easy to implement included:


  • Eliminate time wasters.
  • Don’t say, “yes” to every request.
  • Break big tasks into the small steps.
  • Do what energizes you, and avoid what depletes you.
  • Schedule a small amount of time to routinely de-cluttering every week.
  • Keep the treasures and toss the stuff you don’t really love.
  • Start by doing what you know how to do and feel satisfaction in doing that.
  • When struggling with a problem, go do something you enjoy, then come back to it.
  • Don’t strive for perfection.

When you simplify your life you have less to worry about and less to maintain so you can focus on what’s important. According to Geralin Thomas, a professional organizer, "Once you shape your environment, then you’re ready to shape up yourself.” But what if these simple suggestions just aren't enough? Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a powerful tool to help you control how you react to stress. It works to identify the sources of stress, restructure priorities, change your response to stress, and find methods for managing and reducing stress. Over time, it becomes your new and automatic way of thinking! If you live near Portland OR/Vancouver, WA and want to work with a mental health care professional that specializes in CBT, contact my office to make an appointment.

Read about eight specific methods to reducing stress on my website – Managing Stress.



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