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Entrepreneurs – How to Conquer Your Own Worst Enemy

Wednesday, February 15, 2017


Shoe squishing the word impossibleWhat do you consider to be your worst enemy as an entrepreneur? The ever-changing market? Fickle customers? Your competition?
 
What about your own negative attitude?
 
You may have heard that attitude is everything, and indeed it is. The mind and body connection is very real and very powerful. Our emotions affect our bodies and dwelling on negative ones can cause many physical health problems.
 
But did you realize that optimism could also greatly impact the health and wellbeing of your business? Optimists tend to be solution-oriented. When they encounter a setback, instead of throwing their hands up, they continue to search for a way around the problem because they are convinced there is a solution. They are also willing to try new things because they recognize that what looks like failure is really a learning experience.
 
While optimism can positively impact your life and business in a very large way, negativity can quickly tear down what you have worked for. Negativity adds to the normal stress felt by entrepreneurs everywhere. It also has a debilitating effect, sometimes preventing people from moving forward and getting past a situation or starting something new.
 
Do you tend to have a pessimistic attitude about life or your business? Or perhaps all the negativity in the media of late is having an impact on your state of mind?
 
Let’s consider three steps that can help you turn your negative thoughts around:
 
Accept your thoughts and feelings. It is important not to dismiss your negative thoughts and worries. Worrying about worrying is not going to help you! Accept your thoughts and feelings and take time to examine them. When you accept the existence of the negative thought and take ownership of it, you take back power and control. The problem no longer feels so large.
 
I often suggest to my clients that they make the effort to practice mindfulness, a simple form of meditation that helps you get control of your thoughts and behaviors. It is the act of focusing all of your attention on the present. Focus on what you are doing or feeling without thinking about why you’re doing it or feeling that way, what you should do next, or what you think you should be doing. Mindfulness requires that you consider your thoughts and feelings without judgment.
 
Challenge your negative thoughts. Once you accept your negative thoughts, you are in the position to challenge them. Ask yourself: Is there real evidence for your frightening thoughts and predictions? Are they founded in unhelpful beliefs? What are the pros and cons of worrying or avoiding the thing I fear?
 
Replace negative thoughts with realistic thoughts. Once you’ve identified the irrational or negative distortions in your anxious thoughts, replace them with new thoughts that are more realistic and positive. It can be helpful to view your negative thoughts and worries as incentives to search for solutions. Especially in business, solutions do not come from worry or fear. They come from putting our attention on what is good and beneficial.
 
Often, negative thoughts are part of a lifelong pattern of thinking. It takes time and practice to break these habits. To help you adjust your thinking to a more positive perspective, I suggest starting each day with a positive thought. That may sound small, but it will help you set the tone for how you will choose to think for the day. It is also beneficial to practice gratitude every day. People who look for reasons to be grateful experience better mental health, emotional wellbeing and resiliency in the face of difficulties.
 
If you still feel overwhelmed by negative thoughts and you live near Portland OR/Vancouver, WA, please contact my office to schedule an appointment. I can help you put your negative thoughts into perspective and cultivate a positive attitude that will help you succeed in life and business.

Entrepreneurs – Reduce Stress by Caring for Your Mind, Body and Spirit

Wednesday, November 30, 2016


Man standing on cliff with arms outstretchedWhile entrepreneurs are good at accomplishing goals, they're usually not very good at establishing healthy habits. You probably work tirelessly building your business, working long hours while simultaneously caring for your family. It’s no wonder that self-care quickly takes a backseat to more immediate priorities. With what result? A lot of built-up stress with no relief in sight.

What can you do to minimize the amount of stress in your busy entrepreneurial life? Stress comes when the different aspects of your life fall out of alignment. In order to keep all parts of your life in healthy productive alignment, you must attend to the whole person. That means caring for your mind, body and spirit.

Care for your mind. Take time to refocus and recharge. One way to do this is through the practice of mindfulness, a simple form of meditation that helps you get control of your thoughts and behaviors. It is the act of focusing all of your attention on the present. Focus on what you are doing or feeling without thinking about why you’re doing it or feeling that way, what you should do next, or what you think you should be doing. Mindfulness requires that you objectively consider your thoughts and feelings, a process that helps you be truly present and live in the moment.

The benefits of practicing mindfulness extend beyond the initial session of meditation. People who practice mindfulness experience greater focus and decreased stress, even beyond the meditation session. It keeps you from jumping from one thought to the next or dwelling on negative thoughts. Even just a few minutes can quiet your mind and reduce stress.

Care for your body. Physical needs are some of the first things left behind when entrepreneurs really get busy. But caring for your body is necessary for staying healthy and keeping your stress levels in check. Get some sleep. This is easier said than done, but it is important. Take time to prepare and eat nourishing foods. The vitamins and minerals in healthy foods keep your body working properly, enabling you to power through the daily demands of entrepreneurial life.

Also, move your body more. Exercise reduces stress, increases your energy levels, and helps you sleep better. Even small amounts of exercise can make a big difference. The mind and body are in state of constant communication. What the mind thinks and experiences is sent from the brain to the rest of the body. This is why you can often physically feel the effects of stress. The good news is that our bodies are also sending messages to the brain so exercise can help calm the mind.

Care for your spirit. The spirit is that part of each human that makes us a distinctive personality. It is the part of a person that defines us and yet connects us to others. Keeping our spirit healthy is essential to the process of achieving healthy balance in life. Some feed their spirit through belief in God and the practice of religion. Others maintain a spiritual connection in some other way. Find your sense of self that extends beyond the boundaries of this life and commit to it.

Stress is a part of life, especially for entrepreneurs. However, it can be managed by taking care of your entire being. When you balance your mind, body, and spirit, you will be able to have a more meaningful, and less stressful, life to share with the ones you love. If you’d like to achieve balance again and live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA, please contact my office and schedule an appointment.

7 Ways to Teach Your Child to be a Leader

Monday, November 21, 2016


Mother and daughter spending time togetherIt probably goes without saying that parents want their children to be leaders rather than followers. Some children are natural leaders. They seem to inherently understand how to negotiate successfully, effectively give directions, and kindly offer help. These children bring peace and harmony to a group, and inspire others to do their best.
 
But for most children, these skills do not come naturally. They are skills that must be learned from you as a parent – the family leader! When you are running a family business, there’s an additional element to teaching leadership since your child might be called upon to lead the family business someday.
 
So how can you teach your child to be an effective leader? Fortunately, you don’t have to revamp your entire routine to teach leadership skills to your children. Small things you do every day can have a big effect.
 
Take a look at these seven ways you can help your children grow into great leaders:
 
Emphasize the value of perseverance. Leaders need to learn to handle failure gracefully. They may fail many times, but true leaders always get back up and move on quickly. It is important to allow your children to experience disappointment rather than protect them from it. When you shield your children from failure, they don’t learn to tolerate the inevitable failure they will experience later in life. Children need to learn how to deal with a setback and move forward with a positive attitude. When they do fail, be kind and show support. Let them know that you understand their feelings. This will help them understand that things will ultimately work out for them.
 
Don’t be so quick to offer praise. Children need praise to build their self-esteem, but not so much that they depend on praise from others to feel good about themselves. Their confidence must come from within. They need to learn to believe in themselves, especially in the face of opposition or naysayers. When you do praise your children, praise the effort they put in to something.
 
Let your children be self-sufficient. Don’t be quick to jump in and solve their problems for them. This applies to everything from school projects to a disagreement they have with a friend or sibling. Step back and let your children work through their issues. This empowers them to stand on their own two feet and take control. They learn to be responsible and accountable.
 
Focus on independence verses obedience. By no means am I advocating a parenting technique where the child can be disobedient, rude, or disrespectful. However, if you want your child to lead your company someday, they need to learn how to be independent and make good decisions now. Independence is a state of mind that children must conquer for themselves. In order to do this, children must eventually prove themselves in the adult world. This proof often comes by leaving home, perhaps even the family business for a time, and facing their fears of being on their own.
 
Don’t focus too much on achievement. Of course, you are proud of your child when they get good grades or excel in some other way. But are those individual achievements really what’s most important? Isn’t it the journey? True success, especially in the business world, comes from teamwork. The most successful people surround themselves with talented people who make up for what they lack. If you focus too much on the individual achievements of your children, they will not learn how to work with others, ask for help, and may give up out of discouragement.
 
Say no. It sounds simple, but it is very powerful. Successful leaders work hard for the things that are important to them. They don’t get everything they want, right this second. It is vital for children to develop this same patience. Help them set goals. They will experience the joy and gratification that comes from working hard to accomplish their goals and get what they want. Your children will learn to deal with the initial disappointment, and refocus on the goal ahead.
 
Model the behaviors you want to see in your children. Your children see everything you do, and soak it up like a sponge! Make sure your actions are saying what you want them to say. Be honest and authentic. Show your children that it is ok to be who you are. Show them that you aren’t infallible, that everyone makes mistakes. Then you can teach them how to work through, and learn from, their mistakes.
 
Parenting is no easy task, and we can all use some help from time-to-time. If you need help with your family, and you live in the Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA area, please contact my office to set up an appointment.

How Codependency May Secretly Be Hurting Your Family Business

Wednesday, October 26, 2016


Codependency can be a problem in family businessesAre you in a codependent relationship? Perhaps you have no close family or friends that are suffering from addictions or illnesses, issues that commonly result in codependence. You are not enabling anyone, picking up the slack when they refuse to do their part, making excuses… wait a minute.
 
Maybe you aren’t doing these things in your personal life, but if you tend to do them as a business owner, you could very well be on the road to codependency, and it could be hurting your business.
 
Codependency occurs when a person consistently allows their own needs and rights to become secondary to someone else’s. They take the emotional needs of others onto themselves. As a business owner, this can include neglecting your business in order to take care of other people.
 
What does this actually look like? Maybe you have an employee or business partner who has to be reminded over and over, and over again, to get things done.  They aren’t doing their job. They aren’t fulfilling their commitment to the company. But then again, they don’t have to. You are there pushing, pulling, and reminding them to do their work. The result is wasted time, energy, resources, and money.
 
Things get trickier when we are talking about a family business. With regular employees, it tends to be easier to lay down the law, make cuts when necessary, and enforce consequences. When it comes to family – your spouse, your daughter, your cousin – we make more allowances and offer more assistance. But this can quickly go from being kind and loving to a family member to being codependent.
 
The reason it is so easy to confuse kindness and codependency is that they are essentially the same behavior, just within different contexts. To be kind means to give unconditionally, share, and show that you care. When this giving and caring is reciprocated in a healthy relationship, the condition is kindness. However, when the kindness is not reciprocated, and you find yourself constantly giving, it may be codependency.
 
How can you tell if you are a codependent business owner? Perhaps you see yourself in the scenarios mentioned above. Here are some other signs of codependence: 

  • Difficulty saying no or feeling guilty for being assertive

  • Extreme preoccupation with the opinions of others, perhaps even valuing their opinions over your own

  • Difficulty communicating, identifying your needs, or making decisions

  • Sacrificing your good reputation to help someone who doesn’t give back

  • Feeling unappreciated and resentful

  • Physical symptoms such as feeling tired or depressed, or experiencing headaches or stomach pain

  • Relying on food, shopping, alcohol or other drugs to give you a lift

As in personal relationships, a codependent business relationship will eventually result in burnout for you and/or your business. You can only go so long putting other people ahead of yourself and your business until something breaks down. Choose to have positive self-esteem, and realize your limitations and personal responsibilities. Give responsibility for other people’s actions back to them.
 
Breaking codependency is extremely difficult to do without help and support from others. Because codependent tendencies are rooted in childhood dysfunction, it is often necessary to consult a therapist to determine the cause. I can help you work you these issues and empower you to take back control of your life and your business. If you live in the Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA area, please contact my office to set up an appointment.

Letting Go to Achieve Greater Happiness and Health

Wednesday, October 05, 2016


There isn’t anything you can’t learn to gracefully surrender to and let go of as you become okay with the situation and experience greater health and calm.Many people today are dealing with chronic problems – mental issues, broken relationships and ongoing pain, to name just a few. An important phase of healing is to quit fighting it and begin surrendering to it.

Surrendering or “letting go” doesn’t mean you’re giving up on yourself, that you start self-medicating to forget, or that you’re practicing avoidance behavior. It simply means that accept the way things really are. Rather than continually knocking your head against the proverbial wall, you’ll be able to move in a better direction. When you come to terms with your situation in life, your happiness and health will improve.

One of the most powerful things you can do is to become congruent with your present-day situations. Yes, some of the life challenges in the following list can be really tough to handle. But with the right tools and support there isn’t anything you can’t learn to gracefully surrender to and let go of in time. A few of the difficult life situations we face are and need to become okay with might include:
  • Your current health level.
  • Your current level of pain.
  • Your limitations.
  • The death of a loved one.
  • Being lonely.
  • Your body image.
  • Who you are.
  • Your single or marital status.

It’s important to note that being okay with something doesn’t mean you like it. Many of life challenges require that we practice self-compassion when addressing a chronic negative reality. Be patient with yourself as you process it and learn to live with it.

Never give up on finding a treatment that works for you. One type of treatment may work for one person, whereas a different treatment will help another person better. As a qualified psychologist and N.E.T practitioner, I’ve seen many clients respond well to alternative, holistic treatments. These include dietary supplements, mind-body therapies, chiropractic or osteopathic manipulation, massage, movement therapies, specialized diets, and neuro-emotional technique.

There are ups and downs in the process of living. Sometimes our problems turn out to be gifts that provide us opportunities to grow as individuals. If you’d like to explore your options and you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment.

Read more on my website: Holistic Health.

Entrepreneurs – 9 Warning Signs that You Need to Change Your Life Before It’s Too Late

Wednesday, July 20, 2016


Discover nine warning signs that life is about to change or NEEDS to change – they’ll help you tune into your own unique signals so you’re not blindsided.  Although change is constant, busy entrepreneurs often don’t recognize that change is happening and even go out of their way to try to stop the inevitable. When we do this, we create more hardship for ourselves, and those around us, than if we simply acknowledged the need for change in the first place.

Through my research on entrepreneurial couples for my book Entrepreneurial Couples: Making It Work at Work and at Home, I identified nine common warning signs that change is needed or may be coming. (They’re in bold font in this article.) Outright failure is a certain signal that change is needed, but waiting until that point may be so destructive as to be irreparable.

What makes more sense than waiting for outright failure is to learn to pay attention to those subtle wake-up calls that speak to you each day. Let’s consider some of these warning signs:

Boredom
One such wake-up call is boredom. A common way to deal with boredom is to come up with distractions to keep yourself entertained. However, the answers to boredom cannot be found outside yourself, through a new hobby or some other diversion. What you need to do is search within yourself to discover just what the boredom means. Only then can you make a real, meaningful change to bring a spark back to your life.

Confusion
Related to boredom is confusion. Confusion is another subtle sign that can be easily dismissed by focusing on something that’s less confusing. When we’re confused, we feel uncomfortable, even incompetent, especially if we’re perfectionistic entrepreneurs. But confusion is a valuable sign that a stable pattern has been interrupted. Stepping back, examining your motives and role in a given situation, and understanding your partner’s motives and role are important to clearing confusion and moving forward.

Unproductive Habitual Behavior
A potent warning sign that change is needed is when we engage in habitual behavior, even though it doesn’t work anymore. It’s a strange fact of life that once we get something working, it doesn’t work forever. In fact, just at the point that you get something working really well, it usually starts to decline. Such is the nature of change.

Therefore, it’s very important to assess your habits. You’ve developed habits because they’re convenient mechanisms for getting things done without having to give them much thought. However, when the habit really doesn’t serve the purpose anymore, stop doing it! It’s better to do nothing than to continue pursuing a habit that may have even become counterproductive.

Turning Points
Life's major turning points are another time for important changes. The natural turning points in life, which we’ve come to expect and accept anyway, are also a time to reevaluate our goals and values. Graduating from high school or college, getting married, giving birth to your first child, receiving a job promotion, turning fifty, and losing a parent, are all such turning points. Because of acquiring wealth and the leisure time that goes along with it, entrepreneurs are often able to take advantage of turning points to enhance their lives personally and professionally.

Since these turning points are bound to happen anyway, it seems foolish to deny them. Why not plan ahead? Change is inevitable with each step along the developing progressions of life. Even though you can’t know for certain what each turning point will bring you, you can at least recognize that change is happening and be alert to the phenomenon.

Boredom, confusion, unproductive habitual behavior, and life's naturally occurring turning points are only some of the subtle wake-up calls that you can strive to tune in to as you and your partner progress both personally and professionally. Others include fatigue, weight gain or loss, lack of sexual desire, and forgetfulness, among many others. As you pay attention to yourself more and as you come to appreciate change, you’ll tune in to your own unique signals. This is the kind of self-knowledge that successful people are known for.

Sometimes we need help to identify the signs that change is necessary. Other times we need help accepting the changes that are inevitable and happening right in front of us. If you need help appreciating the changes in your life, and you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment.

If you live elsewhere, we can schedule an appointment via a secure video Q & A session. Learn more by visiting Entrepreneurial Couples Remote Education.

Emotional Granularity - Putting a Name to Your Emotions Leads to Greater Health

Tuesday, June 14, 2016


Emotional Granularity - Putting a Name to Your Emotions Leads to Greater HealthPeople who have more nuanced views of their emotions are healthier. When you can put a name to an emotion like feeling righteously indignant versus just generally feeling bad, you are more in tune with your feelings.

The psychological term we use for this ability to pinpoint your exact emotion is “emotional granularity.” It means you experience the world and yourself more precisely. And there are a lot of benefits to increasing this skill.

People who have emotional granularity are less likely to engage in self-destructive behavior. They have better relationships, make better decisions, live longer and are healthier.

The New York Times recently reported on a study conducted by Lisa Feldman Barrett, professor of psychology at Northeastern University. They asked hundreds of volunteers to track their emotional experiences for weeks or months. They discovered something very interesting.

They assumed that people with higher emotional granularity were just better at recognizing their emotional states. Instead they learned that the brain proactively constructs your emotional states before you’re aware of it. The brain doesn’t respond to the world in some predetermined way. It anticipates what might come next, based on a past experience. This means you get to program your emotional responses as you choose.

If you can translate your feelings into a specific emotional term that you can act on, then you don’t deplete your store of energy needlessly. Dr. Feldman Barrett likened our energy supply to a bank account. When there’s a real threat, then the withdrawal of energy translates into a meaningful action. Afterward, you can resupply your energy reserves through rest and nutrition.

On the other hand, when there’s a constant feeling of badness, it drains your account. There are no reserves of energy left for when it’s needed. You’re overdrawn. This leads to feeling trapped and overwhelmed, increasing the likelihood of mental and physical illness.

You can increase your emotional granularity by becoming more skilled in identifying the nuances of your emotions. How many emotional concepts do you have in your vocabulary? I encourage you to write down a list of new words to describe the emotional states you experience. You’ll give your brain a larger toolkit to work from, which will give you more emotional flexibility in coping with what life throws at you.


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