Ask Dr. Brinkman

‘Attitude’ Category

Why Do People Act the Way They Do

Wednesday, July 1st, 2015

Dr. Rick Brinkman explains why people act the way they do and what you can do about it, to employees of ITV London, UK at their December Lunch & Learn.


Having a Sense of Purpose Adds Years to Your Life

Friday, May 16th, 2014

Having a sense of purpose may add years to your life, regardless of what the purpose is, research suggests.

Not only does it contribute to healthy aging, but it may also stave off early death, according to a study of 7,000 Americans.

The research, published in Psychological Science, applies across adult life, says a US-Canadian team.

It may be because purposeful people look after their health better and are physically fitter, they believe.

The study tracked the physical and mental health of more than 7,000 US adults aged 20 to 75 years.  READ MORE


Want to clarify your purpose, check out Life by Design.

My All Time Favorite

Saturday, January 25th, 2014

This is my all time favorite saying when it’s time to start a new endeavor. What’s your favorite?

Download sign to post here:

Failure is Not an Option

Thursday, January 16th, 2014

When ever I am faced with adversity or doubt, this is the sign I look at in my office,  (and then I “Spring into Action”).


Download the PDF to print here:

Get it Done Thought of the Day: Spring into Action

Wednesday, January 8th, 2014

When my mother, Auschwitz survivor was up against adversity she would say, “It’s time to spring into action!”

That philosophy led to her and her sisters to escape a death march in January of 1945 and served her the rest of her life.

Read about her escape here:

Download the PDF sign here:




Dealing with Relatives – Defusing Triggers

Friday, December 6th, 2013



An association is a trigger like the song or smell that suddenly transports you back through time. When it comes to family both the people and the environment are powerful triggers. This is why you could be a competent adult with good communication skills and then in the presence of immediate family become a babbling nine-year-old again with everyone falling into the reactions and roles of the past.

One of the ways to break those associations, is neutral ground, which means purposely choosing an environment that is different.

In interviewing for the book Dealing with Relatives we met a couple that over Thanksgiving travels with her parents to someplace new and over Christmas travels somewhere new with his parents. Because they are all in a new place they find it easy not to fall into the same old rolls, I.e. The mother cooking for everybody every meal, the father having to watch his football games. Then the mother then getting annoyed at the father because he’s watching football while they have company. Or the mother making her adult son’s bed and then his wife getting pissed off at him for letting his mother do that, etc. etc. In the new environment all of that is swept out of the way and they discover each other in new ways.

But it doesn’t have to be as complex as taking a vacation. One person tells us that she makes sure to spend time with her mother and and father alone. By separating them, it automatically creates a different dynamic.

Another person tells us he likes to visit his parents when his sisters are not there, because if the sisters are present they dominate the conversation and dynamic.

Another person told us that when she visits her parents she likes to go to the Japanese gardens with just her father. First by separating the time from her mother, their dynamic changes and secondly she finds in that serene environment they have deeper conversations. She said:

“It was in the Japanese gardens that my father was once honest with me about a problem he observed in my relationship with my Mom.  He told me how I sometimes got short and irritated with her, and then hypercritical, after which I’d feel angry at myself.  If he would have told me this while were in their house, I suspect I would have had a hard time hearing it.  But the gardens were such a calming environment that I was able to hear his feedback rationally instead of reactively.   Something about the calm of that place allowed me to really hear it from him.”

Yes you can break past associations and discover people in a new way.

Dealing with Relatives Tip of the Day

Monday, December 2nd, 2013


Over the next couple of weeks I’ll be posting my favorite stories and strategies I’ve heard for dealing successfully with relatives. Here’s the first:

Have a Mantra. There’s a couple I know, who before leaving the house for an event, will look each other in the eyes and simultaneously say, “Just visiting.”

When they arrive, but before they ring the bell they look at each other and say, “ Just visiting.“

During the event if things start getting stressful they just give each other the look and silently say to themselves, “Just visiting.”

A pair of adult sisters use with their mother, “She’s just making conversation.”  That prevents them from getting caught up or taking too seriously their mother’s wild tangents or illogic. Instead they remind themselves, “She’s just making conversation,”  and that gives them permission to not engage, but just simply change the subject.

What’s your mantra?


Study Shows Ignoring a “Jerk” Causes Less Stress Then Reacting

Sunday, March 17th, 2013

A study found that by reacting to a person, rather than ignoring them, causes more stress and distraction that lasts far longer than the actual event.

I was honored to be a communication expert in this article at Woman’s Health where the theme is “when to hold’em, when to fold ’em” or when do you do something about a behavior and when do you let it go. In this article I answer the age old questions of what to do if:

The situation: A woman cuts you in line at Starbucks

The situation: Your boyfriend / husband leaves his dirty clothes strewn over the floor for the hundredth time

The situation: Someone keeps texting in the middle of a movie

The situation: While you’re walking down the street, a dude hollers, “Hey baby, lookin’ good!”

The situation: Your slacker coworker asks you to help him finish his quarterly report

The situation: A close friend shows up an hour late to your birthday dinner

The situation: During holiday dinner, Uncle Marvin says, “You look really tired.”

Time Flies…

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011
Greetings Conscious Communicator,
Dr. Rick Brinkman 1971

Rick Brinkman 1971

In a few weeks I will be attending my 40th reunion of Stuyvesant High School in New York City.

This is the first reunion I am aware of and my theory is because we were the last all-male graduating class, we didn’t have any girls to organize social events.

In my time, though not my class, was Paul Reiser and three current members and advisors of Obama’s cabinet including Attorney General Eric Holder. He was a senior in my first year and in fact 😉 I think he gave me my first wedgie! 😉

Attitude is Up to You

Tuesday, May 10th, 2011

I presented to 1600 people at the American Medical Directors Association recently. One of the doctors came up to me and shared an expression I want to share with you:

In life pain is inevitable.

Misery is optional.

College Senior Freakout

Thursday, February 17th, 2011

I was recently interviewed by Her Campus for tips to deal with “senior freakout.” Meaning 😉 college life is over and you have to join the real world. 😉

The process I suggest is valid for anyone dealing with anything. It’s about how to control your reactions and put yourself in the state of being you need to be successful with whatever you are dealing with.

You can access the article here.

Tis the Season to Deal with Relatives

Thursday, November 25th, 2010

I recently was interviewed by Woman’s World magazine on Dealing with Relatives. I believe the article is in the current issue. Here is a link to access a PDF version or simply click on the graphic.

But wait there’s more!!!

In case you haven’t gotten it yet here is a 90 minute audio-seminar I did last year on Dealing with Relatives. It covers Martyrs and Judges and defusing your reactions. And speaking of defusing, while you are at the Relatives web page check out the hypnosis audio. It will defuse your triggers with Relatives from the inside out so they can do what used to drive you crazy and it won’t matter to you anymore. I have gotten great feedback over the year on it’s effectiveness. You’ll find it all at:

To Do or Not to Do

Sunday, September 19th, 2010

I have some motivational signs posted in my office, mostly to do with focus and belief. I shared the Rule of Acquisition #173 in the last post. Here is another favorite of mine that most visitors to my office seem to gravitate to:




A Stone’s Throw

Wednesday, August 12th, 2009
Auschwitz Train Entrance

Auschwitz train entrance

In August of 1944 the Lodz ghetto of Poland was liquidated. That meant all the Jews were sent to Auschwitz. But the Germans kept my father and the people in his factory together. The officer in charge told my father his group was ultimately going to be sent to a Siemens factory in Germany. Apparently my father had created such an efficient team that the Germans wanted to keep them intact.

When they arrived at Auschwitz my father’s group was not processed like most prisoners meaning; children and any one frail right to gas chambers, the others shaved, tattooed. etc.  They kept my father’s group sitting on grassy hill. The other prisoners who worked for the Germans were stunned. They had never seen something like this before.

A German officer finally came with soldiers who carried a bunch of stuff. The German officer would hold up an item and ask if my father’s group could make such a thing.  Eventually the men and women were separated into their individual camps, however for the next 5 days they all remained unassigned in Auschwitz.

At one point my father was standing next to the barbed wire and saw my mother across the way in the women’s camp. The distance between them was the width of a typical residential street including the side walks. There was a high fence of  barbed wire on each side. At this point they still had some paper and they would write notes to each other, wrap the note in a rock and throw it across. My mother didn’t have much of an arm, and her notes would land in no man’s land. My father’s notes did reach my mother.

Each day they would meet at a certain time at the barbed wire. But then one day as my father thew a note he was caught by a German guard. “What are you doing?” he barked. My father explained in German he was thowing a note to his wife. My father thought he was dead for sure.  But the guard merely said, “Away from the wire” and moved on.

The next day the Siemen’s transfer was cancelled and they were processed into Auschwitz. That was the last time my mother and father would see each other, until a year and half later, after the war was long over.

My mother said she never forgot the last note. She translated it as saying, “My sweet, don’t worry, we will be together again and I will kiss you and hold you in my arms.”

A Token of Love

Friday, August 7th, 2009
Lighter given to Felix by Simone, 11/2/43

Lighter given to Felix by Simone, 11/20/43

My father being the dedicated worker and leader that he naturally was rose quickly to run a telephone repair factory in the ghetto.  As mentioned in an earlier post (The Radio) he understood electricity and had a knack for fixing things.  The German officer in charge of the whole ghetto, hearing about his ability to fix things brought my father to his office. The officer had a record player, a very advanced design for the time, that wasn’t working correctly and asked if my father could fix it. Felix said of course (even though he had never seen the inside of one before) and said he needed to take it back to his workshop with a few records for a couple of days.

Felix fixed it in a matter of minutes and as a treat to his employees he brought all the workers at the factory together to hear the music. People didn’t have such things in the ghetto and hadn’t heard music for years. Most of the employees were young women and some of them insisted, “Herr Brinkmann you must dance.” My father chose my mother. A day later he made her his secretary, even though she couldn’t type, but as my dad said, “She sure could kiss.”

They eventually got married against the ghetto’s Jewish authorities wishes. The head man said, “I’m not giving a nice Jewish girl to that German!” So they made their own ceremony.

Pictured above is a cigarette lighter that my mother gave my father for his birthday in November of 1943. My Polish is not that good, but as I recall my mother translated the engraving as something like: “My sweet smoochie poochie, Felix on your birthday. Lodz ghetto 11-20-43.”

How did this token of love survive? In August of 1944 the Lodz ghetto was liquidated and the inhabitants sent to Auschwitz, My mother’s older sister Ola and her husband Kit were part of a small group that was left behind to “clean the ghetto”. They found the lighter when they were in Simone & Felix’s apartment. The lighter spent time in Poland, Israel, Canada and ultimately came back to my mother just 10 years ago. She gave it to me during one of her frequent visits to Portland.

The next time my father visited I showed him the lighter and true to style his first response was: “So you’re the little ‘$#*%” who stole my lighter!”

Who’s Crazy?

Friday, August 7th, 2009
Felix, age approx. 21

Felix, age approx. 21

My father, Guido Felix Brinkmann, was a German from Latvia who ended up in Poland on a program that moved German people into occupied territories. When it was time to join the military he innocently and honestly wrote on his application that his mother was Jewish but converted to Lutheran before he was born. That brought the proverbial “knock on the door” by the Gestapo and he was thrown into the Lodz Ghetto.

Once there he sat on a bench all day waiting to be processed. No one knew what to do with him because to the Jews he was obviously a German (and probably a spy) and to the Germans he was obviously Jewish. Finally at nightfall he was sent to an insane asylum because those people were too crazy to care whether someone was Jewish or German.

Can you imagine that? Too crazy to be bigoted.

What crazy people.

PS: “In an insane world, the sane would naturally appear insane.” Mr. Spock to Captain Kirk

Assholes & Angels

Sunday, August 2nd, 2009

If we divide people into two categories, Assholes & Angels, I would say the person(s) who would take advantage of, beat and strangle a 90 year old man (my father) is in the serious “Asshole” category. But for every one of them, I believe there are a lot more Angels. And  you never know when and where you will meet one.

In an earlier post I told you about the death march my mother was forced to endure in January of 1945. The German army was retreating west in fear of the advancing Russians. My mother Simone was part of 1000 girls whose job was to dig ditches in the road to slow down the Russian tanks. She subsequently escaped (see Simone’s Escape and Escape of Diana). However, that almost never happened because a few days earlier my mother couldn’t take it anymore.  She gave up hope and asked a guard to kill her.

Here is what happened in her own words:  Simone Brinkman speaks (1:35)

Escape of Diana

Tuesday, July 21st, 2009

The joy of escape for my mother Simone and her sister Zuza was tempered by the fact that my mother’s twin sister, Diana had not escaped with them. They all agreed to only do it at the right moment. If you weren’t in the right position, than you would keep marching and wait until the time was right. Then whoever escaped later would head back so they might find each other. What my mother and her sister did not know was that Diana marched another 29 km and two days. The right moment just didn’t present itself until the night of the second day.

The prisoners were camped in a barn. A German soldier was playing with his guard dog. He was trying to get the dog to jump up into a loft that was perhaps 7 feet high. The dog tried and tried but couldn’t do it. On the last attempt he bumped his nose on the edge of the loft, causing his nose to bleed. The German soldier petted his dog and told him, “That’s enough play. Good dog.”

Hours later in the dead of night, when all was quiet, Diana and her friend Paula snuck into that hayloft. The next morning when it was time to march again the dog jumped and jumped at the hayloft barking. The soldier thinking the dog wanted to play again pulled the dog away and left the barn. Diana was free.

Meanwhile my mother, her older sister Zuza, and friends lived the good life in the deserted town where they had escaped. A week had gone by. It was the night of January 27, a day before my mother and her twin sister Diana’s birthday. Come the next morning it would be the first birthday they ever spent apart. However, when my mother awakened the morning of the 28th she knew everything would be all right. She had a dream. It was the most vivid dream she ever had in her life prior or since. She told Zuza that they didn’t have to worry about Diana because she escaped and is coming on a sled with 28 cakes she baked for their birthday.

Later that day my Simone and Zuza went to a part of the deserted town to get some supplies. It was dusk when they began to make their way back toward the house in which they stayed. In the distance they saw some figures coming toward them. My mother and sister called out in German, “Five abreast!” That’s what the German soldiers always said. “Five abreast, five abreast.” They marched five abreast, they dug ditches five abreast, they peed five abreast. The figures in the distance called back in German “Five abreast.” That’s when Simone and Zuza knew those people were probably from the same march. As the figures came closer Simone and Zuza saw they were pushing a sled. When they were 5 feet away one of the figures said matter of factly, (as if you just happened to meet someone on the street), “Hello Simone.” It was Diana. “We are here for our birthday and we baked 28 cakes*.”

* (Diana and Paula had stayed up the whole previous night in a deserted house, baking according to recipes they found in a famous German cookbook. Although they had originally baked 28 cakes, there were only little over a dozen on the sled. At one point a Russian truck came by and the soldiers asked them if they wanted a ride. The Russian soldiers suggested they first hand them some of the cakes before they pull Diana and Paula onto the truck. But they simply grabbed the cakes and drove off.)

The Doctor is In

Thursday, June 25th, 2009


I am delighted to announce the availability of private counseling/coaching sessions over the phone (Portland area office visits are possible.) I consider it an honor to work with people one-on-one and see them make positive changes in their health and behavior. If you are ready, I am here to help you.

Typically, I get results with people in 3 to 5 visits, over the course of a few months. We get results fast because we create change from the inside out. As part of the therapy, I record a customized hypnotic therapeutic audio specifically made for you to address your issues. Listening to the audio daily will put you into a very relaxed meditative alpha state. It will be a major stress release for you each day. This alone will benefit you greatly. But even better, while you are in that meditative state we’ll also be addressing your specific issues and planting the seeds of behavioral change, new attitudes, new reactions, and new ways of being.

What can I help you with? (Here are some examples.)

Difficult People (Including yourself!)

  • You can change your reactions to anyone and anything.
  • Perhaps you don’t want to react in a certain way to a spouse or need more patience with your kids.
  • Does someone you care about say, “It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it”? Tone of voice trumps words and it reflects your internal state. Your internal state is subject to change upon your notice and together we can give it notice.
  • By mastering your reactions, you also produce a positive change in other people. Whenever you bring out the best in yourself, you bring out the best in those around you.
  • Become more successful with difficult behaviors. There is a “right response” in both attitude and strategy to difficult behaviors such as tank attacks, whining, negativity, etc. Together we’ll program that “right response” in your unconscious so you automatically respond successfully. People you once found difficult, will become easy for you to handle.

Change Habits

  • You can end self-defeating habits that no longer serve you and replace them with new positive habits.

Work or Professional Issues

  • Transform your reactions to become comfortable and confident in a variety of situations such as speaking in front of a group.
  • Someone recently asked me, “…how can I keep from Tank attacking my employees.” No problem, that can quickly change.


  • You can overcome depression, anxiety and even physical symptoms that have not been alleviated by other treatment.
  • Start exercising and think of it as fun.
  • Make dietary changes that support you and enjoy it.
  • Let go of stress and maintain calm in the midst of a storm.

Life by Design

  • I can be your Life by Design partner, helping you clarify your values and goals and move forward confidently. You’ll break through any obstacles in your path whether they relate to belief in yourself, procrastination, or logistical limits.

Other Personal Issues Including Relationship Problems

  • With couples communication counseling, you both can neutralize your triggers, untie your knots, and create communication that works for both of you.

Physical Symptoms

  • Get at the deeper cause behind physical ailments. If you have not had a work up from a Naturopathic physician then I will connect you to someone in your area or a doctor with whom you can work long distance. He/she and I will work together to coordinate treatment addressing both your physical and mental/emotional issues.

Sports Optimization

  • I have worked with amateurs and professionals in various sports to keep themselves in “the zone” and enhance their performance. One high school diver went on to become a champion at an Ivy League school and used his audio before every swim meet.

Sales Optimization

  • Sales people know they have a zone. It’s a state of being when they are really on their game, communication is flowing, and they are having their prospect “get it”. You can get in your sales zone at will.

What is the process?

Each of our phone sessions is 30-50 minutes. When we’re off the phone, I’ll record your customized audio. It will be in MP3 format (or CD upon request) and is typically 22-25 minutes in length. Once a day, you lie down or sit with your eyes closed and listen to the audio. It’s wonderfully relaxing, stress will melt away and in the days and weeks to come, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how you respond differently in new positive ways to old situations.

The number of visits and how often depends on the specifics of what you need. Typically we have a first phone visit, then a quick check-in a few days later to make sure the audio works for you. The second therapeutic visit is 2 weeks after that, then another therapeutic visit in 2-3 weeks. If needed, we have two more visits 1 month apart.

My patients have always been stunned at how easy and effective therapy can be and how quickly they can change.

To Make an Appointment or Questions

When I work with people, they have my full attention and commitment to getting the results they desire. Therefore, I can work with a limited number of people. At this time, I can accept 15 clients (one slot of which is already filled). I’ll keep a waiting list and as I complete with a client I’ll schedule the next person on the list.

This is an investment in yourself and there is no obligation to complete the series. You will know very quickly that you are getting the results you want.

Now is the time to make the transformation you desire. To schedule or for questions please write or call 503-635-4145.

PS: This owl visited my backyard as I sat on the deck and wrote this. It’s only the second time I’ve seen an owl here in 23 years. Perhaps it’s symbolic of your inner wisdom that we can find together to make positive change.

West Linn, OR 2009

Simone’s Story of Escape & Survival

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2009

Simone BrinkmanMy mother spent six months of her mid 20s in the Auschwitz concentration camp. As the Russian front advanced quickly, the German soldiers fled west to be captured by British or American forces. They were very afraid of the Russians. Auschwitz was evacuated and my mother was part of 1000 girls they took on a death march through the snow. They were the tail end of the German retreat and on a so-called rest break, they were to dig a ditches in the road. The idea was to slow the Russian tanks down.

It was January, bitter cold, they were hardly dressed and were starving. As they stopped to camp overnight my mother broke down and began to cry. A German soldier asked her what she was crying about and my mother said, “I can’t stand it anymore. I’m freezing, starving, and I’d rather you kill me.” He said, “Look at me.” She looked into his blue eyes, blue eyes she could see in her mind the rest of her life. He said, “The war will soon be over and it is us who will be dead and not you. You can make it just a little bit further a day at a time.” He then gave her a piece of his sandwich and ordered her to go guard one of the fires at the camp.

The next day my mother had renewed hope. She looked for an opportunity and noticed two things. When you went through deserted German towns and the road curved, there was a point when the guards couldn’t see you. There were about 1000 girls and only 100 guards. She also noticed when they stopped to camp for the night there were many moments when no guards were visible. At one of those moments she snuck away. Looking for a place to hide she went to a deserted house and scratched the frost off the window to reveal a wonderful scene inside. A Christmas tree with ornaments, but even better with fruit hanging from it. She broke into the house, devoured an apple, but before she could feel the joy of freedom she realized she had left her two sisters and friend back at the campsite. For sure they’ll think she’s dead and this could be “the straw that breaks the camel’s back” for them. She also knew they couldn’t continue the march much longer either. But what should she do? She’d already escaped! It was only a few seconds of deliberation before she thought, “I could not live the rest of my life knowing maybe I could’ve done something. If I can do this once I can do this twice. I’ll sneak back and we’ll get away together.”

So she hid some fruit on her person and tried to sneak back to the camp. But a guard caught her! “Where were you!”, he barked. She explained she just wandered off and got lost. He beat her a few times with his rifle. But even during the beating my mother knew that this would be the last time and tomorrow she would escape.

The next day when the road curved and the guards couldn’t see, she, her sisters and friend all scattered. This time my mother found a barrel and waited for hours until nightfall before she came out. The first thing she noticed was silence and that’s when she realized, “I’m free.” Just like that. All things pass. She, her sisters and friend had escaped and survived.

For the rest of her life when times were tough, when problems or upsets would occur, my mother would let her thoughts drift back to those days and put the present circumstances into perspective. Then in her words she would, “Spring into action and do something about it!”