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A Token of Love

Lighter given to Felix by Simone, 11/2/43 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!"


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Who's Crazy?

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

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Assholes & Angels

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


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


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, " 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

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!”



Priorities in Black & White part 2

I spent the summer of 2008 in NYC taking care of my elderly father. (See “Priorities in Black and White”). Then I brought him to my home in Portland, Oregon for a couple of weeks of intensive naturopathic therapies. When I dropped my father off in NYC in mid September and flew off to the UK for seminars, it was to be the first time in two and a half months that he didn't have someone with him at all times. Here is what happened. He not only survives but he thrives. He has more energy and memory than before he was hospitalized. He is back at work managing a commercial office building for his former partner in the disco nightclub business, not because he has to work, but because it gives him pleasure. He drives to work each day from Manhattan to the Bronx.

Three months after leaving him, I returned with my family to celebrate his 90th birthday. We had a party for him at O’Flanagans bar in NYC where the idea for Adams Apple (the disco he opened in 1971) was born. And being the kind of guy he is, he flirted with the girls at the bar and danced the night away.

My father Felix Brinkmann is a survivor. During World War II he was in three concentration camps. When my family and I visited Auschwitz we saw samples of well-organized handwritten spreadsheets created by the Nazis that showed the profit to the Reich from the slave work of a prisoner. If not purposely killed early, an initially healthy prisoner would be worked to death by the sixth month. My father survived in the camps for a full year.

His father was an electrical engineer so my father, Felix, was very familiar and comfortable with all things electric. In that era, it would be the geeky equivalent of a computer programmer today. He also had a natural ability to fix things, even things he never saw before. It was those skills, his ability to work, and his never give up attitude that allowed him to survive.

When he was in the Lodz ghetto (before being shipped out to the camps) he was in charge of a telephone repair factory. A German officer hearing about his ability to fix things brought him a record player and asked if my father could make it work. Felix said of course (even though he had never seen the inside of one before). He asked the German officer to leave it and a few records for a couple of days. Felix “the electrician” 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.” And the rest is history.

He spent the next year in the concentration camps; six months in Auschwitz (Poland), two weeks in Mauthausen (Austria), and five months in Ebensee (Austria). While in Auschwitz he was picked for the gas chamber five times and five times got out of it because he could speak perfect German and explain his value as an electrician. This summer and fall when we would discuss his life threatening illness, his response was to show me the numbers on his arm and say, "Big deal. I'm a survivor."

In dealing with my father’s illness I am amazed that we have a medical system that can prevent people from dying from a life threatening disease, but then release them with no care whatsoever to actually help them recover. Out of the ten medications he was prescribed, none of them produce healing. They all just force a certain physiologic response. It would be difficult for a young person to recover from the liver issue my father had, but for an older person, it’s nearly impossible. That's where naturopathic medicine comes in. I brought my father back to Portland for two weeks of intensive naturopathic therapies, which included I.V. vitamins, B12 shots and a supplement regime to support the liver and other vital organs. For the entire month of August following his release from the hospital he didn’t even remember being hospitalized for the month of July. After one week of naturopathic treatment he could remember the day and time we were flying back to NY. Before the illness I could barely get him to walk a block. Now he not only walks six blocks, but he does it with intention like any self-respecting New Yorker.

Although my naturopathic medical course took me into the mind/emotions, relationships and it’s affect on your well-being, this experience re-energized me in terms of what is possible physically.

I want to share the benefit of that with you, so in the coming months I will be interviewing some exceptional holistic healers and posting those interviews. Many of these will be audio downloads, while some will be articles by guest authors within the Conscious Communicator e-article series. Here’s to your health and I’m here to support you.

Dr. Rick Brinkman


PICTURED ABOVE: From Top to Bottom:

Felix Brinkmann 1939, age 21,

Felix and Simone 1946,

Felix Brinkmann's concentration camp tatoo 2008,

Felix Brinkman at his 90th birthday part November 20, 2008.



Happy Birthday

Simone, Diana, and Arie in the Ghetto 1941Today is my mother's 90th birthday. She passed away last year, 5 days before her 89th. She was an incredible person, always positive and embracing life even though when she was 25 she spent six months in the Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz-Birkenau.  She also was an identical twin who survived Dr. Josef Mengele.   Dr. Mengele was a German SS officer and physician at Auschwitz-Bireknau. He gained notoriety for being one of the SS physicians who supervised the selection of arriving transports of prisoners, determining who was to be killed and who was to become a forced laborer, and for performing human experiments on camp inmates, amongst whom Mengele was know as the Angel of Death. 

Dr. Mengele was always looking for twins on which to perform his horrific experiments. My mother (Simone) and her sister (Diana) would try to keep far apart so they wouldn't be recognized as twins. One day as Mengele was gathering subjects one of the prisoners came up to him and said, "Dr. Mengele, I have another set of twins for you." And pointed out my mother and sister as way of gaining favors from the Nazis. Simone and Diana were brought to the back of a parked army truck to be loaded in the back. The guards who brought them there left. Then all of a sudden the truck just drove away leaving Simone and Diana standing there. Needless to say they didn't stand there very long.

For the rest of her life my mother kept the book "Mengele" on her bookshelf. If she ever felt bad about anything, sorry for her self, or upset she would simply pull the book off the shelf, read a paragraph or two and then the present circumstances didn't seem so bad. 

Thanks Mom. You are an inspiration. Happy Birthday.

PICTURE: 1941 Lodz Ghetto, Poland, from Left to Right; Simone, Arie (currently Distinguished University Professor Department of Psychology, University of Maryland, College Park) Diana


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Hey Dude, Where's My Sign?

The hedge you see in the picture to the left is where my presidential lawn sign used to be. Apparently all the lawn signs in our immediate neighborhoods were stolen. Well, not all the lawn signs, only the signs of one particular presidential candidate. Never mind who that was, as it's not the important issue here. What is important is the preciousness of our democracy. My father, the survivor of three Nazi concentration camps is fond of telling me that "America is the greatest country in the world" and how fortunate he feels to be here. I agree with him. A democracy based on individual freedoms is quite special since it requires creating a framework that includes everyone with their differing religions, beliefs, and political persuasions, while not letting those beliefs intrude upon the freedoms of others.

To put it a different way, for us to preserve our democracy, each one of us must respect the freedom of expression and rights of people, whom we think have their head where the sun doesn't shine.

I find myself very disturbed during election time because of the polarization that occurs.  It becomes a war of "us" against "them" with no respect for the opinions of the other side. In reality there are no Red or Blue states. There are only 50 Red, White and Blue states. "United We Stand" does not mean "united we stand against each other". It means that together with our differences we build something stronger.

Unfortunately a media empire has been created on shows that emphasize and promote polarization. Even shows where supposedly issues are being discussed are really verbal boxing matches. No one is listening to each other and no one is trying to evolve the differing points of view into ideas that work for everyone. The election system has become a battle of marketers whose arsenal is made up of talking points, sound bites, and half-truths about the other candidate. It is not about finding out who people really are, what they stand for, and what their plans are for preserving this light of freedom on the hill that we call the United States.

On an individual level our willingness to listen to the opinions and beliefs of others is our personal responsibility to maintain our democracy. If we can really hear each other and understand the intentions and desires behind our differing points of view, we can manifest ideas that work for everyone. It is my hope in teaching Conscious Communication that I can contribute to your ability to maintain our democracy.

JOHN F. KENNEDY "Democracy is never a final achievement. It is a call to an untiring effort."

HERMANN GOERING: "Naturally the common people don't want war; neither in Russia, nor in England, nor in America, nor in Germany. That is understood. But after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country."

LYNDON B. JOHNSON: "We preach the virtues of democracy abroad. We must practice its duties here at home."

WILL ROGERS: "Elections are a good deal like marriages. There's no accounting for anyone's taste. Every time we see a bridegroom we wonder why she ever picked him, and it's the same with public officials."

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Priorities in Black & White

“I could not llve the rest of my life knowing maybe I could have done something.” After escaping from a Nazi death march in 1945, these are the words my mother said to herself right before she purposely let herself get captured again, so she could tell her sisters about how they might escape. She found her sisters among the 1000 girls in the march, explained how to escape and the next day they all did.

She passed away earlier this year and I spent most of December and January living with her and enjoying her in Arizona. This July my father (also a concentration camp survivor) was hospitalized for a month with a life threatening disease. When he was released August 8th I thought I was going to be in NYC for 5 days to help him get set up. Now thirty three days later I am leaving him for the first time.

Luckily I had space in my schedule to be there for him, although even when I am not traveling there are still plenty of work prioities. Just in the creative category alone there was 5 articles, 4 blogs, 3 podcasts, and a Tele-seminar oh my. Unfortunately they didn't all get done. But what did get done is everything I could possibly do for my Dad. This included de-cluttering his apartment (a six day process), organizing his home so he can function even with impaired short-term memory, taking him to Portland for 2 weeks of concentrated naturopathic therapies, having great quality time with him, organizing home care support and a whole lot more. But today I finally had to leave. So I tagged his ear with radio transmitter and released him into the wild of NYC. ;-) And as I sit here on a plane bound for seminars in the United Kingdom I can hear my mother's words and know for certain that I can live the rest of my life knowing I did all I could. Sometimes priorities are simply black and white.

PS: During the second week following his release from the hospital my father and I went out to our local Chinese restaurant. My fortune cookie was the fortune you see superimposed on the picture to the left. His fortune was, "Forget the stock market, invest in family." So he bought dinner. ;-)


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Dealing with Criticism

The dictionary defines criticism as: "the expression of disapproval of someone or something based on perceived faults or mistakes ". And although we have an expression called "constructive criticism", that type should be called "constructive feedback". Criticism coming from disapproval is not meant to be constructive. The first thing to always keep in mind is that when people criticize, they are the ones with the problem not you. They have an issue with something and are projecting it on you. The second thing to do is not engage in the content of the communication. Keep the focus on them, not you. You do this by speaking to "intent" and not "content".  Intent is the purpose behind a communication. Content is the communication itself.

So if someone makes a rude comment about how you look, the actual comment she makes is the "content'. The reason she is making it is the "intent". Intent can be positive or negative.

The best thing to do is project positive intent. That means you act like she has good intentions even if she doesn't.  An example of this would be, "Why thank you for caring about how I look. That is so sweet of you."  You have now accomplished a two fold purpose. One, if she is out to get you and you can't be gotten, it messes it up for her. Second you have trapped them into the positive intent. It is unlikely they will say, "No  stupid, I'm trying to cut you down. Sheesh what an idiot you are." Instead they will not deny your positive projection and will be forced to go along with the positive direction you set.

What if the criticizer is a parent? With parents, projecting positive intent is absolutely, positively the way to go. If they say you are fat, thank them for caring about your health and well being. If they want to know when you are getting married, appreciate them for caring about your relationship happiness. These kinds of positive projections will melt a parent. Parents in general  feel under appreciated by their children. Usually when you positive project on a parent they roll over and start kicking their leg like a dog getting it's stomach rubbed. They will forget all about what they were criticizing you about and bask in your appreciation. Then you can just change the subject.

For more great stuff on parents and all relatives I refer you to Dealing With Relatives (Brinkman & Kirschner)

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Perspective: The Choice is Yours

Here's a quick tip to bum yourself out just in case you ever find yourself too happy. Pick something in your present you hate and see it keep going into the future. Guaranteed, you will feel bad. On the other hand if you see what you don't like changing, you will feel good. I had a patient once who came to me because she couldn't stand her "difficult boss". I asked her why she didn't just leave the job. She said she couldn't afford to leave. She felt trapped and was driving herself crazy because as she looked to the future she saw being stuck with her boss forever.

As part of our work, we clarified her values. (See Life by Design.) She had "family" and "education" as highly important values. Suddenly she realized her current job was affording her the opportunity to put her two daughters through college. Even better, in two years the second daughter would be done and she could leave that job. Once she consciously saw the significance of her job in terms of her values and also how it could change in the future, her boss didn't bother her a bit.

Perspective is a funny thing. It can work for you or against you. But the choice is always yours.


Reductio ad absurdum (Or how I bested a Know-it-all and had him feel good about it)


Here's a story from one of our readers. Who when in the sixth grade came up with a successful strategy for dealing with his Know-it-all teacher. Time: 1963 (Sixth Grade)

The official Know It All was my sixth grade science teacher, Mr. Sears. Having Watch'ed Mr. Wizard since before I could read, and having read all the science books in the kids section of the public library, and an Army training manual on electronics, I knew a lot too.

Although Mr. Sears made mistakes, he did not like being corrected by me. In retrospect asking him, "Will the wrong answer you just put on the board be on the test?", was probably not the most diplomatic strategy.

So I invented another solution. It's called "Reductio ad absurdum."

Example: Mr. Sears puts something wrong on the board. In my head I derive a next step based on what he has on the board. Because what he has on the board is wrong, the next step will also be wrong.  I raise my hand.

Mr. Sears: "Yes, David." David: "Does that mean ..(the obviously false statement)....?" Mr. Sears: "No, David" (I haven't bested him. He bested me. He's happy.) David: (Innocently), "Doesn't (obviously false statement) follow from that (pointing at what he wrote incorrectly on the board)?" Mr. Sears: "What? That? Oh, that's not what it should say."

The result; Mr. Sears thinks he Knows-It-All and student David, isn't smart enough to already know that (obviously false statement) is false. Therefore he's smarter than David. He's happy.

But wait there is more. The class is no longer misinformed. I have the satisfaction of knowing I corrected Mr. Sears without him even knowing it. He's not embarrassed. I didn't embarrass him. I'm very happy.

Once I figured this out, it worked for the remainder of the year.

Remember Conscious Communicators, it takes two egos to have a problem with Know-it-all behavior. If you can put your ego needs aside temporarily then you can do what it takes. Young David found satisfaction inside while still accomplishing his goal of correcting information and having his teacher feel good about it. Well done David. You get an A+.


To Let Go or Not Let Go of a Relationship?

A reader writes in: "I have cut a sibling out of my life. How can I come to a resolution that I accept and feel good about without having to deal with that other person?" Perspective is the answer. Some people come into our life for a reason and some for a season. No relationship is really forever. Some relationships are not worth the time and energy they take from you and leaving is a valid choice.

On the other hand if you are not feeling good about this rift in your family, maybe there is a part of you that would rather have it another way. If you look at the bigger picture of the world in conflict, of countries threatening each other, of one group mortally hating another group, it really comes down to the same principles that happen between individuals. When people feel a need to be right that they are wronged, it perpetuates conflict. Peace as a collective begins with peace as individuals and each one of us counts.

Having the ability to make peace is a great skill to have as a conscious communicator. The ability to get past differences and polarization will serve you in many interactions. This situation can be an opportunity to develop your communication muscles in that regard.