The Poison Parrot
Imagine you’ve been given a parrot. This parrot is just a parrot – it doesn’t have any knowledge, wisdom or insight. It’s bird-brained after all. It recites things “parrot fashion” – without any understanding or comprehension. It’s just a parrot.
However, this particular parrot is a poisoned and poisonous parrot. It’s been specially trained to be unhelpful to you, continuously commenting on you and your life, in a way that constantly puts you down, criticising you. Nagging away at your own self-doubt.
For example, the bus to work gets stuck in a traffic jam, and you arrive 5 minutes late. The parrot sits there saying “There you go again. Late. You just can’t manage to get there on time, can you. You’re so stupid. If you’d left the house and got the earlier bus you’d have arrived with loads of time to spare and the boss would be happy. But you? No way. Just can’t do it. You’re useless. Waste of space. Absolutely pathetic!”
How long would you put up with this abuse before throwing a towel over the cage, or getting rid of the parrot?
Yet we often put up with the thoughts from our own internal bully for far too long. Decades even. We hear that “parrot”, believe the “parrot”, and naturally get more and more upset, the more it shapes our thoughts. These poisonous thoughts then affect the way we live our lives – the way we behave towards others, how we are, what we think about others, what we feel about the world, and most of all, how we think and feel about ourselves.
We can learn to use the antidote: just notice that it’s only parrot, and cover the cage! “There’s that parrot again. I don’t have to listen to it – it’s just a parrot”. Then go and do something else. Put your focus of attention on something other than that parrot. This parrot is poison though, and it won’t give up easily, so you’ll need to keep using that antidote and be persistent in your practice!
Eventually it will get tired of the towel, tired of you not responding. You’ll notice it less and less. It might just give up its poison as your antidote overwhelms it, or perhaps fly off to wherever poisoned parrots go.
Adapted from “The Malevolent Parrot” – Kristina Ivings
Edited by Dianne Searle 2021
Copyright: Carol Vivyan 2010, with permission to use for therapy purposes