Therapy Taught Me: The Poisoned Parrot

Do you ever think you are going crazy?
You hear a voice, or voices, going round and round in your head.
"You shouldn't wear that, you look big"
"Your dress is too short"
"Your top is too low"
"Are you putting make up on?"
" What have you done today?"
And so on...

I was starting to experience this every day, and I still do. Constant picking, nagging, sniping. It sometimes makes me not want to answer the phone, read text messages, go on Facebook, or Twitter. Which is pretty hard when I'm addicted to social media and can't leave text messages unread on my phone without going mad.

When I went to therapy I talked about these voices, not suggesting I was schizophrenic before anyone accuses me of being a drama queen, but more talking about things and saying "X" then causes the niggling in my head. I talked deeper about it and for particular reasons I'm not going to go into that on here, but I felt these issues really needed attention, as I was starting to feel crazy and like I wasn't in control of my own mind anymore.

I was then told about the Poisoned Parrot. And it made complete sense to me.
It's one of the things that really stuck with me after therapy and I think about it everyday.
I haven't quite worked out how to shut my parrots up yet but I think understand what it is in the first place definitely helps when these issues occur.

The following explains The Poisoned Parrot more than I could, and is taken from the Get Self Help website.

The Poisoned Parrot

Imagine you're 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 a parrot.

However, this particular parrot is a poisoned and poisonous parrot. It's been specifically trained to be unhelpful to you, continuously commenting on you and your life, in a way that constantly puts you down, criticising you. For example, the bus gets stuck in a traffic jam, and you arrive at work 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. 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. 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? We can often put up with the thoughts from this internal bully for far too long.
We can learn to use the antidote: notice that ‘parrot’ – and cover the cage. "There's that parrot again - I don't have to listen to it", and go and do something else. Put your focus of attention elsewhere. Be persistent in your practice! Eventually this poisoned parrot will tire of the towel, tire of you not responding. You'll notice it less and less. It might just give up its poison as your antidote overcomes it, or perhaps fly off to wherever poisoned parrots go.
(Vivyan 2009 - adapted from 'The Malevolent Parrot" source unknown) 

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