A few years ago, my counsellor introduced me to the concept of the ‘Poison Parrot!’ I was in a pretty negative place beacsue I had undiagnosed stage 4 endometriosis. I was stuck in a rut! Now, I’d never heard this term at the time and I was intrigued! What is the poison parrot theory? And how can it help you to combat negative thinking?
The Issue of Negative Thinking
The human brain works to an automatic negative default mindset. So we are often more pessimistic about our lives and abilities than we are optimistic. Now, the problem is that for anyone suffering from depression, this negative mindset can become so strong that it is all consuming.
Some people can even spiral down into the ‘I hate my job, I hate my life, I hate everything!’ scenario. And then the problem is that when people make suggestions to help you to improve your life, you just have a negative answer back because you don’t believe it.
I hate my job! Get a new one! No point, no one will hire me!
I hate my house! Move to new place! I can’t afford it! Moving is so stressful!
My life sucks! Get yourself a holiday to cheer you up! Can’t book it! Can’t afford it! No point, my life will just suck anyway!
You get the idea. Now, many psychologists and counsellors would say that if you are stuck in this mindset, you have a pretty big ‘Poison Parrot’ stuck on your shoulder!
Introducing the Poison Parrot
The Poison Parrot concept is an idea or metaphor that helps you to acknowledge the constant negative self talk going on in your head. Imagine a parrot sitting on your shoulder constantly saying ‘you can’t do that!’ ‘you’re no good at that!’ or ‘It’s rubbish anyway!’ This parrot is both poisoned and poisonous! He is not helpful! The poison parrot criticises every move you make and never offers you praise or positivity. And what do parrots do? They repeat themselves over and over again! So he is constantly repeating the negativity until you actually start to believe it!
The metaphor is a good one, because by acknowledging the poison parrot, you are acknowledging your negative self-talk and are more likely to do something about it. It’s a popular self-help technique to encourage positive thinking. You can find a PDF handout of the concept here.
Get rid of the Poison Parrot!
When you know that he is there, you can say, ‘right, that’s the poison parrot talking!’ Then you can switch your thinking into a more positive mindset. Tell the parrot that you can! Tell him to shut up! If he’s going on and on all day, you can make the decision to cover up his cage!
So, if you want to get rid of your Poison Parrot, just flick him off your shoulder!
If you are interested in more approaches to positive thinking and self help, you can visit www.mentalcurve.com. they have a wealth of fantastic articles.