A Parrot Repeats The Conversation He Has Overheard

What did the parrot overhear? Why is he repeating it? Was someone foolish enough to share a secret with a parrot?

Or did they tell him something they wanted to be shared but they didn’t want it coming from them? Sources close to so-and-so say such-and-such…

Have you ever been told something “in secret” which you suspected the secret-teller wanted you to share with others? Don’t tell anyone but I like someone. I wonder if that someone likes me back, I wish there was a way to find out…

Have you ever had a secret which you wanted to share, perhaps just to free you from the burden of having to keep the secret? It was me, I killed Cock Robin, he just wouldn’t stop twittering on about the promise I made…

Are you a keeper of secrets or a sharer of secrets?

Most of us are a bit of both, especially when it comes to ourselves.

There always seems to be one side of us which tells us not to share ourselves with others, while another side of us wants to share everything about ourselves with everyone.

“For a good part of their waking life, people monitor their thoughts, wishes, feelings and actions. Sometimes there is an internal debate as the individual weighs alternatives and courses of action and makes decisions.”

– Aaron Beck, Cognitive Therapy and the Emotional Disorders

Particularly when it comes to our hopes, dreams and wishes.

You kind of want others to know what they are, but then again if you do that people might laugh at them, judge you for having them, and… they might not come true.

Who came up with the concept that sharing your birthday wish immediately stops it from coming true?

Isn’t it better to let others know what it is you truly want, as that could increase the likelihood of it happening… someone who hears about it may be able to help you realise your dream, but they can’t help you if they don’t know what it is that you want.

“Self-monitoring of behavior may be involved in maladaptive reactions. Overmonitoring can lead to self-consciousness and over-regulation to excessive inhibition. Cautionary signals tend to interfere with spontaneous self-expression.”

– Aaron Beck, Cognitive Therapy and the Emotional Disorders

Years ago I got into the habit of sharing my wishes with and spilling my secrets to others… except they weren’t my real wishes or real secrets.

They were wishes and secrets carefully constructed as a smoke screen to hide what I really wanted and wanted to keep private from the people I knew would take my real wish and destroy it for me, and who would take my secret and use it to control me like their puppet on a string.

I knew they wouldn’t stop pestering me until they thought they’d discovered my deepest desires, and hidden tremblings, so to protect those I gave them something to satisfy their need to smash me into pieces and greed to own and pawn me.

This habit worked rather well in achieving its purpose. However it also caused problems.

“This phenomenon is particularly clear in stage-fright, which is generally characterised by an excess of warning signals and inhibiting self-instructions. In obsessional neurosis, the internal debates may paralyze action.”

Aaron Beck, Cognitive Therapy and the Emotional Disorders

For it to work effectively I had to forget my real wishes and secrets. I had to believe that my fake wishes and secrets were really real to convince others that they were real.

Those people I wanted to hide from were good at sussing out when you were lying to them because they were liars too who were always hiding their real behind a false facade.

Takes one to know one… so your fooling has to fool those who regularly fool.

Over time I came to believe my own lies, which was good in ways and yet bad in ways.

The people I needed to hide the real from became less of a problem than those with whom I did not need to do that. The latter tried to help my wishes come true… and they couldn’t understand why I was so disappointed when they did. Neither could I by then. What was wrong with me?

“Self-punishments and self-rewards are related to self-instructions. If a person perceives a deficiency in his behavior or performance, he may barrage himself with regrets and reproaches. He may even make general evaluations of himself as bad, ineffective, or unworthy.”

Aaron Beck, Cognitive Therapy and the Emotional Disorders

In recent years I’ve been spilling secrets and sharing wishes to discover which ones are real and which ones are not.

I’ve been blowing away the smoke screen, dismantling my own careful constructions, exposing my desires and challenging my tremblings to find the truth underneath it all.

Part of the process entails listening to the parrot in my head repeating mantras I taught it and letting it know that its services are no longer required, that it can now say whatever it truly wants to say instead of what it has been told to say. It can relax, flap its wings, and squawk freely.

And lately I’ve felt freed from the burden of the complications which I caused for myself.

Everything feels new, like I’m doing it for the first time.

It’s all a breath of fresh air hitting my naked self.

It’s very exhilarating.

And has lead to me having more fun and being more fun to be around, since I feel freer, others seem to feel freer around me.

Activities like blogging have become more deeply satisfying in a lighthearted way. I can now participate in events like:

Fandango’s Provocative Question #8

“When was the last time you did something for the very first time? What was it that you did?”

Without having a whole debate about whether to do it or not, predicting what the consequences will be either way, trying to decide which way to go and getting stuck on a fence until I’m just a tattered rag, and experiencing an internal dialogue which goes something along the lines of the second half of the quote below:

When someone is proud of an achievement or receives praise for it, he may think to himself, “You’re a great guy. You deserve the best of everything. Happy days are here again!”

By the same token, when things go wrong, he is apt to be self-punitive. He thinks, “You look like a fool. You’re really not as bright as you thought you were. Everybody considers you a jerk. You really don’t have much to offer yourself or anybody else.”

Aaron Beck, Cognitive Therapy and the Emotional Disorders

*All quotes are from – Chapter 2: Tapping the Internal Communications – of a book I’m reading at the moment – Cognitive Therapy and the Emotional Disorders by Aaron Beck (he’s the guy who created CBT).

Featured image is The Legend of the Parrot by Valentine Cameron Pinsep

8 comments

  1. Sharing wishes that weren’t yours. Oh my. I get that completely and did the same. If I shared a real wish, the weight of the world would slam down with all the reasons why my wish was foolish, impossible, stupid or laughable. I still lean in the direction of not saying. Those protective positions are so ingrained and hard to drop, aren’t they?

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    • Yes, it’s hard to alter what we believe protects us. I also tend to lean that way, it’s a position which is very easy to back up with evidence on a regular basis. I tend to use the “nobody gives a shit” argument as proof that it is better to keep quiet. But I’m testing out trying to lean a bit the other way too, and speak up, see what happens if I do.

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  2. I have discovered, now that I’m old and gray, that I care much less about filtering what I say and do. I just go ahead and say or do whatever comes to mind, and if people perceive what I say and do to be the crazy rantings of a cantankerous old man, so be it. I don’t give a flying fuck. And this new attitude has, indeed, allowed me to feel and be much freer.

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  3. I’m trying to think of the last time I did something for the first time… hmm…. the only thing I can think of is maybe putting together that kamikaze karaoke thingy. Because shit that was fun and awkward and stuff. Recording song lines and pictures and stuff.

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