Life Hacks - Part 1: Taming the Parrot


I was invited to speak to a group of administrative professionals from Red River College last week. I was thrilled to share some “life hacks” – tips for making life just a bit easier. So here’s the first of six posts on the hacks I shared with the group.


Hack 1 – Tame the Parrot.


Those of you that have taken Mediation Services’ foundational course Intro to Conflict Resolution (also called Dealing with Difficult People), will understand what Taming the Parrot means. The parrot is an animal that can only repeat the words it hears. We all have a parrot on our shoulder, squawking at us and repeating the stories or lines we’ve said to ourselves over and over. The parrot doesn’t dialogue, it just repeats words.


What seemed to resonate with this audience was thinking about the self talk – the ammo – we give to the parrot when we’re in rush hour traffic. How our judgements and assumptions feed the parrot and it keeps repeating those judgements and assumptions. In traffic, the parrot might be telling us “that driver is so self-absorbed – they think they’re the only one on the road!”


The parrot also repeats judgements and assumptions we tell ourselves – often these are things we don’t like about our body or repetitive thoughts about a regret or shame.


The way to tame that repetitive voice is easy, in theory. Once you start questioning the judgement and become curious, you begin to calm the squawking parrot. In our training we call this the shift from judgement to curiousity. And it works for our judgements of other and for the judgements of self.


For me, this shift has been a life-altering change. I have become much more gentle with myself and the words I use. I am more curious about myself and my feelings, and more curious about others. I don’t get offended. I ask more questions.

What’s your parrot saying? Stay tuned for more Life Hacks.