Mickey in black T-shirt against a blue Caribbean sea with an island in the background. There's a red green wing macaw on his shoulder.

Retrain the NLP Parrot

Don’t let anybody tell you you’re anything but awesome. Especially yourself.

You are what you eat. And while the sea slug-looking physical part of your brain eats glucose, your higher level intellectual brain eats words and ideas, because the same is true there:


Stop feeding it shit.

One of the funniest things—and I don’t mean ha-ha funny—about the words we hear is that we only let in the ones that fit our ears. What’s that mean?

I’ve often thought about my past self and the hard times I’ve had. Not like, being broke, or getting sick, but when I was in the Dark—the psychological darkness. I knew, once I passed through it, that no one could tell me anything that could bring me out of it—including my own damn self. Everything from anyone passed through what I call the Reality Distortion Lens, turning it into its opposite or at the very least the worst possible version of what its intention or its reality.

Because, though depression (and long practice), I’d trained myself to accept only the ideas that fit my concept of myself. So much so, that if my future self could time travel backwards, and say, “Hey, man! It’s going to be great!” I wouldn’t believe myself.

I was living on a diet of toxic waste, and the worst part is that all of that poison was coming from inside myself. They were the words I’d hear inside my head, the picture I held about myself, the gross feeling I got whenever I got in front of a mirror. I created the image of myself that I was a horrible, worthless human being, and reinforced that idea every day of my life.

Still from Lord of the Rings: Wyrmtongue whispering into the ear of a decrepit looking King Theoden.
“You’ll never amount to anything.” —Wyrmtongue Mickey

When someone would pay me a compliment—and for those loving and crazily perceptive souls who could squint past the blindingly brilliant facade I loudly projected outwards into the world and see the dark, starved, and broken child beneath and say something intrinsically touching—I’d shrug it off, (internally) question their motivation or perception (”Oh, they’re just being a good person,” “They’re taking pity,” “They’re mistaken”), or I’d flatly—though externally politely and graciously—ignore it.

Why would I do all this?

You are what you aspire to be.

Not in the future.


I was punishing myself for every mistake I’d ever made, large or small. And not just reliving each of those mistakes and how it hurt someone I cared about, but pushing my sadness over things I’d done or said or thought, my hatred of those things into myself.

Failure is an event, not a person.

I’d heard that before, but just like every other good thing outside, I didn’t allow it inside. It was true, absolutely. For other people. For good people. For people who surely deserved every goodness in life.

And with all the love and compassion I constantly gave others, I held onto every failure, every mistake, replaying them over in my mind every day.

I don’t know if you’ve ever had a bad day, have you? Where you get angry, frustrated, stressed out, and then it seems like everything just keeps going wrong, cascading into cacophonies, cataclysms, and catastrophes? Where you’d just know, if your stress would release its hold for just five seconds, and part of why things keep going wrong is that you’re wound up so tight that you keep nudging them in just the wrong direction? (hands shaking violently, trying to work on something small between them)

When I held onto all my failures, their ever-growing number a constant validation about how right I was about how wrong I was, you think maybe that made it a little harder to make good decisions? Do you think that the disparity between what I told myself about myself and what I told myself about other people created some discord within my mind?

By being so much worse than everyone else out there, I was special—especially bad, to be sure, but special. I didn’t think about it that way, of course, because one thing I “knew” was that I was not special. Somehow, though, every other person, through no real effort was being a decent, wonderful human being, and I was not could have raised some warning bells if I had been able to listen for them.

Because there was the lie, right there in front of me, the entire time. I spent a depressingly large portion of my life ignoring it. I told myself a million times that I was not better than anyone else, and I had a million reasons to believe it. But I wasn’t worse than anyone else, either.

The lie was that every other person in the world could make mistakes and be a beautiful, wonderful human, but that every failure I racked up was another proof that I was worth less than the air I breathed out.

You’re a person. You are as beautiful, wonderful, and as valuable as I am.

Every human being you see, have ever seen, will ever see, is an entire universe of wonder floating around a few feet off the ground through the fabulous magic of being alive. You are one of those people. You are a wonder.

Each of us has a voice right inside our ear, whispering constantly, reinforcing our ideals, reminding ourselves over and over how to act, what we believe, who we are.

That voice is ourself, and even though we can’t always consciously hear it, there is no one else in all of existence who can shout louder than the words it constantly feeds us.

You can change what it says. It’s simple. It’s not easy. But it is simple.

Because even though the voice goes automatically—unconsciously—it can be trained.

Think of it as a parrot. Your parrot repeats what it hears. The more it hears something, the more likely it is to repeat it.

Train your parrot to give you better advice.

This means that every time you have a conscious thought about yourself, make it a good one.

Make space in each and every day to train your parrot. Maybe it’ll make you feel a little silly. Maybe it’ll feel odd or strange or wrong. It might even make you tear up, sometimes, to hear you say, in your own voice, with your own words—aloud—that you are a beautiful, valuable, capable, and worthwhile person.

But nothing that I or anyone else says or writes will make a damn bit of difference to you until you change yourself.

You’re worth it.

What’s more, it’s not just for yourself that you do this. We human beings are social creatures. That’s our super power! (arms wide) We create happiness, wealth, safety, and civilization by working together with other people. You are a more capable person when you are aware of your worth and ability.

There’s a tendency to compare with others, and there’s nothing inherently wrong with that, but don’t determine your worth by looking at others’ skills or accomplishments!

“You can be anything you set your mind to,” is not a platitude. It’s reality.

Once you determine who you are, once you shift your identity, you truly become that person. Immediately! You carve out your plot of self in the future and make it wholly real, and then, like a stone rolling downhill, you begin to reform your present: Your knowledge, your skills, your ability, the very world around you so that it matches that plot that you’re rolling toward.

It won’t be easy.

But once you set it in your mind, once you become it:

It’s inevitable.

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