I have a handful of trolls I’ve cultivated over the years. They distract me with their pessimism, remind me of my failures, and assure me that this is the best it will ever be so I may as well lie down and give up now. You may call yours something else – inner critics, gremlins, negative self talk, frenemies. Whatever their name, they can be rotten and persistent companions. And if yours are anything like mine, they have a tendency to appear whenever you set about making a change.
Triggered by my desire to grow my business, an old troll recently reappeared. “We’re doomed!” it cried over and over again. “We’ll never make it! What have you done?” It collapsed, weeping, on whatever surface was nearby, declaring every effort hopeless and announcing it was too exhausted to move.
Soon, I was exhausted by the effort of dealing with it. I tried stepping around it, and it shifted. I tried pushing past it, and it grew. I tried reasoning with it. I tried asking it what it had to teach me. It just shook its head sadly, slumped a little lower into a corner, and wept. Again.
Meanwhile, nothing was getting done. Rather than making phone calls or writing articles, I was slowly being taken over by this pathetic, useless troll and getting more frustrated with it and myself every moment. Why could I not kick it to the curb and get on with the work I love?
What do you need?
That’s when my coach asked me, “what do you need right now, Lisa?” Turns out my needs and the troll’s are in complete opposition. I need the energy I get from working with clients who need my help. The troll needs to worry and weep.
So I invited the troll to curl up on the couch. I gave it a blanket, a box of tissues and handed it the remote control. I patted its head, left a glass of water, went downstairs, and got to work.
It’s still there, engrossed in television shows about natural disasters and vacations gone wrong. And I’m here, talking to people who need what I have to offer. I’m calling this a win-win.
Bring your troll out into the sunlight
What troll is pestering you? Next time you hear a nagging, negative voice in the back of your head, don’t just bat it away. Acknowledge it. Call it out for what it is. Bring it out into the light. Trolls thrive in the dark – don’t let it keep living there.
Investigate. Is it speaking the truth? Or repeating old, false information that no longer serves you? Investigate it in whatever way is useful to you: journal about it, meditate, go for a walk, talk to your partner, or schedule a consultation with me and work it through during a coaching session.
Use your investigation to determine what this troll is doing here. Are its purposes in line with yours? Then find a way to meet your needs. Maybe the troll needs a vacation – send it on one. Maybe it needs to be called out as the rotten liar it is – do it. Maybe you both need a rest. You’re the only one who knows. And you’ll only find out when you and your troll get out into the sunshine.
I'm interested in what keeps us engaged in our work, the world, and each other.