It’s easy to identify the trolls. Trolls are people who have nothing good to say. They are the ones who live to stir up anger, rage and sadness. Many of them are unsatisfied with their lives. They are seeking an outlet for attention. They are seeking a stage.
Does this sound familiar? Do you have trolls in your life?
We all do. The thing is trolls have disguises. They hide behind seemingly good intentions. But, really what they want is attention.
They are really not thinking about you.
Here’s the story of Sarah:
Sarah lives in a small town about 5,000 people. She is a wonderful mother to two school aged boys. She works part time from home writing for a few magazines. Her husband is an engineer who is often away on business. During that time, Sarah is thankful for the help of her husband’s parents: Jane and Bob, who takes turns to help with the boys. Sarah cherishes the relationship. She sees Jane and Bob as her second parents. She also loves the influence Jane and Bob on her two boys. They are good role models for her sons.
One day, Sarah receives an email from a well-known television producer about the book that she recently published. The email invites her family to Los Angeles to visit the studio lots and view the taping of a popular TV show. In the process, the producer wants to meet with her and discuss the possibility of turning her book into a TV series. Needless to say, Sarah was ecstatic.
Since her husband is away on business, she calls Jane to relay the good news. The response she receives surprises her. Jane was unenthusiastic for Sarah’s good news. Not only that, Jane disparaged Sarah for stepping too far to reach her career goals and putting the boys in the back burner. After a good ten minutes, Jane went on to lecture Sarah on the value of being a good mother. To Sarah, the entire speech was obviously simmering in Jane’s head for some time. It seems that Jane is quite critical of Sarah and how Sarah rasises the boys. She just never openly said anything to Sarah.
As Sarah hung up the phone, she started to cry. She could not understand how someone who she felt so close to could hurt her so much. She loved and respected Jane. But, this entire episode was uncalled for. She felt betrayed.
From that day on, Jane remained frosty toward Sarah. No matter what Sarah did to make amends, Jane criticized her openly or in the background.
All it takes is one “good news” for a troll to reveal herself or himself in your life. Trolls can not stand it when good things happen in people’s lives.
They will attempt to trample your self-esteem, your accomplishment and your relationships just to make themselves feel better.
Here’s what could happen to Sarah if she did not have a thick skin:
When Sarah’s husband came home from his business trip, Sarah relayed the good news hoping to celebrate with him. Even though, her husband was really happy for her, her husband was also worried about the timing of the trip to Los Angeles. He hoped that his project at work would be finished by then so that he could concentrate on helping Sarah with the boys during the trip. Sarah felt anxious. The responses from her family did not meet her expectations at all. She started to feel depressed about it all for a couple days afterwards. By the time the trip rolled around, she just wanted to get it over with. The trip turned out to be exactly what she wanted. She was invited to the studio. The TV producer was more than kind. Soon enough, a deal was presented to her for her to sign over the TV rights to her book. She pondered over that deal for weeks. She couldn’t decide. The TV producer wanted her to stay in Los Angeles for 6 weeks to help them develop the show. This is exactly when her husband’s project was set for the final phase. She would have to rely on Jane and Bob to help with the boys. After some consideration, she decided that her family was more important. Her job as a mom came first. The timing for this opportunity just seemed off. She ended up rejecting the offer.
Are you feeling sorry for Sarah? Being a stay at home mom is not easy. When confronted with such a once in a lifetime opportunity, Sarah was so caught up with the judgements of the people around her that she could not appreciate the opportunity herself.
She lets the opportunity slip away.
On the other hand, what could happen to Sarah if she had thick skin:
When Sarah’s husband came home from his business trip, Sarah relayed the good news hoping to celebrate with him. Even though, her husband was really happy for her, her husband was also worried about the timing of the trip to Los Angeles. He hoped that his project at work would be finished by then so that he could concentrate on helping Sarah with the boys during the trip. Sarah felt anxious. The responses from her family did not meet her expectations at all. She felt depressed. Instead of listening to those voices in her head, she went for a run. On the run, in her head, she went over every single hurdle she overcame to release her book. After all, the book took about 3 years to write. She wrangled with two toddler boys everyday just to get five minutes on the computer. When she finished the book, it took a few months to find the right editor and the right publisher to release the book. It took a huge amount of work and determination. The book was her third baby. She treasured it. After the run, she came back clear headed and feeling strong. She told her husband, for all the times she stood by him, this time she needed him to support her. She rearranged the trip with the producer to a timeframe that suited her husband’s project. Then, she told her husband about the conversation with Jane. They both decided that they would cool off having Bob and Jane visit until they received an apology from Jane.
The trip turned out to be exactly what she wanted. She was invited to the studio. The TV producer was more than kind. Soon enough, a deal was presented to her to sign over the TV rights to her book. She signed it immdiately on the condition that she would be the one writing the first season of the show. She timed her writing schedule with her sons’ summer vacation. She rented a house on the beach so that the boys could spend the summer in the sun. She used that time to write the script for the first season of the show. When the first season was released, it garnered rave reviews. She was asked to come back for another 3 seasons. She discussed this with her husband. Her husband was extremely happy for her. In fact, he was looking to get out of the rut of their small town living. They both decided to relocate to Los Angeles indefinitely. Her husband worked 50% from home and 50% out on assignment staying with his engineering firm. They made it work. Her sons thrived in Los Angeles. Although they missed their old friends, they found new friends who brought new riches into their lives.
Bob and Jane remained bitter about Sarah. With the move, they felt Sarah took away their son and grandsons from them. With every family gathering, they unleashed frosty remarks on Sarah. But, Sarah didn’t budge. She ignored Jane’s remarks and stayed mostly with the boys at family gatherings. She knew that she made the best decision. She didn’t need to gloat.
How about those trolls in your life? Do you let them trample you or do you move on into a better future? Most of the time, the trolls trigger our deepest insecurities. If we ponder on those insecurities, it seems as if the trolls are right. But they are not.
Our self image drives the decisions that we make.
Will you let trolls influence your self image?
Hopefully, your answer is:
“ No, my self image is determined solely by me.”
ps- the stories in this piece are fictional to illustrate the central ideas.
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