Tuesday, July 7, 2009

My Own Personal Sadness Troll

The inspirational Havi Brooks has several posts about talking to your monsters (fears, anxieties, stresses) about what they need and why they're doing what they're doing. She even suggests bringing in an (imaginary) negotiator if that would help.

My biggest problems at the moment aren't fears so much as sadness and anger. So I set up an interview with my own personal Sadness Troll. I picture him as huge and hairy, with big, weepy eyes - in fact, he looks a lot like the Muppet who helps to sell used cars in "The Muppet Movie". (Thanks to Wikipedia, I've now discovered that this Muppet is called "Sweetums" - more about Sweetums here!)

This was how the interview went. (I'm not sure exactly what the interviewer looked like, but let's assume he looked a bit like Kerry O'Brien.) There has been some post-production editing, but the basic insights were there at the start.

Interviewer: Why do you make Luke so sad?
Sadness Troll: I have to keep reminding him that he needs to be successful! So yes, he gets sad when he doesn't measure up, but he needs reminding!
Int: Why does he need to be successful?
ST: Hmmm ... not sure. Because a lot of his identity has been bound up with that ever since school? Because people expect it of him?
Int: Could he try being different instead? "Dropping out" in some metaphorical sense? Become a "virtual" hippy or pilgrim? You know, he's got the hair to be a hippy ... What about "be the change you want to see"? How about if he tried to be compassionate instead?
ST: Hmmm ... I'll have to think about that, but it might work.
(Sadness Troll wanders off, looking less depressed for the first time in a long time.)

Another part of the interview that got cut from the program was this:

ST: We need to see results, or we'll never know if he's getting anywhere!
Int: Isn't that negative reinforcement? Don't you remember that exercise that Luke did where he listed all the positive motivational techniques that worked for him?
ST: ... oh yeah. That's right. How about that.

Besides Havi, it looks to me like the interviewer also drew on Personal Alignment from the Core Protocols - identifying a goal, working out what's blocking you, what you'd need to overcome that block, and repeating as necessary. Finally, the exercise that I've done previously to list postive motivational techniques came from Barbara Sher's "Live the life you love And Stop Just Getting By". For the record, at the top of the list were:

spirituality and praying; competition (including against myself); receiving praise; getting help from friends; starting small; deadlines (if well-defined and realistic).

I gave these an A for how well they work for me; shaming got a D, and scolding, built and lecturing got an F.

So maybe there are some techniques that the Sadness Troll could pick up ...


  1. I absolutely LOVE this! Nice insights.

    Also, "Shaming got a D" = sweet.

  2. Thanks Havi!

    I know I've got some more sadnesses and/or stucknesses to work through ... but this has definitely helped.