Strangers who are mean to me are basically kicking a puppy

I like to think I’m a pretty nice person. I try to find the positive side of just about everything. It is known that I have a penchant for loving terrible things. It’s part of my charm, according to Katie. I love dogs and cats and babies and even adult humans, though the consensus seems to be that adult humans are the root of all the problems.

And yet…

Strangers scream obscenities and call me a fat ass across a busy parking lot because my husband stopped to let me out of the car in front of the grocery store.

Strangers in a movie theater call me horrible names and repeatedly tell me I need to be put in my place because I politely asked them to quiet down in a movie theater.

Strangers on the internet call me names and judge me without knowing anything about me.

Friends say things to me or about me that are hurtful. Sometimes intentionally and sometimes unintentionally. Sometimes to my face and sometimes behind my back.

Adult humans are constantly breaking my heart.

But I’ve survived heartache before. When your heart is openly exposed on your sleeve, it tends to take a beating. Mine is no exception. But I’ve learned to manage the bruises.

And with that, I wanted to show you guys my process. Because I know I’m not alone in experiencing hurt. I know that many of you deal with so much more than a few spiteful strangers proverbially spitting on you. And I wanted to share how I deal. And how I continue to stay positive despite the bullies and meanies that I occasionally engage with. It’s a process, to say the least — and one that’s not without a pity party for one. But it works for me.

Survive

The first step for me starts while I’m dealing with the initial incident. My body takes over, so my brain busies itself by running simulations to help choose the safest route for getting out of a given situation. Unfortunately, my body doesn’t always listen to my brain. Sometimes fight wins in the fight or flight response, and I yell back. In the most recent conflict, I panicked and froze and eventually took flight instead of going for a fight. I’m not mad about it.

Calm myself down

The rush of adrenaline that spikes, when someone is verbally accosting me, can take its toll on my ability to think. I try not to do anything while I’m in this phase. Instead, I’ll sit in my car or away from others and work things out in my head to remind myself that I’m okay. I’m safe. I’m away from the conflict. Sometimes I’ll call Brian, or I’ll tell you guys about it in my Instagram stories.

Get angry

Once I’ve calmed myself enough to rationally think about whatever it was that happened, I usually get angry.

I start thinking things over in my head. Replaying the situation on repeat, wishing I had said X, Y, or Z. Trying to understand how someone could say whatever it was they said, especially if it was a stranger who knows absolutely nothing about me. I may even hide in my car or house and scream at the top of my lungs to let the emotions building up inside of me out. Anger is something I understand. But taking that anger out on another person, especially one you know little to nothing about? I can’t fathom how anyone can do or say cruel things to strangers.

Allow myself to be sad

It takes me time to get over the hurt. For long-term heartbreak, it can be weeks or months or even years. For a slew of slurs? It may take hours or days. For me, it’s kind of a grieving process. I don’t know what exactly I’m grieving when someone verbally assaults me, but it gives me time to let the insults wash through me. The more hurtful, the longer it takes. My eyes live on the verge of tears, but we already know I’m a pretty regular crier as it stands. Brian already calls it my superpower – just like the Hulk, but instead of being always angry, I’m always ready to cry.

Limit social media

If you notice me going dark on social media, it’s likely because I’m taking time for myself. I’m allowing my heart to recuperate without adding the stress and expectation of social media. There’s no contract that says I have to be “on” all the time, and when I turn myself “off” I can recharge in a way that doesn’t add to my anxieties. I think we all need a little bit more of this, honestly.

Power up

I have a Power-Up playlist on YouTube that re-energizes me when I need a pick-me-up. It has empowering songs, like “Brave” by Sara Bareilles. It has happy songs like, “Can’t Fight the Feeling” by Justin Timberlake. And it has songs that just bring me personal joy, like “Shut Up and Dance” by Walk the Moon. It’s a fun collection of party pop, alterna-rock, Disney songs, and musical numbers that makes me ridiculously happy. I also use this to rev myself up before a show. It’s amazing what music can do.

Remember the good in humans

You guys are pretty much the best, did you know that? If you’re reading this, you’re probably already on my list of favorite people. My village lifts me up so hard. You remind me that for as many mean people in this world, there are a hundred or even a thousand times as many kind, generous souls ready and willing to share and spread joy. To love. To pass good vibes on to everyone around you. Keep doing that. Because the world needs more people like you.

How do you stay positive when people are mean? What are some of your coping mechanisms for heartache? Let me know in the comments, because I’m always looking for new ways to stay positive.

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!
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Comments

  1. I often think to myself, “They’re probably unhappy with themselves and with life” and go about my day. I’ve been that unhappy person. And I know the only person who can change that is me. Same applies for those who feel it necessary to bring others down.

    Also, like you, I back off of social media when people bring out their claws. I’ve seen how it affects me and makes me angry so instead of allowing that I go offline and do something that brings me joy. It sure as hell beats being negative and miserable.

  2. It’s that last one, man. I can’t get there anymore. Good for you for working on using positivity to overcome it and spreading happiness rather than sinking to their level and carrying a urine filled squirt gun which neither me nor no one that I know has done.

  3. Ugh. Why are people such utter knobs! Bastards. My instinct immediately zings into fight mode, and I have hit out before (a man who thought it was funny to scare the shit out of a friend and I felt the back of my hand once) and though it doesn’t deal much with the adrenaline, my way of dealing tends to be to shake with anger for several hours, bemoan that I’m not the Hulk, imagine ways of killing them painfully, and in the following days/months/years randomly think of better more vicious things I could have said in retaliation to their assholery. So yeah.

  4. You are an Amazing woman. I am always proud of you. Reactions to bad encounters are so hard for me to keep calm.I like the formula you choose. Thanks

  5. Chrissy-
    I am sort of reeling in shock over here, trying to imagine some random stranger screaming curses at you across a parking lot. Yes, I know people can be shitty, but I still find that…shocking.

    My first instinct is that I’d like to find those people and kick the shit out of them, but that was the old me. I’m a kinder, gentler Samara. Instead, I wish them peace.

    Nah. Fuck that. I’d STILL give a beatdown to anyone I heard calling you a fat ass in a parking lot. Why the everloving FUCK would someone need to do that? Can’t they see that you radiate the aura of a love goddess?

    I think I may need to plan a visit to you…

    • I love you. Brian also wanted to kick the shit out of that guy. I run these stories over and over in my head trying to reconcile the humans that I know and love with the way I was treated, and what it comes down to is that I don’t know their situation, and whatever they have going on in their lives must be pretty terrible to be that mean.

  6. When someone is an asshole to me I try and do the opposite. I tell one random stranger something nice and bask in their smile and an reminded the world isn’t all bad.

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