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Old 06-06-2021, 10:12 AM   #1
RoxanneToto
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Default How to stop giving nasty strangers mental real estate?

Another day, another random person making a nasty sounding remark to me - I didnít catch what he said, which I think is a good thing, because I picked up on an aggressive undertone.
He was sort of laughing at the same time, so Iím guessing he was mocking me in some way. I was literally just walking to work back from the shop after buying one of the residents a paper (it was folded over in my hand, so the title wasnít obvious). Maybe he felt like being snarky because I was sort of laughing at the massive dog poop someone had ridden over on an electric scooter/bike (it was gross, really, but not a surprising sight around here, either). I just carried on walking in the other direction without responding, but felt a little shaky and could feel a bit of adrenaline flowing, like my fight/flight response was kicking in.
My mind was trying to analyse the few words I thought Iíd understood, but I did manage to stop it once I realised, because it wasnít going to do me any good even if I did decipher what heíd said.
Is there a way of neutralising the fear I feel when I get shouted at by a stranger? (doesnít happen every day, but itís happened enough that Iíve developed a mild fear of it happening. The last time it did, some guy in a van pulled over and asked if Iíd seen ďa woman who matched my descriptionĒ. It took a second to realise he meant me, at which point he sped off and everyone in the van was screeching with laughter. I felt humiliated and just wished I could move somewhere nicer. Maybe I need a better ďJerk at 12 oí clock AlertĒ radar? )
I know I shouldnít care, but I find it difficult sometimes to not think of these people and then ruminate on what happened (though Iím getting a bit better at not doing it). It makes me feel pathetic - vulnerable, because I canít run (old ankle injury that never really healed. Considering buying a small skateboard I could plop down and push off on!) but also helpless because trying to fight back, even verbally, could be risky. I donít have the guts to try, either. It feels like letting them win, though, which I hate.
Ugh, I didnít mean to make this so long, but thanks if you managed to read it all!
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Old 06-06-2021, 10:51 AM   #2
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Default Re: How to stop giving nasty strangers mental real estate?

I'm sorry you're going through this. I agree that there would be no point in trying to fight back. Maybe next time it happens, try to find something to distract you, like talking to someone you know who cares about you.
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Old 06-06-2021, 11:23 AM   #3
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Default Re: How to stop giving nasty strangers mental real estate?

Thanks, downandlonely! I think part of the problem is there seem to be a fair number of people in this town who just seem to hate women (or people in general?) and for whatever reason feel the need to commit street harassment. I donít understand that mindset! There are some really nice people, too, though, but most of them I donít actually know personally, more from places I shop at lol. My T asked me recently to draw my ďsafe placeĒ, though. If I remember I might try and visualise that.
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Old 06-06-2021, 11:36 AM   #4
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Default Re: How to stop giving nasty strangers mental real estate?

That's a good idea.

I've had cat calls from men when I'm just walking down the street. I try not to let it get to me, but it can be unnerving.
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Old 06-06-2021, 03:52 PM   #5
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Default Re: How to stop giving nasty strangers mental real estate?

I think you're doing the right thing by not responding. It is sometimes not safe to respond - as they are strangers, you don't know what you're up against or what more they could do. I also see it as the more mature thing to not give jerks the satisfaction of a response, including eye-rolling and making faces. So I feel that really, you have won. It just feels ******. And I really like that you're asking how to protect yourself more and cope when these things happen. 1.) I hope you know you're not alone. The world is FULL of weirdos and strangers who say weird things. It doesn't mean that most people aren't good people. But it does mean that you are not alone in having experienced this type of crap from strange men (or women). 2.) I like downandlonely's idea of distraction. Distracting yourself with an enjoyable activity, can make you feel better and when we feel better, it puts things in a better perspective for us. 3.) I love that your therapist asked you to visualize your safe place. I recommend following through with this - as many times as you want. 4.) Be kind to yourself. edit: Just thought of one more thing: 5.) Have you ever written a gratitude list of the things you've experienced in a day that have been good? Or written a list about the good experiences you have had with people (in a day, in a month, in a lifetime...)? It could help to neutralize those negative thoughts and feelings from remembering and ruminating on peoples hurtful actions.
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Old 06-06-2021, 05:34 PM   #6
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Default Re: How to stop giving nasty strangers mental real estate?

Thanks very much, WovenGalaxy, thatís really helpful! I hadnít thought about doing number 5, but think thatís a good idea. It is horrible when this stuff happens, because nobody deserves it, though it does trigger some feelings of guilt/shame I know the perpetrators should be carrying, not us. Again, Iím getting a bit better at not absorbing other peopleís feelings when they do this, but itís still hard. Some of the people who act this way seem to know exactly where to keep hitting, too, so to speak, if they donít just walk off. Sorry youíve both experienced this, too.
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Old 06-06-2021, 06:00 PM   #7
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Default Re: How to stop giving nasty strangers mental real estate?

You're welcome. you hit the nail on the head when you said its shame / guilt *they * should be carrying. Who knows what their own lives are like but I imagine pretty boring / sad / unhappy.
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Old 06-07-2021, 10:58 AM   #8
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Default Re: How to stop giving nasty strangers mental real estate?

i agree with the other wise and wonderful posters that ignoring them may simply be tje best option overall. If you're feeling hurt i think it is good to remind yourself of your own positive qualities that strangers don't know much about. Sending many safe, warm hugs to ALL of you, @RoxanneToto, your Family, your Friends and ALL of your Loved Ones! Keep fighting and keep rocking NO MATTER WHAT HAPPENS, OK?!
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Old 06-07-2021, 10:59 AM   #9
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Default Re: How to stop giving nasty strangers mental real estate?

Thank you, Mickey!
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Old 06-08-2021, 03:36 PM   #10
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Default Re: How to stop giving nasty strangers mental real estate?

I think it's really about two things. 1) Have/build high enough self-esteem 2) Don't (over)value strangers that much = Value yourself and your own positive opinions of yourself just that much more than these strangers. That should help ignore their bull****.
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Old 06-08-2021, 04:15 PM   #11
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Default Re: How to stop giving nasty strangers mental real estate?

You've done a good job of assessing that people who do this are "jerks." It is a shame that "jerks" can intrude on our mental space and sour what might have been an okay day. They're out there, and they can be good at creating disturbance in a person's mind. It's lamentable that they have that power.

They may not have a lot else going for them. Imagine not having anything better to do than to antagonize a stranger walking down the street. What direction do you think this person's life is going in? People like that reap what they sow. Sometimes you need to know that being a "jerk" is not without a cost. If you could see how life is going to turn out for this person, you might actually feel very sorry for them.
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Old 06-08-2021, 04:21 PM   #12
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Default Re: How to stop giving nasty strangers mental real estate?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rose76 View Post
They may not have a lot else going for them. Imagine not having anything better to do than to antagonize a stranger walking down the street. What direction do you think this person's life is going in? People like that reap what they sow. Sometimes you need to know that being a "jerk" is not without a cost. If you could see how life is going to turn out for this person, you might actually feel very sorry for them.

I completely agree. They are probably very frustrated with lack of success in life, taking out their anger and negativity on others like this.
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Old 06-08-2021, 05:11 PM   #13
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Default Re: How to stop giving nasty strangers mental real estate?

Thank you, Rose76 and Alive99, your comments are very helpful!
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Old 06-10-2021, 08:30 AM   #14
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Default Re: How to stop giving nasty strangers mental real estate?

I have found that the fight/flight reaction our body has is A NORMAL RESPONSE to things like this. It is important TO ACKNOWLEDGE THAT.....but then as my psychologist says, have a "teflon mind" that let's it go instead of holding on to it.

You said you are getting better at this & THIS IS IMPORTANT. Changes in how we react aren't magically gone immediately. It takes time & practice.

Lol....when crap like that happens to me, internally in my mind, I thank them for the opportunity to practice so I can get better at letting it go. I have found if I put a positive thought ( like giving me a chance to practice new skills) to negative things that happen it also helps me get past them quicker & practice that "teflon mind" skill.

I have had a whole hornet's nest full of stuff like this lately but for me, I have found that my peaceful daily life is what grounds me & definitely keeps me distracted from focusing on the negative
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Old 06-10-2021, 11:04 AM   #15
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Old 06-10-2021, 03:12 PM   #16
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Default Re: How to stop giving nasty strangers mental real estate?

Quote:
Originally Posted by eskielover View Post
as my psychologist says, have a "teflon mind" that let's it go instead of holding on to it.

How do you assume the teflon mindset? I.e. how do you put it on? Do you use some specific reasoning to do so? Or something else?

I've practiced recently to disengage from sh*** behaviours of some people, and it already works well but I'm curious about this topic in general.
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Old 06-10-2021, 03:43 PM   #17
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Default Re: How to stop giving nasty strangers mental real estate?

Thanks, eskielover - thatís a great way of framing it and using it as an opportunity to change oneís thinking. Iím sorry youíve had to deal with similar lately, though.
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Old 06-10-2021, 07:56 PM   #18
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Default Re: How to stop giving nasty strangers mental real estate?

Quote:
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How do you assume the teflon mindset? I.e. how do you put it on? Do you use some specific reasoning to do so? Or something else?

I've practiced recently to disengage from sh*** behaviours of some people, and it already works well but I'm curious about this topic in general.
This is a link with some basics about "teflon mind"DBT Skill of the Day: Teflon Mind from Mindfulness Module – Anything to Stop the Pain

It takes practice, not just something you can just do but thinking, understanding the concept, then practicing. I have to admit, my brain has always been more into compartmentalizing my thoughts. When I was at work, that is all I thought about. When I was home, I thought about dealing with the issues there. If I needed to handle something from home at work I would dedicate a specific time to take care of it & then put my focus back on work. Even now I have legal issues I am dealing with 2100 miles away & also taking care of my farm here. I handle those legal issues interfacing with who I need to. Last lawyer went MIA & had to file a complaint with the bar in Calif to get them involved in finding him. Had to handle the CC charge . Got on with taking care of my horse & farm. Then found a new lawyer. Did the interface necessary then back to my farm & other activities with friends. My life is made up of compartments & I think when we can adapt to something more like that "teflon mind" works better. Sometimes I just take a time out away from everything & sit & watch my horse totally thinking of nothing else but how wonderful she is while not letting any problem thoughts into my mind but usually I am so focused on having my awesome horse with me after 11 years away from her, it is easy to focus on HER.

I found I actually had some DBT skills before I learned what they were but had to practice them to get them more functional in my life
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Old 06-10-2021, 08:38 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RoxanneToto View Post
Thanks, eskielover - thatís a great way of framing it and using it as an opportunity to change oneís thinking. Iím sorry youíve had to deal with similar lately, though.
Challenges have always been good learning opportunities for me & have always broadened knowledge & experience.
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Old 06-11-2021, 05:54 AM   #20
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Default Re: How to stop giving nasty strangers mental real estate?

Quote:
Originally Posted by eskielover View Post

This is a link with some basics about "teflon mind"DBT Skill of the Day: Teflon Mind from Mindfulness Module Ė Anything to Stop the Pain
Thanks for the link. It says:

"Teflon Mind is part of the ďObserveĒ portion of DBTís Mindfulness. Teflon Mind is intended to prevent emotional dysregulation, defensiveness and judgmental responses. When we use Teflon Mind you:

Notice what is happening around you and not react immediately or reflexively.
Let thoughts, emotions and sensory experiences pass through our mind like clouds passing over a clear sky.
Focus your attention on the present experience (which is also important in another skill ďOne MindfullyĒ which I will cover later) and not allow past disappointments or future fears to color the experience.
Attend to internal thoughts and feelings as they arise within you.
Donít ďlatch onĒ to the resulting emotions and donít follow action impulses to react in an ineffective way.
Let the emotional experience pass and not take root so that the emotions lead to resentment or ruminating.

Teflon Mind can be a very effective skill when your amid and among others who are expressing powerful emotions."


I feel like this isn't the first time that I see mindfulness recommended for situations where I just do this stoic, rational approach. That's what I have when others express strong emotions and I also do it for situations where I just have to endure them. It's also me being present, cool, calm, collected, alert. That's my default state.... trauma tried to eat a lot of it but I'm recovering from that. But anyway I don't think it's mindfulness because I don't let stuff just "pass through my mind", and that's because I'm not even focused on my mind, I'm not focused internally at all, and instead I'm just focused on the environment. Mindfulness to me is like, when I read about it, it always makes me feel like I'm supposed to focus internally. Is that true? Does it require you focusing internally, on your mind and your emotions? Let me know, I'm curious. Because I don't really understand how you are supposed to BOTH focus internally and externally. The latter would be by doing stuff like "notice what is happening around you" and "focus your attention on the present experience".

What the stoic mindset shares with this mindfulness/teflon mind is:

- It pays attention to what's happening around you, it observes a lot
- No immediate reaction/no latching on to emotions/does not follow action impulses/goal is to react in an efficient, effective way
- It's focused on the present
- Thoughts are like fleeting clouds on a clear sky (that's always how I describe my mind by default...like that's my default, that's my normal, I don't count cPTSD as my normal of course)
- The emotions pass fast, no ruminating etc

What it *probably* doesn't share:

- It's rational control over the emotions (rather than just accepting them and living them "from the inside")
- It's not focused internally on the mind or on the emotions
- It "invalidates" the irrationality of emotion by the rational control
- The emotions pass fast because they are "invalidated" like that and they are never allowed to become strong
- Attending to the emotions is for a very short time, because the rational control deals with them very quickly
- Thoughts are truly owned rather than trying to be distanced from them. Distance is only from emotion, not from rationality

I'm curious if this made sense.

Btw, you mention compartmentalising. The way you described it, to me it seems very much a normal thing. I do think you've got to only think about work at work, and not think about work when at home. And if there is something urgent or important, then allocate a specific time to deal with it, yeah. I thought that was the healthy approach actually. I did not understand what you meant when you said "I think when we can adapt to something more like that "teflon mind" works better." Do you mean that compartmentalising had some bad side effects for you and this teflon mindset works better for you in its place?
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