Strangers and Serenity: How to Keep Your Cool When You’re Out and About

We’ve all been there. You’re just trying to enjoy a peaceful moment – sipping a quiet coffee, working out at the gym, or simply walking down the street – and then some stranger comes along and disrupts your vibe. They might be loud, intrusive, bossy, rude, negative, or just really draining. However it happens, their presence messes with your inner peace.  The typical reaction is to become angry and respond with the same hostility. But does that really solve anything? The reality is you cannot control how others behave. Some people may be mentally unstable, while others may not have learned how to interact respectfully in society. Some people are simply unhappy. But most of the time, what others do has nothing to do with you, even if it is directed at you.  You can’t control their actions, but what you can control is… you guessed it, yourself.


Here are some tips to help you maintain your composure when dealing with disruptive strangers:

  • Recognize the Triggers:  The first step is identifying what kind of behavior throws you off balance. Is it negativity, loudness, or unsolicited advice? Then, ask yourself why this is bothering you. Do you feel bullied, embarrassed, or harassed? Think about why you feel that way, when this occurred before, and with whom. Once you know your triggers, you can anticipate them and develop coping mechanisms for dealing with these types of situations.
  • Breathe and Detach:  When someone you don’t know comes along and messes with your peace, take a deep breath (or ten!). It helps calm your nerves and gives you a moment to think. Taking that moment switches you from your emotional brain (the fight or flight response) to your thinking brain, which helps with decision-making. Deep breaths also activate your body’s calming system. Just remember, that person’s behavior isn’t about you, so don’t let it get to you!
  • The Power of Body Language:  Remember, nonverbal communication can be assertive. If someone gets too close and makes you uncomfortable, subtly lean back or move away. You’re in control, and you don’t have to be around anyone who makes you feel uneasy.
  •  The Art of the Disengagement:  When dealing with strangers seeking attention or being negative, sometimes the best thing to do is not respond. Politely disengage and ignore them. Just go back to doing what you were doing before they interrupted you.
  •  When to Walk Away (or Call for Help):  If you encounter harassment or threats or feel unsafe due to a stranger, it’s vital to take action. Do not hesitate to remove yourself from the situation or seek management, security, or law enforcement assistance. Your safety must be the top priority.
  • Don’t ruminate:  Refrain from dwelling on what you should have said or done. Spending hours trying to figure out why things happened won’t change anything. Your reaction could have been influenced by your emotions, just like the other person’s actions. Instead, learn from the experience, acknowledge your feelings, and move on. Giving yourself space to be human will help you handle similar situations better in the future.

Remember, your peace is invaluable. By taking charge of your reactions and establishing clear boundaries, you can prevent strangers from having the power to disrupt your day. There’s no need to let a stranger impact your health and emotional well-being, spoil your day, or occupy your thoughts for hours or days, especially when chances are you won’t ever cross paths with them again.


Bonus Tip: To enhance your inner resilience and emotional regulation skills, practice mindfulness techniques such as meditation or deep breathing exercises (e.g., box breathing). The next time someone tries to upset you, take a deep breath, detach, and remember: your inner peace is a superpower.


“He who is slow to anger is better and more honorable than the mighty (soldier), And he who rules and controls his own spirit, than he who captures a city” (Proverbs 16:32 AMP).

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