Intent, tone and words go deeper than swords and last longer than you imagine, especially now when we are all feeling hypersensitive and anxious due to social distancing and COVID-19 fears.

Nothing really phases me anymore after all that I’ve been through over the past year, including how relationships and friendships can quickly go sour and how people change their minds.

I can be quick with my tongue, and so I’ve been learning how to think before I speak, choose my words carefully and the ramifications of what I say and do. I try to breathe and remember a happier time, like in this photo, on the Cliff Walk in Newport Rhode Island. Not everyone does the same.

I recently had an unfortunate experience with a friend who said some hurtful things to me. “You’re too sensitive, “you’re never going to be successful” among them. The old me would have fired back. The new me just walks away.

I can still hear the criticism of a past partner about nearly everything I said and did. He often said he wanted to “fix” me as if I was somehow broken. He would regularly say I was disrespectful and embarrassing. His harsh words are emblazoned in my head.

I have learned the hard way that some things are better left unsaid. I also understand that many of us like I noted above are quite vulnerable right now. Social and physical distancing due to the pandemic is exacerbating our stresses and causing us at times to have a shorter fuse.

My advice for all of us (including myself) is to think before we speak and always assume good intent and choose kindness, especially now.