Does your blood bubble, bluster and boil when you see someone without a mask on – or perhaps when you see throngs of people waiting on a line, all wearing masks? What do you think mandated masks are? Superstitious or politically motivated muzzles – or lifesaving protectors? What say you? How maddening is it when you perceive a threat in one way, and others view it as the total reverse and opposite pole? A number of people believe in following all the rules commanded by the powers that be in order to protect themselves and the safety of those around them. Others doubt governmental reports and consider the loss of their individual freedom – as well as not being able to share closeness with loved ones – as more of a threat to their constitutional rights – and their mental and physical health – than the virus itself.

Rioters and insurrectionists are elbow to elbow, with no masks on and even dancing in the streets nightly; yet we are told to stay indoors, out of work, and not even to attend a religious service. Oh my. Who is creating these standards? Is there a way to feel compassion or even have a dialogue with those who vehemently disagree with you at this time? Can the kids play with their friends? Is it safe to go into your friend’s house or use their restroom? Are we hugging yet?

Before you start finger-wagging, please try to acknowledge each other’s views, concerns, fears, and even anger about this mess we are in. To each his own.

Please do not blame or shame one another. To make a mistake is human; but to blame it on someone else, that’s even more human. However, blame keeps wounds open. And you know what they say: “When people are lame, they love to blame.” You may know his name, but not his story. You may have heard about what she has done, but not what she has been through. So don’t let your food get cold worrying about what’s on their plate. Please do not judge choices without understanding their reasons. You know what they say: “There are two reasons people don’t mind their own business: No mind. No business.”

You’re ready to ask your mom if that offer to slap you into next year is still on the table. I get it. Yes, there are a number of people wearing visors and veering away from people as if they were toxic dumps. Is it due to the infodemic by hysterical corporate media, or is it truly objective science? Please do not rush to condemnation, sweet friends. The shoe that fits one person pinches another.

Not breathing freely all day? Hypoxia is real, too. Over-exposure to carbon dioxide by inhalation has been known to have profound side effects. Anxiety disorders and sensory processing issues are real. Restriction of breathing, especially in the heat can cause panic attacks, dissociation, and flashbacks in some. Others feel trapped and claustrophobic. Seeing everyone in masks all day long may engender feelings of danger, keeping you on edge and unable to relax. Indeed, several are exempt from wearing them entirely. Remember, please, you are an expert on your own experience; no one else is. Please be kind to one another.

Are you the type of person who questions narratives that you are spoon-fed by the media, or are you simply compliant? Perhaps you are amenable, acquiescent, and a “don’t want to make waves” kind of person. What if you are with someone who is firm, fixed, and who must have facts to be convinced? He may be an “I don’t want to be controlled” kind of person. Uh, oh. Remember: The left wing and the right wing belong to the same bird.

Hidden faces and anonymity can lead to a feeling of depersonalization. How many times has someone waved at you and you had no idea who it was at first? Even governmental facial recognition is challenged at the moment. When was the last time you saw a smiling face? You may believe that obeying every edict is caring and polite compliance, while others view it as submission or flat-out subjugation.

If you and your family and friends are aligned, G-d bless you. But if you disagree often and if every decision requires negotiation at this point, it may be revealing deeper differences in your core values and beliefs. Remember, no one can drive you crazy unless you give ’em the keys. And no yelling in the home, unless there is a fire. By the way, don’t bother adding this year to your age. You didn’t use it.

Power-hungry politicians and quacks will inevitably take advantage of our fear and confusion and proliferate lies and fraudulent solutions. Many have come to believe that the reactions to this outbreak were not really commensurate with the threat, and are concerned about losing their inalienable rights as citizens. Do not say to others: “Your fears are outsized. Get over it.” Don’t worry about what I’m doing. Worry about why you’re worried about what I’m doing. Heavens, no. Perhaps you fervently and forcefully disagree. You may feel as though you want to protect someone who does not seem to want to protect himself.

Always try to make room for someone else’s point of view. It’s been said: “People who know nothing about anything are always the ones who have something to say about everything.” Everyone wants to feel safe, loved, and cared for underneath it all. Remember that you can be empathetic to his feelings without agreeing with his worldview. So sweep in front of your own door. What does a nosey pepper do? Gets jalapeno business. Try desperately not to cannonball to any conclusions about those around you.

One thing we can all agree on: Our current predicament is fluid and still uncertain. Be cooperative; not confrontational. Forget the loud, emotional appeals. This is not a contest of wills to be won. Please do not get stuck in a tense stalemate. Ask each other: “What feels safe for you?” Remember, you are fighting a pandemic, not each other.

Trust me on this, sweet friends: To admit that you were wrong simply means you are wiser than you were before. Beautiful things happen when you distance yourself from negativity. Give people a bit of your heart, rather than a piece of your mind. Go ahead and share one umbrella, and you will survive this storm together.

Caroline is a licensed psychotherapist, crisis counselor, and writer with an office in Queens.  She works with individuals, couples, and families.  Appointments are available throughout the week and weekends.  She can be reached at 917-717-1775 or at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or at