In the thesaurus the antonym of criticism is compliment:
1. an expression of praise, commendation, or admiration:
A sincere compliment boosts one’s morale.
a formal act or expression of civility, respect, or regard
compliments, a courteous greeting; good wishes; regards:
As you can see, paying a compliment does wonders for the recipient. Not to mention it does wonders for the giver. And that is my point today: why don’t we all give more compliments, or more importantly, encouragement?
Lately, I have noticed compliments becoming a part of my normal day. And something amazing has been happening: I feel happier and the people around me feel happier.
Imagine my surprise yesterday when the Director of the program pulled me in his office. He then spent 10 minutes complimenting me! He said everyone here was amazed at how well I was doing.
That they recognized all the hard work I have been doing in recovery. Of course, I left the office feeling damn good! He made me feel that I was important. We all need recognition, and his recognition gave me more momentum to keep doing what I am doing.
Similarly, I have noticed that I have been offering up compliments without any thought at all! This is completely different than my old “inward thinking” that I used to do. I used to be focused on three people: me, myself, and I. Giving out a genuine compliment makes other people feel good. I feel good just seeing their face light up. Dare I say, lately I have been, well, happy!
People have been responding to me in a different way! I’m not suggesting all of a sudden you have to start spitting out compliments like your a machine gun kiss ass. ’m suggesting to incorporate maybe one or two a day. I smile a lot more. A lot more. This is completely off the charts for me. I was never one to overly criticize people, but I certainly wasn’t tossing around compliments either.
It’s easy to criticize, but it’s much more difficult to step out of our selves and offer up “an expression of praise.” So, dear readers, I challenge you: can you find the time today, and everyday, to tell someone you love how much you appreciate them? Not “I love you,” but a genuine compliment? Can you give the guy or gal who serves your coffee a genuine compliment? Can you take two minutes and pat an employee on the back?
I promise you this: start giving “a formal act or expression of civility, respect, or regard,” daily for 30 days, and see if your life isn’t transformed. Who would like to take a 30 day challenge for March, and see if you can compliment someone the entire month? I’m going to start today! Less disdain and criticism, more compliments and love!
So onto the chapter that gives most addicts and alcoholics fits: We Agnostics, chapter 4 of the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous.
Maybe I am going to be in for a rude awakening when I finally do enter the “real world,” because this recovery business is fairly straightforward to me. The following paragraph is CRITICAL in understanding how I remain sober, especially the “came to believe…”
Don’t drink, “came to believe that a Power greater than myself could restore me to sanity,” and “made a decision to turn my will and my life over to the care of God as we understood Him. The rest of the Steps of A.A. are elementary to me. That’s the Higher Power component for me. Replace “me” with “our” for the Big Book wording.
People are like “Omg, this A.A. business is so religious.” “I don’t believe in God.” “I don’t know what a Higher Power looks like.” Well, good thing you have me, right? LOL, I’m going to spell this out very plainly and simply for you–and, of course, these are just my opinions. This is what works for me: A Higher Power can be anything that is greater than yourself that will help keep you sober. Period.
As Chapter 4 points out:
If a mere code of morals or a better philosophy of life were sufficient to overcome alcoholism, many of us would have recovered long ago.”
So, we can’t do it alone! The cornerstone of any 12 Step Program is this concept of a Higher Power. Without a spiritual awakening, in whatever form you choose it to be, we will continue to relapse and be lost. The Big Book goes on to say:
Lack of power, that was our dilemma. We had to find a power by which we could live, and it had to be a Power greater than ourselves. Obviously. But where and how were we to find this Power?
Yes, in the Big Book it walks about a “Supreme Being.” It talks about a “Creative Intelligence.” It talks about a “Spirit of the Universe.” I would argue that we are all from the same spirit. What keeps me alive–exclusive of physical anatomy–is what keeps you alive.
Do you honestly believe that when you die that’s the end of the show? People who believe in God believe they are going to heaven. People who believe in Buddhism believe that
“death is not the end of life, it is merely the end of the body we inhabit in this life, but our spirit will still remain and seek out through the need of attachment, attachment to a new body and new life. Where they will be born is a result of the past and the accumulation of positive and negative action, and the resultant karma (cause and effect) is a result of ones past actions.” (source).
I believe that spirit does not die. I believe spirit is remade in some higher form or another. We cannot possibly have all this commonality, only to end up as worm food. My point is that this is some of my Higher Power. This belief that we are all connected. This belief that there is this awesome force controlling us; therefore, I rely on this wellspring to give me strength when I am weak. There is an awesome power that connects us folks, “they ain’t no de-ni-in dat.”
Chapter 4 suggests:
Do not let any prejudice you may have against spiritual terms deter you from honestly asking yourself what they mean to you.
There is much more to cover from Chapter 4. We will surely be covering more down the road. Contemplate your beliefs and contemplate what the Highest possible Power is that you can imagine controlling the universe. I don’t care if you think that it is a frog that lives in the Rain Forest. Then, simply tap into that power for your strength. Voila, Higher Power.
There are those that say anything can be your Higher Power until you can tap into one that is greatest–God, Buddha, Allah, whatever. Your Higher Power could be your children. It could be, like me, a combination of things: The Great Oneness, Writing, Nature Contemplations. Some have suggested that A.A. (or any 12 Step Program) can be your Higher Power.
It doesn’t have to be this gigantic gorilla you have to wrestle down and kill. Simplify it to the highest force possible. Then, hang on for dear life until you have your legs under you. YOU CAN DO THIS!!
Chapter 3 of Alcoholics Anonymous, titled “More About Alcoholism,” talks more about the power of booze over the individual. It is a powerful testament to those who are still convinced that they can either control their drinking, or put it down for a while to return to it just fine at a later date.
There are many intelligent alcoholics. None of those people ever got up one day and said “Today I think I’ll be an alcoholic.” Alcoholism is a disease. Alcoholism has an effect on those predisposed to it that does not otherwise effect the normal drinker.
In the Big Book, Chapter 3 it says:
To be gravely affected, one does not necessarily have to drink a long time nor take the quantities some of us have. This is particularly true of women. Potential female alcoholics often turn into the real thing and are gone beyond recall in a few years.
No matter how smart you are, how much you think you can control your drinking, how much you can quit then start back up again, in the end alcohol will possess the alcoholic.
And the thing is, no matter how intelligent you think you are, no matter how much you think you’ll be able to inflict your will power on it and resume it later, the worse your condition becomes:
This is the baffling feature of alcoholism as we know it–this utter inability to leave it alone, no matter how great the necessity or the wish
Ultimately, you must (Step 1) admit you are powerless over alcohol (Step 2) come to believe that a Power greater than yourself can restore you to sanity and (Step 3) make a decision to turn your will and your life over to the care of God as you understand Him.
Then you are really ready to do the work that is suggested in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous.
Thank you everyone who has shown me such incredible love and support over the last 5 months!
Today I celebrate over 1,010 of you! It boggles my mind that so many of you have chosen to follow my blog.
As you know I have just entered my 9th month of sobriety. I am not kidding when I say YOU have lots to do with that! Your kindnesses, your occasional emails, your comments on my posts, all have contributed to my recovery and wellness. I am eternally blessed to have your time, affection, and attention.
You give me courage to post some of my more difficult material. You give me strength to consider even posting more difficult material. You support me in my endeavors, and I only hope I can give back to you in like kind.
I am always here for you, no matter what you are going through. You are welcome to email me any time at firstname.lastname@example.org. I write to release my life into the world. But if there wasn’t a world filled with you’s, it would be kind of pointless. So:
“The only real revolution is in the enlightenment of the mind and the improvement of character, the only real emancipation is individual, and the only real revolutionaries are philosophers and saints.” — Will Durant