Quick to Criticize, Slow to Praise

We live in a world where criticism is all too common and praise is hard to come by. I am guilty of criticizing freely and bluntly. I do, however, also try to give credit where it’s due and to praise or compliment what I think is worthy. I just don’t do it often enough.

Appreciation can often be the difference between feeling valued and fulfilled and feeling pointless and empty. I know that a kind word from a coworker or family member or friend can change the course of my entire week. Conversely, criticism sticks around for a lot longer. I still remember remarks made decades ago about my appearance or behavior as though it were yesterday. The effects of those remarks are obvious in my depression, anxiety and difficulty in loving myself.

In the wake of tragedies such as Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain’s suicides, there have been a barrage of social media posts and outpourings of concern. While the sentiment is appreciated and may certainly help those people capable of reaching out for help, the ones it will do nothing for are the perfectly functional, happy looking people unable to express their pain to anyone. They cannot or will not reach out for help. They cannot even muster the energy to believe themselves worthy of existing, much less worthy of living a fulfilling life. The suicide route is extremely attractive to those who wish to escape from the torment of their existence. I can testify to that personally.

People always express such surprise and pain when someone close to them takes their life. The fact of the matter is that most of these people never made any effort to truly express concern or be there for the very people they are surprised and no longer alive. We can all identify the difference between genuine concern and polite greetings easily enough. The fact of the matter is that if you don’t care enough to ask how someone is doing and genuinely want an answer, that person is going to know. Depressed people often have a strong sense of failure and lack of motivation to do anything, including live. They usually only have enough energy to fake being okay. If you never give them a reason to do more than that, they will never trouble you with their feelings or needs. You are surprised only because you never bothered to look beyond the surface.

I must admit I find myself extremely irritated and almost offended at the people jumping on the ‘call the suicide hotline please’ bandwagon simply because there were celebrity deaths. In a few weeks, these same people will forget it ever happened and act as though things are just great because it is difficult and uncomfortable to think otherwise. None of them will do anything beyond posting a few Instagram or Facebook posts about the tragedy that is suicide. To them, this is a passing fad. I am not saying every person out there is complicit in this trend but I think a large majority are. The ones who are genuinely concerned and caring towards others don’t need to make it known on social media that they are available to help. They simply do it.

I began to write this block because I wanted a way to reach out to the world. It became a form of self-therapy. And then it became more. It is how I now talk to others out there struggling through their every breath just to find a reason to breathe once more. It is how I connect with people who no longer find joy or meaning in anything. It is how I assure others they are not alone and, in doing so, show myself that I am also not alone. I am also worthy. I am also Here.

So many of those who turn away from their own self worth do so because they have faced traumas, criticism or been persecuted to an extent that they would rather die than live. That is an awful decision to make. You have to really hate everything about yourself. You have to really think you are a failure and a waste of space. You have to really question why you even deserve to breathe. I know this because I lived it. I survived suicide attempts three times and it wasn’t because I was stronger. It was because I had people who genuinely cared. One of them truly saved me with his words.

What I did above criticized those who are capitalizing on other people’s deaths to portray themselves as empathetic and concerned human beings who value others. Now I’d like to praise the unsung heroes who actually are empathetic and go above and beyond every single day to ensure we all live safe and fulfilling lives. Our servicemen are amazing. They sign up to put their very lives on the line for others. I am referring to everyone who joined the armed forces, police officers, and firefighters. Furthermore, I thanks nurses, first responders, doctors, psychiatrists, physical therapists, people in the medical field in general, app developers who are making amazing things happen for those with disabilities, the biogenetics industry, the technology industry that has made things inconceivable a hundred years ago an every day reality, and even the great evil – big oil – thanks to which we have had the necessary energy to accomplish so much in the past few decades. Even transporters of goods who make it possible to access our every need and shops that provide those needs are things we take for granted while half the world starves. Air traffic controllers who ensure there are almost no air plane crashes or malfunctions, bus drivers that get us from A to B safely, train systems that make it possible to go everywhere and Ubers and taxis that take many drunk drivers off the roads do us all a great favor.

The list of things to be grateful for is endless. This is something I remind myself of every day. I try to find something new to be grateful for daily. Having things to be grateful for and people who genuinely care about me are the two biggest reasons I am still alive and thriving. If you see someone struggling, reach out and show them you care, don’t wait for them to come find you and beg for your help. If you find something to compliment, make sure you show your appreciation. If you find something to criticize, do it in a way that doesn’t attack the character of the person. Resolve problems, don’t just state there is one.

There are a lot of things in the world that give me anxiety. As an American, I am terrified of the repeal of the net neutrality act and the fact that we will pay more everything from now on as a result of tariffs levied on other countries who in turn have raised the tax on products we import. The world is full of terrifying prospects. However, you only have to worry about today. To paraphrase the Dalai Lama, the only days you can do nothing about are yesterday and tomorrow, so do everything you can today. If you have a depressed or distressed friend or family member, reach out and care for them. Show them you are there for them. Drag them out if you must. Just don’t leave them alone. A suicide hotline might be the last line of defense but if you really care, don’t ever let it come to that. Live in today until your very last day.

On that note, thank you for reading and I hope y’all have a great rest of the week. Ciao.

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