At this point, most of us have heard about Gary Chapman’s book, The Five Love Languages. The premise is that we all have a language in which we speak and give love to others. Our job is to understand our partner, child or other loved one’s language so that we can love them in the best way possible. The five languages are Quality Time, Words of Affirmation, Gifts, Acts of Service and Physical Touch. While we might enjoy a bit of all of these from time to time there is one language in which we are fluent.
My plan was to delve into each of these love languages and give examples to help us all give love to others a little better. However, I have had quite a few people contact me in regards to HOW to love one’s self. My first instinct was to just respond to these comments with a blurb about everyone having their own journey and way to self-love and while that’s true, we can do better.
G talked about this exact thing a couple of weeks ago. She literally spelled out the basics which sound so basic that it seems ridiculous that we would need to write about them, let alone take another stab at it, but it’s important. It’s also one of the most difficult things to do. We all need to understand that it is impossible to GIVE love to others if we don’t find a way to love ourselves.
Our kids, our partners, our family and our friends are watching and they are taking notice. Why would they love us well or even know how we want to be loved if they have never seen us care for ourselves? Think about how you eat for a minute. If your loved ones see you eat healthy everyday and avoid sugar they aren’t going to bring you donuts to celebrate your birthday. They are going to think of way to celebrate you that will speak to you. Hopefully, it’s not a bowl of kale, but you get the idea.
The point is, if you don’t think about yourself, why would anyone else?
Let that sink in for a minute.
While I am going to talk about love languages and how to love others well, I am also going to talk about a little self-love. It’s important to know how to do both.
Words of Affirmation seems like a great place to begin. Everyone likes to be praised for a job well done, for working hard, for trying, for looking good, for doing something for someone else. In other words, we all like to know we are appreciated through actual words. Don’t just assume your spouse knows you appreciate them, TELL THEM. As your mother used to say, “USE YOUR WORDS.”
Assuming we have healthy relationships, we would never belittle the important people in our lives. We would never tell them they were fat, worthless, ugly, a slacker, a failure, etc…but how many of us have used similar words to describe ourselves? It’s time to start practicing words of affirmation across the board. We could all use a little more verbal praise, especially the one looking back at you in the mirror.
The second love language is, Quality Time. This is what it sounds like; spending time with your loved one doing things they enjoy doing. It means being present without thinking about other things, watching TV, looking at your phone or anything else that could potentially rob you of being in the moment. This can be more difficult than it sounds in this day and age. We have grown accustomed to multi-tasking. Our loved ones don’t want to be multi-tasked.
Now, when was the last time you gave yourself some quality time? What does that even mean? It means giving ourselves what we need in the way of time. Let’s stop overbooking ourselves and saying yes to everything. We also need to get enough sleep, make time for things we enjoy, take time to exercise and care for ourselves.
Physical touch is exactly what it sounds like. It’s taking the time to hold your loved one’s hand, rub their shoulders, sit closely to them, put your arm around their shoulders or give them a big hug. The simple act of touching your partner’s arm before they walk out the door can make a huge difference in their day because they FEEL loved.
When I think of physical touch for myself I think about getting a massage, a manicure or perhaps a facial. I always love the massage part of a manicure when they rub your hands and arms with oil/lotion. I could sit there all day. Just like small children, we NEED physical touch. You might be thinking that’s too expensive and I get it. The price tag can be a deterrent, figure something else out. This weekend, my friend showed me this amazing massaging tool that she bought for tight, sore muscles. I don’t know if this counts, but holy smokes I used it on my quads and it “hurt so good”, I think I am going to get one for myself. The point is, to care for yourself once in awhile. Our practices don’t have to look the same.
The fourth way to show love is through Acts of Service. Sometimes our partners, family or kids just want us to do the things that will help them out. They want us to do the dishes, help them with their homework, do the laundry, make them a meal, feed the dogs, mow the yard and bring home a paycheck. They don’t care about hand holding or words, they want us to SHOW them that we love them by helping out. It’s the same with ourselves. We thrive in an environment that is well taken care of; we don’t want to live in our own filth. We enjoy a clean home, with clean clothes and no clutter. If you won’t do it for them, do it for yourself.
And the final love language is Gifts. Ahhh, don’t we all just love a little something from our loved one? Well, I know it’s hard to imagine, but not everyone cares about gifts. That’s the whole point of this conversation. Some people love to receive a gift that says, “I love you” while others enjoy giving gifts. Valentine’s was just a few days ago and I can assure you someone out there got handed a bundle of gifts that really just wanted some time with their loved one, while someone else got zip, nada, zero who would have loved a single daisy picked from the side of the road. Regardless of which side of the fence you fall on, give yourself a gift occasionally. What kind? A gift of time (make time to do something you like or need), clothing, an experience, flowers, anything you want that says, “I’m worth it.”
This is as close to a “how to” plan as I can give you on loving others and yourself. First, figure out your love language as well as your loved ones. How? Read the book or take a quiz online at The Five Love Languages Website. Also, just ask your partner what is most important to them. Most of the time they can tell you how they want to be loved and the same goes for you. Next, don’t get overwhelmed. If your partner needs words of affirmation and you don’t know where to begin or it feels awkward, just start with saying one positive thing each day. I promise you, it won’t take long for them to take notice.
If you are struggling in the self-love department, just pick one thing to do for yourself. It can be as easy as watching your favorite TV show, taking a bath or just not speaking to yourself in a derogatory manner.
Let’s take one day at a time, but let’s start this week.