The Five Love Languages, a book originally written by Gary Chapman, has changed the way we relate to others in our lives. Most look at it in a romantic sense, but it’s easy to see how understanding each other’s love languages can impact even our friendships, family relationships, and other non-romantic or intimate connections as well.
I’ll let you head over to the offical ‘The 5 Love Languages’ website for more detail on each, but for the purposes of this article, what you really need to know is the refresher. The five love languages are largely considered to be:
- Words of Affirmation
- Acts of Service
- Receiving Gifts
- Quality Time
- Physical Touch
Once you start to dive into it, it can be fun to explore any differences or similarities between how you prefer to give love versus receiving it, and how others close to you prefer their own. It’s not an indication of compatibility, rather an additional tool in which to deepen and enrich our most important relationships. All you need to do is care enough to do so.
So what about how you give love to yourself? In a world where ‘self love’ and ‘self care’ buzzwords are flying every which way, it can be easy for these to lose their meanings. Let’s start to actually make these actions tangible and deliberate, so that rather than feeling like we should be treating ourselves to more face masks and bubble baths, we’re actually considering what really does fill us up. This enables us to live more on purpose and less by default.
If you are a words of affirmation kind of lover, maybe you allow yourself to journal what you most love or appreciate about yourself each day? If journalling isn’t your thing, maybe you set up a reminder that goes off so you can verbally (or in your head) list a number of these things that affirm to you just how much you do for yourself and your life. Sounds corny, I know. But you love what you love, right?
For those who adore acts of service, even things like meal prep can be recognised as an act of love. It’s not always about going out and doing brand new things. Sometimes it’s about reframing the things we already do to shine a new light of appreciation on it. Preparing your meals for the week or washing your car are an act of service for yourself – present and future – to enjoy the benefits of in some way.
Receiving gifts probably gets a bad rap with the assumption that it becomes all about money and consumerism, but I think in that case we’ve got the wrong perspective on this beautiful showing of love. You can gift yourself the small things that keep on giving that fill you up, depending on what you actually enjoy. Maybe it’s making yourself some new clothes, or a kitchen appliance that means you can make yourself that fresh bread as much as you like, and keep on giving-receiving-giving-receiving… See what I’m getting at?
My personal favourite, quality time, has a lot more depth than just in-person time. When I see my own need for quality time as an act of love, I realise that when I need spaces in my day, no matter how much I love what I’m doing or have to get done. I get to recognise that as an act of love for me and then it suddenly becomes far easier for it to become a non-negotiable. AND I have a lot more energy from doing so, because I’m fulfilling my own need. This includes time to slow down, just be, whether that’s doing self-enquiry work or relaxing and enjoying a good meal (even allowing myself to get out and enjoy said things with friends). It all serves a greater purpose!
Physical touch is important beyond the obvious. You might start to view your dry body brushing first thing in the morning as an act of love, or recognising that cuddling your dog is filling that cup for you. Other ways can be self-massage, especially of your feet, in a way that isn’t rushed or dismissive but allowing yourself to dive into presence in the moment, feeling this act of kindness of giving considered touch. It’s telling yourself that you’re worthy of care through touch, which serves as an embodied reminder when it comes to your interactions with others.
The love languages definitely help how we connect with those around us, but it shouldn’t be reserved for only that. Turn your ‘self love’ into a deliberate act of purpose and reframe the recognition you show of all that you do for yourself throughout the week. Watch your mindset and sense of empowerment improve from this small implementation into your everyday acts!