Welcome back! In my previous post, we explored being kinder to ourselves- what makes it so challenging, how deserving we are, and how powerful it can be. So, building upon that, let's start this next step by discovering what it means to show love to ourselves and others in healthy, sustainable ways. As we progress on our journey of radical self-acceptance, we need tools that help us build awareness and understanding. One way to conceptualize self-love is with the Five Love Languages created by Gary Chapman. In relationships, the Five Love Languages can provide insight into how we best communicate love and care. Some of the more common relationships we often think of with this are partners, family, and friends. However, our journey of self-compassion and self-acceptance requires self-love, and the Five Love Languages can be a helpful tool for developing insight into an intentional self-care routine and can clarify what steps will authentically increase your experience of self-love.
The Five Love Languages are: acts of service, quality time, physical touch, gifts, and words of affirmation. For many people, lots (if not all) of these sound appealing. Understanding what our primary love language is helps us maximize our self-care efforts. Strategically using the Five Love Languages can help us powerfully communicate appreciation, interest, and love to ourselves and those we care about. This is so important because we are often experiencing scarcities of our most precious resources- energy, finances, and time. Think of them as the tokens of love deposited into what Gary Chapman calls our "love tank." These gestures can be small or grand; though typically, small, intentional efforts done often, add up to make the most significant impact.
A way to discover your love language is by reflecting on what you crave the most from others or what rituals you engage in that help you feel loved and fulfilled. Ask yourself the following questions: do you find yourself in a repetitive cycle of seeking the same thing? Have you noticed how you feel when you do or do not receive this? Do you see a pattern in how you naturally express love towards yourself or others? You can't ask for what you don't know you need. So, let's begin this journey by identifying what we appreciate the most. Your love language may surprise you (or, you may have known it all along and find confidence in the confirmation). If you are interested in identifying your love language, here's the link to the free quiz: https://5lovelanguages.com/quizzes/love-language
To be kinder to ourselves, we have to learn the "how." Much like self-love itself, building awareness takes time and is a journey. If, along the way, your inner critic begins to sneak in and say "you're being selfish" or "you don't deserve love," let this be your mantra: "love is a choice, and I'm choosing to love myself."