My definition of Love languages: Ways of communicating your appreciation, gratitude and love for another person and yourself.
The 5 Love Languages:
1: Acts of Service
2: Words of Affirmation
3: Physical Touch
4: Quality Time
Like I said, this is not the official definition but there's much more detailed information about Love Languages online.
Love Languages have been on my mind since the day I posted my unedited thought which I thought may come across as slightly controversial, but I shared it anyway.
It basically says that I think we have to accept that people develop their love languages over years of personal experiences, upbringing etc. And so they are shaped by time and events which can't be erased, undone or forgotten. So when we get into a relationship with someone, be it a platonic friendship, family-ship, or romantic, I don't think we should expect the other to change their love languages in order to meet our needs...
what we can ask for is behavioural effort in certain areas as long as it comes with the understanding that we have to be patient whilst they practice the behaviour and (hopefully), eventually, adopt it as a new habit.
Asking for what you need is normal. It's grown-up and it's clever. It means you're taking responsibility for your own happiness and not unrealistically expecting those who love you dearly to be able to read your mind.
Donovan Manning, one of the speakers and Yogi's on the Love Languages IG Live DMC I posted the other day, sent me this video:
In it, philosopher and founder of School of Life, Alain De Botton unpacks the hilarity of realistic love Vs romanticism. Highly recommend.
So I had this initial unedited thought that we should offer more flexibility and time to those learning a new love behaviour, and then I realised that most of the conversations and content on Love Languages that I've seen have been based on being in a relationship with another person.
But what about the Love Languages you show in your relationship with yourself?
"If you can't love yourself, how can you expect to love anyone else?"
I saw the opportunity to highlight this hypocrisy within the conversation and jumped on it, because great shame lies in our hypocritical and contradictory thoughts and behaviours, and undoing that shame is vital to moving forwards, accepting our imperfections, and being kinder and more patient with ourselves.
One of the things I questioned in the IG live was how do I show myself the Love Languages value most?
My top Love Language is Acts and Service and I thought, well hey! Every time I brush my teeth, or put the washing on, or feed my body is an act of service! And every time I make these usually mundane experiences that little bit more conscious and joyful, I expand that Act of Service into something genuinely enjoyable that I can also be even more grateful towards myself for doing.
Recently I've done this by asking myself "what's your favourite breakfast?" To which my answer was fruit in a bowl or on a plate, sat outside as though I'm on holiday. So, now I do the weekly shop, choose my fruit, wake up and look forward to my breakfast every day.
I also realised I LOVE a candle lit shower and I thought to myself, "why do you wait for a special occasion to treat yourself to a candle lit shower??" Now I'm not only getting clean every evening, but I'm also able to actually switch off, thank my body and relax before getting into bed.
What were both previously rushed and mundane occurrences are now really enjoyable, satisfying experiences, just from paying that little bit more attention to make them how I like it.
Which is essentially what we all ask from our relationships in general right! Do this thing in the way I like it. Which translates to: in the way I feel valued, seen, and heard, so that I believe you and can literally feel your reasons for doing it are genuine and not laced.
I can now hear the backlash starting to creep in. "But not every day and every thing can be extra extra special", to which I respond, but if it could be, would you say no?
Truth be told, we know it's not feasible to ask another human being to make every single move in just the way we like it most. But what's stopping us from doing things the way we like them for ourselves?
Maybe you work or study or both full-time.
Have early starts and late finishes.
Have children, a partner and/or a family member to look after.
Maybe you know that in order to make things the way you'd really like it would absolutely break the bank.
Maybe you share a house with four people.
Physical and mental health affecting your capability, being in an oppressive environment or at risk of hateful people, cultural perceptions, political rule etc.
The list of things preventing us from doing things the way we like them for ourselves can unfortunately, be endless. But that doesn't make us any less worthy of those things.
So start small.
Order your Love Languages from your most to least valued: (Acts of Service/Words of Affirmation/Physical Touch/Quality Time/Gifts)
Keep an eye out over the next week for moments to practice using your top Love Languages to make your every day experience more joyful.
After a month or so of practice, reflect on those little shifts you've made to see what changes they've inspired in you, no matter how small.
The world changes every day and it's not the prettiest of places, but it's the one we have so we have to keep working to make it better. To stay motivated we have to keep our eyes open to the changes that happen for the greater good (whilst not being ignorant to the facts). As individuals we have to do the same. We also change every single day so to stay motivated we have to pay attention to and celebrate the big AND little ways we change for the better. It's through this self-awareness and reflection on our growth that we can discover our deepest desires, strengths and purposes in life. And it is with this self-knowledge that we unlock the power to curate a life of genuine fulfilment.
Last little thing:
Bear in mind that what serves you today will most likely change over time so remember to apply that same leniency, flexibility and patience to yourself as you allow for others whilst they practice meeting your needs via Love Languages to bring you joy.