Love Languages? – Words of Affirmation

#strongwomen #writer #author #entrepreneur #blog #blogger #canadian #alberta #kingdom #faith #godisgood #Jesuschrist #personal #mentalhealth #parenting #mom #mompreneur #empathy #suicideprevention #depression #anxiety #borderline #truth #lovelanguages #selfhelp


So, words of affirmation is a pretty close and often interchangeable second for me when it comes to love languages. A lot of the time its embedded into what I love about quality time – the opportunity to encourage and uplift others, and receive encouragement and uplifting in return. However, I would put this a little lower down the list because it’s one that can require a little more specificity in order for it to be meaningful and slightly less triggering or traumatic for me. It’s definitely not as triggering as some of the languages lower on my list, but someone trying to love me with words of affirmation would probably need to proceed with a bit of caution. Also, it’s the one that sometimes takes a little more thought for me, especially when it comes to loving others. But it is still mostly a positive experience for me when we all get it right.

For example, I’m trying to stop nagging my son so much and finding opportunities to uplift him. A week ago, he was annoying me because he was yelling out the window saying hi to anyone he saw on the street below. In my head, I’m like, “Are you kidding me? Be quiet and stop drawing attention to us.” But since I was inspired to be a better parent for once, I told him, “I love how friendly you are.” And instead of going off into his little world like he usually does, he told me, “I love how friendly you are.” And for once, it wasn’t echolalia, I could tell he was actually returning a sincere compliment to me. And it warmed my heart and made me ten times less annoyed with him.

I know I don’t tell him I love him enough, but when I think about it, I do try to tell him that I love him and I’m glad he’s here. And sometimes he just repeats it in his mumbly, not-currently-on-this-planet voice, but every now and then he returns it with intention while being present in the moment, or says it first. I remember one time when he came to me randomly, sat on me, and said, “You’re perfect, mommy.” I have no idea what preceded this declaration, but it was another conscious and sincere expression that warmed my heart. Even though I find it awkward and difficult at times, I try to find more opportunities to compliment him, and I feel good when I can also be intentional with it.

When it comes to romance and friendships, it can be a little easier but also complicated. As someone with low-self esteem (as most narcissists have. Not saying I am one, just that I have a lot of the traits), I suffer from social anxiety, perfectionism, and imposter syndrome. Sometimes, words of affirmation can send me into a spiral of self-doubt and anxiety. I’m sure I don’t deserve the affirmation, or that they are just saying it to be nice and don’t really mean it, or that they wouldn’t be saying that if they really knew me. Even though I do the same thing to others, I often become patently uncomfortable and hightail it for the door if someone tries to compliment me in front of others. I can sometimes get panic attacks from it. Even writing this right now is making my heartbeat increase and making it difficult to breathe.

And yet, I dream of being famous and having accolades and being appreciated by the masses. I dream of having adoring fans who fall in love with my work and tell me that I’ve touched their lives in one way or another. I also dream of having friends who compliment how smart, helpful, beautiful, and integral I am to them. And yet, I know that even if I had affirmation pouring in from millions or billions of people, I would still feel empty unless some key elements were in place.

Mostly, for words of affirmation to have impact on me, I know I need the affirmation to come from people who see the whole picture. I truly feel like my words of affirmation tank is being filled when I know someone has been behind the scenes and knows my struggles and failures, and so I don’t feel like I’m being put on a pedestal. The anxiety of the pedestal comes from feeling shakey and unstable up there, not wanting to make one wrong move in case I fall off. Usually, I shut it down so that there’s no way someone can try and put me up there, and I’m safe.

Words of affirmation is caught up in quality time for me because I love getting validation from people who I know have been through similar situations to me, and I know we can admire each other with a deeper understanding.

Also, if someone is complimenting me in front of others, it will mean more if they’ve also complimented me in a similar way one-on-one. I’ve been in a lot of settings where out of the blue, someone will say something to me that I had no idea they thought about me. I’ll immediately be suspicious and brush it off as insincere, because if they can’t say it to me one-on-one, they must not really mean it. I’ve been with people who try to point out my accomplishments to try and elevate themselves in the eyes of others, so this is what gets triggered for me in those situations.

And man, if I’m getting affirmed by someone who really knows the full picture, it can keep me going for days. To me, being affirmed means being seen. I might be muddling Dr. Chapman’s theory even more here, but I think affirming actions also matter, and that’s what makes the other languages meaningful for me. Not because it’s a service or a touch or a gift or quality time, but because someone is validating what I truly desire and who I truly am. To me, affirmation means taking me as I am. Definitely not by saying that I’m perfect and don’t need to change, because I would hate that, but by understanding why I do what I do and validating my accomplishments and failures within that context. And I love being affirmed for the things that I’m most insecure about, but it means more from someone who’s taken the time to get to know me. For example, while I do enjoy getting compliments on my outfits from strangers as I walk down the street, I would be over the moon for someone close to me to tell me that they think one of my outfits really compliments my figure or skin tone, or that a particular hairstyle really works well with my face shape. I like to be noticed by those in my inner circle.

And the golden goose of all of this is getting compliments on my personality. As you know, it’s kind of a mess, stained by trauma and disorders and chaos, and I’m probably more insecure about that than my physical appearance. When someone tells me that they think I’m funny, or they appreciate the random ADD tangents I go on when I’m happy, or that I have deep intelligence, I’ll want to keep coming back to that person for more.

And, of course, as someone with perfectionism and imposter syndrome who’s trying to write a book, words of affirmation is something I’m especially sensitive to. Honestly, I can picture myself obsessing over the critics, if I’m lucky enough to get any, more than the fans. I’m hoping to join an industry that is literally fueled by public opinions of my talent, which is generally an invite for trauma, unless I work through my triggers. Even the most carefully worded constructive criticism will still probably be interpreted by me as, “This is trash, and you can’t write.” That’s not on the critic, that’s on me.  

That’s why for me the quality time tank needs to be filled for words of affirmation to be filled most effectively. I do need both, though.

That’s why I love Jesus. When things are good between us, I love the way He knows absolutely everything about me, even the things I absolutely can’t stand. Things that other people would be horrified to know. Given, I’m sure He’s still horrified, but it makes Him hold me tighter, if I’ll let Him, not slowly back out of the room with an excuse that it’s the White House calling. When I read His affirmations for His creation in the Bible, I stand a little taller and my heart glows a little brighter.

And He’s also made it clear that He wants our sincere affirmation, as well. The Bible gives accounts of a lot of things that He’s said and done, a lot of which seem callous, uncaring, meanspirited, and nonsensical. Yet He still commands us to worship Him, to sing His praises, to talk about Him to others, all over the world. He doesn’t ask this of us lightly. He knew we wouldn’t agree with or like everything about Him, yet He allowed us to see the uglier sides of these stories and rules. Will we still affirm Him, and put Him in His proper place as the object of our spoken praise, even with all of this? He doesn’t want our empty praise. He wants us to worship Him while knowing the good, the bad, and the ugly (at least it seems that way from our perspective.)

Words of affirmation can be triggering or traumatic if they were used to control or evaluate you while you were growing up. Maybe you were forced to say “I love you” every night to someone, even if you really didn’t mean it. Maybe that word doesn’t mean much to you anymore because it was used an excuse for others to manipulate, use, abuse, or neglect you, or otherwise mistreat you. If you’ve ever heard something like, “He’s only doing that because he loves you,” you might have grown up with a confused idea that when someone is hurting you, that’s how they love you.

Maybe you grew up only being affirmed for your outward accomplishments and never for your innate characteristics. Maybe you only got affirmed when you worked your tail off for something, and the rest of the time, you were basically ignored. Or maybe you used to do something that you can no longer do, and you’re constantly being compared to a previous version of yourself, and people are asking you, “Why can’t you be like that again?” All of these are anxiety-breeding interactions can make words of affirmation feel like a challenge or even the ground-work for a future put-down.

If your loved one is like me, they will probably appreciate specific affirmations about something you are seeing in them right at that moment. And if they’ve achieved something, instead of saying something like, “That story is really good,” or “This food is delicious,” try also adding compliments like, “I really admired how hard you worked on that story, even when you wanted to give up,” or, “I know you weren’t sure whether to add the oregano, but I think you made a really great choice.”

If one of my loved ones wants to point something out to me about a change they would like to see or something they think will help me grow, I think specificity really helps that pill to go down easier for me, and again, if we’ve built up some sort of deeper relationship through quality time. For example, if I was getting feedback on my personality, I would probably appreciate (even if I didn’t necessarily like) for someone to say, “I know you mentioned last time we talked that you feel you’re critical and abrasive to others, and that’s why you think people eventually leave you. Did you notice that you made fun of my driving quite a lot on our way to this restaurant? I think you thought it was funny, but it made me feel put down and reminded me of that conversation, and I hope you might want to talk this over with me.” That’s the long version of that sentence, but hopefully you see what I mean. Or, if someone close to me is critiquing my writing, I might appreciate them saying, “I remember you told me that you feel like you’re struggling with character consistency. Did you notice that in this scene, this character is acting completely different than they did when faced with a previous similar situation?” This way, feedback becomes about affirming the goals that I’ve already discussed with that person, and not about criticism.

Even though I’m not one to tape positive affirmations to my bathroom mirror, in my internal dialogue I do often congratulate myself when I think I’ve done something well. And the nice thing is that I more or less do have the full picture of what I’m going through, though maybe not as fully as one might think. When I break through a particularly difficult plot challenge, I’ll tell myself “What a great idea!” and sometimes do a little dance. I compliment myself when I’ve done a good job on a meal, or when I think I look particularly good in an outfit. What’s more, I’ve started affirming the steps in my mental health journey, as well.

I’m trying to think more about the big picture instead of comparing myself to others, as difficult as that is. And that’s actually been helping me to be more available to others in the way that I want, because it’s helping to spend less time beating myself up and more time building my capacity. So while words of affirmation can be a bit of a doozy sometimes, they are still important to me.

Thanks for Stopping by!

I hope you liked what you saw. What did you think of the topic? Leave a comment and start a discussion with your thoughts! Don’t forget to like and share with your best friends, mortal enemies, and everyone in between. Come back later to see if your icon appears in my subscriber cloud! Even better, validate my work by leaving a tip to support this (not actually) starving author. You can also support my company, Planet Hope Christian Enterprising, by donating to our crowdfunds on at GoFundMe and FundRazr down below. We are a non-profit providing pay-what-you-can creative and communication services to individuals and organizations – including you! By donating, you can help us reach our goal to provide top-rate creative and support services to charities and others who would like our help. But we can’t do it without your support, so even if you can’t give financially, please like, share, subscribe, and comment. Many blessings to you today and every day.

Never miss a post!

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him.”
~ Romans 15:13


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s