Do you light up when someone tells you, “Thank You!”? Thrive on compliments or an encouraging word for your efforts? The lyrics of certain songs or words in scripture “speak to you”? Need to hear someone say, “I love you.” either verbally or in written form? Then your main Love Language may be Words of Affirmation.
We all give and receive love in different ways. Gary Chapman identified the 5 main love languages most people have in his book 5 Love Languages. I’m taking a deeper dive into each language and exploring ways you can fill yourself up with love (with God) that are meaningful and fulfilling to you. This also helps you strengthen your relationship with God as well as with others as you learn to speak their language. This article focuses on Words of Affirmation.
Words Can Hurt or Heal
My main Love Language is Words of Affirmation. I’ve always thrived on someone telling me I’m doing a good job, they love me, they appreciate me and/or what I do. That old saying of “sticks & stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me,” never rang true for me. I was crushed by criticism. Even though I’ve learned to filter critiques through love, in many ways, the fear of criticism still holds me back today. Conversely, I’ve been known to bend over backwards (and overextend myself) if I get a word of appreciation for my efforts.
I love getting emails & seeing comments on Facebook or blog posts from clients & followers. Even if they’re reporting a problem with a program or link or something they’d like to see changed or added to a program. More often than not, it’s prefaced with I’m really enjoying your _______________ program, but I’m having trouble with______________. Or is there a way you can _________________? Those are words of affirmation for me. Those words tell me you appreciate my efforts and want more of what I have to offer. They also give me ideas on how to serve you best!
In all honesty, it’s God’s message I’m sharing. I do none of this on my own. I’m just the instrument he uses to convey the message.
I’ve learned to use words of affirmation to fill myself up with God’s love during my day and help me move forward. I spend a fair amount of time in scripture every day (15-30 or more minutes) to soak up God’s word. My bulletin board in my home office sports several quotes & scripture verses. An easy way for me to look up & see them when I need a bit of inspiration.
My car radio is tuned into our local Christian radio station & I listen to Matthew West Radio on Pandora when I work at home. I also use Positive Affirmations as part of my journaling routine. All ways I fill up with God’s love through words of affirmation.
Compliments vs Criticism
Our society and many religious traditions shun us for needing to receive words of affirmation. Yet it’s OK to give words of affirmation or appreciation to others. And it’s really OK to let someone know what they’re doing wrong or how they should be doing something differently instead of praising their efforts or giving a word of encouragement.
Some people might think of a words of affirmation person as needy, prideful or even narcissistic. But there is a difference. Just a few words of affirmation or encouragement can make all the difference in someone who speaks this Love Language. Words of Affirmation people tend to use those words to fill themselves with love so they can share that love with others. Narcissists or people who think they are “it” can’t get enough and rarely if ever freely share their love with others.
Interestingly, those people who tend to criticize the most may actually be a words of affirmation person, but never received them as a child. No doubt they were taught is was wrong to ask for or need those affirming words. Unless they learn how to use their words to affirm instead of find fault, they don’t know how to.
Using Words or Affirmation to Move Forward
My health coach training really opened my eyes to the importance of words of affirmation. When someone just praised my efforts, without the tail end “yeah, but….” criticism, I was motivated to do more. I felt accepted just as I was, even though I hadn’t perfected whatever it was we were talking about. I also learned clients move through change much easier when coaches praise their efforts, encourage them, brainstorm with them & ask them questions.
Using these words of affirmation, I help clients come up with solutions instead of pointing out what I think their problems are. (Most people already know what their problems are & don’t need me pointing them out.)
When I celebrate what goes right with my clients as they strive to create change, I see the cloud of guilt & shame that tends to envelope us when we don’t do something perfectly literally lift or dissipate. Their face lights up with an A-Ha! Rarely do I even have to ask what they learned didn’t go so well. In the end, they end up coming up with ways to do things differently and achieve more success. All with only a few words of affirmation, encouragement and support.
Jesus’ Words of Affirmation
Biblical events happened before written words were a thing or readily available like they are today. People relied on spoken words to learn about God’s great love. There are so many verses & phrases I could give you as an example of how Jesus uses words of affirmation to show his everlasting love for us.
John 15:7-9 recounts Jesus’ teaching about the vine and the branches, “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you. By this is my Father glorified, that you bear much fruit and become disciples. As the Father loves me, so I also love you.”
The parable of the Prodigal Son, the Sermon on the Mount, “Peace be with you,” accepting Zacchaeus just as he was and inviting the tax collector to host him & get to know him better. Informing people they are healed, or telling them what they need to do to be healed. Many times, instructing them to sin no more. Words of affirmation in who they are as a person, to encourage, support, love as a Child of God.
“As the Father loves me, so I also love you.”John 15:9
Showing Yourself Love Through Words of Affirmation
Just as with the other Love Languages, those of us who need Words of Affirmation need ways to fill ourselves up with Christ’s love so we can extend it to others. Here’s just a few ideas on how you can show yourself love through Words of Affirmation.
- Write yourself a letter or thank you note
- Tell yourself how much you appreciate yourself as you look in the mirror
- Read the bible or a daily devotional
- Listen (and sing along) to uplifting Christian music or hymns
- Write out Positive Affirmations
- Post inspiring quotes or bible verses where you’ll easily see them
- Share your need asking others to tell you they love you in spoken or written word
- Listen to a guided meditation – Here’s a Lenten Meditation you can listen to & share with others
- Create to-do lists, check tasks off as you complete them and take a moment to appreciate yourself & what you’ve accomplished
- Use an uplifting word or phrase as a mantra as you move your body
As a person who’s main Love Language is Words of Affirmation, I have all kinds of ideas, but I’d really love to hear from YOU! What are your favorite ways to show yourself love through Words of Affirmation? Share in the comments below. Your idea may be exactly what someone else is looking for and help us all enjoy the journey!
Lent 2022 is Here & Holy Week is Almost Upon Us!
Are you looking for a meaningful way to strengthen your connection with God this Lent that only takes 15 minutes a day? Something that will allow you to walk with Jesus, experience his words of affirmation, renew & cultivate fertile ground in the garden of your heart for new life in Christ? It’s not too late!
Check out my Free Lenten Journey with Jesus. There’s weekly themes, daily journal prompts and limited availability to different scripture-based guided meditations to guide you throughout this season of renewal & Holy Week.
The Complete Journey has all this plus 11 more guided meditations as well as unlimited lifetime access to the entire program and downloadable versions of the meditations.
If you’re a past participant of these programs, there’s no need to sign up again, unless you want to upgrade or you have unsubscribed from my mailings.