Your love language can be used against you, and the impact is significantly greater than other offenses or injuries thrown at you, because it’s the most direct path to your heart.
Breakthroughs don’t always show up with lightening and thunder, announcing significance in a way that forces you to pay attention. Sometimes clarity, self-discovery, and healing requires insight, thoughtfulness, and the mental and emotional space to simmer on simple words or ideas until new understanding clicks into place. Something seemingly insignificant, like a single candle lit in a large space, still brings light to dark corners. While we’re often looking for fireworks throughout our healing journey, the whispers in the back of our mind, or simple words spoken in conversation with a friend, or even a line from a movie can motivate transformation in meaningful and often massive ways. This kind of growth requires a deeper sense of self; a willingness to pay attention to subtlety, and safety within your own spirit to sit quietly with yourself even when it’s uncomfortable. Especially when it’s uncomfortable. Internal tension is an indication that something is out of alignment, and sadly it’s human nature to suppress unhappy emotions, triggers, doubt and worry, instead of welcoming these energies and accepting that they’re as natural and normal as the positive energies we hope to experience on a daily basis: happiness, joy, peace, love, etc. It’s my belief that we will experience more positivity and less unhappiness by embracing the uncomfortable thoughts and energies when they present themselves.
Picture yourself as a vessel with a maximum amount of storage space. What are you carrying with you, and do you really want to be holding onto everything that’s currently traveling into each of your tomorrow’s? Yes, we all have history, but that can be used to teach and transform without becoming baggage. There’s a difference between healing and suppressing; between letting go and ignoring.
My primary love language is Words of Affirmation, closely followed by Physical Touch and Quality Time. If you’re unfamiliar with Gary Chapman’s book and the idea of “love languages”, or if it’s been a while since you’ve considered yourself from this perspective, I encourage you to take the quiz (it’s short). I read The Five Love Languages for the first time as a young adult, and have revisited the book and my numbers many times over the years. I’ve incorporated this assessment into professional environments for team building, and also use this ideology of showing and receiving love to customize how I parent each of my children, in hopes that I’ll communicate love in the way they want and need to receive it, instead of only in the way my heart best understands love.
I was talking to my counselor about past hurts and questioned why things from my childhood and younger adult years are still haunting me. I’ve attended a lot of counseling and proactively put in the work to process and heal, and I’m hopeful there’s a future version of myself that doesn’t need to continually revisit past traumas. Within the discussion I mentioned my love languages, and the order and high scores for the first three. She suggested that the reason why it’s taking significant effort to heal from some of my past experiences is because my love language was used against me: cruel words and a lack of loving, supportive and kind words; physical abuse and isolation; and an absence of quality time combined with being rejected and ignored. It came and went in the conversation very quickly, and wasn’t attached to any of the weekly homework I was assigned, yet it’s been on my mind ever since. I never considered that hurt could have a more significant impact depending on how it’s delivered, but it makes sense, and as I’ve quietly sat with this concept day-after-day, I’ve traveled down paths I’ve visited dozens to hundreds of times, discovering peace and healing in new ways because I understand myself more. The trauma remains the same, the actions of others unchanged, and unanswered questions remain unanswered, yet I have more clarity about how my heart receives and interprets love and pain, why a lack of words can feel like neglect or a lack of caring, and I can also see how people could spend a lifetime showing love in the way they want to receive it while the recipient never feels understood, seen, or fully appreciated.
Humans are complicated and beautiful. What a blessing that we can learn about ourselves from thousands of different perspectives, and grow, change, and start over as often as we choose. I encourage you to not only work to find deep understanding within your love languages, but also consider how those you’re closest to show their love, because that’s ultimately how they need to receive love for it to have the most valuable impact.