If you are like me, you may have found that it is much easier to love others than it is to love yourself. As physician caregivers and healers, it just comes much more naturally for us to give love than to receive love. And as perfectionists, which many of us are (me included) it can be hard to see ourselves as already perfect exactly as we are….sometimes hard to see ourselves as even worthy of love.
Several years ago I read a book called The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman. He describes the 5 different ways you can love another person based on how that person needs to be loved, looking at it through the eyes of the other person receiving your love, because it may be very different than the way that you need to receive love. That in itself was pretty mind-blowing for me! I have found this insightful perception since then to be very helpful when thinking about the needs of the other people in my life because we are all different and not everyone has the same needs which is why not everyone will be equally receptive to what you put out there. When you start to actually think about the different people in your life, you will start to understand their different needs. I know for example that my 2 children have different needs and I feed them love differently based on those needs which have also changed over time as they have grown.
Ok so you may be asking about now “what are these 5 love languages”?. So here they are in no particular order.
#1 kind words
Some people feel loved by hearing you share positive words such as a compliment, appreciation, or encouragement. The words you share with them make them feel loved.
#2 quality time
For some people, they feel loved when you spend quality time with them. They need that physical presence.
#3 tangible gifts
Some people feel loved by receiving a tangible gift. A gift that is an actual “thing” that can be held in your hands or seen visually.
#4 acts of kindness
Some people feel loved when you do something kind and caring for them. Help them with a task, take something off their plate of “to-do’s”, doing something that you know is important and meaningful to them.
#5 physical touch
Some people need physical touch to feel loved. That could be romantic or non romantic touch.
Now I actually perceive love as flowing in 3 different directions that I call love paths. The first is what I already described and that is, you giving love to others and this is probably what you are most used to and the easiest.
Here are the other 2 that I have added:
You receiving love from another
You receiving love from yourself – in essence, “being your own valentine”.
So 3 the love paths are simply put:
#1 You to another
#2 Another to you
#3 You to you
Now when you think of the 5 love languages, it is important to ask yourself these 2 important questions:
#1: How do the people in my life need to be loved? Once you have answered this question, you can act on that…love them how they need to be loved if you are not already doing this.
#2: How do you need to be loved? So take a moment to do some introspection here…what makes you feel loved? …. Could be one or more than one way….Kind words, quality time, tangible gifts, acts of kindness, & physical touch…you can pause here to reflect and jot down your answers.
Based on your answers to this 2nd question, ask yourself 2 more questions:
#1 “Are the people in my life loving me the way that I need to be loved?”
If not, then it is time to share that with them as they have no way of knowing. Improving this lack of communication could significantly enhance your relationships with others.
#2 “Am I loving myself the way that I need to be loved? Am I being my own valentine?”
This one may be the hardest…
And be really honest…and it is ok if you haven’t been… today is a new day!
Like the song goes “learning to love yourself is the greatest love of all” – and it is hard to give to others when you are not fulfilled yourself. Being able to receive love from others and receive love from you to you in a way that nourishes you is so very important in order to live your most fulfilling life. Enjoy how it feels to be your own valentine!