The five love languages, a philosophy developed by Gary Chapman in his best-selling book of the same name, encompasses five different ways we give and receive love: words of affirmation, receiving gifts, quality time, physical touch, or acts of service. The idea is that each person has a primary love language, meaning one of those five methods of conveying love and support resonates most effectively for them. And while love languages are often called upon to provide insight into important relationships in our lives (romantic or otherwise) to help us connect on a deeper level and improve communication, a person’s primary love language can also be telling about how we can best give love to ourselves. Think of it as more of a self-love language.
Below, Christie Kederian, EdD, LMFT, a psychologist who specializes in the psychology of relationships, gives tips on how to effectively use your self-love language. (And if you don’t know your primary love language, take this quiz.)
Self-love language: How to practice self love most effectively
Words of affirmation
With words of affirmation as your primary love language, speaking positive mantras to yourself will fill your cup in a major way and expand your capacity to love yourself and others. “Practicing mantras like: ‘I love myself. I accept myself. I am worthy’ are very powerful,” Dr. Kederian says. “I also recommend making an audio recording of yourself speaking affirmations in the present tense to play throughout the day. You may be more open to auditory learning, and listening can help imprint the positive self-love statements into your thought process.”
If quality time is your primary love language, then to make it your self-love language, try spending time in solidarity. To block out the time you’ll need, Dr. Kederian recommends designating 30 minutes to one hour per day on your calendar.
Whether you spend the time being outside in nature or bingeing your latest beloved Netflix show is entirely up to you, though. “Turn off your phone and settle into just enjoying solo time,” Dr. Kederian says. “In this way, you can cultivate a positive relationship with alone time and provide a loving space of solitude for growth and acceptance.”
Gifts are a big symbol of love for people with a gift-giving and -receiving love language. So, treating yourself to something special here and there is encouraged for you. Dr. Kederian suggests writing out a list of all the gifts—big and small—you’ll get for yourself over the next few weeks, months, or even years. “By planning to give yourself a gift, you are exemplifying your belief in your worth and your value,” Dr. Kederian says. “The process of planning continues to feel like an act of self-love because you are providing for yourself and celebrating yourself rather than depending on someone else to provide for you.”
Acts of service
The acts of service love language traditionally focuses on feeling loved by the acts of kindness others do for you, but it’s definitely still something you can do for yourself. Dr. Kederian’s advice is to write down a list of what needs to get done in order to make our life easier and happier—and then making it happen. This can include running an essential errand, cleaning, cooking, or getting organized. Then start to tick off those things, little by little. Each is an act of service for yourself.
Good news: You actually don’t need another person to maximize your primary love language, even if it’s physical touch. “If you are meditating or praying and tuning into your emotions as well as your body, there may be part of you that feels more triggered or alive,” Dr. Kederian says. “For example, we often feel anxiety in our chest tightening. By putting your hand over your heart and taking deep breaths to sit still and be present with your body, you are sending breath and love to that area of your body.”
You can also breathe an affirmation into the body by placing your hand (thus invoking physical touch) to help ground and center you and help you feel more loved and whole.
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