Lately, I’ve become enamored with the idea that we have a language we prefer to care for ourselves in.
If you’re not familiar with The 5 Love Languages, take a moment to check them out and maybe even take their short quiz.
Caveat: it’s incredibly mononormative, but many non-monogamous folks have found it useful. Take what you like and leave the rest!
I watch so many folks stop making time for themselves when they add romantic partners – as though their own needs don’t need to be prioritized as well. We have a tendency to spread ourselves terribly thin in non-monogamy at times, (doing all the things! making time for all the people!) but when our needs are not being attended to in our relationship with ourselves, the results can be self-doubt, low self-esteem, apathy, irritability – all things that can bleed into those other relationships and wreak havoc. How are you supposed to pour from an empty cup? Gotta fill the cup.
Advice from “expert” proponents of self-care range from posting up inspirational quotes around your home, to treating yourself to a nice meal out. Some of their suggestions may resonate with you while some won’t. For example: I can’t imagine having inspirational sayings around my home . . . I would get nothing out of it, yet I have a dear friend who probably can’t survive without a “live, laugh, love” reminder on the kitchen wall.
But how does one go about loving themselves fluently?
Well, first of all: carve out time for yourself to do so. Oh, I super mean it . . . you need to take that Google calendar that looks like a color block art experiment and section off some time for you, yourself, and uh, you I guess. And don’t give it away!! Resist the urge!!
Confession: I am super bad at this. As an extravert, my inclination is to see time spent with others as more valuable than time alone and I need to make sure I’m finding a balance for myself with that. Everyone’s ratio of solo time to social time will vary of course, but some type of balance is important.
Second of all: don’t post inspirational quotes around your home if you think they’re dumb. BUT TOTALLY DO IT IF YOU THINK THEY’RE GREAT! To each their own, and that’s my point. You can read about ways to practice self-care all day long, but if what you’re attempting to do for yourself isn’t communicated in the language you understand best, it will fall short of its goal.
Here are some examples of ways to love yourself in your most-fluent language:
- Taking a hot bath, using a hot tub, or sauna
- Snuggling your cat, dog, or a baby raccoon (if you are so lucky)
- If weather allows, get outside and feel the sunshine
- Wearing clothes that you feel your best in
Words of Affirmation
- Inspirational quotes on every surface of your home (or whatever feels good)
- Writing a letter to your future self and tucking it away for a rainy day
- Making a gratitude jar, and taking time to review it later
- Totally buying those boots you saw at DSW that are now on sale and lucky you, they just sent you a birthday coupon with a card for a free tote bag – what are you waiting for?!?
- Getting the fancy coffee drink
- If you tend to make things for others, make something for yourself instead (I made myself a wallet and I get compliments on it all the time – it’s so interesting to see people’s faces when I explain I made it for myself! More people should do that.)
- Working on a pet project
- Taking yourself out on a date to a movie, favorite place, or planning a vacation
- Meditating, journaling, or doing something else that brings you peace
- Exercise (I hear some people like that)
Acts of Service
- Hiring someone to take care of a chore you dislike or is time consuming, like detailing your car or cleaning your home
- Treating yourself to a manicure, facial, or massage
- Making yourself a food that makes you feel good feelings
- Prepping for the following day at bedtime to make the morning go more smoothly
My primary self love language is quality time. I touched on it last week in my blog about loneliness, sharing how I maximize my free time: by being mindfully productive and intentionally active. For me, wasted alone time feels akin to being with someone who is less-than-enthusiastic to be spending time with me – except that person is me, and we are wasting my time. Rude!
Sometimes I forget to prioritize myself.
When I remember I am just as important as everyone else, and that I have a responsibility to myself to honor that fact, I feel far more balanced and sure of myself. I hope it also makes me a better friend, partner, and all around human!