Words of Affirmation

This is the first of the five languages discussed in this book.

Remember, love is a choice. Choose to love others– Gary Chapman

Our actions and inactions are shaped most times by those around us. Especially as children, our parents shaped our thought processes, our behaviours and reactions to things, people and situations. This shaping came mostly through words. Words spoken to us by others or used around us. That is why it is easy for some to abuse people as they picked this growing up. We all have been greatly influenced by the words we have heard through the years either positively or negatively. What comes out of our tongue has a way of shaping lives. Little wonder even the Bible admits that the power of life and death is in the tongue.

Words hold an influential power and it is thus understandable that speaking words to affirm people is one of the five languages. For those who grew up in a negative linguistic environments however, it is hard for such people to speak words of affirmation. You can’t give what you don’t have.

Male and female alike love to be affirmed. Affirmed verbally. When that isn’t happening, they tend to pull away from dating partners who do not give affirmation. As stately over again, everyone can learn all five love languages. However, for some, words of affirmation is their primary love language. It is thus better their partner, spouse, parent (s), siblings, colleagues, subordinates et al learn it.

In the book, Dr. Chapman used an example of a footballer who had an abusive and always degrading father and a mother who though wanted the best for her son wasn’t much better. Since both parents constantly used negative words and never appreciated him, he found it hard doing so in his relationships.

All of us want to feel loved and appreciated by our parents. One of the ways we feel love is by hearing words of affirmation– Gary Chapman

If we want to be loved, and all of us do, then the first step is to express love to others. Often times, when we feel unloved, it is because we are “expecting” the other party to take the first step. However, we should make it a duty instead to take the first step. Make the first move. I always say we are created to love. And like one of my Pastors in church would say, God created us and put in us the capacity to love. After all, we love Him because He first loved us. Give and it will be given you. To experience love, you need to give love. You would be surprised how easy it becomes for others to love us when we first show love.

Gary then takes us through the steps he asked Brian (the footballer) to take in learning to speak words of affirmation.

Step 1: Start where you are. Recognize what the issue is and be ready to learn to affirm people.

Step 2: Be active not passive. The choice to love is the choice to take initiative. Make a conscious effort to love.

Step 3: Choose a strategy for loving or expressing love. If it is your parent you want to start with, start speaking words like “I love you”. “I appreciate what you have done for me over the years”. If it is a colleague or a subordinate, you can appreciate what somewhat little things they do. For example, the cleaner at work “Thank you for taking out the trash everyday. Without you, the office would be a mess” would do.

It might not be easy at first especially for those who grew up in negative environments but it is worth it. However, let your words be true. Verbalize the truth. Words of affirmation are simply true statements affirming the worth of another person. Find something seemingly minute but true about the person and use.

Dr. Chapman then discusses the different dialects of words of affirmation. Like most languages, WoA has different dialects. In earlier paragraphs, we discussed words of appreciation. Other dialects are words of encouragement, words of praise and kind words. They are similar yet different. Words of encouragement builds and lifts people. While words of appreciation expresses sincere gratitude for some act of service rendered, words of encouragement inspires courage. We all have areas we feel insecure.

For example, you have a friend trying to lose weight. Do you tell the person off or say stuff like “we all need to lose weight” or “you would gain it back soon” or “it is the hardest thing to do” or you say “if you decide to do it, I know you will succeed because you are the kind of person who accomplishes goals”?

Kind words are similar to words of encouragement. If for example a friend tells you I want to be an actress, if you know she has the potential, use words that would encourage the person. Suggest how such an individual can build herself up. However if she doesn’t, through your kind words, you can help her realize that such path isn’t for her. The manner in which we say words is important. I love you depending on you tone could mean a different thing to the other person. A gentle answer turns away wrath. Mature love speaks kindly.

Everybody craves appreciation. When someone achieves something, praise them.

We also need to learn the act of forgiveness. Our words most times are an overflow of what is in our hearts since none of us is perfect. We have sometimes done and said hurtful things to those around us and we definitely cannot erase the past. However, we need to ask for forgiveness and act differently when we can. Restitution is also key. If we can do something to make up for past hurts, please do. Whatever happened between you and another, might still hurt many years after, but ensure you release such people. Releasing isn’t forgiveness. Forgiveness is a response to confession. Rather, free yourself from every hurt and bitterness and anger. Choose to love even if the person doesn’t deserve it. After all, God loved us while we were yet sinners. Letting go of all hurt allows you to live in peace and love towards others. If one wishes to be a lover, he/she must look carefully at the words he/she uses when talking to coworkers, neighbours, close friends, parents, roommates and even the sales clerk.

Words of affirmation enhance relationships. Harsh, condemning words destroy relationships -Gary Chapman

Side note: Would get the messages preached by Pastor J and put up a transcript soon. Hopefully before year end. It is worth listening to. One was Capacity to love and the other was Love is great.

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