Have you heard of The Five Love Languages?
I’m guessing yes given the best-seller status of the book, but if not, here’s the rundown.
Gary Chapman, the author, posits that there are five ways that we can show love to each other, and especially toward a romantic partner: through gifts, quality time, words of affirmation, act of service, and physical touch.
The idea is that each of us has a dominant love language, or way we are best able to receive love. If our partner shows their love in a language we don’t ‘speak’ well then we might end up feeling uncared for or unloved. The trick, Chapman argues, is to understand each others love language and do our best to communicate accordingly. Some people feel loved when they are given quality time while others interpret physical touch or gifts as an affirmative signs.
I think this theory has a lot of value AND I think we need to take it with a big grain of salt. I’m not sure that love can be simplified so easily, but it’s valuable to note that we all experience it uniquely.
Switching subjects for a minute, let’s talk about our bodies and how we feel about them. It’s a pretty body-unfriendly swamp that we’re swimming in. Everywhere you looks are shame-inducing messages, overt and subliminal, targeted at our natural and diverse forms.
As a life coach and woman who practices self-love, I know just how much our relationship with our body determines how fulfilling our life is overall. Seriously, what’s possible for a woman who is body-kind is two-fold to what’s possible to those ensnared in body-loathing.
So what does body love and The Five Languages of Love have to do with each other?
Lately I’ve been finding my way more and more to my yoga mat. I haven’t been doing 90-minute power flow, but instead focused, gentle, attuned asanas that my body asks for. The other day in one such practice my mind drifted to The Five Love Languages and how they might apply to our relationship with our bodies.
And if they could apply, was I communicating primarily with one love language and what language did my body speak?
Here are the questions I began to ask myself:
Do you give your body gifts? Do you find yourself making kind purchases with your body’s care in mind? What’s the last gift you gave your body?
Do you give your body your time? Do you leave space in your life for your body to be heard and cared for? When is the last time you spent quality time for your body?
Words of Affirmation
Do you speak kindly towards your body? Are the messages you surround your body with loving? What’s the last generous and sweet thing you said to your body?
Acts of Service
Do you consider yourself your body’s advocate and caregiver? When was the last time you went out of your way to do something for you body?
Do you lay your hands on your own flesh? Do you do so with love? Do you provide your body with opportunities for caring and loving touch from another? When was the last time your body felt that it had been touched “enough” or to the point of “fullness”?
This line of inquiry was powerful for me and it opened me up to all the ways I could expand my body-love practice. So interesting to see where we easily give love and where we have blind spots.
If you want to communicate your body through a broader range of love languages, here are a few ideas:
Purchase a foam roller and use it to loosen up with myofacial release.
Treat your body to a coveted care product, be it lotion, massage oil, or scented soap.
Offer your body clothing that makes you feel good, comfortable, and stylish.
Dedicate 10 minutes in the morning to scanning your body with presence and curiosity.
Allow your body to write you a letter in your journal.
Take a nap, regularly.
Words of Affirmation
Commit to one day of body-positive talk towards yourself.
Put up affirming words on your walls, bathroom mirror, or refrigerator door.
Come up with a mantra to recite every time you are feeling anything less than loving towards your body.
Acts of Service
Advocate for your body to another. Make a request. Make your body’s desires known.
Cook for your body. Prepare homemade food that delights all your senses and your belly.
Take your body to see the doctor or dentist for a routine check-up.
Massage yourself with sesame oil after a shower.
Try out a new type of bodywork, such as craniosacral or Thai massage.
The trick here, if this inquiry interests you, is to explore what makes your body feel loved?
I share a garden courtyard with the other tenants in my building. Our landlady grows apples, Meyer lemons, herbs, and tomatoes for all to enjoy. It’s a first-come thing so if you happen to be out there on a day when things are ripe, happy picking.
Last week I was walking by a tomato plant and thought to myself, what if those pale, redish-greenish tomatoes are ripe? What if they are a variety that doesn’t ever get bright red? Popping on one in a mouth I tasted that I was correct.
I didn’t have a way to carry the harvest with me other than to use my shirt as a collection basket. As I piled them atop each other I thought that I was enjoying the bounty in all likelihood because others passed the fruit up as being unripe.
Standing in my kitchen I poured a little pile of flakey salt into a bowl and dunked each tomato in it before eating them. Still beaded with water from being washed the salt clung nicely and crunched as I bit down.
These covertly ripe tomatoes had me approach my summer blues in a new way. I began to be inside my funk as if the entire experience was ripe for the picking. This is the poem that emerged.
We forget that gray clouds are just wet fruit for parched orchards.
We forget that a misplaced book is simply a moment ripe for being found.
And an unripe tomato is ripe to be ready in it’s own time.
All things lead home. All streams lead to the ocean. Everything is ripening.
That argument, the one where you didn’t wear your big girl pants and neither were heard or seen. That is the ripest.
The soft pooling of our abdomen is ripe for welcome.
The days when nothing calls to us are ripe for naps, wandering, and not knowing.
Others before have left word that even the most unjust, light-lacking times are ripe if we choose to pluck the fruit before us.
Everything is ripening.
Everything is ripe.
“What if what I’m hungry for isn’t possible?”
This is a question I get asked not infrequently.
In fact, in a recent survey, over 50% of my followers reported having this question.
To start, let me say that it is possible. It truly is.
If that’s all you needed to hear, off you go. If you want a few more thoughts, read on.
The people who have the greatest percentage of their hungers satiated are those who embrace, honor, and pursue being well-fed. If you believe it’s not possible to have what you want, then your actions (or rather inactions) follow this story and the result is a hungry life.
And when we have a hunger that we falsely believe isn’t possible to satiate we often numb it through food, sex, shopping, drugs, exercise, television, or some other means of distraction. The result is that not only does the true hunger not get fed, but the numbing bleeds out and blocks other wise messages that are trying to reach us.
The truth is that what we hunger for is always available, just maybe not in the form we expect.
This is why it’s important to separate primary hungers from secondary hungers.
For example, if we think we’re hungry for our mother’s love, but our mother isn’t alive anymore, instead of throwing our hands up and saying “oh well, guess I’ll never have what I’m hungry for” we can peel back the surface layer (our secondary hunger) and look at what’s below (our primary hunger). In this case, it might be a hunger for care, or a maternal figure in our life, or guidance, or to be held. When we look at the primary hungers, we can then begin to look for all the ways that are possible to satisfy them.
The things that we all truly hunger for, such as affection, creative expression, comfort, meaning, time in nature, and so forth–these things exist in abundance if we’re open to them taking a different form than we might expect.
I’ve yet to meet a hunger that wasn’t possible.
I’ve met surface hungers that were masking root hungers. I’ve met hungers that called the person out of their comfort zone. I’ve met hungers we didn’t yet know how to communicate to others or satiate ourselves. I’ve met hungers that we can’t satisfy instantaneously. I’ve met hungers that didn’t have a safe enough environment, one without a thick layer of judgement, to make themselves known.
What I have never ever met is an impossible hunger.
If your hunger feels impossible, here are some reflections to explore:
Am I in touch with my primary hunger? Have I dug into what I’m TRULY hungry for?
Do I feel ashamed about what I’m hungry for?
Do I feel at a loss for how to feed my hunger? (quite different than a hunger being impossible to feed)
Do I simply feel impatient for my hunger to be fed?
Has anyone else ever had this hunger and satiated it? Who? What steps did they take?