The month of December is well-known for being that time of year when people often get together and celebrate, whether it’s to observe religious holidays such as Hanukkah or Christmas, or simply to gather for end-of-year festivities and enjoy the ‘silly season’ together. For many people, at least for a day or two, there’s a break from our normal routine, most shops and other businesses are temporarily closed, and we can make plans to be around people we feel close to.
While gift-giving is often associated with this time of year, there are other ways that are commonly used to show that we care about others in our lives. Writing Christmas cards, sharing meals, and spending quality time together are just a few examples.
The 5 Love Languages is a well-known book by Dr Gary Chapman, who discusses the different ways in which people can feel loved and how problems can form in relationships when we don’t speak the same ‘love language’. These languages are described in the following categories: Words of affirmation; Acts of service; Quality time; Gifts; and Physical Touch.
The recommendation to learn and actively ‘speak’ the love language of our friends, relatives, partner or spouse each day (even if it doesn’t match our own preferred love language) can lead to huge benefits. I’ve heard more than a few people tell me about the positive impact that this little 5 Love Languages book (or simply the act of completing the free 5 Love Languages quiz online) has had on their personal relationships.
If you feel loved when cuddled or held by another person, then it may be hard to understand someone who doesn’t appreciate physical touch at all, but who seems to melt when you simply pay them a genuine compliment or say ‘I love you’. Or if you often make the effort to bring home meaningful gifts to show you care, you might feel baffled at first to learn that your partner, family member or friend actually feels more special when you cook them a nice dinner and/or wash the dishes afterwards (i.e. offer acts of service).
In Dr Chapman’s work, he makes no secret of the fact that he has quite a spiritual outlook on life and relationships; he often refers to God and has written about his involvement in church activities.
I wondered recently whether the 5 Love Languages can be applied not only to our relationships down here on the physical plane, but with the spiritual presences or ‘invisible helpers’ in our life as well?
If a God, higher power, or responsive universe fits in your belief system, would you call your relationship with that energy to be loving? Neutral? Neglectful?
What about your relationship with your own spiritual self or higher self? Do you feel that you nurture and appreciate that part of you?
If you agree that you have spirit guides, then it follows that you would have a relationship with them too – even if that relationship currently seems distant or feels non-existent at times!
As in any relationship, it seems reasonable to assume that we can improve our sense of connection with our non-physical guides and helpers if we make the effort. Here are some ideas for using the 5 Love Languages to enhance these sorts of relationships with any spiritual presences who can help us on our path:
Words of affirmation: I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve heard people refer to their guides or God in harsh, blaming, or other negative ways. E.g. “Why are they so vague?” “What have they ever done for me?” “Why didn’t they stop me from going down that road?” “Are they having fun at my expense?” Rather than resenting what you believe your guides haven’t done for you, or blaming them for what’s gone wrong, or demanding that they help you more in future, try expressing gratitude and appreciation instead, while taking full responsibility for your life as it is now. It can be nice to write a thank you letter or express your appreciation out loud for any useful guidance you have already received in your life. Prayer can also be considered a form of love in the form of words towards a higher consciousness or power.
Acts of service: Acts of service might involve a special ritual or routine you engage in before connecting with your guides. Perhaps you light a candle, or create a space dedicated to meditation and spiritual practices – a space which you can regularly clean or decorate as an act of service. Maybe the best acts of service, in terms of pleasing our guides, would require that we actually follow our intuitive leads and consistently act on any clear guidance we receive as soon as it comes through!
Quality time: Making time to be still, meditate, and get in touch with our guides is a great example of setting aside quality time for them. It might be ideal to schedule this in on a daily basis, even if you can only afford a couple of minutes within a hectic schedule. The concept of having a weekly Sabbath is also consistent with this particular love language. Many people all around the world dedicate one day a week to devote to spiritual activities or quality time with God and loved ones. I also know of many non-religious people who set aside one day a week during which they will not work, clean, check email, etc, but rather will use that time to nurture themselves and their relationships.
Gifts: Making a symbolic offering to spiritual presences/guides/deities or God is a practice that can be found among different traditions and cultures. You can place real physical objects on a special altar or table as a way of offering these to your guides, or simply picture various gifts in your mind’s eye. After every intuitive reading I’ve given, I’ve visualised giving flowers or something beautiful to my guides as a way of saying thank you before ending the session.
Physical touch: This love language may seem a little more difficult, if not impossible, to apply to non-physical relationships! However, you can always get creative with this love language. When I think back to when I first started exploring the concept of guides and making an effort to connect with them, I can remember that from the very beginning, I would visualise greeting each guide with a quick kiss and hug, followed by a big group cuddle at the end before ‘tuning out’ of the visualisation. It can also help to use physical gestures such as different mudras formed with our hands, or physically touching our heart, or placing our palms together in prayer, to feel a greater connection with our spiritual selves and guides.
If the thought of demonstrating love in various ways towards your guides sounds a little too wacky, or if you don’t believe in guides at all, then try using these love languages towards your own self as a way to nurture yourself and your spirituality. Set aside quality time to spend on something you love each week, purchase books/courses/objects such as crystals, beautiful statues, etc that inspire you, do something for yourself that you need or would like to do (e.g. cook a yummy meal, have a relaxing shower or bath), book in a massage or start a form of exercise or other activity that feels good in your body, and speak to yourself kindly, repeat affirmations or engage in positive self-talk, and try your best to be as gentle on yourself as possible.
On the topic of love, I was asked this week to describe the one thing that I’ve found most helpful out of all the lectures, courses, and books created by Marianne Williamson, author of the book A Return to Love. This question was raised by someone who had bought me a bunch of Marianne Williamson’s books earlier this year, knowing that I’m quite a fan of her work, and happened to see one of these books on my dining room table.
I thought this was a tough one to answer, but decided that if I had to choose one thing I’ve benefited most from her work, it would be the recommended practice of “sending love before you” each day. I’ve heard Marianne on several occasions recommend that we visualise sending love and light to everyone who we know we will meet during the day ahead, and even towards people who we don’t know that we may meet. And if there’s a relationship problem or annoyance or anger towards a particular person, she recommends that 5 minutes be spent sending love and praying for that person’s happiness every day for 30 days. She gives the “guarantee” that after 30 days has passed, “either the other person will change or you won’t care” anymore. Although I wouldn’t feel confident making such a guarantee to anyone else yet, I can say from my own experience that this practice has worked for me every time.
So if thinking of love as a language to be spoken is not necessarily your thing, you may want to try this practice of sending love before you each day, just in your mind, and see what happens in both your human and non-physical spiritual relationships alike :)
Wishing you an amazing new year full of happiness, success, and lots of opportunities to give & receive love in 2019 and beyond!
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