I have a theory. It’s based on a very little research and a testing base of one but I like it and it’s my blog after all so I’m going to put it out there…
But first, have you heard about the Five Love Languages? It’s a great concept developed by Gary Chapman. There are whole books written on the subject. There is a book for couples, one for kids, one for teens. And they are worth reading.
My pocket version of the concept is this: each of us understands love best when it is shown to us in a particular way. There are five broad categories for love languages. You have one or two primary languages and then the others are lower on the list for you. You will need the lower love categories filled occasionally but you really need your top one spoken regularly in order to feel loved.
The five categories are:
- Words of encouragement
- Quality time
- Acts of service
So some people feel loved if you go to their house and do the dishes for them and they show you love by coming to your house and doing your dishes (I think my MIL is in this category – she did a wonderful job of my dishes the other night, I am so grateful!)
Others feel loved if you give them a hug, or just touch them on the shoulder on the way past.
Others need a gift – not necessarily an expensive gift but if something is given to them as a gift they feel loved, valued and cared for.
For others, the major way of filling their love tank is to spend lots of time. Take them on a coffee date, go for a walk with them, play a card game, spend TIME.
And finally, words of encouragement. It has taken me years but I have come to realise that this is my primary love language.
Here’s an example: I felt dissatisfied about my birthday for years. I had no idea what I really wanted. I would pine for gifts and then realise I didn’t actually want what was given. I would organise big parties that would just leave me stressed and exhausted. (I’m an introvert! I didn’t need to be surrounded by vast quantities of people all day! Why did I bring this on myself?!) Every year I would look back on the day feeling like the celebration, while lovely and appreciated, didn’t quite hit the spot.
And then one year I realised, I didn’t need the party, I didn’t need the gift, all I needed was the birthday card. The card with the loving words written inside. In fact, I love birthdays now that I’m on Facebook because I get so many loving messages from so many people and it totally fills my love tank. My family have come on board and give me one card each and sometimes two per person!
I also remember feeling totally safe when I saw the lovely cards my Dad gave (and still gives) to my Mum on special occasions. They are great with words.
I am a words of encouragement person.
And this brings me to the online quizzes. Have you done any? I’ve done heaps!
- How many years have you been a teacher? (Let the quiz guess)
- How old is your soul?
- What one word totally describes you?
- What is your song from the 80s?
And so on, and so on.
You answer such important questions as ‘which dog would you choose?’ ‘What colour suits you?’ ‘Which slang term do you like best?’ ‘where would you prefer to live’ and then, (here’s the really important part) the quiz gives you (you guessed it) words of encouragement.
‘You have been teaching for 5-10 years. You have a beautiful soul and are loving to those around you. You are sometimes taken advantage of but you are generous and kind hearted and forgiving. You speak into the lives of those around you and will be teaching for many years to come.’
You see? How do they know that about me? Because I chose a sausage dog, the colour blue and the slang term Y.O.L.O.!
But I love to read it! It lifts my spirits!
One time I did a ‘what colour is your soul?’ quiz and this was the answer it gave: yellow. That’s it. Just one word. I felt totally ripped off! Where were my nice words that told me that yellow meant I was a nice person who cared for others and blah blah blah.? Nope. Just ‘yellow’.
Anyway, I am an Australian, and words of encouragement do not come easily to us. We are much better at the friendly insult, the gentle ribbing, the sarcastic comment and the witty put down. I don’t really want that to change – it’s an important part of our culture, but perhaps we could also share encouragement with those around us. Tell them something we like about them, so they can hear it from someone they know, not just an impersonal online quiz. I think people love it, need it, because that’s why the quizzes are so popular. We are all desperate to hear those words of encouragement (well, if you are built like me you are anyway). That’s my theory.
Are you a sucker for the quizzes? What is your love language experience?