Words of Affirmation

I started listening to The Five Love Languages by Dr. Gary Chapman. I’ve taken the quiz before, in fact, multiple times, but I had not yet read or listened to the book. I can’t even remember what I determined my love language is. As of writing this, I can’t even tell you all of the love languages.

What I can tell you is what I realized about myself in the first hour and fifteen minutes of the book. Gary Chapman talks about all the different types of affirmation and provides amazing examples of each. He also talks about being able to provide others with words of affirmation.

I thought I was really good at giving affirmation until I heard Dr. Chapman explain it further. That’s when I had an aha moment. I am really good at saying ‘thank you’ and ‘please’ and extremely good at apologizing for everything. What I’m not so good at is complimenting or recognizing small acts.

One thing Dr. Chapman talked about that made complete sense to me was that those of us who rarely or never heard words of affirmation, don’t necessarily know what we aren’t saying.

I think I’ve touched on this before in another post or on my Instagram, but I am one of those people who pretty much never heard any words of affirmation. I wasn’t told that I was doing a good job in school, that I was pretty, that I had a great personality, that I was good enough just as I am, that I did a good job keeping the house clean, or anything similar. I was criticized and made fun of, even by my parents. I heard, at least graduate high school before you get pregnant; you are big-boned; look at that bubble butt; you are just afraid of needles; if you are going to cry, I’ll give you something to cry about; you are just like your Aunt K; stop being so bossy; and so much more.

I don’t remember my parents telling me they love me except for when my mom was begging me to give her money. I think my mom might have told me she was proud of me at my college graduation, but I didn’t want her there so I wasn’t in the mood to even talk to her. And I really didn’t.

I learned at an early age that I wasn’t going to get love from my parents so I wanted it from the people they complained about the most, their sisters and brothers and their spouses. I can look back now and realize that what I needed most during those formative years in my life were words of affirmation. I needed love through words.

I can think of a few friends who give me words of affirmation and I don’t know how to receive them. At the same time, I feel like an ass because I suck at doing the same without being prompted. I can think of instances where I could have given words of affirmation to many people, but I didn’t.

Regardless of other people’s love language, I want to be better at freely giving people words of affirmation. I don’t know if it will make someone’s day or if it will roll off their shoulder. What I do know is that there just might be someone out there that doesn’t know what they need to hear until it is said.

How often do you give words of affirmation? What about receiving words of affirmation? What was the last thing you remember being told? How did it make you feel?

Funny enough, one of the things I recently was told on one of my Instagram posts was that my eyebrows were on point. I remember that every day. It makes me feel so good.

How can you make someone’s day?

Ruminator

Ruminate: to go over in the mind repeatedly and often casually or slowly.

Have you ever heard of this term before? I hadn’t until a year or so ago while listening to personal development. I can’t remember exactly which book or podcast I first heard it on, but it stuck with me.

A ruminator is someone who dwells on things that have happened in the past. It could have been just a few minutes ago, or years prior. What is typical, is that the ruminator repeats a situation over and over in their head, trying to figure out how they could have done something different or said something to change the course of the situation.

A ruminator continues to live in the past while also trying to move forward in the present.

For as long as I can remember, I have always ruminated. I dwell on situations to figure out how I could have done something differently. It doesn’t matter if nothing apparent went wrong, I still ruminate. I feel like there is something different I can always do so I am a better person, I don’t offend someone, I stand up for myself, etc.

I don’t know why I do it. It doesn’t help me in future situations. It doesn’t fix anything.

But since I learned of this term and habit, I have been able to identify when I do it. I can notice when I’m going down a rabbit hole in my past trying to fix something. I can tell myself that I’m ruminating again and to focus my mind on something else.

I can.

But, it isn’t as easy as being able to.

For some people, like me, ruminating doesn’t stop at the thoughts of what could be changed. It goes into a whole change of mood and outlook. Once I go down that rabbit hole, I can change an entire day. It could have been a great day with amazing things happening, and then BAM! that thought hits and there I go.

I’d like to tell you that I have been able to completely reverse my ruminating, but I haven’t. From experience, I can tell you that this habit is not an easy one to break. But, I have improved. I do it less often. I catch myself quicker. And I have come up with a way to pull myself out of the thought train and move on.

When I am ruminating and I finally catch myself, it’s like I flip a switch. You know that point when you feel like you finally understand something? Yeah, it’s like that. Once I realize what I’m doing and can get new thoughts going, I tell myself “so that happened” and then distract myself with new thoughts and dreams (something to look forward to) or by doing a task. I learned this from one of the coaches I follow, I believe Andrea Owen.

This method won’t work for everybody, and I don’t have other options to share, but learning to identify when you are ruminating will make a world of difference. Living by trying to fix things from the past will not change the future. Only living in the present and working on what is happening each moment will change the future.

I don’t want to say that you should never look back, because sometimes a quick look back to learn from a mistake or situation is just that, a learning experience. The problem is when a look back turns into a long gaze back turns into replaying something over and over again.

You aren’t going there. You can’t go there.

Learn from experiences and move on. Don’t dwell on what you cannot change.