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Understanding your self-love language

Self-love has become such a buzzword. From the emphasis on bubble baths, face-masks to drinking green juices, choosing softness, and don’t forget the tropical vacations with cocktails, and some sweet sun kissing. These things are all wonderful and truthfully, they can make one feel a little better. 

But I’m afraid that the social media aesthetic of #selflove drives the narrative that loving yourself is validated by how much you spend on endless products you don’t need or how well you can prove that you are indeed loving yourself as evidenced by perfectly curated feeds and short videos that radiate #positivevibesonly.

Again, nothing against all that but we may need to go back to the drawing board for this one. What is self-love? What is your self-love language and how can you healthily practice it every day? I love a good deep dive so let’s get into it!

I’m currently reading The Gifts of Imperfection by Brené Brown and she gives the best definition of self-love that I’ve ever heard of and I quote; 

“Self-love means learning how to trust ourselves, treat ourselves with respect, and to be kind and affectionate toward ourselves.” - Brené Brown

Borrowing heavily from Brown’s definition of love, I will attempt to add on and say that self-love also involves holding space for the full scope of our humanity which involves our authenticity, strengths, weaknesses, vulnerability, and opportunities for growth. Self-love is being fully aware of who you are and embracing every part with compassion, grace, and kindness. There is no self-love without self-acceptance.

The term “love language” was developed by Dr. Gary Chapman in his book The 5 love Languages: The secret to love that lasts. He is a counselor who noticed a pattern in couples when it came to showing each other love. He realized that people’s misunderstandings in relationships stemmed from not knowing how to meet each other’s needs of love and belonging.

A love language is basically how we perceive and like to receive love. There are 5 distinct love languages that we will get to in a minute; Words of Affirmation, Touch, Quality time, Gifts, and Acts of service. If you don’t know what your love language is, you can take the online free test.

I appreciate that the love languages were made to help us know our loved ones but I also believe it begins with understanding self. Love must exist within us first if we are to nurture it in others. We need to understand how we need to be loved, give that to ourselves first then communicate it to our loved ones. Hence the concept of Self-Love Language. This article is meant to make you know your love language, reflect on it, and speak it to yourself fluently – that’s what self-love is about.

Words of Affirmation

You feel loved and appreciated when people say nice things to you, compliment you, send you uplifting and cute texts, quotes, notes, and verbally encourage you.

To speak this love language to yourself, you can;

Do these things:

  1. Practice positive self-talk, pep talks, and daily affirmations.

  2. Keep a gratitude journal to remind yourself of all the wonderful things you love about yourself.

  3. Write yourself love letters or compliment notes and put them where you can see them.


  1. Unfairly criticizing yourself and instead, gently correct yourself when you don’t get things right.

  2. Use harsh words to describe yourself and replace them with positive words.

  3. Not acknowledging and appreciating your strengths, accomplishments, and brilliance.

Acts of Service

You feel loved and appreciated when people do nice things for you or go out of their way to make things easier for you like help you with a project, serve you breakfast, or take out the trash.

To speak this love language to yourself, you can;

Do these things:

  1. Practice self-care like cooking for yourself nice healthy meals, cleaning and decluttering your space, getting a pedicure, and making your bed.

  2. Delegating tasks to free up space for you to do other things which involve leaning into your community to help you with work and home duties.

  3. Checking things off your to-do list and planning ahead by organizing and scheduling.


  1. Putting your needs last or dismissing them to serve other people’s needs.

  2. Not making time to tend and take care of yourself or ignoring your need for self-care.

  3. Overstretching or overcommitting to acts of service that deplete your energy or drain you.

Quality Time

You feel loved and appreciated when people spend time with you and give you their attention. You desire that they should be intentional about making time to see/visit you, talk to you on phone, go places together with you, and actively listen to you.

To speak this love language to yourself, you can;

Do these things:

  1. Take yourself out on dates every so often and do things you enjoy like going to the cinema, going to your favorite restaurant, vacationing, or spending time in nature.

  2. Schedule rest and relaxation time. Have “do nothing” days where you just chill and enjoy your own presence.

  3. Engage in mindfulness or meditation. Activities that engage your attention and keep you present with yourself.


  1. Distractions when you’re making time for yourself. Minimize interruptions and focus on what matters now and that’s you.

  2. Give yourself leftover time. Be purposeful and schedule “me-time” along with other important things.

  3. Depending on others so that you can do things that involve spending time with you like being afraid of eating out alone.

Physical Touch

You feel loved and appreciated when people close to you affectionately touch you. You’re into public displays of affection, hugs, cuddles, arm holding, massages, kisses, and physical intimacy.

To speak this love language to yourself, you can;

Do these things:

  1. Invest time and money into skincare, grooming, massages, and spa days.

  2. Take long and relaxing showers with your favorite bath and body works.

  3. Have a soft blanket with you or cuddly pillows and stuffed animals.


  1. Not taking physical care of yourself which includes physical exercise, hydrating, and eating well.

  2. Minimizing your desire to receive physical care and attention.

  3. Subjecting yourself to physical abuse is like harming yourself.


You feel loved and appreciated when people give you gifts every so often. You delight in the gesture and attention that goes into gift-giving. It doesn’t have to be big or expensive, just meaningful and intentional. It could be as simple as someone gifting you flowers or as big as gifting you a car.

To speak this love language to yourself, you can;

Do these things:

  1. Go shopping for something you’ve been eyeing for a while.

  2. Buy yourself rewards for completing tasks or accomplishing big things.

  3. Invest in yourself and build your knowledge by paying to learn a new skill or pick up a new hobby.


  1. Forgetting important dates that you need to gift yourself on like birthdays and anniversaries.

  2. Waiting to hit big milestones to gift yourself.

  3. Hoarding for the sake of gifting yourself. Make your gifts useful and practical.

“In a society that says ‘put yourself last’, self-love and self-acceptance are almost revolutionary.” - Brené Brown


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