Do you want more love in your life? Don’t be bashful – of course you do! We all do. As a Family Services Therapist at Open Sky, I frequently work with students and family members who feel unloved, misunderstood, or unappreciated by their loved ones. It’s okay to experience these feelings. It means we care about ourselves and we care to share ourselves. It is evidence of our notions of self-worth as individuals and our belief that we deserve more. Here is the secret: The lack is not as severe as it is perceived.
At the heart of these feelings and experiences is love, but more specifically, how that love is communicated. Love is all around, and it’s being communicated constantly! However, we may not always recognize it. Perhaps you have heard of “The 5 Love Languages,” a book by Dr. Gary Chapman that has been around for a couple decades now. It provides an enlightening perspective and is a highly empowering read. The material is accessible, practical and bound to increase your love quotient a few points. Here is the premise:
Modern day humans regularly express love, affection, care, appreciation, and camaraderie through the following five common “love languages”:
It seems ordinary, yet when observed sharply, it becomes rather extraordinary! With close attention, these subtle and seemingly mundane expressions become profound. This is pure, genuine love in action, and it is happening all around, all the time. It is simply up to each of us to recognize this:
Step 1: Discover what your preferred love languages are. While everyone utilizes all five of these languages, each of us tends to “speak” certain ones more “fluently”, or consistently, than the others. You may already have a hunch as to which ones you favor, and you can confirm your notions by taking a free assessment online. We tend to give and receive love with the same love languages. Becoming clear with your own primary love languages will help you to recognize the ways in which love is being shown to you daily.
Step 2: Share your preferred love languages with your loved ones so they can make efforts to better “speak” your love languages.
Step 3: Identify the preferred love languages of your loved ones. By doing this, you can choose to love them in the ways that are best for them. This is a gesture of love in and of itself, demonstrating that you truly care.
When we choose to learn each other’s love languages, we notice and better understand all of the love that already exists between us. The feeling of love takes off exponentially because you are observing all the ways in which it is continuously being expressed between humans. As you see this, you recognize it is a choice to love. When you consciously choose to love, you’ll start to feel more of it.
This gentle epiphany does wonders for our relationships. Many of Open Sky’s Family Services, like Family Quests and Parent Coaching, provide meaningful opportunities for family therapists like myself to guide families through this recognition and practice. Family Quests are designed to give families the tools to deepen their relationships and better understand one another. While supporting families through this process, I often share “The 5 Love Languages” with parents and children alike, and they love it. It becomes a clear, practical tool for students and their families to feel more understood, validated and connected in their relationships.
In working specifically with parents as married couples, often a natural component of our Parent Coaching Calls, I regularly direct them to take the free assessment online. Our discussion of their results informs their renewed efforts towards healthier communication and conveyance of their love for one another. Invariably, these couples report that they feel uplifted as a result of the exercise. They may feel strengthened by the confirmation that they have a strong overlap in their love languages, or they feel inspired to dig in and better speak each other’s love languages. Either way, there is renewed hope and assurance in realizing their love has infinite potential. When parents choose to cultivate that potential, they create an environment of love for the whole family system.
As I support families through this process, I constantly see people suddenly relax into feeling better understood. In this place of openness, family connections deepen and relationships thrive. Time and time again, I am humbled and inspired when bearing witness to the flourishing love within families at Open Sky.