The Love Languages is a popular teaching tool in the therapy world and a bestselling book. In both my relationship books, 52 Lessons for a Better Relationship and Emotional Sex: Making good relationships great (both are a free download from my website, www.ChadDavid.ca), I discuss them, but the former is my latest understanding of them and the one I recommend checking out. Whether you use the original five or my eight languages, the concept is pretty brilliant as it teaches there are some basic ways we can share love with others. We need all of the languages, but there are two to three that we particularly need in order to feel fully loved. Our top languages can change over time or vary depending on the relationship. For instance, what helps you feel loved by your mom is likely different than your wife and coworkers (hopefully). Overall, the concept gives a foundation for better understanding ourselves and others and a practical tool for improving our situation.
Today’s lesson takes this concept and puts it towards what helps us feel sane. The following list acts like the love languages because we need all of them, but there are likely two to three that particularly help us feel normal. Like the love languages, this list can change over time or depending on the spot we’re in (e.g. in the middle of winter), but this list gives a foundation of ideas for what we can do to feel a better sense of sanity (or to help our partners be normal) and to have a better understanding of ourselves.
I should point out this is my first attempt at this list, so it’ll likely change as I think more about the concept and hear other people’s ideas, which is how I took the five love languages and added three more. Either way, it’s a good start.
- Organization: Whether a proper schedule, routine, to-do list, having the house organized, or having a plan for doing things, some people crave order and organization. I know for myself being in a cluttered space physically or mentally makes my brain go loopy. Organization helps me feel sane and in control.
- Variety: Even if we like routine, sometimes we need variety to keep us interested in our daily life. As they say, “Variety is the spice of life.”
- Connection: We need to connect with others. Some people do better connecting with strangers, acquaintances, or close friends, but we’re not meant to be islands (yes, that’s an About a Boy reference for the Hugh Grant chick flick fans)
- Decompression Time: Decompression time includes everything from the drive home from work and watching a show, to reading something before bed, or playing an instrument to having a weekend or week vacation. Personally, I hate a day at the beach, but I find the little daily decompressing moments like a short drive home listening to music very important, which makes working from home a bit of a struggle, and means I need to find something else to help.
- Be in the Spotlight: We need to be in the spotlight once in awhile whether with a crowd or one person. It could be on stage performing or on a sports field, for something crazy we wear, because it’s our birthday, or to simply be heard by someone. From my experience, this can be a draw for regulars who go to therapy – they like feeling like they matter when the therapist focuses on them for 50 minutes whereas others would find this timeframe torture.
- In the Know: Some people crave information whether for being trivia champions or being up to date with all the latest news and popular social media videos.
- Competition: Whether a board game or an intense sport, participating or watching, some people need the thrill of competition. It’s not a great feeling to lose, but it’s worth the risk for a chance to win and conquer any anxiousness leading up to the competition.
- Challenge: Some people need to feel challenged whether it’s trying something new, learning something, or blatantly staring fear in the face and confronting it like with skydiving.
- Accomplishments: Having something to show for your time or the proof of having conquered a challenge, a sense of accomplishment can be very helpful to feel like your life isn’t a waste.
- Feeling Value: Feeling value can mean being admired by others (e.g. being in leadership), you have something to contribute (e.g. volunteering or you bring baked goods to a friend’s house), and might even mean feeling “chosen” for a higher calling.
- Affection: Some people feel most normal when they are being shown affection. This one is harder for me to describe because it’s not one of my main needs. That being said, a good hug is still important once in awhile.
- Sense of Something Higher: Whether it’s being in nature or connecting to a higher power (or something that gives a sense of spirituality), this can be particularly important for people who need to escape the trappings of this modern lifestyle.
From this list, it’d be good to consider what are the three languages you most need in order to feel sanity and then consider how you can feel more of each. For instance, with COVID and having kids limiting my lifestyle, it recently dawned on me that I really miss competition. It’s also been awhile since I’ve been on stage, which has made feeling normal a bit of a challenge – hence the inspiration for this lesson. What’s really strange is I’m supposed to do a wedding at the end of the month, and even though I know I’ll feel alive being upfront, part of me dreads having to leave the house. It’s crazy how are brain can mess with us. Fortunately, by knowing this, I can fight the urges to hide. Overall, knowing my sanity languages, I can I feel less crazy for not being myself and it gives me a starting point for knowing how I can help my brain.
May this idea give you a way to feel better this winter… and hopefully it’ll become a million dollar concept like the love languages (that’s a half joke).
Rev. Chad David, ChadDavid.ca, learning to love dumb people (like me)