Words of Non-Affirmation

Gary Chapman introduced the world to the “Love Languages.” This is the idea that each one of us feels love in our unique way. There are five basic language types that everyone uses to experience love. 

One of those is “Words of Affirmation.” This means what the people closest to you have to say about and to you touches your heart deeply. If you are married, you desire for your partner to say things that build you up and demonstrate your worth to others.

This is not my love language, but recently I discovered something which might be true of others. While I do not need words of affirmation, I am wounded by words of non-affirmation. Some people need to hear you speak about their value and worth; on the flip side, people like me do not want to listen to critical and mean-spirited things.

It is not that I am afraid of constructive criticism or rebuke when I need it. Instead, it is how much it hurts me when those things are presented in a destructive way. So, for example, I respond to a coach who tells me how to improve rather than one who yells at me about what I did wrong.

The old saying is, “If you can’t say something nice, then don’t say anything at all.” Some people crave affirmation, and others need you to avoid your non-affirming words.  

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