Building Our Love Vocabulary: The Basics


As children, we’ve probably all heard and learned the popular and inaccurate school rhyme; “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me.” Who the hell came up with this? It’s the biggest lie we bought into, thinking we were immune to the negative and positive input and programming of others on our lives. As a result, we didn’t know we needed to prepare ourselves against the constant verbal assaults others would unleash on us, that would have detrimental effects on our self-value, self-esteem and self confidence. This was especially the case when the attacks were committed by those closest to us, like family or friends. Our words are by far, the most powerful weapons we carry. They inflict the most vicious of wounds because the wounds are invisible, hard to detect and often go unattended. Our words cut the deepest, and they can kill when used to tear down and destroy others. Are arsenals are full of words that destroy and break down. We’re all suffering on one level or another from internal bleeding caused by some reckless verbal assault from yesterday or twenty years ago. So, beginning at a young age we taught [armed] ourselves with negative, defensive language to protect ourselves from being hurt. Since we anticipate this being the case all the time, we are pros at using negative language more often to relate to one another. As the saying goes…”Hurt people, hurt people.”

There is a flip side to this though, a positive one. The words we use are also powerful enough, to save and change someone’s life, restore, heal, edify, honor, rescue and love. However, being inundated with the type of words and language that edify and build us up is very rare, but desperately needed. As a result, we’re not really used to hearing positive language and words of affirmation, and often don’t know how to receive them or respond correctly. It can make us feel weird and uncomfortable because the positive language may speak the complete opposite of what we’ve heard all our lives about ourselves, e.g., the case of someone who believes they aren’t beautiful, loveable or smart because of the constant negative programming they’ve had. Let’s begin to stop the bleeding. We need to be able to express ourselves in love, with the language we use, as well and get comfortable using it on each other, for the positive effects it has. This Love U lesson will focus on the basics of building our love vocabulary, starting with four of the most powerful word phrases in the English language.
If you missed the first lesson of Love U, Love 101: A Refresher Course, you can catch up here. Again, there are no pre-requisites for this course. There is no need to feel intimidated. You’re not too old or young and you don’t have to be a genius. Since you have a heart and are living, you qualify to love and be loved. So let’s get started with; Building A Love Vocabulary: The Basics.

Below are probably four of the hardest word groups or phrases for us to say [which we need to say more] to one another. Do they surprise you? They seem simple enough. These four phrases are not foreign to us, but often the most difficult for us to express openly and freely to one another because of the significant weight they carry, and the fact that we can’t control the response of the recipient when we say them. Saying these phrases requires us to trust, be honest, accountable and vulnerable all in one. These are normally the things that we resist if we can help it because we believe they make us targets and more susceptible to being hurt by others. However, there is beauty in simplicity and when you think you need to be a poet or eloquent in your delivery, sometimes it’s not how you say it, but what you say. These four phrases could be the difference between healing and staying broken, reconciliation and divorce or estrangement and a closer relationship. Pain can be temporary or it can last forever. We have the power to heal ourselves and others with the words we say.

Thank You
Raise your hand if you don’t like to be given compliments, praised for doing the right thing, having someone notice your magnetic personality or beautiful smile. Who doesn’t like compliments when they are genuine and from a place of love? However, we don’t prepare ourselves for them because we’re taught again to be on the defensive in our relationships. I’m guilty of it myself. Over the years, I’ve had to teach myself how to take a compliment. I used to offset compliments by pointing out a fault because I felt I had to balance the compliment out. This was a result of a lot of years of extremely negative programming and the unfortunate fact that at the time, I believed it. It made no sense for me tear myself down, when someone else was genuinely appreciating something about me and pointing it out. Now, I’ve learned to say two simple words. Thank you. I have learned to allow myself to feel the nice gesture of being recognized for my gifts, talents, beauty or whatever it may be. It makes me feel good and I’ve learned there’s nothing wrong with allowing myself to feel good. Thank you means just that. You appreciate and are grateful for someone else appreciating what makes you, you.

I’m Sorry
This is the ultimate vulnerability juggernaut. Uttering these two little words automatically requires us to take full responsibility for our actions and own any and everything we’ve done. It leaves no room to make excuses. It is often humiliating, but it is absolutely necessary as it is the first step to begin the healing process and the mending of our relationships.

Please Forgive Me
Apologizing is one thing. It releases us from the guilt, shame and prison that not owning up to our mistakes will keep us in. Saying “I’m sorry” is the first step. Asking for someone’s forgiveness is the second. Doing so, means you care about mending and reconciling and correcting the wrong. Forgiveness is for us and sets us free of the pain and hurt others have caused. Forgiveness gives us the ability to work on finding solutions to the problem(s), our healing and allows us to move on.

I Love You 
These three words usually change the worlds of the two people involved. Though a short phrase it carries with it a huge weight of responsibility for the person professing their love and for the person receiving it. Sharing this short phrase requires trust and honesty because it exposes us and makes us vulnerable and open to rejection and ridicule. Saying, I love you also requires courage because it implies action and a new standard of handling each other with care and consideration. It indicates a decision has been made. It soothes and it comforts. It does so many things, on so many different levels, and in my opinion is the most powerful phrase we can ever say to each other. Which brings me to the point: we have to stop diluting it by using it out of context to manipulate and control each other or to mean; lust, like, envy, etc. The phrase I love you is too important to be misconstrued or disguised as something else less potent. Mean what you say and say what you mean or don’t say it at all.

Now that you are armed with some positive love language arsenal, there might be someone you need to use it on. This someone might even be you. Maybe you need to go back and accept someone’s nice gesture properly, with a simple, “thank you.” Maybe you need to call or write someone and say, “I’m sorry.” Go the extra mile and also ask for their forgiveness. Lastly, there might be someone special in your life who you need to share your true feelings, with an “I love you.” You’ve got them, now use them!