It may sound petty and even absurd but there are people like me and yes, our language of love is called AFFIRMATION. It means that words of appreciation, verbal compliments, and assurance matter to us. Kami yung sinasabing either KSP or kulang sa pansin or madaling i-please kasi all you gotta do e bola-bolahin/utu-utuin lang; massage their egos & you have their love & attention. But actually, there’s more than that…
Words of Affirmation
Actions don’t always speak louder than words. If this is your love language, unsolicited compliments mean the world to you. Hearing the words, “I love you,” are important – hearing the reasons behind that love sends your spirits skyward. Insults can leave you shattered and are not easily forgotten. Kind, encouraging, and positive words are truly life-giving.
Psychologist William James said that possibly the deepest human need is the need to feel appreciated. Words of affirmation will meet that need in many individuals.
The Younger Years
I’m the 4th child with a great age difference with my siblings so you can say that there wasn’t really any pressure or competition between the children in the family. The eldest was already working; the second was on her second course in college while I was in my elementary years.
Our mother and father were not the vocal & appreciative type of parents and it wasn’t until I was in the 3rd grade (9 years old) when I learned about the concept of “being not good enough.”
Card Day, 1993
It was the Card Day for the first quarter and with I was pretty impressed with my performance & so I showed it to my mother. There was no “Good job!” or “You did great this period, huh!” NOPE. Instead, my mother told me that I should strive to get a line of 90s for my Math & English subjects.
So okay, I moved on. I made sure that I did much better in the coming months and also to my surprise, I ended the school year as top 8 of the whole batch.
In our school, the Recognition Day will only acknowledge the top 3 students (I think, I can’t really remember it anymore) of the undergrads while for the graduating class, the Top 10 students will receive proper recognition during the commencement rights.
Imagine my pride & enthusiasm as a child when I told her the news that I was on Top 8 & I received a yellow ribbon. (I won’t forget this because it was my very first!) But instead of a CONGRATULATIONS, she told me that I should do better next time & be on Top 5.
The supposedly happy moment was kinda spoiled. But an innocent child won’t really think about it for long because all we wanted as for the vacation days to start. But I think that’s how it all began… the manifestation of self-doubt and the longing for appreciation.
The Spelling Bee
My then-teacher chose me to be one of the Spelling Bee contestants for the Inter-school competition & I remember that it was a huge deal for me. I gave my very best; studied well & even bought a new dictionary. In my mind, I know that I prepared enough.
Then the competition happened.
I won 2nd place but I have a heavy heart as they announced the final results. I wasn’t happy. Up to this day, I still know the exact feeling when I got defeated during the clincher round.
I was sad. I was sad because I know that when I get home, my mother will tell me how I could have beat my opponent and that 1st place is always BETTER. And I predicted it well. She told it to me, just the way I imagined them. During these times, I was still unaware that my insecurity & self-doubt was slowly building.
Graduating Class of 1997
Fast forward to my 6th grade (the graduating class for the primary level) and the competition got stronger! My goal was to end the year with medals & recognitions. I said to myself that my parents should get on stage & put some necklace of pride on me.
I said to myself that my parents should get on stage & put some necklace of pride on me.
And it happened. I ranked 4th & the award was 2nd Honorable Mention.
I was all nervous with matching nginig pa when I first opened the copy of our graduation program/booklet and I was like FINALLY! I was aiming to be on Top 5 and landing 4th was more than what I’ve expected. And yep, I can’t wait to tell the good news & hopefully, I can hear the sweet words of approval from my mother.
So I came home & proudly handed the booklet to my mother. She opened it & with a blank & unimpressed face, she just said “Okay. Okay naman.” Seriously, that’s her only reaction.
No hugs, no congratulations and no “I’m so proud of you!” NOTHING.
And while she continuously browsed the rest of the top graduate, she uttered what was expected.
“Sana man lang kahit Top 2” (You could have at least done it to Top 2)
Despite the celebration, my mother’s words remained – that what I did was not good enough to impress her because for her, it’s either you’re on top or 2nd. Nothing else.
Acknowledgement & Acceptance
Through the rest of my school life, I lived with these criticisms along with other things. It may sound funny but at that time, all I wanted was to hear an approval from her. A “good job!” or “Aba! magaling! Sige tuloy mo lang yan”
I was hungry & thirsty for her acknowledgements because to hear those words makes me feel happy. That finally, this person believed in me & to my potentials.
Over the years, I already I got used to it and after graduating from the university, I continued to work hard & patiently waited to at least be acknowledged by my very own critic, but of course, it never happened.
I know that she’s not a person with flowery words & the fact that she’s not the sweet kind of parent explained a lot. She has a different way of showing love to her family. She’ll take care of our basic needs – make sure we’re fed well & on time; that we’re dressed well & we’re sent to school but that’s it. Nothing extra. But I didn’t take anything against her. I told myself, that’s her & I can’t change it anymore.
Despite the acceptance, I can’t deny that those things – the unappreciated feeling & being not good enough influenced me a lot as I grew up.
The Sensitive Personality.
Sadly, having an insensitive parent made me the VERY SENSITIVE person that I am right now. I’m always in touch with my emotions because I know how it feels to be on the other end of the table, facing that insensitive being. I know to myself that I don’t want to end up like her (emotionally)
Insecurity & Fear of Rejection
Then I slowly developed insecurity of all sorts and the worse of it all, I kept looking for other people’s approval.
Self-Criticism, Control Freak & Perfectionist
I became my own critic & I want everything to be at their best. At times, I get too hard on myself to a point that I’m becoming a control freak.
But if there’s anything that I proudly learned after all these years, it’s this:
Go Big or Go Home
I learned to give my best in everything I do. Paid or not, small or big things. If I do it, I always make sure that I give my best or not do it at all.
Of course, I’m not foolish/gullible type of person (rolling my eyes here) or in Tagalog uto-uto, but now that I’m getting in touch with myself & trying to understand the WHYs and HOWs of my life, I’ve realised that these are the reasons why my language of love is AFFIRMATION – it’s because, over the years, I felt unappreciated by the people I loved the most.
because over the years, I felt unappreciated by the people I loved the most.
Am I blaming my mother? No. At first I thought of her as this maramot (selfish) person. I keep asking myself why our mother is so maramot when it comes to complimenting her own kids. I mean, those words are free and it won’t cost her anything, but then maybe, we were all victims of life’s circumstances.
Maybe she was so occupied taking care of our needs that she failed to ace the emotional department. Or maybe she’s also preparing us so we can be tougher in the real world. We’ll never know. Besides, motherhood didn’t come with a manual, and if only it did, maybe the world is a better place for all of us. No more emotional baggage of all sorts.
Will I ever take it against her? No. I mean, what for? If I do that, it won’t change anything on my present.
But now, I also wonder, can I still undo this? How do I reverse it and maybe choose a different love language? Or maybe it’s best to just love myself more & expect from people less.