When was the last time you told a friend how much you appreciated them? 

…A child what you enjoy about spending time with them? 

…Or what you admire about your partner?

Our words are powerful!

We know how good it feels to hear something positive about ourselves, yet so often we forget or do not know how to do this for the people we love. 

So what is a word of affirmation and how can we use them well?

The term “words of affirmation” comes from literature surrounding the love languages. In this context, words of affirmation are generally defined as language that communicates love, respect, or appreciation for another person. These words can be written, verbalized, or communicated in another form. 

I like to think of words of affirmation as words that we communicate to help a person feel safe, seen, soothed, and encouraged. 

Let’s own it- sometimes it feels awkward to give and receive positive words. However, keep in mind the benefits: positive, affirming words build healthy communication, increase felt sense of emotional intimacy, build self worth, and can brighten someone’s day. It might be worth pushing past a little bit of awkwardness?

While there are no set rules on how to give a word of affirmation, here are some ideas for how to give a word that is powerfully uplifting:

  1. Be authentic- When choosing a word to give to another person, make sure you truly mean it. 
  2. Choose words that speak to the essence of the person- While complements about looks or aesthetics can be nice, I challenge you to go deeper. What is true and unique about this person that is special?
  3. Make it personal- Let the person know how their presence is making a positive difference in your life. 

Remember, this does not need to be a big production- a simple note, text, or line at the end of a phone call can have a powerful impact. 

Here are some examples:

“Your honesty and authenticity helps me to feel seen and open up myself”

“I see your hard work and how much you are doing behind the scenes to make this happen- Thank you!

Or simply, my personal favorite: “You are doing a great job.”

I challenge you to try it out with someone you are in relationship with today and see what happens. Not only can it help the other person feel seen and appreciated, giving words can also boost our mood and make us feel more connected with others. 

While you’re at it, remember to speak kindly to yourself, as well! Positive self-talk is incredibly powerful and can also help with changing the trajectory of your day.

**The information contained herein is not therapeutic advice nor a substitute for therapy. It should not be used to diagnose or treat any mental health problem. If you are located within the United States and you need emergency assistance please call 911 or go to your nearest emergency room. If you are located within Colorado you may also call the Colorado Crisis Line at 844-493-TALK (8255).

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