Dr. Death & My New Favorite Love Language

First, I gotta let you know I feel completely privileged to have your attention right now. I love you and wanna make sure everything I post can help you rock true life to its fullest and bless as many people as you can along the way.

Ok so Dr. Death and love languages.

Do you know your Love Language?

Love languages is a framework developed by Gary Chapman. We express and receive love in 5 different ways.

Right now I generally express love in acts of service and gifts. And receive love through words of affirmation and quality time. In my marriage I’ve gotten into a few hiccups because my languages are sometimes different than my spouse’s. Which means miscommunication, inaccurate interpretations, all sorts of mess actually. And that’s when the four horsemen show up.

The Four Horsemen are like anti-love languages, developed by one of the fathers of marriage counseling, John Gottman. Check out that link for the handout, I wonder if you can recognize any of the four horsemen in any of your relationships? My main jam is “defensiveness.” And it’s gotten(getting) me into lots of trouble.

So what does this have to do with Dr. Death?

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The Dr. Death podcast, from a helicopter view, is essentially about malpractice.

“Dr. Death” is pseudonym for Christopher Duntsch, a physician saying he’d make it better, but ultimately made it worse; his work resulting in many patients’ death (I mean earlier-than-expected kinds of death). With hardly any accountability in between.

I think I’ve come to appreciate the idea that love doesn’t always feel good in the moment. Yet it leads to long-term fruit and wellbeing despite short-term discomfort and offense.

I want to zoom in on “words of affirmation” and clarify a sub-culture of love-related words. Of course there are several kinds of love we could think about (1 Corinthians 13; Storge, Philia, ErosAgapeAhava, Hesed, etc.). Today applies to all of those. Especially “love is patient, kind, doesn’t insist on its own way, rejoices in the truth,” etc.

This will help you embrace growth and change in the midst of your closest and perhaps most difficult relationships.

3 Words of Love

1. Words of Accountability:

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pc: signaltree.org

The Johari window. An elegant way to picture the process of self awareness.

This isn’t always a smooth process.

Words of accountability are meant to rescue us from ourselves. Bringing blind spots and unknowns into the light. That feedback we all need. Those observations from others we can’t see ourselves. The uncomfortable heart-to-heart real talk.

Words of accountability often feel intrusive, unwanted, offensive and painful as we receive them. But they’re the very words that strengthen and equip us to the next degree of maturity and wisdom, that part of ourselves that, until this very moment, has not yet existed until someone was brave enough to speak the truth in love.

When someone invites you into the ocean of accountability, jump in and swim around. Then take what you learn back to shore. Seek out these words of accountability. They are the surgeon. It’s your character that grows. Heals. Even dies, as a caterpillar turns into a butterfly.

2. Words of Care:

Be careful if you’re the one holding the scalpel. Sometimes you’re the surgeon. You’re doing the hard work of giving feedback. Your listener needs to trust you. While it’s partly the listener’s job to receive your feedback with humility and thanksgiving, it’s your job to deliver that truth in a way that demonstrates your love for them. Not only is this a biblical framework, it’s foundational to best business practices, storytelling, leadership, psychotherapy, and pretty much any place that involves real human relationships. I’ll always try to apply what a mentor once said during a marriage seminar, “People don’t care what you know until they know that you care.”

If you’re giving feedback to or sharing observations with a spouse, friend, coworker, board of directors, your community, a political party, a nation, or to the world, they gotta first know you care about them before they open their hearts to your words. Speak the truth with words of care. When you’re the surgeon, you’re responsible for the delivery of care.

3. Words of Purpose:

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Ever heard that story?

***SPOILER ALERT***

Someone kissed him and he transforms from a pout-pout fish into a kiss-kiss fish.

Not all stories end that way. Some stay unresolved throughout, kinda like good jazz music.

In some ways I’d say that’s unacceptable. We do need to help each other out more. And I also don’t want to invalidate the breadth and depth of real feelings and experiences that people face day to day, as if they’re less important or less valued than kiss kiss fish, because that’s simply not true.

But I’m convinced that if you’re breathing air with me on this planet, as it spins 1,000 mph, we’re creatures of growth and change.

Why do we pay attention to any of this? Words of accountability and care are meant for our health and well-being, so that we can be transformed and used by Love to bless and serve those around us.

And all this is found in relationship.

One last thing.

“But wait, it’s gotta happen organically. Can’t just give unsought feedback.”

That’s true. And it’s important to hold that wisdom.

But look at what else happens organically: Fear. Pain. Anxiety. Depression. Self hatred. Contempt. Death.

My new favorite love language is words of accountability and care because it helps me love others actively, in a way that honors their comfort level but also believes the best is yet to come. Not in a rush yet my heart goes out.

Summary

1. Words of Accountability

2. Words of Care

3. Words of Purpose

Special shout out to Stan Lee today. For many years I’ve been inspired by his stories and the legacy he shared with us. I’ve brought themes and plots from the Marvel universe into my professional work as well as my personal relationships overall. They’ve helped liberate and empower many people, including myself as I’ve made sense of my adoption narrative and life-long journey as a character transforming from one person into another. While the creator of these stories has passed, their creativity, convictions and wisdom will be working for ages to come.

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