One of the most important relationships of your life is the one with yourself. Yet, it is often easier to imagine how much we love our family, our partner or friends. In fact, we can become so externally focused that we forget how important self-love is. There is a significant difference between someone who loves themself and someone who doesn’t. And there are many signs that we can look out for that the relationship with ourselves needs attention, more love and acceptance. This is the most important “work” of your life because to really open yourself to the love and acceptance of others, it must come from you first. Let’s take Key Steps for ourselves to….

‘be the difference that makes the difference.’

Here’s several signs to look out for that you need to love yourself more:

  1. You are extremely hard on yourself. Giving yourself constructive feedback is healthy, it allows you to discover your mistakes and grow. However, being overly harsh and constantly critical, indicates lack of self-love. You are actually punishing yourself for being you who you are. Next time you catch your inner critic being harsh, stop and imagine how you would speak to your best friend and take that approach instead.
  2. You do not feel free to be who you or share your opinions. If you don’t think you’re good enough, you probably do not feel free to show your authentic self. To please others and gain approval, you’ll spend a lot of time and energy trying to be someone you’re not. People who lack self-love often hold back their ideas and opinions and allow those of others to shape their beliefs about the world and themselves. Speaking up and standing your ground, while respecting others, shows a high self-regard and self-respect. Respect begets respect.
  3. You excessively compare yourself to others. We are social creatures, so some degree of comparing is normal. Don’t beat yourself up – see point 1. But do take care that your evaluation is grounded in reality and used to motivate you. For example, if others seem to be excelling in their careers and it leaves you feeling bad about yours. First check that you aren’t seeing their life through rose tinted glasses and thinking the grass is greener on the other side. It usually isn’t. Then assess what you would like to see happening in your career and the steps you can take to get there. It’s also important to make sure that you aren’t falling prey the following…
  4. You ignore or downplay your achievements. Too many successful, talented and magnificent people don’t see themselves that way. While comparing themselves to others, and falling prey to imposter syndrome, they are blind to what they have accomplished. When given a compliment, they often fob it off. If this is you, practise just saying, “thank you.” Create yourself an accomplishment list – pick up a pen or open a Word document and do it now – and keep adding to it to remind you of your achievements. Regularly celebrate them (even with small pleasures) and stop judging yourself on your last perceived inadequacy (see point 1).
  5. You don’t prioritise and pamper yourself. The child in you needs to be acknowledged, comforted and pampered regularly. Whenever you satisfy your needs, you’re saying to you that you consider yourself to be valuable and worthy. Having ‘me time’ doesn’t make you selfish. A sign you don’t love yourself enough is when your needs come last, always. I’m not saying that you should neglect others, not at all. Just don’t prioritise others to the extent that you neglect yourself and your nearest and dearest because they often bear the brunt of you putting clients, friends, extended family and so on before them. You cannot pour from an empty cup.
  6. You ignore your boundaries. If you love yourself, you know where to draw the line between what serves you and what does not. It might mean not working weekends, not answering calls after 6:00 pm or not seeing a client who arrives excessively late for meetings. When you don’t set limits and say “no” to people, you sacrifice your inner peace and happiness. You teach people how to treat you and because you treat yourself poorly, so will they. Self-love requires setting healthy limits. As mentioned in point 2, this can be challenging because of the disease to please. Remember how unhealthy this can be and how it usually leads to the following…
  7. You neglect your physical, mental and/or emotional wellbeing. Eating healthy, exercising, living a healthy lifestyle and taking care of you are all signs that you know you matter. Caring for your physical health can ward off illness and help you achieve long, fulfilling life. This applies to your mental health too. When you go out of your way to stay physically and mentally healthy, it means that you know that you are worth it. You only get one body, heart, mind and soul… treat them like the most important things you own, because they are.
  8. You don’t really open yourself to others. People who do not love themselves enough often have difficulties in truly opening themselves up and compromising in relationships. Because they think they do not deserve love, they close themselves off so that no one can discover this lack of self-esteem. They also struggle to compromise because it feels like they are losing ground or power in the relationship, which triggers their already low esteem. Self-love begets love!

If reading this has affirmed that your self-love is high, celebrate it and keep it like that. If you see room for loving yourself more, start now and take the Key Steps you know will allow you to…

‘be the difference that makes the difference.’


NOTE: The information in my blog may be freely shared and re-used in any online or offline publication, provided it is accompanied by the following credit line: This was written by Dr Sharon King Gabrielides, and originally appeared in her free weekly  ‘Key Steps Food for Thought Blog’ available on the Key Steps website.

Dr Sharon King Gabrielides

About Dr Sharon King Gabrielides

Sharon is a dynamic facilitator, speaker and executive coach with over 20 years’ experience in leadership and organisational development and transformation. She is a registered Education, Training and Development Practitioner (ETDP), holds an Honours degree in Psychology and practices as an NLP master practitioner. She is also one of only three women in South Africa to hold the title of Certified Speaking Professional (CSP) – it’s the Oscar of the speaking business.

Sharon’s PhD thesis contributed a framework for holistic and sustainable leadership development that has been published by Rutgers University in the USA. She is faculty of Henley Business School and highly sought-after by leading corporates because she works hand-in-hand with them to create sustainable results and long-term success. Sharon has become known for her practical approach, useful tools and genuinely caring manner. She is really looking forward to working with you and taking Key Steps to ‘be the difference that makes the difference.’