This past weekend, with it being Valentine’s Day, the message of love was everywhere. I kept wondering what people would say if asked, “Who loves you the most?” So, I asked a few people. Only one (out of 10) said, “I do, I love myself the most.” Another said, “I suppose I should say ‘me’ or ‘God’ or something like that.” They placed great emphasis on the word ‘suppose’ and it was followed by a tired sigh. (Yip… we are tired of being neglected by ourselves!) The remaining 80%, listed other people. When I curiously asked, “Why not you?” most realised what I was getting at pretty quickly because the answer – on an intellectual level – is quite simple. Yet, in reality, I too am faced with the daily challenge (one I see people really struggling with right now) of nurturing, loving, believing in, really listening to and building the deepest relationship with the person I spend the most time with and who should be on top of my priority list!

Let’s take Key Steps to love and nurture ourselves the same way we do other important people in our lives and…

‘be the difference that makes the difference.’


  1. Remember that love is a decision, not an emotion. I am going to start off with this point again (I mentioned it last week) because it is so important. All too often we withdraw love when don’t like our behaviour. This isn’t healthy. Loving yourself, or those you care about, is a conscious choice and requires risk taking and being prepared to be vulnerable. Love is not for the feint hearted. Only those with true courage can experience its magic and the incredible health benefits. Make the ‘right’ choice and remember that you are perfect, whole and complete just as you are. You are more than your behaviour and it is ok (and very emotionally healthy) to dislike your behaviour BUT still love yourself in spite of it. Love all of you while changing your behaviour! The more deeply you learn to love yourself, the more love you’ll have to spread around too. Think of the analogy of the “oxygen mask” – you need to put your mask on and breathe properly before you can start helping others.
  2. Stop being so hard on yourself. We often afford our best treatment for others and give ourselves a raw deal. People often say the words, “I’m so hard on myself” with such pride. I know because I was one of them. I believed it was the best way to achieve great feats and get exceptional results. I’d regularly chastise myself for making mistakes, feel guilty for not getting it ‘right’ 100% of the time (whatever ‘it’ was) and drive hard for perfection. The truth is that, while I might’ve been achieving great things, I often felt lousy and needed my next ‘achievement fix’ to feel good. No matter what I did, there was always room for improvement. So, the pressure was always on and I was living in fear… Fear of not being good enough. The first step in fixing this problem, was recognising that it was a problem and catching myself while I was doing it but NOT being bard on myself about it but rather…
  3. Think of someone you deeply respect and admire and treat yourself like that. I learnt that by treating myself with love and empathy, I could still be successful. Not easy when my inner voice was so conditioned to be harsh and critical and believe it was the only way to succeed. I’d say that I am still in recovery and, like an alcoholic, probably always will be. But Mila has made me realise how far I’ve come. I find it easy to be gentle with her because I’ve become more gentle with myself. If I had been her mommy in my 20s, I have no doubt that she would’ve grown up to have a harsh inner voice because I would’ve been hard on her and constantly corrected her. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t have been mean or cruel, I would’ve had the best intent and been the best mom I knew how to be at the time. But I would’ve likely strived for her to be perfectly behaved, achieving all her milestones (and more) and such a good child (at a mere 2.5 years old) at the expense of instilling fear and anxiety. She knew what she was doing waiting for me to be in my 40s to choose me as her mommy! Of course, I still want her to learn appropriate social behaviour, to be a well-adjusted child and to achieve great things. I just want to do it gently with discipline not punishment and love not fear. She is a daily reminder that being gentle and affirming leads to happiness, creativity and a whole lot of achievement – she is a marvel!
  4. Practise self-care. How well do you take care of what you need? What do you do to show love and appreciation to yourself? If you scan yourself physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually, how are you doing? Do you need to top up your tank? So many people are feeling depleted and exhausted right now. Listen to yourself like you would your best friend and give good advice. What can you do to top up your tank…? Get more sleep, take more short breaks, exercise more regularly, say NO or say YES and take on an exciting new project, notice your successes and reward yourself, go for a massage, go for body talk (I swear by it), put your feet on the grass for 10 minutes, spend quality time with your pets, laugh out loud… Mila and I have giggle time just about every day. She loves to initiate laughing. This is usually at some fun made-up word that I don’t understand; when I repeat it with exaggerated confusion, she starts giggling and triggers me too. We look away, stop for a moment, then look back at each other and the fits of laughter start again. We can do this on repeat for a good 5 to 10 minutes. You might not have a Mila, but you can find ways to bring about joy and uplift your spirit. If you are struggling to do this, there are many excellent healthcare professional and coaches out there who are trained to help you. Please listen to yourself and intervene as if you are the most precious and important person in the world because… YOU ARE! It is up to you to…
‘be the difference that makes the difference.
If you and/or your team need some TLC and support to stay motivated and thrive in such uncertain times, you might want to consider in investing in one of our programmes or some executive coaching. Here’s our most popular:
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‘be the difference that makes the difference.
  1. Namaste,


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 25 years’ experience in leadership development and organisational transformation. Her PhD thesis contributed a framework for holistic and sustainable leadership development that was published by Rutgers University in the USA. She is faculty of numerous business schools and highly sought-after by leading corporates because she works hand-in-hand with them to create sustainable results and long-term success. In 2020, Sharon was inducted into the Educators Hall of Fame, which is a lifetime achievement award, recognising excellence and her contribution to the field.

Sharon is one of only three women in South Africa to have achieved the title of Certified Speaking Professional (CSP) – the Oscar of the speaking industry. She is also a COMENSA Master Practitioner (CMP), a qualified Modern Classroom Certified Trainer (MCCT™) and an accredited Global Virtual Speaker. Sharon is also a registered Education, Training and Development Practitioner (ETDP), holds an Honours degree in Psychology and practices as an NLP master practitioner.

Most important to Sharon is that she has become known for her genuinely caring manner, practical and transformational approach, and for providing valuable tools and that allow people to take Key Steps to really… ‘be the difference that makes the difference.’