Improve Your Self-Esteem with Exercise–Key 2 (Excerpt from “8 Keys to Mental Health Through Exercise!”)

 Improve Self-Esteem with Exercise!--Key 2, Free Excerpt from %228 Keys to Mental Health Through Exercise%22 #books #exercise #mentalhealth #selfesteem

Enjoy this Free Excerpt from my NEW book, “8 Keys to Mental Health Through Exercise!


“To be beautiful means to be yourself. You don’t need to be accepted by others. You need to accept yourself.”

~Thich Nhat Hanh

 “Most experts see self-esteem as an important aspect of mental health. I agree: self-esteem seems to underlie almost every issue for which my clients come to therapy. They say they’re there because of depression, or anxiety, or relationship problems, but at its core, the real problem is almost always a struggle with self-esteem.


Self-esteem can be defined as the opinion we have of ourselves, or how we Anxiety & Women: Hormones, Sleep & What You Can Do www.DrChristinaHibbert.comfeel about ourselves. Healthy self-esteem means we have a positive outlook about ourselves, others, and life. The world calls this “high self-esteem,” and it is associated with healthier behavior, including greater independence, leadership, life adaptability, resilience to stress (Fox 2000), more sports involvement and exercise, healthier diet, less smoking, and lower suicide risk (Torres & Fernandez, ).


On the other hand, “low self-esteem” is correlated with the absence of wellness and is a frequent underlying aspect of depression, anxiety, low assertiveness, feelings of hopelessness, suicidal ideation, and a poor sense of personal control (Fox 2000). Low self-esteem is also associated with higher self-criticism, negative thinking, an inability to cope effectively with life, and poorer overall mental health, including a greater chance of developing clinical depression, anxiety, suicidal tendencies, eating disorders, stress, substance abuse, and other mental illnesses (Mann et al., 2004).


In fact, self-esteem is one of the strongest predictors of subjective well-being. It is an essential aspect of mental wellness and quality of life (Diener 1984). Feeling good about who, and how, we are helps us feel good about life’s situations and other people, and helps us face challenges with confidence and compassion. Healthy self-esteem is also correlated with greater physical activity, and greater physical activity is correlated with higher self-esteem (Fox 2000). It’s therefore crucial we develop healthy self-esteem if we want a rich, healthy, and happy life. As we’ll discuss below, exercise can play a valuable role in helping us achieve this.”


“Which Comes First—Exercise or Self-esteem?

Researchers have long been asking, “Which comes first—self-esteem or

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exercise?” We know there is a high correlation between those who are physically active with healthy self-esteem. Common consensus is that this relationship goes both ways. Those who already have high self-esteem are more likely to exercise and participate in sports, especially those who feel confident in their physical abilities and appearance. On the flip side, those with lower self-esteem and physical self-perceptions, including those who suffer from depression, anxiety, and other mental health disorders, are less likely to engage in regular physical activity. However, this group has the most to gain from exercise, and research shows that regular exercise increases positive self-feelings and evaluations, meaning they feel more confident, capable, and healthy through regular exercise and activity, leading to higher overall self-esteem (Fox 2000).


While research can’t exactly pinpoint, it appears there are several mechanisms that lead to improved self-esteem from exercise.

First, as we already know, exercise improves mood and enhances positive self-regard. This, in turn, seems to have a positive effect on self-esteem.

Second, exercise can improve body image, satisfaction, and acceptance for some, which increases overall self-esteem.

Third, exercise leads us to feel more physically competent, which may then improve how we feel about ourselves overall.

Fourth, exercise helps us feel more in control of our appearance, health, and bodily functioning, which can increase a sense of self-efficacy.

And finally, exercise, and especially group exercise, can improve relationships and increase a sense of belonging, which is important in the development of self-esteem (Fox 2000).


Overall, it’s likely that each of these factors interplay to create improvements in mind, body, and self-esteem. Since exercise helps us improve our physical, mental, emotional, social, and spiritual health, it makes sense that this would lead to a greater quality of life and improved sense of self-worth. When we stick with an exercise or fitness routine, we demonstrate motivation and dedication, both of which are associated with greater self-esteem and self-perceptions (Fox 2000). Bottom line: no matter how it works, exercise and self-esteem go hand in hand.



“Exercise, Self-Esteem and Self-Worth

Why, then, if exercise holds so many secret ingredients for our mental health and wellbeing, is it only weakly correlated with how we perceive our ourselves, especially our bodies? I have a theory. I believe this happens because too many of us still don’t feel our self-worth. Even when the outward evidence says, “You’re important! You’re valuable! You’re an amazing human being!” we don’t believe it. We believe our own “evidence” instead, evidence we’ve collected through our whole lives via true or untrue thoughts, beliefs, and perceptions of experiences. This “evidence” says, “I’m not good enough.”


One of the main problems with self-esteem is that it’s mostly based on external

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Zion Ponderosa Women’s Adventure Retreat

sources. Research shows that basing our worth on external sources—like appearance, academic or physical performance, or approval from others—leads to greater anger, stress, relationship and academic problems, and higher alcohol and drug use and eating disorders (Crocker 2002).


In contrast, those who base their worth on internal, constant sources, such as being a virtuous person or sticking to moral standards, tend to have greater success in life, including higher grades and lower likelihood of eating disorders and drug/alcohol use. In fact, students in one study who based their self-worth on outward sources, like academic performance, were found to have poorer self-esteem, even when their grades were higher than others (Crocker ). This shows the power of having a true, deep sense of self-worth versus basing our worth on self-perceptions and self-esteem.


Understanding self-worth is crucial in exercise for mental health success; it helps us believe we can do it, stick with it, and reach our fullest mental and physical health potential. When we feel confident, we’re not only more likely to exercise; we’re more likely to let go of the self-perceptions and beliefs that hold us back and make us feel like a “failure.” We’re more likely to overcome the roadblocks, stop unhealthy thoughts and beliefs, and stay motivated and dedicated to exercise. As psychologist Nathaniel Branden writes, “The level of our [sense of self-worth] has profound consequences for every aspect of our existence: how we operate in the workplace, how we deal with people, how high we are likely to rise, how much we are likely to achieve—and in the personal realm, with whom we are likely to fall in love, how we interact with our spouse, children, and friends, what level of personal happiness we attain” (1995, p.4-5). Yes, we need self-worth.”

~Excerpt from 8 Keys to Mental Health Through Exercise, Key 2



Read all of “Key 2: Improve your Self-Esteem with Exercise,” in my NEW book, 8 Keys to Mental Health Through Exercise

And read more excerpts, like “How to Get (& Stay) Motivated!” and posts like “Mental Health  Through Exercise–Key 1: Make it fun!”

Learn more about building self-esteem and self-worth here.


How does exercise impact your sense of self-esteem and self-worth? I’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment, below!

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 “8 Keys to Mental Health Through Exercise

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“The Pyramid of Self-Worth”: Step 3–Practice Self-Love (& video)

"The Pyramid of Self-Worth": Step 3--Practice Self-Love (& video); www.DrChristinaHibbert.comIt sounds simple, yet so many of us get stuck on this one. Some think, “I love myself,” then, hesitantly wonder, “Don’t I?” Others believe, “I don’t love myself enough” or “I’m not even sure how.” (If you missed parts 1-3 of this series on How to Feel Self Worth, catch up here.)

Self-love is at the core of feeling self-worth, so it’s imperative we each learn to love ourselves more completely. It would be easy for me to therefore say, “Go love yourself,” and leave it at that. But I know from experience that for many of us, knowing how to “love yourself” can feel downright tricky.


What Self-Love is NOT

Before we can practice self-love, we must understand what self-love means. First, let’s get clear on what self-love is NOT:

Self-love is NOT…"The Pyramid of Self-Worth": Step 3--Practice Self-Love;

  • Selfishness. It’s not selfish to love yourself. In fact, selfishness involves very little self-love.
  • Narcissism. Self-love is not narcissistic either. Narcissists don’t actually know how to love themselves—or others, really.
  • The opposite of other-love. Nope. Self-love is an important part of loving others. You will never fully love others until you learn to love yourself. You cannot give what you do not already possess.


What Self-Love IS, & How to Practice Self-Love

Then what IS self-love? The way I see it, self-love has four important elements, and when we’re able to focus on and practice each of these, we begin to experience true self-love and feel our true self-worth.

Watch this 3-Minute Therapy video on my YouTube channel on “Feeling Self-Worth: Step 3, Self-Love.” Then, continue reading, below.

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Self-love IS…


  • Self-Compassion (developing loving thoughts and feelings about yourself). I love the concept of self-compassion. It takes into account all of who we are—our good and not so good—and allows us to apply a loving hand when we most need it. As self-compassion researcher and author, Kristen Neff, writes, “Compassion, then, involves the recognition and clear seeing of suffering. It also involves feelings of kindness for people who are suffering, so that the desire to help—to ameliorate suffering—emerges. Finally, compassion involves recognizing our shared human condition, flawed and fragile as it is…Self-compassion, by definition, involves the same qualities.”[i] When we exhibit self-compassion, we choose to think and feel kindly toward ourselves, despite our suffering and mistakes. It allows us to see we’re just like everyone else—perfectly flawed—and it allows us to touch our flawed nature with self-love. Self-compassion stems from our thoughts—we choose to think with kindness and compassion about ourselves. (More on this, read “Perfect?” or “Fake”: 8 Myths about Perfectionism & 8 Truths to Cure It)


  • Self-Kindness (doing nice things for yourself). Beyond taking care of yourself and practicing self-compassion, it’s also important to do nice things for yourself. For some, this may mean giving yourself a break by getting someone to watch your kids for you, or letting yourself go for a hike with friends instead of cleaning the house. It may mean getting a massage for a sore back, savoring a tasty treat, watching your favorite TV show, or finally booking that long-overdue vacation. It may be as simple as telling yourself you look terrific when you look in the mirror, smiling and shaking it off when you make a mistake, or reminding yourself, “I am a good person.” A good question to ask is, “What would I do to show kindness to someone else?” Then, do that for yourself. (For more on this, read Learning Self-Love: 5 Tricks for Treating Yourself More Kindly)

 "The Pyramid of Self-Worth": Step 3--Practice Self-Love;

  • Letting others love you. Let down your walls and let the love in. Letting love in not only builds strong, healthy relationships that reinforce your self-love, it creates a stronger healthier YOU. Let others do kind things for you to show you their love. These small acts of kindness and love can make a big impact if you will let them into your heart. Practice receiving a compliment with a simple, “Thank you.” When others ask if they can help or serve you, say, “Yes, that would be wonderful.” Even returning a smile from a stranger can help the walls come down and the love begin to enter our hearts. And listen: if you think no one loves you, you’re wrong. Look around you. Seek to open up a little bit more each day and let the kindness of others plant the seeds of love in your heart. It’s one of the kindest things you can do for yourself. (For more on this, read 10 Ways to Let Love In & 5 Things I Know For Sure About Love)



Build Your Sense of Self-Worth:

Self-Love Tools

1)    Practice Self-Care, as described above and here.

2)    Practice Self-Compassion: Listen to what you say to yourself throughout each day. Are you compassionate when things go wrong? What would the compassionate response be, instead? Work to replace negative or hurtful thoughts with your new compassionate alternatives.

3)    Practice Self-Kindness: Each day, do one kind thing for yourself. It might be a nap, or time out with your friends, or it might be a massage, or a little extra sleep. It might, and should, often include choosing to believe the compassionate thoughts and feelings you’re attempting to create.

4)    Read, “Learning Self-Love: 5 Tricks for Treating Yourself More Kindly,” for more ideas.

Join me next week for the final part of this 5-part series on How to Feel Self-Worth. SUBSCRIBE, below, so you won’t miss a thing!

(Part 1) How to Feel Self-Worth: The Pyramid of Self-Worth

(Part 2) “The Pyramid of Self-Worth”: Step 1, Self-Awareness

(Part 3) “The Pyramid of Self-Worth”: Step 2, Self-Acceptance

How do you practice self-love? What gets in your way? Share your thoughts on this important topic by leaving a comment, below!

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“The Pyramid of Self-Worth” Step 2–Practice Self-Acceptance (& video)

"The Pyramid of Self-Worth" Step 2--Practice Self-Acceptance; #selfesteem (Part 3 of this 5-part series)“Because one believes in oneself, one doesn’t try to convince others. Because one is content with oneself, one doesn’t need others’ approval. Because one accepts oneself, the whole world accepts him or her.” ~Laozi (Lao-Tsu)


So far we have discussed how The Pyramid of Self-Worth can help you feel your true worth, and then how Self-Awareness is the first layer of the pyramid, or the first step. Today, we focus on layer two—Self-Acceptance.


Step 2: Practice Self-Acceptance

Once you can see all of you and how you are in this world (Self-Awareness), it’s time to work on accepting it. Now, I know that this can be one of the hardest steps for many people, especially women, but it’s also one of the most important. It’s important because, until you learn to accept yourself, you will never feel good enough. You will continue to battle against yourself, holding yourself back and preventing love. You don’t want that, do you? I didn’t think so.


Why is Self-Acceptance so hard?

Years ago, as I developed and started using The Pyramid of Self-Worth in my psychology practice, I was surprised to find how many people struggled with self-acceptance. After we had been working on self-awareness for a while I would ask my clients, “Can you accept the things you’ve discovered about yourself now?” I’m not sure why I expected that in seeing who they really were, they would naturally then accept who they were. Over and over I would hear things like, “I see it, but I don’t know how to accept it.”

I was also surprised to find that people (my clients, friends, and myself included) struggled more to accept their strengths than weaknesses. “People always say I’m a giving person, but I don’t feel like I give enough,” they’d say. Again, I wondered how to help someone feel something they’d never felt before.

Psychologist Carl Jung once said, “The most terrifying thing is to accept oneself completely.” Why is this so? What is so terrifying about seeing and accepting the truth? This is a question which can only be answered individually, but there are a few things I think make self-acceptance hard:

  • For one, we aren’t sure how to accept ourselves. We fight with ourselves, trying to protect ourselves, without even knowing we’re doing it. Instead, we must learn to give up the fight, and to submit to self-acceptance.
  • Some mistakenly think self-acceptance is “bragging” or “selfish,” and may fear what others think if they accept who they are. This is a case of misunderstanding self-acceptance. Self-acceptance isn’t saying, “I’m better than others.” It’s simply saying, “I see who I am right now, and I embrace it.”
  • Finally, fear gets in the way of self-acceptance. We may fear that, in accepting, we agree with how we are—that accepting means we plan to stay that way. Some are afraid because to them, self-acceptance requires us to change, and certainly change can be scary and challenging. Niether of these is true. It is up to us if we choose to change the things we accept or not, but one thing is certain: we cannot make any change, or choose to grow, until we first accept how things are right now.


Watch this 3-Minute Therapy video on my YouTube channel: “Feeling Self-Worth: Step 2, Self-Acceptance.”

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What is self-acceptance?

To me, self-acceptance is the process of being where we are long enough to appreciate where we have been and where we are headed. It is an end to the pursuits of “self-esteem” and “trying to be something or someone,” for self-acceptance allows us to simply be who we really are.

At this moment, you are how you are. You feel what you feel. You’ve done what you’ve done. Your circumstances are your circumstances, and all of these must be accepted. Some definitions of the word, “accept,” include: to come to terms with something; to process something; to receive for review. Accepting yourself, therefore, means you are ready to come to terms with yourself.

If you’ve been working on Step 1, Self-Awareness, then you’ve seen some of your strengths and weaknesses—things you"The Pyramid of Self-Worth" Step 2--Practice Self-Acceptance; (part 3 of this 5-part series) #selfesteem love about yourself and things you do not love. With self-acceptance, it’s time to process what you have seen, and to receive it for review. Review implies you can change that part of you if you choose, but only after you’ve accepted it. It’s saying, “I definitely have a quick temper (deep breath). Ok. I accept that is how I am now. I would, however, like to work on that.” Or, it’s saying, “I am really great at helping people feel loved. I really like that about me, and I want to share it.” You don’t have to suddenly like what you’ve seen or even want to change it; you simply have to accept that it is.


How to Practice Self-Acceptance: 3 Keys to Keep in Mind

1)    Self-acceptance, at its core, is a choice. It’s a decision we make about ourselves. When I fail to accept myself, only I stand in my way. I choose to hold myself back because I simply cannot let go and let the way things are be “okay” with me. Do you understand the power of what I’m saying? It is in our head. It is up to us. Self-acceptance is our choice.


2)    Self-acceptance is unconditional. It’s not that we accept what we like and reject what we do not. That’s what gets us into self-esteem trouble in the first place. No. Self-acceptance is an “all-in” deal. It means you are willing to let go of judgment and let things be as they are. It does not mean you’re giving up or giving in. In fact, the opposite is true. As you accept all things unconditionally, you open the door to true personal growth and development.


3)    Self-acceptance is a process. It can feel like a huge thing—accepting yourself as a whole. Some are able to put all the pieces together and say, “This is how I am, and I accept me,” while others struggle to accept event he smallest piece. Though some people are able to accept all parts of themselves in one motion, for most of us, it’s not that quick or easy. For most, self-acceptance is a day-by-day, moment-by-moment process. As new traits, behaviors, and qualities in us arise, we find ourselves needing to accept them once again. In many cases, I’ve found, it’s most helpful to begin by accepting the small pieces as they come. As you become aware of a part of you–of a trait or ability or weakness–you can choose to accept it. Then, you can choose to accept the next thing you see. It can feel less overwhelming this way, yet still leads toward the eventual goal of complete self-acceptance. Some will likely be difficult to accept, but with time and work, the process of self-acceptance will cleanse and free you.


Bottom line…

Self-Acceptance is a daily—sometimes moment-by-moment—choice we make. It is a lifelong process, and it is unconditional. As we work to accept who we are, we open ourselves up to self-love (which we’ll talk about next time). As we accept who we are, we begin to feel our true potential and the worth of our precious soul.


Build Your Sense of Self-Worth

Self-Accptance Tools

1) Ask yourself the following questions. They will help you better understand how accepting you are, and what might be holding you back.

  • What is most authentic about you?
  • What is your greatest fear?
  • What do you most fear people will find out about you?
  • What do you wish people knew about you?
  • When do you feel most truly yourself?
  • Who are you without your mask on, without your “persona,” without your ego?
  • What gets you in touch with your spirit?
  • What makes you feel alive?

 2) Choose to accept what you see in yourself today. When a trait pops up, take  deep breath, then say, “I accept this about myself.” You don’t have to love it or feel anything about it, and you certainly don’t have to judge what you see. Simply choose to accept–bit-by-bit.

Leave a comment, below, and let us know…

How do you feel about self-acceptance? Is is hard for you? If so, what holds you back? If not, what helps you accept yourself?

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Be sure to check out Dr. Hibbert’s Amazon Bestseller, This is How We Grow
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"The Pyramid of Self-Worth" Step 2--Practice Self-Acceptance; #selfesteem (Part 3 of this 5-part series)

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“The Pyramid of Self-Worth” Step 1–Practice Self-Awareness (& video)

"The Pyramid of Self-Worth": Step 1--Practice Self-Awareness; www.DrChristinaHibbert.comIn my last post, we discussed how to feel self-worth, using what I call, “The Pyramid of Self-Worth.” Today, we get to start working through the steps of the pyramid, toward our ultimate goal of increasing our sense of self-worth.

Before we start, let me say, I realize this is just a blog, and we certainly won’t be able to cover every aspect of discovering self-worth for every person, but I believe in these principles, and I’ve seen them work before. Following The Pyramid of Self-Worth, we can discover, or rather uncover, who we really are. We can feel our true potential. We can grow in self-worth.

Understanding Self-Awareness

What is self-awareness?

Before we can practice self-awareness, we first must understand what self-awareness is and what gets in our way of being more self-aware. For our purposes, self-awareness means “the ability to allow yourself to see all of you—including the good, the not-so-good, and yes, even the ugly.”

What blocks self-awareness?

For many, self-awareness is difficult. Some simply have no interest in self-awareness, but most start out aware but then block self-awareness. Why is this so? Bottom line…I think it all boils down to fear:

1)    Fear of seeing something really ugly if we dig too deep.

2)    Fear of feeling worse about ourselves because of what we see.

3)    Fear that, once we see, we’ll have to make change, and changing can be scary.


Watch this “3-Minute Therapy” YouTube video on “Feeling Self-Worth: Step 1–Practice Self-Awareness.”

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Self-awareness requires courage.

It certainly can be challenging to become self-aware. Self-awareness requires courage. You may be saying, “But I’m not courageous.” Yes, you are. It takes courage to read this article. It takes courage to get honest with yourself and how you are, and who you are. It takes courage to desire to change, to work on that desire. Yes, you are courageous, and that is great news, because self-awareness requires courage.


Self-Awareness dispels the fear and brings peace.

Sure, it might be tough to see what we see at first, but eventually, as we see all of who we are, we become free of it. As we courageously take a deep breath, open up our heart, and step inside, we find the truth, and as the bible says, “the truth shall set you free”—free of fear. It’s easy to fear the monsters hiding in the closet, but seeing them in the light takes the fear away. The more of us we expose to the light, the less there is to fear, because the more we know.

Self-awareness opens us up to the truth, and that gives us the opportunity we need to accept that truth, as we will discuss in the next post. This is the ultimate gift of self-awareness—peace. No longer do we fight against the dark parts of who we are; instead, as we see and name the darkness, we bring it to light. And who’s afraid of the light?


Self-Awareness can be exciting.

Hard as it might be to practice self-awareness, it can also be exhilarating. We not only see the “negatives;” we also get to discover our strengths. We get to understand who we really are, and not just who others, or the world, tell us we are. We get to grow toward our true potential. That’s why self-awareness is such an exciting endeavor: It opens the door for lifelong progress.


 The Pyramid of Self-Worth: Step 1–Practice Self-Awareness

So, how do we begin the process of self-awareness? Here are a few strategies to get you off and on your way:~Dr. Christina Hibbert, from "The Pyramid of Self-Worth": Step 1, Practice Self-Awareness;

1) First and foremost–Leave the judgment out of it. Self-awareness is not self-judgment. It’s looking, and seeing, and discovering who you really are. So, check your judgment at the door. Let yourself open up and freely see it all. 


2) Take a searching look at who you are. Ask yourself, “Who am I?” Then, listen. You will likely hear all kinds of answers–from the outward descriptions, like “I am a teacher, friend, and runner”–to the inward, “I am hopeful, happy, hard-working”–to the very deep, “I am God’s child. I am a spirit, an eternal soul. I am love. I am filled with divine potential.” Whatever you hear, take note. You are beginning an important process, one that will last a lifetime. Take your time and listen to what your heart is continually whispering about you.


3) Take a closer look at how you are. Ask, “How am I?” I’m not talking about how you feel; I’m talking about how you are in the world–with other people, in your daily life, in your relationships. How do other people see you? What strengths or weaknesses have you seen through other people’s eyes? What have other people said about you from which you might learn something? We’re not interested in judgments of who you are as much as opening your eyes to see all of who and how you are. So, be willing to open yourself up. Be willing to see how you are in the world. Gather the evidence like a detective. Lay all judgment aside. Simply open your eyes and take a courageous look.


4) See your weaknesses. We all have them, you know–weaknesses. Some of us can easily identify twenty, while others might struggle to see even one or two. Whichever end of the spectrum you’re on, it’s time to get realistic. See the things with which you struggle. See the areas that need more work. You might have a quick temper, be extremely shy, have debilitating fears, suffer from depression, or be extremely sensitive to hormone changes or sleep loss. Whatever weaknesses you discover, remember this: Weaknesses do not make you a weak person. They make you human. With time and work, your weaknesses can become your greatest strengths. 


5) See your strengths. Some of us struggle more to see our strengths than our weaknesses. Some reject compliments or any words of kindness or praise. But we have strengths, too–all of us. You might be a great listener, an excellent cook, a talented musician, gardener, or computer genius. You might be great with kids, a natural leader, extremely compassionate, or responsible. Search out your strengths. They are your best assets–the ones you’ll eventually want to develop and share with the world. Seeing your strengths is an important part of self-awareness, for they are an important part of who you are and who you are destined to become. (More on strengths & weaknesses, read this.)


Be sure to check out all of this 5-part series:

(Part 1) How to Feel Self-Worth: “The Pyramid of Self-Worth (& video)

(Part 3) “The Pyramid of Self-Worth”: Step 2, Practice Self-Acceptance (& video)

Build Your Sense of Self-Worth–

Self-Awareness Tools

Try one or more of these “tools” to help you begin your practice of self-awareness.

1) Practice self-awareness. As you go throughout your day today, open your heart and your eyes. Notice how you interact with others. Notice how you feel inside. Notice the things that come easy to you and those with which you struggle. Work on leaving the judgment out–simply see. When it gets hard to see these things, stop and take 10 deep breaths. Remind yourself that self-awareness is a courageous act, one that will lead you to a stronger sense of self-worth and purpose. At the end of the day, write down what you have discovered.

2) Create your “I Am” List. Imagine you’re a detective, out to explore and gather the facts about who you are. Start with two lists: “I am,” and “I am not.” The more you uncover, the more you keep adding to your lists.

3) Start a list of “strengths” and “weaknesses.” Again, no judgment. Your job is merely to uncover the truth–to see all parts of you. Add to your lists as you learn more and more about yourself. Read this article for more on Strengths & Weaknesses.


Leave a comment below with your thoughts on self-awareness, and be sure to join us next time as we work on “Self-Acceptance.”


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How to Feel Self-Worth: “The Pyramid of Self-Worth” [& video]

How to Feel Self-Worth: "The Pyramid of Self-Worth" [w/ #Video]; #selfesteemSeveral years ago, in my psychology practice, I began to wonder, “How can I help my clients feel their true worth and value?” For years, women and men had come in with various problems for which they were seeking help—relationships, depression, anxiety, fears, addictions—but underlying each of these “issues” was a bigger one—low self-esteem, or what I call “a poor sense of self-worth.” They may have thought they were struggling with anxiety, but really there was a deep sense they could do nothing right; or they thought they were “a recovering perfectionist,” but really they were terrified they just weren’t good enough. Yes, self-esteem and self-worth are core issues for most of us, at one point or another.

(For more on self-esteem vs. self-worth, check out the following articles: Self-Esteem & Self-Worth: 10 Things Everyone Should Know; 5 Reasons Self-Esteem is a Myth; If Self-Esteem is a Myth, then what is the Truth: Understanding Self-Worth; Self-Esteem vs. Self-Worth: Q & A w/Dr. Christina Hibbert)


The Question of Self-Worth

But how do you help someone feel loveable if they don’t believe they are? I started by teaching the tools of cognitive-behavioral therapy, like how to use a thought record to change your thinking. This helped, to some degree. It targeted the thoughts and feelings that led to poor self-worth and created more realistic beliefs. It helped people think more positively about themselves. It helped them feel more confident–sometimes. Basically, it increased self-esteem.

However, I kept hearing, “I know you’re telling me I am important and of value. I can even tell it to myself, because I know, in my head, it should be true. But I don’t feel it.” Something was obviously missing–the experience of self-worth–the ability to feel their true, innate, and infinite value.

I wanted to know what I could do to help people feel self-worth–not just try to convince them to believe what I felt and saw of their worth. I wanted them to experience it for themselves. I began to read, study, and ponder about self-esteem and self-worth. I read book after book. Soon, I had created “The Pyramid of Self-Worth,” or my theory on how to teach people to experience and feel their true worth and value.

I even chose self-worth as the theme for the first year of my Personal Growth Group (which is a group of women who gather once a month to hear a lesson and work on personal growth together, and now is online, too). This allowed an entire year to work through my theory and test it with my friends, group members, and clients. Finally, I began to see real results.


The Pyramid of Self-Worth

Check out this 3-Minute Therapy video from my YouTube channel for a quick overview of “The Pyramid of Self-Worth.”


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The basic premise of The Pyramid of Self-Worth is this: Instead of creating our sense of self by what we think, or how we look, or what we do—self-esteem—we must build our sense of self-worth by going deep inside, into our soul. As we do this, we stop basing our worth on a “persona,” false false self, or ego. Rather, we build our sense of self-worth from the inside–by getting to know who we already are, who we desire to be, and who we have the potential to become.

This process begins with self-awareness, to see all of who we are; then, self-acceptacne, to accept what we see, and finally, self-love, or learning to truly cherish and appreciate who we are and who we have the potential to become. These three practices, I have discovered, can eventually lead to a full, rich sense of self-worth. We will be discussing each of these in greater detail in upcoming posts, but for now, allow me to just give you a brief introduction.


The 3 Components of “The Pyramid of Self-Worth”


Before you can accept who you are, you have to see yourself. Self-awareness involves being willing to see your strengthsHow to Feel Self-Worth: "The Pyramid of Self-Worth" [w/ #video]; and weaknesses, your traits and states, your relationships and values and everything that is part of who you really are. It also includes getting in touch with your spirit and listening to what it whispers about your divine worth.


After you see the parts of who you are, it’s time to accept them. Some struggle to accept strengths, while others fail to embrace weakness. Some hear the whispers of who they really are but fail to believe what they hear. Self-acceptance is a crucial element in feeling your true worth, and for many people, is the hardest part.


Beyond simply accepting yourself, you must learn to love yourself. You must learn to embrace your strengths and weaknesses, treat yourself well, and take care of your needs. Self-love involves practicing self-care, self-compassion, and self-kindness. It also involves letting yourself give and receive love to/from others. It is the final layer that unlocks the full experience of self-worth.


How to Feel Self-Worth

As we work through the layers of “The Pyramid of Self-Worth,” we get out of the competitive, comparative, outward space of “self-esteem” and into the loving, accepting, inward space of self-worth. We begin to feel our potential. We begin to experience the love that fills our soul. We begin to understand we are so much more than we ever dreamed, and we begin to see our possibilities are endless. That is feeling self-worth.

 ~This is the first in a series of posts on “How to Feel Self-Worth.” This post is based on an excerpt of Dr. Hibberts forthcoming book on Self-Esteem After a Breakup, with New Harbinger Publications. (Coming March 2015!)


 Be sure to read parts 2-5 as this series continues!

(Part 2) “The Pyramid of Self-Worth”: Step 1, Self-Awareness

Self-Worth Building Tool: 

Each of the posts in this “How to feel self-worth” series includes some “tools,” or exercises to help you build your sense of self-worth. Give it a try and see what you discover about your sense of self-worth. Then, leave a comment, below, and let us know how it’s going!

1)    Can you ever relate to this statement?: “I know you’re telling me I am important and of value, and I can even tell it to myself because I know, in my head, it should be true. But I don’t feel it.”

  • If so, write out the ways in which you can relate. Vent out all that you feel. Examine what you have written.
  • If not, why not? Write it down. Examine what you have written.

2) What do you think/feel about the ideas presented in this post? Do you agree/disagree? Why? Do you have questions? Write these down, then leave a comment, below, and join the discussion.

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Be sure to check out Dr. Hibbert’s Amazon Bestseller, This is How We Grow
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How to Feel Self-Worth: "The Pyramid of Self-Worth" [w/ #Video]; #selfesteem

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(Part 4) “The Pyramid of Self-Worth” Step 3-Self-Love (& video) (coming soon!)
(Part 5) “The Pyramid of Self-Worth” Step 4-Embrace Self-Worth (coming soon!)

Discovering Self-Worth: Why is it so hard to Love Ourselves?

Discovering Self-Worth- Why is it so hard to love ourselves? www.DrChristinaHibbert.comWhy is it so hard? I’ve given a lot of thought to this question over the years, because the number one issue I see in my psychology practice is a struggle with self-worth. People may come in for help with depression, anxiety, relationships, or parenting, but underlying these challenges is almost always “low self-esteem,” a struggle to love oneself.


I’ve read, studied, and watched my clients, friends, family–and yes, myself–struggle to feel self-worth–to truly embrace, believe, and feel it, deep in our bones. I’ve written about how self-esteem is a myth and how we must instead dig down and discover our true, inherent worth. I’ve even developed a model for discovering self-worth, and I’m currently writing a book on self-esteem after a breakup, with more books to come on this important topic.


But it still makes me cringe each time I hear someone say, “I don’t know how to love myself,” or “I try to believe it, but deep down, I don’t feel my self-worth.” I cringe a lot.


Why is it so hard to Love Ourselves?

So, why is it so hard to love ourselves? Why can’t we just believe the books, experts, and centuries-old wisdom that tells us we are so much more than we feel we are? Why can’t we accept our strengths and our weaknesses? Why can’t we simply love ourselves and let love in? I don’t have all the answers for why discovering self-worth and practicing self-love are so hard, but I do have some ideas:


1) Our experiences don’t match what we’re told or shown in the world. We hear, “You are of worth,” “Each soul has infinite value,” “We are all beautiful, talented, amazing, in our own way,” and we may even believe it–for a while. Then, we go out into the harsh world where our beauty and talent are compared to others, where we are judged, and where we learn to judge ourselves. Suddenly, our self-worthy thoughts have vanished. Our own parents or family are often part of this self-doubt system. They may, knowingly or unknowingly, instill in us a struggle with self-worth, through years of criticism, mixed messages, or withheld love. Unfortunately, some live a whole life never hearing a kind word, never feeling the power of true, unconditional love. How can we believe we are worthy of love if we never experience love in its purest form? Even if our parents were loving and taught us self-worth, teachers, friends, and others around us can tarnish our sense of self-worth, if we buy into their lies. Media also contributes, for sure. Images of those who are slimmer, smarter, richer, faster, more creative, more successful, or more beautiful plaster the world outside, create doubt in our world within.


2) We tend to pay more attention to negative experiences than positive ones. In psychology this is called “The Negativity Bias,” and it means that we humans are much more likely to remember and hold to the negatives of life than the positives. We’re also more likely to let the negatives influence our future behavior. They stick to us like glue. We’ll never forget the time our teacher said we were stupid or that cute high school boy said we were ugly, yet we ignore the dozens of things the people who know and love us see and say about how beautiful and intelligent we are. We ignore all the positive evidence of our beauty and worth, opting instead to cling to the negatives.


3) We don’t trust ourselves. Bottom line. We might feel an inkling, or wonder, “Could it be I really AM amazing?” but we don’t believe ourselves. We discount what is already whispering of our worth within, in favor of the loud messages of doubt without. We then go looking for ways to build our “esteem” in the world–to feel better about ourselves by being better than someone else, or finding the right person to build us up, or becoming a perfectionist so we feel worthy of love. But all of these paths to “self-esteem” will ultimately fail, for they are each built on a system of self-doubt. Instead, we must learn to trust ourselves, to listen for and hear and trust the whispers within that show us our true value and worth, to let go of the opinion and voices of others and trust a greater Source.


This is my new favorite picture I took on our family trip to Mexico. Love the beauty and solitude. I was loving myself in this moment.

This is my new favorite picture I took on our family trip to Mexico. Love the beauty and solitude. I was loving myself in this moment.

Discovering Self-Worth

To me, this is the answer for self-esteem problems: learn to tap into the truth within, to hear and feel it. Learning to create experiences outside that match those truths, learning to see the positive evidence around us and believe it–learning to trust, accept, and love ourselves. It can sound very easy, I know. Yet, I also know it’s not–otherwise we would all feel so much self-worth I wouldn’t be writing this. It’s simple, yes. But it’s not easy.


We’re going to work on it.



Help me get this discussion started, by commenting, below! I really am interested in understanding why self-worth is such a challenge for us, and specifically, for you. Why do you think it’s so hard to love ourselves? What stands in your way? Do any of my thoughts ring true for you, or is it something else? Let’s  begin the self-worth revolution! Together, perhaps we can crush the myth of self-esteem and create a world full of self-worth. Wouldn’t that be lovely?



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This is How We Grow:

A psychologist’s memoir of loss, motherhood, and discovering self-worth and joy, one season at a time.

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Goal-Setting: 5 Steps for Personal Growth Success

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“If Self-Esteem is a Myth, then What is the Truth?”: Understanding Self-Worth

"If Self-Esteem is a Myth, the what is the Truth?": Understanding Self-Worth,“If Self-Esteem is a Myth, then what is the Truth?”: Understanding Self-Worth

 I appreciate the feedback I’ve received on my article, “5 Reasons Self-Esteem is a Myth”. Some of you were excited about the insights I shared; some weren’t so sure. If you haven’t read it yet, I suggest you give it a look. In this post, I hope to build upon those ideas, to help us understand a little better why self-esteem isn’t the way to go & why “self-worth” is.


Self-Esteem vs. Self-Worth

 “Aren’t Self-Esteem & Self-Worth the Same Thing?” I’ve heard this question many times, and if you’re using a dictionary, then the answer is: “Yes”. In fact, most definitions for “self-worth” simply say, “See self-esteem”.

I, however, disagree that self-worth and self-esteem are one and the same. Self-esteem, to me, is more external, surface, conditional, and changing, while self-worth is internal, deep, unconditional, and enduring.

Here are a couple definitions I found for “Self-Worth”:

1)   Respect for or a favorable opinion of oneself[1]

2)   One’s worth as a person, as perceived by oneself[2]

3)   The sense of one’s own value or worth as a person (origin 1960-65)[3]

The last two seem closer to what I’m talking about but they’re awfully simple definitions for such a deep, core principle.


Defining Self-Worth: 

What I’m proposing is a new definition of self-worth. Yes, it includes our sense of value or worth as a person. But I take it a step further.

To me, Self-Worth means: The ability to comprehend and accept my true value—to understand I am more than my mind, body, emotions, and behaviors, to see myself as God sees me, to accept His love for me, and to learn to love myself in like manner.


Self-Worth is Deep

 I know this is getting a little deep and spiritual, but to me, self-worth is deep and spiritual. Too many of us settle for “self-esteem”—for Understanding Self-Worth: "If Self-Esteem is a Myth, then what is the Truth?", www.drchristinahibbert.comfeeling good about how we act, look, feel, think—instead of seeking what lies beneath. We fail to get to know our true selves because we’re too caught up in the selves we create.

No matter how much we learn to love who we seem to be on the outside, we will never fully embrace our worth until we dig deeper. Self-worth isn’t about our outsides. It’s about knowing who we really are on the inside. It’s about connection—to other people, to our true selves, and to our Higher Power.


Self-Worth is Accepting the Truth

As I accept the Truth—that I am not a “personality” but rather a “soul,” with innate, unchanging potential and worth—I learn to accept all of me: my strengths and weaknesses, my “good” and my “not so good”. I see that I can choose to become stronger or weaker, but these things don’t define me. I can then let go of who I or others think I am and just be who I am. Because who I am is a divine soul, full of light and love and joy and all things good. I just have to go deeper and see it.

Perhaps Marianne Williamson’s brilliant (and now famous) quote says it best:

 “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that frightens us most. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and famous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that people won’t feel insecure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in all of us. And when we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”[4]

I agree. We were “born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.” And it is “in all of us.” Understanding this Truth not only allows us to freely accept and love ourselves, it opens the door for us to help others do the same.


Self-Worth is Possible for All

I know some of you don’t believe me. I know there are some who are reading this and thinking, “Yeah, right. That might be true for some people, but it’s not true for me.”  You don’t believe you will ever experience self-worth.

Well, I’m here to tell you you’re wrong. You are of worth. You are valuable. You are loveable. You are important. You are essential to this world. And you don’t have to believe me. Not yet. You just have to open yourself up to the possibility. Open yourself up to the idea, and you can and will someday know for yourself that what I say is true. For everyone. Even for you.

What do you think about self-worth and self-esteem? Questions? Challenges? Comments? Join the conversation below.

More on this Topic: 

Check out my 5-part series on How to Feel Self-Worth using “The Pyramid of Self-Worth” and also

Self-Esteem vs. Self-Worth: Q & A w/Dr. Christina Hibbert [plus video]

#1 Amazon Bestseller, This Is How We Grow, by Dr. Christina Hibbert, Available now on!
Be sure to check out Dr. Hibbert’s Amazon Bestseller, This is How We Grow
available now on!

 "If Self-Esteem is a Myth, the what is the Truth?": Understanding Self-Worth,

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[1] Online Dictionary in “Reference Tools,” Microsoft Word.

[2] Webster’s Dictionary, hardcover, 1998.

[4] Williamson, M. (1996). A Return to Love, quote.