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

Zion Ponderosa Women's Adventure Retreat www.ZionPonderosa.com

Zion Ponderosa Women’s Adventure Retreat www.ZionPonderosa.com

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!

My new book, available on Amazon.com!

 “8 Keys to Mental Health Through Exercise

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Listen to my episode of  “Motherhood” radio, “Overcoming Roadblocks (& Excuses) to Exercise for Mental (& Physical) Health” for more tips on self-esteem and exercise!  Listen on demand/download the episode at WebTalkRadio.net, and/or visit iTunes to subscribe.

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PPD & Motherhood Mental Health: Self-Care & Letting Help In–The 2 Most Important Things (PSI Blog Hop 2014)

PPD & Motherhood Mental Health: Self-Care & Letting Help In--The 2 Most Important Things (PSI Blog Hop 2014); www.DrChristinaHibbert.com #PPD #postpartum #PSIBlog #motherhoodIt wasn’t until I first became a mother–with a beautiful baby boy I dearly loved, yet still struggling through postpartum depression–that I realized how hard it was to practice self-care and let others help me. I thought I could—and should—do it all on my own. It was my downfall, making my depression worse. I didn’t realize how much sleep deprivation messed with my emotions. I didn’t yet understand how asking for and receiving help would be one of the most important components of self-care for me. I didn’t yet know it is one of the most important components of self-care for everyone.

My fourth postpartum depression (PPD) episode was unlike the first three. So much more intense. So much more complex. My sister and brother-in-law had recently died and we had inherited our two nephews only 4 weeks to the day that our fourth baby was born. We had three kids, and then we had six.

But, I had grown over the years as a mother. I had become a clinical psychologist specializing in maternal mental health and perinatal mood disorders. I had founded The Arizona Postpartum Wellness Coalition to help other mothers and families. I had taught courses and given speeches and written articles on PPD and the Baby Blues, and I knew, 100%, how badly I needed to take care of myself and let help in.

Because this fourth postpartum experience was such a complex and challenging time, I immediately set up all my resources. I scheduled counseling sessions—for me and my husband, for our nephews, then 6 and 10, and for our two other sons, then 8 and 11. I let people do laundry for me, take my 4 year-old daughter for play dates, bring in meals, and even help me paint the nursery and prepare my home for my two new sons.

PSI Blog Hop 2014--#PPD & #Motherhood #MentalHealth Recovery: Self-Care & Letting Help In, The 2 Most Important Things; www.DrChristinaHibbert.com #postpartum #PSIBlog

My children, first meeting their new little sister. 2007

After a few months though, when grief hit hard, I started to feel like I didn’t want to burden others. I didn’t want them to have to be around me because I felt so negative inside. I didn’t want to complain or whine or be crying all the time. And, if I’m being honest, I really felt like no one could understand what I was going through. How could they? It was so messy and raw and painful on so many levels. I felt weaker than ever before and isolated myself. I got quiet.

As I wrote, in my memoir, This is How We Grow, of that time, “I…know I haven’t invited anyone in. I take responsibility for that. I let myself seem ‘fine’ when I’m in public. I am ‘fine’ when I’m in public. That doesn’t mean I don’t have my hard times at home, or even that ‘fine’ is good enough. I wish others would notice the redness of my eyes, the dark circles around them, my sighing, the energy it takes to smile.” (p. 161)

Since my memoir came out last November, several close friends have said, after reading it, “I feel so badly, I never knew how much you were suffering.”

“I didn’t let people in,” I’ve replied. “There was no way you could have known.”

Luckily, I let my husband in. And I let my psychologist in. And I let my inner psychologist weigh in and remind me of the coping skills I’d already developed. Luckily, I at least did that much, and it was enough to get me out of the darkest days and into other help, like an antidepressant, friends, family, and writing my story.

 

We Mustn’t Get Quiet
But, one week ago yesterday, my dear friend lost her life as a result of mental illness. Her three children have been best friends with my children for ten years. She was their “second mom,” like I have been to her kids. It is an incomprehensible loss for her husband and children. It is a devastating loss for my children, for me, and for our entire community.

She had been trying to work on self-care, though I knew, like so many other mothers, it didn’t come naturally to her. She had been setting up and trying to utilize her support network. Outwardly, she had been doing those things that seemed right and good and helpful. But I can see now, despite all her efforts with self-care, she didn’t know how to do the one most important thing: let all that help in.

 

Self-Care is Crucial
How many other mothers, and children, and fathers, and families have to suffer, or even die, before we get it—that self-care isn’t about excess and dawdling and bon-bons on the couch watching soap operas. Self-care is a necessity. It’s about life, and health, and joy; it’s also about preventing despair, isolation, and death. At its core, self-care is about letting help in.

 

How can we help moms in need?
After a friend of mine heard of our tragic loss last week, she said to me, tears streaming down her face, “There have to be so many others out there who are suffering alone and won’t—or don’t know how—to let people in. What can we do?”

This question has been on my mind all week. What can we do? The following four things are, to me, the most important. If we can do these four things, we can stop the suffering, be there for each other, and keep our mothers safe, healthy, and strong so they can do what they do best—love and nurture their children.

 

1) Learn about and practice self-care. Learn to let help in. We must all learn how to take better care of ourselves. We must talk about, and teach, and encourage letting others help us, too. PSI Blog Hop 2014: PPD & Motherhood Mental Health Recovery--Self-Care & Letting Help In, The 2 Most Important Things; www.DrChristinaHibbert.com“In our darkest times it is easy to feel better off alone and isolate. Our suffering is personal, and no one shares it in the same way, so why even bother? But, I can tell you–we do need others, whether we feel like it or not…Making islands of ourselves only causes more pain.” (This Is How We Grow, p. 153)

This is especially important for pregnant and postpartum mothers, and for mothers going through stressful circumstances or dealing with mental health concerns. But it’s equally as important for all mothers and women—because we are the nurturers of families and communities. It’s also important that we educate our children and teens and young adults about self-care, that we model it for them so they may learn to see self-care as an essential part of a healthy life.

 

2) See others’ needs. It’s hard to see others’ needs if they don’t let you in, but one thing I know for sure is we must use our gut, not just our natural eyes. If you feel something’s not quite right, please say something or do something. Yes, it’s okay to ask a mother if she is struggling. Yes, it’s okay to tell her she seems sad and ask what you can do. We must ask and talk about it, for it sends the message that none of us is alone. It reminds us we have a friend, a hand held out in the dark. I often say, “I’d rather say something and be wrong than not say something and wish I would have.” (Read “3 Messages Every Mom Needs to Hear.”)

 

3) Offer support now. If you have the impression to send a text or post a quote on her Facebook page, do it. If you’re driving by and feel you should stop, please do. You might talk yourself out of it: “She’s busy.” “I don’t want to intrude.” But you’re not intruding, and even if she’s busy, she’ll at least know you care. As I write in This is How We Grow, “How do we connect? We listen. We hear. We respond. We feel. We reach out and ask, ‘How are you?’ and wait for the honest answer. Then, we reach out again. And again. We say, ‘I’m so sorry. My heart is breaking with you.’ We look past our discomfort, or we say it out loud, ‘I don’t know what to say or do. I just want to be here for you.’ We are willing to be in that space of our own discomfort or pain, because we know it’s not about us. It’s about loving the one we love…Strength and healing are in connection.” (p. 287)

 

4) Stick with her for the long haul. Pregnancy and postpartum depression/anxiety, and maternal mental illness, are not over in a week or a month. Neither are most of the great stresses of motherhood. Continue to ask how she’s doing. Check in regularly. Listen with your heart and not just your head. Keep doing it for as long as it takes to help her be well again.

 

Bottom line…

“We need connection to survive. As poet Mark Nepo writes, ‘The question to put to our daily lives, then, is this: In love, in friendship, in seeking to learn and grow, in trying to understand ourselves…When pressed by life, do I bridge or isolate? Do I reconnect the web of life and listen to its wisdom? Or do I make an island of every confusion as I try to solve its pain?'” (This is How We Grow, p. 153)

May we form a great, strong web–a net of connection and support, so when one of our sisters, friends, mothers, tribe falls, we may catch her. One voice. One hug. One love-filled, supportive, mom-to-mom moment at a time. Together, we are strong.

~Written in loving memory of Jody McDaniel.

My family, today. 2014

My family, today. 2014

 

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PSI Maternal Mental Health Awareness Month Blog Hop

 

Please share your thoughts by leaving a comment, below. What have you found crucial to postpartum and maternal mental health recovery? What suggestions do you have for how we can better help moms in need? Are you willing and ready to join together and form this net of support and love?

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**This is How We Grow Charity Fundraiser**

All proceeds from sales of This is How We Grow during the month of May 2014 will be donated to The McDaniel Family Fund, in honor of Maternal Mental Health Awareness Month and in memory of my dear friend, Jody, who lost her life last week.

Read the fundraiser post here.

 

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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; www.DrChristinaHibbert.com

  • 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.

[stream provider=youtube flv=http%3A//www.youtube.com/watch%3Fv%3DcI9WlyM0yWo img=x:/img.youtube.com/vi/cI9WlyM0yWo/0.jpg embed=false share=false width=640 height=360 dock=true controlbar=over bandwidth=high autostart=false responsive=16:9 /]

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; www.DrChristinaHibbert.com

  • 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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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” [& video]

How to Feel Self-Worth: "The Pyramid of Self-Worth" [w/ #Video]; www.DrChristinaHibbert.com #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.”

 

[stream provider=youtube flv=http%3A//www.youtube.com/watch%3Fv%3D-yWrSkJyzYk img=x:/img.youtube.com/vi/-yWrSkJyzYk/0.jpg embed=false share=false width=640 height=360 dock=true controlbar=over bandwidth=high autostart=false responsive=16:9 /]

 

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”

Self-Awareness

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]; www.DrChristinaHibbert.com 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.

Self-Acceptance

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.

Self-Love

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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(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!)

10 Ways to Let Love In

10 Ways to Let #Love In; www.DrChristinaHibbert.com #ValentinesDayLast week, I posted 5 things I know for sure about love. This week, in honor of Valentine’s Day, I want to focus on how we can increase love in our lives.

 

As I said in my last post, one thing I know for sure is that we all want to love and be loved in return–it’s a core human need. I also said I know for sure that it’s up to us to receive love. What happens when we fail to let love in? We suffer. We begin to believe we’re all alone. We begin to believe we’re not worthy of love, after all.

 

The truth is, sometimes love is there–all around us–but we aren’t willing or able to let it in. It’s in our neighbor, a stranger, flowers blooming, a child. Sometimes, it isn’t that nobody cares. Sometimes we just don’t believe others care. Sometimes we prevent ourselves from feeling that care. Letting love in is a huge part of practicing self-love and feeling our true worth. We must let love in, or, as I said above, we will suffer.

 

So, what are we to do?

First, take a searching look into your life. Are there any ways in which you block love or simply fail to receive it? Do you ever doubt love? Do you actively push it away? Do you feel selfish practicing self-love? If, in any way, you’re lacking love, it’s time to let love in. When we seek love, we find it. Then, it’s up to us to open the door and let it in.

 

10 Ways to Let Love In

Here are ten suggestions to get you started receiving more love today. Add to this list whatever ideas help you open your heart. You’ll feel so much more loved if you will choose to let love in.

 

1)   Smile and say a sincere, “Thank you,” when someone says something nice or loving about you. Take a moment and let their words sink in. Believe them.

 

2)   Accept every hug that comes your way, and make sure to really hug back. Oh, and look for opportunities to give a warm hug, too. Creating opportunities to give and receive love opens us up even more.

 

3)   Next time someone offers to do something thoughtful for you, let them. Say, “Thank you very much,” and mean it. Then, let yourself enjoy.

 

4)   If you suddenly find yourself with a “break” take advantage of it. Sometimes life seems to mysteriously be10 Ways to Let #Love In-www.DrChristinaHibbert.com #ValentinesDay saying, “I love you.” It may be unexpected time off, a moment to relax, or a problem suddenly resolved; whatever it is happily accept it. Say a prayer of gratitude in your heart, and focus on making the best of this love-filled gift.

 

5)   If you’re in nature and feel struck with awe, savor it. Let it fill every part of your body. Receive the love God has put into this beautiful world for you.

 

6)   If you’re a parent, look for the loving moments your children offer (if you’re not a parent, let in the love of a child). Children can offer up some of the purest, most fulfilling love. As parents, it may feel tough sometimes to feel that love, especially if you’re in the middle of parenting challenges, like postpartum depression, feeling like your kids are driving you crazy, or parenting teens (trust me–I’ve been there–still am!). However, as we look for the loving moments with our children and families, we will feel greater love, and joy. Maybe your daughter cleans her room without even being asked, or your toddler stops his playtime to hop in your lap and show you some love, or your teenager actually says, “Nite, Mom, love you.” Savor these moments of love. Soak them up and do not take them for granted. Express your gratitude for these beautiful moments—to your kids, to yourself, and to your Higher Power.

 

7)   Cuddle. With your significant other, with your kids, with your pet—cuddle. Touch is an important way to receive love. It actually increases the chemicals in our body that make us happy, so cuddle away!

 

8)   Next time you think, “I’m going to do something nice for myself,” do it. It could be a bath, a walk, a nap, or time away with friends—whatever it is, do it. It’s good practice to let love in from yourself.

 

9)   When self-doubt faces you, choose instead to let love in. It may come through the words of another person, through a feeling or thought, or even through a message you see online or on TV, but when those little messages that whisper, “You’re more than you think you are. You are loved. You can do it,” come, pay attention. This is love from God. It’s the purest, most joyful love you can receive. Stop, listen, and take it in.

 

10)   Practice opening your heart, so you’re ready to receive whatever love comes your way. If our hearts are open, we won’t be able to block love. Sit silently today, breathe deeply, and imagine your heart growing wider and wider. Imagine it is opening like beautiful, loving doors, welcoming love in greater and greater capacities. Imagine warm arms encircling you, reminding you that you’re made of love, making you feel how loved you truly are. Repeat often.

 

 

Listen to my latest episode of  “Motherhood” radio (airing 2/15/16), with guest Karen Kleiman, for incredible tips about “Tokens of Affection: Strengthening Marriage through and after Depression.” On demand, or download the episode at WebTalkRadio.net, and/or visit iTunes to subscribe!

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5 Things I Know For Sure About LOVE

5 Things I Know For Sure About LOVE; www.DrChristinaHibbert.comI love that February is the month of love. I don’t particularly love Valentine’s Day—for many reasons—but I love the idea of focusing on love at the start of each new year. In January, we focus on how we want to grow, and in February, we focus on love. It’s perfect, really, since “choosing to grow is choosing love.” (This is How We Grow, p. 415) The two go hand in hand.

What is the nature of love, anyway?

There are all kinds of theories and songs and poems about it. Every human in history has probably pondered this question at one point or another. We have all experimented with love–in our relationships, in our quest for self-worth and personal growth, and even in our spiritual connections. But what is love? Where does it come from? How do we create a life that’s full of love?

 

 

5 Things I Know for Sure About Love

I may not know everything about love, but I do know a few things. And these few things may provide a few answers to these huge questions looming above…

 

1)   To love and be loved is a core human need. Without love, we die. The more people I’ve been able to work with over the years, in my own life and as a psychologist, the more it has become obvious—our deepest human need is to love and be loved in return.

 

2)   Love originates with God. The Bible says, “God is love.” It’s true–no matter your religious beliefs or the words you use. God is love, and pure love is God. Humans, since the dawn of time, have spoken of this “great love,” which comes from a divine source and fills their souls. This pure love is available for any and all of us to discover. It’s probably what fuels our human need for love–we crave that Great Love from and connection with our Creator. We need it, to be whole. As we let God’s love for us fill us, we experience true self-worth. We feel the oneness of all things, and have a deep desire to share that love with everyone. We see ourselves in others and know we are not alone. We know that no should ever have to feel alone.

 

3)   We are made of love. When you slow down, get still, and tune in to life, you will feel it: you’re made of love. Just like we each have an unending reservoir of joy deep within, so too are we each made of love. We may not always feel it because it gets covered up and tarnished by the struggles of life. But, every spiritual teacher and practice that has ever existed teaches the same thing: We are one, and we are love. “Love comes from God and nature and light, and fills us, if we let it, like a well that never runs dry. As we receive this love, we become so full of love it pours out of our eyes and mouth and arms, filling those around us, too.” (This is How We Grow, p. 415) It’s true.

 

4)   Love is a cycle.  The cycle includes: 1) giving love, and 2) receiving love. If we are made of love (and we are—trust 5 Things I Know for Sure about LOVE--#blog #post; www.DrChristinaHibbert.comme), and if our greatest human need is love, then it makes sense that the deeper we go, the more love we uncover. It also makes sense that the more love we uncover within ourselves, the more we want to share it with others. Giving love is one of the greatest experiences we can have. But, receiving love is just as important. For example, if we fail to receive love from others, our relationships suffer. If we fail to receive love from God, we lack a sense of how important we really are. If we fail to receive love from ourselves, we feel empty, with little love to share. That’s why receiving love is so important. As I write, “In order to give love, we must receive love; as we receive love, we learn to love ourselves; and as we love ourselves, we have so much more love to give.” This is the cycle of love. Like the waves of the ocean, it is made to ebb and flow. Completing this cycle is the key to a life full of love.

 

5)   It’s up to us to let love in. Yep. It’s up to us to uncover the love burning deep within, and it’s up to us to discover the love that comes from without. Love is everywhere, if we will simply seek it. It’s in the smile of a stranger and the hug of a friend. It’s in the warmth of the sun and the stillness of the snow. Love is in the trust of a family member; it’s in the words I’m writing now. Look for love. Seek it continually, and you will find it. Then, open up your heart and let love in.

 

(For more ways to receive love, stay tuned for my next post! Coming soon!)

What do you know for sure about love? Leave a comment, below, and share the love!

 

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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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“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, www.drchristinahibbert.com“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 Amazon.com! www.ThisIsHowWeGrow.com
Be sure to check out Dr. Hibbert’s Amazon Bestseller, This is How We Grow
available now on Amazon.com!

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

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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.

 

Learning Self-Love: 5 Tricks for Treating Yourself More Kindly

Learning Self-Love:

5 Tricks for Treating Yourself More Kindly

Why is it so tricky to be kind to ourselves? I see it all the time, especially with women—we hold ourselves to impossible standards while cutting others slack, we carry around guilt and self-criticisms, and we fail to give ourselves the breaks we desperately need.

Between my clients, women’s support group members, friends, and, yes, myself, I am constantly surprised by just how hard it can be for we women to show ourselves a little love. We feel unworthy of love or we simply feel “selfish” if we’re not consistently loving others and forsaking ourselves. Believe me, I am a fan of sacrifice, and I’m all for loving others—it’s  what gives life meaning, purpose, and  yes, even joy. BUT—it’s hard to fully love others when we fail to love ourselves. In fact, receiving love (from ourselves & others) is the KEY to giving love. We have to be full before our love can overflow.

 

The Trickiness of Self-Love

It would be easy for me to therefore say, “Go Love Yourself,” and leave it at that. But I know from experience that in most cases it’s just not so simple. In fact, for many of us, knowing how to simply “love ourselves” can feel downright tricky.

So, instead, I ask you to repeat after me: “Today I will be a little bit kinder to myself.” Kindness is the seed of love. When we are kind–to others and to ourselves–we plant, grow, and eventually reap the love we were once lacking. We don’t need to perform incredible acts or make sudden, massive changes in order to increase in self-love. As Mother Theresa wisely spoke, “We can do no great things. Only small things with great love.”

Today let’s choose to get around the “trickiness” of self-love by treating ourselves with a little more kindness. We’re starting small, but with time and persistence, the tiny “treats” we give ourselves will plant in us even greater love–not only for ourselves, but for one and all.

 

Learn Self-Love with “5 Tricks for Treating Yourself More Kindly”

1)   Take care of your physical body. Sleep, nutrition, and exercise are crucial to our physical well-being. And physical well-being is at the core of the mental, emotional and spiritual well-being that helps us feel love. Start with one area and make a small improvement: Start taking those vitamins you know you need; Go for a walk today; Take a “power nap,” or get to bed earlier. Eventually, your body will become stronger and you will feel healthier and more confident; and you’ll know it’s all because you were a little bit kinder to yourself. (Click for Strategies to Improve Sleep).

2)    Ask “Is this the loving decision for me?” Too many of us commit to things we don’t want to do and that aren’t even good for us. Too much of anything is still too much! Many of us think, however, that we are not being kind to “others” if we say no or choose another way. Instead of seeking to know if you are doing the “right” thing or the “nice” thing, ask if you’re doing the loving thing. Sometimes the loving thing requires more discipline; sometimes it allows for more flexibility or relaxation. But I can tell one thing for sure: the loving thing for YOU will almost always also be the loving thing for those you love.

3)    Acknowledge your strengths and your weaknesses. We all have things at which we’re better and worse than others. But most of us shun the “good” or the “bad” things about us, wanting to feel neither our weakness nor our power. Instead, start by acknowledging those things that are weaknesses and those things that are strengths. Today, when you see a weakness, label it just that: “This is my weakness.” And when you notice a strength, remind yourself, “This is my strength.” Being able to admit something like, “I know I’m not so great at listening,” allows us to work on ourselves and improve. And being able to embrace, “Yes, I am a very compassionate person,” allows us to use our talents to serve and love others even more. Acknowledging is the first step to accepting all of who we are. And accepting who we are is the key to loving who we are.

4)    Speak kindly to yourself. Pay attention to what you say to yourself throughout the day. When you hear yourself criticize, belittle, or otherwise bring yourself down, stop right then and there and make a small correction. Imagine if you heard your child saying those kinds of things to herself, then correct yourself just as you would your child. It doesn’t have to be any grand gesture; it just needs to be a little more truthful. Instead of “I always fail!” change it to, “I feel like a failure right now, but I’m working on it.” You don’t have to lie to yourself or fill your mind with sugary affirmations, but a little self-honesty goes a long way toward increasing self-love. (Click for more help on Thought Management).

5)    Let down your walls and let the love in. This photo (at the top and left), is from Valentine’s Day this year. A snowy morning, school was delayed, impacting my day in a major way, and putting me in a cold and grumpy mood. When I finally went out to start driving kids, I found that my husband had not only plowed the entire drive, but he’d left this heart for me, which not only melted as the day grew warmer but melted my cold heart too. These small acts of kindness and love can make a big impact if we will just let them into our hearts. 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.

 

[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]http://www.drchristinahibbert.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/square-head-shot1.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Author of This is How We Grow, Clinical Psychologist, Mom of 6, Postpartum Couples DVD Producer, Non-Profit Founder, and expert on Parenting, Women’s Emotions, Pregnancy & Postpartum, and Grief & Loss, Dr. Christina Hibbert loves songwriting, learning, and teaching what she learns. She’s gotten pretty good at “treating” herself more kindly, and it’s paying off big time![/author_info] [/author]

 

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How do you feel about the “trickiness” of self-love? How do you “treat” yourself with greater kindness? What are your blocks to loving yourself? What are your successes? We need each other on this one, so leave us a comment below and join the conversation!

 

 

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Are We Not All Mothers?

Are We Not All Mothers?

I recently asked my Facebook friends to list three words they would use to describe mothers. Some of their replies included: absolute, unconditional love; teaching, loving, learning; angels on earth; soul-stretching love[1]. And I agree. If there’s one word that defines “mother,” for me, it would have to be a four-letter word: LOVE.

 

The Definition of a Mother

Since I specialize in women’s emotional health across the lifespan, I get to work intimately with women, mothers, and grandmothers of all ages. Over the years I have witnessed this “soul-stretching love” that defines mothers of all kinds in all kinds of situations: Mothers holding vigil at hospital bedsides, mothers carrying on despite grief or mental illness, mothers on field trips, mothers finding their way alone when a spouse decides to leave, mothers teaching preschool, mothers fighting for special needs, mothers running the PTO for the rest of us who cannot, mothers doing crafts, losing sleep, and cleaning up vomit, mothers rocking babies, mothers holding their tongues with teens, mothers standing by adult children who’ve gone astray, mothers raising grandchildren, mothers who have buried children, mothers who were never able to have children.

 

Are we not all mothers?

As women, doesn’t each of us have a distinct call to nurture and love? Are we not all mothers? I can say with a surety, “Yes!”; it is part"Are We Not All Mothers?"; via www.DrChristinaHibbert.com of our chemical makeup. Research shows that even as infants, female brains are wired for empathy, hearing others, being heard, observing others, and reading emotion. Female babies seem born to study faces, and by 3 months old a baby girl’s skills in eye contact and gazing increase by over 400% while baby boys skills do not increase at all. All of these details mean that the female brain is “a machine that is built for connection”(p.21)[2]. As aunts, sisters, friends, teachers, mothers—as women we are called to connect, we are called to love. And if mother equals love, then by the transitive property our call to love means that we are all mothers.

 

Your Mother’s Day Gift

So this mother’s day I ask women everywhere to give yourself a gift: the gift of self-love. Use your female brain to connect with the ones you have loved and receive their love in return. Let go of anything that stands in the way of your divine mothering call: Let go of guilt. Let go of blame. Let go of resentment. Let go of loss. Let go of the past. Let go of the future. Let go of the belief that you have to have a child to be a mother. Let go, and let love in.

Freely soak up all the love that comes your way this Mother’s Day. Freely express your love for the women who have mothered you. Freely accept where you are and who you are called to become. Then become the mother you were called to be. Yes, the definition of a mother is LOVE, so mothers, receive some love this Mother’s day. You not only deserve it, but it is in receiving love that we become full of the love that stretches our souls so big and wide, allowing us to love even more.

[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]http://www.drchristinahibbert.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/square-head-shot1.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Clinical Psychologist, Mom of 6, Postpartum Couples DVD Producer, Non-Profit Founder, and expert on Parenting, Women’s Emotions, Pregnancy & Postpartum, and Grief & Loss, Dr. Christina Hibbert loves songwriting, learning, and teaching what she learns. Learn and Grow with Dr. Hibbert and her community of really great people![/author_info] [/author]

 
 

Are We Not All Mothers?; via www.Dr.ChristinaHibbert.com

 
 

What are your thoughts on mothers? How would you define “mother” in three words? What is your Mother’s Day Gift? Please leave us a comment and share yourself with us! (see below)

 
 

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30SecondMom Tips:

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Teach Kids (& You) Self-Love: Learn Self-Worth Together!

 

 


[1] Thank you to Keilah, Amy, Diann, & Becky for the use of your words!

[2] Brizendine, L.  (2006).  The Female Brain.  Broadway Books; New York, NY

Are We Not All Mothers?; www.DrChristinaHibbert.com

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