Self-Esteem: What Does it Look Like?

I had a professor in Graduate school that called the love, support, nurture, guidance and structure we get from our parents “bubble wrap.” 

The more of these things you got as a child, the more bubble wrap you have as an adult, which means just like a well packed wine glass on moving day, you’ve got more protection through life’s bumps.  I’ve always loved this imagery. 

Over the years I’ve tried to come up with an equally elegant and correct representation of what self-esteem is for us.   Here’s what I’ve decided: Self-Esteem is like those big, plastic, water-filled barrels that they carry in The World’s Strongest Men competitions, only it’s not around us or external to us like bubble wrap, it is our core.

Yep, I said it; Self-Esteem is a plastic water-filled barrel in our core.  Here’s how….

Self-Esteem so often gets incorrectly defined as “the way we think about ourselves;” that if we think we are pretty, successful, skinny, worthy, then we have high self-esteem.

In reality, self-esteem is having a Core-Self; a strong and flexible sense of self, confidence in our coping skills, and a solid grounded awareness of who we are.  Self-Esteem is knowing, not thinking, that we are unshakable, difficult to knock down, resilient, yet moveable just like those Big Plastic Water-Filled Barrels on The World’s Strongest Man!

The Big Plastic Water-Filled Break-Down


We want our core-self to be big; after all it’s our foundation. Like building anything, the bigger, stronger and broader the foundation the more stable the object.  If our core-self takes up our whole torso for example, versus just a walnut sized place in our stomach, we have more strength, more staying power, more durability, and more support.

We want our self-esteem to be big enough to handle whatever is thrown at us and to be able to keep us grounded and balanced and not easily tipped over.   Just like those plastic barrels on the WSM Competitions, we want people to have to work to shake us and have a grueling time knocking us over! 


We want our core-selves to be plastic because so they are resilient.  Struggle is how we grow.  Struggle can’t always be avoided.  So, we want to be able to take few hits and go through some of life’s ups and downs without being left with permanent dents or scars.  We want to be like the super handy plastic bumper of a car that can absorb impact without being derailed, damaged, or dented.


We want our core-selves to be water-filled because we want to be able to move.  Self-Esteem comes from a solid and flexible core-self; awkwardness, insecurity and limitations come from a solid and rigid core.

We want to be solid and be able to move, so we can grow.  So we can become the people we want to be.  So we can try new things, have new adventures, roll with the punches, and experience movement, not stagnation, in life.   This way, when life does knock us down, we can still roll and move forward instead of shattering, or getting stuck, like stone.

A Barrel:

Finally, we want our core-self to be a barrel so that it has volume, and we can adjust its fullness.  Simply put, we want to have control over what stays with us, and what we let go of.  We want to be able to keep the good, release the bad, and sometimes drain the whole darn thing and start fresh!

The Strength in Self-Esteem

Now, I’ll give ya, the bubble wrap around a wine glass may be prettier than my big plastic water-filled barrel Self-Esteem but I love the strength that this image illustrates about self-esteem.  And really, that’s the whole point of self-esteem!

Self-Esteem not dainty, wimpy, unsure, or passive.  Much like the World’s Strongest Men competitors, our goal is to have our core-selves to be burly and sturdy and powerful.  We do this by pushing ourselves beyond our comfort zone and learning to celebrate and look forward to the struggle, just like the WSM competitor’s do in their training.  I guarantee you they don’t become World’s Strongest Men by just thinking about it {wink}!