Self-esteem and Poker Chips 

 August 31, 2020

What do poker chips have to do with self-esteem? It's the idea that self-esteem is a resource, just like poker chips. I learned this analogy from Jack Canfield's Poker Chip Theory of Learning.

Think about a poker game. If you have 10 poker chips, and I have 100, who is going to play more conservatively?

You will! I’m going to be able to take more risks, because I have more poker chips. It's not a big deal if I suffer some minor losses.

Translate that to self-esteem. If you think of the poker chips as past successes you've had, you get a picture of how much self-esteem you are playing with.

The more successes you have, the more self-esteem you have.
The more self-esteem you have, the more risks you take.
The more risks you take, the more you win.

Self-esteem comes from recognizing past successes. 

Here's one of my past successes that I'm very proud of: my Fiji story.

I Jumped It Big Red Button

I got this button at a Tony Robbins event in Fiji.

The challenge was to climb a big pole (it was very high, like as high as a telephone pole). You had to then stand on it (the top was the size of a dinner plate), then you had to jump off and try to grab a trapeze.

There were rungs on the pole you could use to climb, and they had safety harnesses.

But there was one problem ...

I’m afraid of heights.

I thought, "there is absolutely no way - and no one is forcing me." 

So, we get there and they put us into different groups and everybody in my group was harnessed. I kept thinking about how I wasn't going to do it. I let everybody keep going ahead of me. 

While everyone in my group was making the attempt, I became the biggest cheerleader. I was the loudest. “You can do it! Just keep looking up!”

And the whole time I kept thinking, "I’m not doing it." 

Even Mark, my husband, did it - of course he was a natural. He climbed up that pole like a monkey and even managed to land the trapeze jump. (That is him in the pictures below.)

Mark on the telephone pole
Mark on the trapeze

Eventually, I was the last one left.

I thought, "Oh gosh. Just go..." I couldn't refuse after I had been cheering everyone else on so loudly. 

I climbed up the pole as fast as I could and I didn’t even take time to enjoy the view. I just jumped. I wanted to get it over as fast as possible.

And.... I did it! 

At the end they gave us that big, red button. I kept mine, because it's a reminder that I am much more capable than I think I am. 

If I believed for so long that I couldn’t do that, but I was able to anyway…. what else am I telling myself that I can’t do, but I actually can?

Miriam in Fiji 1
Miriam climbing telephone pole
Miriam on the telephone poll

With that in mind, I want to help give your self-esteem a boost right now!

Self-Esteem Exercise:

1. Take a moment and think about your past successes. You can think of one you had before the age of 18. Focus on how you felt when you reached that achievement. Share why that was important - either in a journal or with a trusted friend.


2. Think about a success symbol for you tied to a previous victory - something you can look at. It could be a trophy, a letter, a special gift someone gave you, or a diploma. Remember the feeling you felt when you got it. Put that success symbol somewhere you can view it regularly and be reminded of your capability.

Whenever we remember our past successes, our self-esteem increases. Self-esteem comes from knowing we are loveable and capable - and this is just one way to remind ourselves of that truth.

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