The Blueprint (the pawprint?) of man's journey of losing and finding one's self esteem seems so complex and ambiguous that it would require thousands of self help books and ten plus years of therapy to truly discover. Yet, the blueprint was right there in our faces the whole time and the fact that we responded so well to it despite it being only a kids movie is a testament to the fact that its message is uncommonly true and resonant.
But first, what is this journey I speak of? Well, this is a basic rundown of what "happens" to people and is the cause/explanation of why your average person is only moderately happy with themselves throughout their lives. It is why, for instance, if you go into a kindergarten class you see about 90 percent of the children dancing and singing but take those exact same kids twenty years later and maybe 10 percent will openly sing and dance around others.
When a person is born, they are born happy and with positive self esteem. Whether or not they have a tempermant towards adventure or cautiousness, they look out at the world and don't think to question their self worth or that their lives are not ideal and should be somehow different.
Then at some point, you spend time with other people and, in addition to your self esteem, an ego develops as you realize people treat some other people differently than they treat you. This is usually marked as when you first realized life wasn't fair. Your ego, in this way, is as much a shadow version of your self esteem as well as a defense mechanism against those who would attack it--constantly trying to convince you that you will be hurt if you allow your sense of self to be attacked (compared to a non egoistic self esteem that doesn't care whether people attack it.)
But, even further still, the self esteem can handle the ego just fine. For instance, you can know full well your mother preferred your sibling but not really care all that much. it annoys you, you do feel something when you see it, but it doesn't consume or damage your sense of self. What then happens to the self esteem that allows the ego to effectively "get ahead?"
You do something that you come to consider to be horrible. This is where you noticed you first felt shame. Shame is worse than not feeling the world is unfair because if you believe life is unfair and the world is cruel it doesn't necessarily include you in that judgement. But, with shame you feel you are somehow cruel and unfair and therefore you don't like yourself and may even believe you "deserve" bad things to happen to you and for people to treat you poorly. When you're in shame you may do all manner of non loving things to yourself and not even realize how awful it is because you don't have that self esteem in place to say stop you deserve better than this.
Now, finally, for the lions...
Simba is born
Simba is born and we can see from his vacant expression of curiosity that he is a blank slate, unsure of what it means to be a king or what the world really is...
Simba develops an ego
Soon, though, Simba is told by everyone around him that he is the future king. His own father tells him that "everything the light touches" (so pretty much everything?) belongs to him. Simba begins to believe that he's the most important thing and develops an ego that he lords over others. (i just can't wait to be king) The servant bird even comments that "simba is not shaping up to be a very good king" based on the pomposity that simba express towards him and others.
Simba's ego causes him to be seduced and manipulated by his evil uncle
Scar, looked over because his brother is stronger than he is, has become obsessed with the thought that Mufasa is intrinsically more lovable and more valuable than he is because mufasa can better lead and protect the pridelands. His entire identity has become "the lesser brother" and he takes up either alone or with those who are the furthest thing from his own family and friends out of frustration that life isn't fair. Scar and Simba, despite being on the opposite ends of the spectrum of future power, are very similar in that they are both controlled by their egos at this point. Scar takes advantage both of Simba's naivity that the third in line for the throne would be a threat to the second in line as well as Simba's own ego which wants to prove that his ego is correct--he is the most important thing in the pridelands.
Simba's ego is bruised for the first time
Simba goes to the elephant graveyard and is attacked by a bunch of hyena gangsters (who are, uncomfortably, all black and mexican.) His father has to come and save him and simba feels foolish and weak. His ego is now hurt and convinces him that it needs to do something to prove to others that he is as great as he thinks he is
Trying to make up for his blunder, Simba attempts to restore his ego again getting himself manipulated this time to the detriment of his father's life
Simbas ego--hungry to get another chance to show off how much better he is convinces him to meet scar and see if he can present another opportunity for heroism for the sake of looking awesome. A stampede attacks Simba and Mufasa gives his life to save his son.
Simba is convinced that he killed his father and learns shame
Scar, not content to kill the current king, convinces Simba that is all his fault that his father is dead and then orders his nazi/gangster hyena servants to kill him (what was the point of convincing simba that it was his fault if he was just going to kill him?) Simba suffers shame for the first time and its so profound he voluntarily leaves his entire family friends and way of life...
Simba's self esteem and ego now destroyed, he falls into indifference
Simba discovers paradise and a way of life that is devoid of any responsibility whatsoever. He joins a band of outsider misfits and accepts an entirely new identity. Like Scar presented a second father that was chosen based on simba's high ego, timon and pumpa are a third father team chosen because of simba's indifference (he probably would have eaten them had he still been in his highly egoistic state)
Simba falls in love which causes him to look at himself critically for the first time since he was a child
Timon quickly realizes that nalas entrance into sanctuary is going to change simba back to his former self or, at least, cause him to wake up from the lack of reality of this world. Timon, on some level, knows they are living in a world without conseuqences and therefore a world that is not real at all. nala does challenge simba for having changed and not being anything like the brave lion she used to know. simba, too afraid to reveal his shame, turns away from her
Simba introspects and realizes that he allowed himself to forget about his father through forgetting his responsibilities and everything his father taught him
Nalas return is enough to cause simba to introspect however and he imagines seeing his father who says that simba has forgotten everything about what he taught him about himself and thus forgotten him.
Simba realizes that even though the pain still lasts, he can choose to use his mistake to learn
Through a conversation with a babboon, simba realizes that he can't get rid of the pain of his father's death entirely but he can learn from it and move on. His self esteem returning, Simba starts the journey back to his pride (which means two things!)
Simba crosses the desert of his soul
The cliche slow motion run across a desert that for some reason is just there between paradise and priderock is a metaphor for the desert of one's soul where one feels nothing as they cross over to a new identity.
Simba assumes his responsibility against one who's realized the limits of ego
Scar, meanwhile, has realized the futitlity of trying to be loved through hate. he is highly threatned by mufasa even though mufasa has been dead for many years. he also takes over the pridelands with the hyenas for some reason even though he thought simba was dead so logically he could hvae just taken up the mantle without violence. this is because he forever thinks he has to compensate for the fact that he is less than mufasa. simba returns and assumes the responsibility that scar has abused in his attempt to fulfill his egos every wish
The world judges Simba and he temporarily returns to a place of self hate
Scar is losing but realizes that the rest of the pride could make simba still feel guilty if they believe he was the one who got mufasa killed. Its not so much so they'll betray simba--he knows they never would, but he wants simba to think they would so he becomes insecure again. Scar can defeat simba when he's not connected to his power and sense of self but when simba realizes who he is as the son of the most powerful lion to ever rule the land, he knows he too can protect his family and that he should.
Simba realizes that nothing is completely one person's fault and he can truly forgive himself
Scar reveals that he was the one who killed mufasa. Simba still knows that he allowed himself to get manipulated but he also realizes that no mistake is just one person's fault. As such, it is not fair to entirely blame yourself for something that went wrong in your life or that you feel you did wrong to someone else. The reality is always more complex than that and it simply isn't fair to accept shame for it on a chronic level.
Unburdened by shame, Simba is able to reclaim his pride and therefore his responsibilities as king of the jungle
No longer feeling like a bad person (lion!) Simba easily defeats scar and accepts his role as king. he accepts that he deserves to be the leader of the pridelands (high self esteem which is good) and realizes that as the leader he has a responsibility to take care of everyone in it and that he is not better than any other animal just because he is the king in the circle of life (lack of ego which is good).
Bringing it back to people instead of lions for a quick second, it is important to realize that the reason you're not feeling that confident is much less about feelings of inadequacy and much more about things you've done in your past or things people have said to you that made you feel shame about yourself that you aren't able to let go of. While its probably not possible to ever truly feel like everyoens exactly equal, its important to try to let go of unhelpful shame. whatever you did or were blamed for realize that you can let yourself off the hook and that you deserve to be really really happy so long as you've learned from those bad experiences of the past