The Self-Worth Meter
Let’s say this is me. I’m a pretty harsh judge of the quality of my life. If I was scoring myself, I’d give myself a score of 1.
To me, it’s not good enough. I don’t have the gorgeous girlfriend who turns heads as she walks by. She’s bursting with charm and charisma, lighting up every room she enters. She’s the rising star in her career and cherished by all her friends. And that’s just her public persona – at home, she’s mind-blowing in bed, an amazing cook, selfless, and devoted. 2
Until recently, one of my top priorities was to have a girlfriend. It was what I valued most. As a result, I was willing to sacrifice all other things to get and keep a girl. So when I met a girl who gave me her number, I got a boost in self-worth. When she texted me, my self-worth was boosted up to one point.
Getting texted by this girl fit in my goal of getting and keeping a girlfriend. So when I get a text, my meter goes up. As you can tell, it’s not red. That’s because my intrinsic self-worth has not changed. Rather, I’ve leached off this girl and used her value to make myself feel better. I stole my perceived worth of her to make my self-worth higher. The problem is, when it goes away, I’m back down to one.
Same thing with dates, kisses, sex, and so on. The closer I get to my goal, the better I feel about myself. This how my relationship with my ex was before I got sick. When she texted me, I felt good.
When she was too busy to respond, I felt insecure. When she let me come over and see her, I felt on top of the world. If she told me she wanted to have a night to herself, I felt like I was doing something wrong.
Since my self-worth was contingent on my intimate relationships, I was highly motivated to pursue short and long-term goals that enhanced or promoted that aspect of my life. In fact, people like me who use their relationship as a validation of their self-worth want to prove to themselves that their relationship is a success. They need that success because it validates their sense of self.
All I was doing in these relationships was taking the woman’s value to fill up the empty holes in my heart, because I believed that I was unworthy as a human being.
Some guys try to use other things like drugs, cars, money, sex, and alcohol to fill up their meter, but it doesn’t last. In fact, it never lasts, because you can never feel good about yourself if you believe at your core that you are a piece of shit.
For me, any Relationship Self-Worth Boost I got made me feel good. It was like taking a hit of heroin, but those good feelings about myself went away the moment she did. It left me itching, running, and chasing my next hit. The higher I got, the worse I felt when I lost it. Dropping from a 10 to a 1 has a far worse relapse than dropping from a 2 to a 1. For me, it was absolutely devastating.
The culture we live in places the idea of self-reliance and meritocracy in our heads and may lead us to believe that our self-worth must be earned by performance and attainment. It makes us believe that some people are worthier than others. 3