When I started being too impressed by the results of my work, I slowly come to the erroneous conviction that life was one large scoreboard where someone is listing the points to measure my worth. And before I was fully aware of it, I sold my soul to the many grade-givers.
Then I become what the world made me.
I was intelligent because someone gave me a high grade.
I was helpful because someone said thanks.
I was likable because someone liked me.
And I was important because someone considered me indispensable.
In short, I was worthwhile because of my successes. And the more I allowed my accomplishments — the results of my actions — to become the criteria of my self-esteem, the more I walked on my mental and spiritual toes, never sure if I would be able to live up to the expectations which I created by my last success. There was a nearly diabolic chain in which my anxieties grew according to my successes.
This dark power has driven many of the greatest artists into self-destruction.
― Henri J.M. Nouwen (my paraphrase)