It basically works like this. You believe you are not loveable and are separate from the love that you ARE. You experience a sense of lacking love. This creates a false need. The need motivates you to search. You search externally outside of yourself for what you've lost. You deny your own value and lovability so you project this onto others. You set them up to look like they can save you, that they are better than you, that they are above you, and that they will fulfill your need. You put them on a pedestal in order to put yourself down, and you worship them hoping to get some small scrap of love (that you don't deserve).
We do this with our children. We project so much of our own missing value onto them (by sacrificing ourselves), that we turn them into idols. As idols, they are more important than we are, they are more valuable than we are, we would just about kill ourselves to save them, and we worship them. We set them up to look like they can do no wrong. We enter into denial about any flaws that they might possibly have. We see them as 'can do no wrong'. We imagine that they absolutely are supposed to love us back and that they are only loving and completely overlook any faults. We make them seem like they are our savior and that they have something we don't have, capable of doing for us what we refuse to do for ourselves. And ultimately we live vicariously through them because we've made them into 'everything'.
This all can seem extremely noble and humble and prideful and correct. But it is filled with self deprivation, self denial, unworthiness, self sacrifice, martyrdom, loss, exhaustion, having no time for yourself, being less important, and generally all forms of inequality. Inequality also includes of course the flipside of idol worship which is what happens when YOU believe you are the idol and that the child (or other audience) should worship you. This is just another expression of the same egotism and may result in the child becoming the idol-worshipper (of you). If you are the idol, then you believe you are secretly flawed and NEED to have people worship you to prove that you are good enough - except you never believe it, and it never works, and it's never enough. Idol worshippers are the more obvious victims of the world (those who are bullied), and idols are the more obvious victimizers (those who bully). BOTH of them believe they are not loveable.
This dynamic also extends to all other special relationships, because they are all based on you having a LACK of love, and therefore being compelled to find it in another. The other now contains something valuable and special that you want but don't have. You want to get it from them. Except that you don't REALLY want to receive it because doing so would undo your belief that you're not worthy of it. So you would steal it away and destroy it, to deprive yourself. "If I can't have it, nor can anyone else."
Another great example of idol worship takes place in many Christians/Catholics who worship Jesus. They will put Jesus on a pedestal and endow him with all kinds of special value and worth. At the same time, they will claim that they themselves cannot possibly have EQUAL value, so they must be unworthy. Secretly they STARTED by saying they are unworthy, and this is why they see Jesus AS worthier than they are. They may thus 'worship' Jesus AS an idol (even though he doesn't want this), and continually believe that Jesus will save them for them. They will, however, constantly REFUSE to believe or admit that they in any way deserve saving, that they can be saved, that they can be loved to the degree Jesus would offer. That is, unless they believe they have atoned enough to be the 'chosen ones' who are in Jesus' favor and better than those suckers who are even less worthy and who clearly are going to hell (throwing them under a bus).
So with one hand they are trying to reach out to Jesus to say, "hey, please love me for me and save me from my (wretched) self because I can't", while the other hand says "stay the fuck away from me I am not worthy to be your equal." The ego here has conflicting voices - one which sounds like it is filled with adoration and justified worship, but the other which clearly does not REALLY want Jesus to love them fully. If Christians were to fully receive and acknowledge Jesus's love for them, they would have to ADMIT that they too are just as loveable as he is. Otherwise, how could they possibly receive His love? This is what they do not want, because they do not want their own love which God already gave to them.
When you idolize someone you make them more valuable than yourself because you've projected your own value and worth. You then say you want them to save you FOR you, but secretly you hope that they won't. It becomes especially toxic when the person you idolize refuses to be your idol. If they pull away from you or separate from you, they might occasionally throw you a tiny scrap or mosel of attention, which you think is all you deserve. And when that scrap comes, you feel like the entire relationship has been saved - finally you got a blessing from that person on-high and now that means they love you and that they will save you. Your tremendous need/lack of lovability gets a little bit of attention and now it seems like there's hope. And then they withdraw their love again and you feel devastated.
The problem is, you're not really devastated by their lack of loving you, you're devastated by YOUR not loving you. When they withdraw their idol status without you withdrawing your idolizing of them, ie they separate or distance themselves or fail to deliver, you are left with nowhere else to go. You can't get the love from within or from God because you don't believe that is where the love IS, and if your idol ditches you your mind is now reminded of just how empty it is. This is painful and is experienced as loss and grief. The loss of your own self. The grief of your own separation from God.
This is a spiritual lesson, and a hard one. And essentially it is the only lesson. You believe you are separate from love and will never get back to that love, or that it is NOT love, and now you've projected the source outside yourself where it does not exist. To resolve and complete the lesson, you have to UNDO the beliefs you've formed about YOURSELF which tell you that love is not who you are, love is not what you deserve (from within), that you do not love or forgive yourself (and God), that God is not love, that you are not loveable or worthy of love, and that you are not yourself. This belief in separation is what drives the entire projection and idolization of external love. But YOU ARE THE LOVE YOU SEEK.
God knows this. He hasn't forgotten you. Holy Spirit knows it. Jesus knows it. The angels know it. Even you as Christ know it and can't forget it. But somewhere along the lines some part of your mind became convinced by a lie - a LIE - that you are not love itself. This needs correction. And it cannot be corrected by anyone else outside of you because they are not the source of the correction OR of the separation. You might blame them because they seem to be separate from you and they seem to not be fulfilling your 'secret bargain' to love you for you, but it's not really their fault. It's not their fault they fail to love you for you. They're not supposed to. You need to learn to love yourself again so that you no longer NEED to get it from somewhere else, and consequently so that nobody else CAN take it away or deny you.
You are the way, the truth and the light. You are Jesus's equal. You are equal to your children. You are equal to your parents. You are loveable by God and in God and as God's extension of love. And you are absolutely worthy of the joy and happiness of RECLAIMING YOUR VALUE.