Skip to Content

Why Do I Feel Like a Burden? 7 Ways to Find Belonging

One of things that can impact our mental health are the lies we tell ourselves. The lies I told myself gave me low self-esteem and made me feel broken for years. 

I felt like a burden to my family, and sometimes everyone around me.

It’s not only young adults or those going through difficult times that experience this. Anyone can feel this way.

But with the right emotional support (and some professional help) you can help yourself understand these negative thoughts and stop feeling like a burden to the people in your life. Here are 7 ways you can alleviate some of the heaviness of life and find love and belonging.

Sad and lonely woman standing at window with her hands over her face

*This post may contain affiliate links. Read our full disclosure policy, click here.

*Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional and do not offer this as medical advice. This is my own personal experience and I encourage everyone to seek advice from their doctor before making decisions about their health. To view our full disclaimer policy, click here.

A deeper meaning of “burden”

“Don’t start your day with the broken pieces of yesterday. Every day is a fresh start.”Healthy Place

We all know that a “burden” is something that you carry. But according to, “burden” can mean: 1) that which is borne with difficulty; obligation; onus, 2) to load heavily, 3) to load oppressively; trouble.

These are loaded words. Difficulty. Obligation. Oppressive. Trouble.

This implies that your mere existence causes trouble, oppresses those around you, and makes the lives of others more difficult. That they only care for you out of obligation.

Here are some thoughts and feelings you might have when feeling like a burden:

  • I keep asking my parents for money, and they’re getting sick of it, but I’m struggling.
  • My depression is affecting the people around me and they’re pushing me away.
  • I’m not a very good mom. I’m holding my kids back and they would be better off with a different mother.
  • I’m constantly talking to my husband about issues I’m having, and he’s probably getting sick of it.
  • I want to talk to my family about our country’s political situation, but they keep shutting me down.

You might ask yourself, “Why do I feel like a burden to my family?” You don’t have to feel this way. But please, if you’re experiencing thoughts of suicide or suicidal ideation, HELP IS AVAILABLE. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

6 Reasons You Might Feel Like a Burden

Life’s challenges can feel heavy, especially for anyone who is an anxious person. But more often than not, our feelings of inadequacy stem from our childhoods.

Here are 6 things that could be causing your poor self-worth. This is not a comprehensive list, nor is it meant to immediately give you answers. If you feel your negative emotions are caused by something on this list, I encourage you to do some more digging and to seek professional help.

1.) Past traumas

Child peering around the corner at parents fighting

The traumas that we experienced in the past can still impact us even today. Whether they were large traumas or micro-traumas that reoccured, we might suffer from low self-worth, mental illnesses, or addiction.

Trauma needs to be healed for our nervous system to truly regulate, so learn how to heal the things that hurt you in the past, from that car accident to a narcissistic ex.

2.) Your basic needs weren’t met as a child

When we are neglected in any manner of way from a young age, it can have a negative impact on how we see ourselves and the world. We all have needs like shelter, safety, food, and a place to sleep, but we also have emotional needs growing up. 

​If your basic needs weren’t met as a child, you might have feelings that you don’t deserve those basic needs, even now.

3.) Your parents practiced conditional love

When we think of real love, we often hear the phrase “unconditional love” versus “conditional love“. Conditions are “situations with respect to circumstances,” so those who practice conditional love essentially have strings attached with everything they do.

Often parents want their children to help bring success, esteem, affluence, or prestige to their family. So when they give to their children, there is an expectation their children will reciprocate. This is conditional love, and can certainly detract from your emotional well-being and leave you feeling like a burden.

Unconditional love means that you’ve released expectations of someone and love them regardless of whether they fit your own ideals. This is regarded as the highest form of love.

Ask yourself which of these you were raised with.

READ MORE: How to Feel Better When You Don’t Know What’s Wrong

4.) Parentification

Parentification means that even as a child, you essentially became your parent’s parent. You might have been responsible for things way beyond your years, including regulating your parents’ emotions.

You were likely raised to put the needs of others ahead of your own. You may have had so much responsibility put on you as a child that you have a hard time accepting help from others or believing that your basic needs are also valid.

4.) Chronic illness

Woman clutching chest and suffering from chronic illness

Whether you have been diagnosed with a medical condition like chronic pain or mental illness like a mood disorder, chronic illness can severely impact your belief in what you deserve in life. You may need to rely on others more regularly and worry that it is putting strain on them.

Even at times with you’re in a good place with your illness, things can feel heavy. Psychology today says:

Living with chronic illness involves grieving for the life one is expected to lead. This grief encompasses the experience of relying on others for care that, if one were not ill, one would be able to provide for oneself. Our culture prizes independence.

5.) High expectations

While these can absolutely stem from your parents, there is a greater societal issue of perfectionism at play.

High expectations can similarly make us feel that we’re a burden to those holding the expectations. According to Psychology Today, when parents have unrealistic expectations for a child, it sets them up for low self-esteem and mental health issues as an adult.

READ MORE: How to Meet Someone Where They Are

6.) Needing to do everything yourself

Another societal issue we have in our modern world is that everyone is expected to be able to do everything ourselves without asking for help.  Again, independence is prized in our society.

Most of us are raised with the belief that if we do not purchase a home by 30, we have failed. We’re expected to raise our children and both our partner and ourselves will work. But all over the world, extended families live together. They help raise children. They rely on one another.

It is not natural to do everything alone. We are able to rise because those around us rise.

So ask yourself if your low self-esteem and heavy feelings are a direct result of believing you are only successful when you do it alone.

Letting Go of Control: How Holding On Is Holding You Back

7 Ways to Lighten the Load of Negative Feelings and Improve Your Mental Health

I have been actively working on changing this mindset, and so far it has been working. Here’s what I’m doing to help lift myself up and release when I feel like a burden to my family and those around me.

1.) Talk to someone

Woman talking with a young therapist

The first step in alleviating the burden is to talk to someone. Humans are naturally social beings. I know the last thing you may want to do when you’re experiencing the emotional pain of feeling like a burden is to lean on someone, but this is one of the most important things you can do.

Finding the right people–whether you look for support groups, talk to your supportive friends, or find a good therapist–is absolutely essential. There are amazing people all around who do NOT believe you are a burden and want to be there to help you through this difficult time and having honest conversations can help you through it.

2.) Surround Yourself with Healthy Relationships

​Do a vetting of all the people you spend time with. Ask yourself, is this person supportive of me? Is something they are doing or saying causing me to experience these feelings of guilt or suicidal thoughts?

It is so important that the people around you practice open communication and are a safe space for you. Your primary relationships should be people who take your emotional needs seriously and practice active listening.

You should reconsider spending time with anyone who makes you feel poorly about yourself, yes, even family members. Often, when our family members were not raised with a healthy relationship or attachment style with their parents, they can take on a lot of those negative communication skills. So consider creating some distance with siblings, cousins, or parents, if you need to.

3.) Examine other mental health conditions

First, let’s erase the stigma of mental health. So many people believe they need to suffer in silence. But the more we talk about these things, the better we become at navigating them and helping each other out.

So if you have been diagnosed with ADHD, or bipolar disorder, or depression, none of these things are bad. But they go hand in hand with feeling like you’re a burden, and your method of finding relief and understand might change depending on your diagnosis.

And if you aren’t sure, but you’ve considered the possibility of other mental health conditions, the best way of knowing if you’re dealing with them is by getting professional help. There is no other option that gives you the help and clarity you need.

4.) Practice meditation or calming techniques

Woman practicing guided meditation at home

The power of a deep breath cannot be understated. Mental health experts have been telling us about meditation for years now. Meditation is an amazing way to distance yourself from difficult experiences and emotional reactions that come with them.

Meditation is about finding the present moment and simply breathing through it. It can be challenging at first, because our minds want to wander. But even taking a few minutes each day to “do nothing” can really help you get some objective perspective on your life and your situation.

5.) Use positive affirmations

Positive affirmations helped me through difficult situation after difficult situation in my life, and I owe so much of the good things in my life to affirmations.

Affirmations are sentences we claim to be true, and they must be in present tense, 1st person, positive, and they must be powerful. Here’s some sample affirmations:

I love how supported and wonderful I feel when I’m with the people I love!
The world is an inclusive and inviting place where I belong!
Others love being with me!
I happily accept care and love from the people around me!

Put them where you will see them, like:

  1. write them on your bathroom mirror with a dry erase marker
  2. write them on a sticky note and leave them around the house and car for yourself!
  3. make a phone background on Canva and set it as your lock screen

Saying these sentences to yourself can really boost your self-esteem and help you understand just how much others love and appreciate you.

6.) Set healthy boundaries

Clear boundaries are an essential part of protecting your energy, your space, and your feelings. Remember: setting boundaries does not protect you from having uncomfortable conversations with your loved ones. Boundaries are designed to protect your dignity, your integrity, and your self-worth.

But setting boundaries can feel scary when you’re not used to doing it, so focus on clear communication. It can be as simple as needing some space:

“Thank you for taking me to the store today. But I would like some time alone now as I put my groceries away.”

7.) Start a gratitude journal

Woman journaling on her couch

Last, consider the things in life you are grateful for. No, this isn’t meant to solve all your problems, but it can help you gain perspective and shift your mindset.

Gratitude is all about seeing the good things you have in your life and feeling appreciation for them. Whether you’re grateful for the big things or the little things in life, gratitude can help you release some of what you’re carrying and help you express your feelings to the people who care for you.

A few more things that helped me

  1. Get out of your head. The more you dwell, the more upset you get. Try to live in the present moment.
  2. Find the simple pleasures of life to draw you out of this feeling.
  3. Get your health in order. I never feel psychologically good when my body is in poor health.
  4. Practice self-care every day.


There are many people in this world that tell themselves the lie that they’re a burden. I want you to know:

You are worthy of love. You deserve a magical life.

Your own feelings are valid. 

Just because you’ve likely had some things in your past that contributed to your feeling this way doesn’t mean that you will always feel like this. You aren’t alone, and there are definite steps that you can take to erasing this response from your repertoire of behaviors and thoughts. 

I know you’re tired of being a burden. Show yourself some grace and radical self-love. 

You are worthy of being here, worthy of being with your family, and worthy of being loved and appreciated for who you are!

What Does It Mean To Have a Beautiful Soul?

Why Do I Feel Like a Burden? 7 Ways to Find Belonging


Monday 13th of June 2022

I felt my lowest today, I felt the most self-pity and self-hatred. I still can't accept that I hate and loathe myself so much today. Nothing can make this feel better because all of my life, I've been held accountable for all of the things I did, even tho I was just a child. I felt like I had to do everything to satisfy everyone. Today I just want to do nothing, just hate myself all over again. Forever.

Dawn Elizabeth

Tuesday 12th of July 2022

Shen, I'm so sorry you're feeling this way. I want you to know that you're not alone. Lots of people feel this way. I wish that I could help somehow, but I would very much encourage you to talk with a therapist who can honestly help you. You don't deserve to feel that you hate yourself. You deserve to love yourself and fulfill all the potential that the Universe wants for you. *Hugs*

Zanah Amay

Monday 20th of September 2021

Thanks for the tips. I have been staying at my sister's place for about a month due to construction at our family home, and I decided to stay a bit longer there - my sister and BIL were a-ok with it - parents not so much. They were kind of upset about it, but they ended up agreeing with me.

I went to dinner there over the weekend, and they just kept trying to make me feel bad and make me feel like I'm a burden to my sister, and now all I feel is like I'm also a burden to them too. But I have always felt like a burden to them because I also have chronic asthma and severe allergies so it's been tough.

I think I need to leave, but I also don't have much saved up unfortunately. I think they depress and discourage me, and they don't even know it.

These tips are really helpful. So thanks again for them. I think I will need them lol 2021/2022 is about to get a bit rough it think.


Sunday 6th of June 2021

That's a good article, thank you


Sunday 25th of April 2021

I think as a parent when my children grew up and left home, I became a burden. They call out of obligation even though they love you. I have lost my purpose and am just a retired factory who did its job. I raised 3 fabulous kids and am now just a source of worry. That's when you know.

Dawn Perez

Monday 26th of April 2021

I'm so sorry you're experiencing this. It must be painful. In our modern society we have a tendency to think of people as expendable once they hit retirement and are "no longer contributing to society" and that's simply not right. My own dad was very bitter about having to help his elderly mother so much before she passed away, and she was bitter about his feelings and pushed him away. The whole situation made them resentful of each other and caused a lot of pain.

I think the key is knowing that we have value inherently and not just what we have contributed to society. Try learning something new or doing things for fun. Your purpose doesn't have to be something big--your purpose can literally be just to experience life!


Wednesday 10th of February 2021

I just wish my mom would read this and agree with it and try to change. I hate feeling like a burden but my mom never recognizes her manner of speaking. She makes me feel burdensome, then tasks me with things I might need help with.

Dawn Perez

Thursday 11th of February 2021

I'm sorry that your mom won't recognize that how she speaks to you is hurtful. My parents also don't recognize how the things they say are deeply painful to me. I've gotten better about speaking my truth and standing up for myself to them, but it is very difficult. Remember that your experience is valid. No one can tell you that she doesn't make you feel like a burden.

Skip to content