A young girl wonders why she feels like a burden and how to heal from that feeling.

Here’s Why You Feel Like a Burden — And How to Heal

Feeling like a burden is emotionally exhausting, but it doesn’t need to feel that way. Here are some ways to tackle this negative feeling.


share icon Facebook logo LinkedIn logo

Feeling like a burden is a deeply distressing emotional state that often stems from internal struggles such as low self-esteem, anxiety, or depression, compounded by societal expectations of self-sufficiency and independence. Those experiencing this feeling may believe they are unworthy of help or emotional support, fearing rejection or judgment from others. This pervasive belief can lead to a sense of inadequacy, shame, and guilt, which may exacerbate existing mental health issues and strain interpersonal relationships. Below, we delve into the main reasons people may feel like a burden and explore how to take care of your mental health.

Why do I feel like a burden? 

As mentioned, people may feel like a burden for various reasons, often stemming from internalized beliefs, societal pressures, or past experiences. While everyone’s reasons for feeling like a burden are different, here are some common reasons people may struggle with these negative emotions. 

Psychological factors

The feeling of being a burden often arises from a complex interplay of psychological factors that shape people’s perceptions of themselves and their relationships with others. One significant contributing factor is low self-esteem, where people internalize negative beliefs about their worth and value, leading them to view themselves as inherently burdensome or unworthy of support. This pervasive sense of inadequacy can be further compounded by anxiety, which magnifies perceived flaws and fears of rejection or judgment from others. Similarly, depression can distort individuals’ perceptions of their own capabilities and worth, reinforcing feelings of helplessness and burdensomeness.

Another psychological factor that contributes to this feeling is perfectionism, characterized by excessively high standards and an intense fear of failure. Perfectionists may constantly strive to meet unrealistic expectations, fearing that any perceived shortcomings will burden or disappoint others. This relentless pursuit of flawlessness can lead to chronic stress and self-criticism, reinforcing the belief that they are a burden to those around them. Additionally, past experiences of rejection, abandonment, or trauma can fuel feelings of unworthiness and inadequacy, creating deep-seated insecurities that manifest as a pervasive sense of being a burden in relationships.

The stigma surrounding mental health issues can amplify feelings as well, as people may fear being judged or rejected if they disclose their struggles to others. This stigma can create a barrier to seeking help or support, further exacerbating feelings of isolation and loneliness.

Social and cultural influences

Social and cultural influences play a significant role in shaping individuals’ perceptions of themselves and their interactions with others, often contributing to the feeling of being a burden. In many societies, there is an expectation of self-sufficiency and independence, where individuals are encouraged to handle their own problems without relying on others. This cultural norm can lead people to internalize the belief that seeking help or support is a sign of weakness or failure, fostering feelings of shame or inadequacy when they perceive themselves as burdensome.

Moreover, societal pressure to conform to certain standards of success and achievement can exacerbate feelings of inadequacy and unworthiness. The rise of social media and constant comparison can further fuel these insecurities as individuals measure their self-worth against curated images of perfection presented online. This culture of comparison can lead individuals to believe that they fall short of societal expectations, reinforcing the belief that they are burdensome to those around them.

Childhood family dynamics

Family dynamics also play a crucial role in shaping individuals’ perceptions of themselves and their relationships with others. Family environments that emphasize self-reliance and discourage emotional expression may foster feelings of isolation and alienation, making individuals hesitant to seek help or support from loved ones. Conversely, supportive and nurturing family environments can provide a buffer against feelings of being a burden, fostering open communication and a sense of belonging.

How to cope with feeling like a burden

Feeling like a burden is emotionally exhausting, but it doesn’t need to feel that way. Here are some ways to tackle this negative feeling.

Coping strategies

Coping strategies and solutions are crucial for managing the feeling of being a burden and promoting mental well-being. One effective strategy is building self-awareness, which involves recognizing and challenging negative feelings and beliefs that contribute to thoughts of inadequacy. Techniques such as journaling, mindfulness, and self-reflection can help individuals identify triggers and patterns of thinking, empowering them to cultivate a more compassionate and realistic self-view.

Self-help books, articles, and podcasts focused on topics such as self-esteem, assertiveness, and emotional well-being can also provide valuable insights and tools for managing feelings of being a burden. These resources offer practical strategies and exercises for challenging negative beliefs and developing resilience in the face of adversity.


Additionally, practicing self-care and engaging in activities that promote relaxation and well-being can help individuals manage stress and maintain a positive outlook. This may include exercise, hobbies, spending time in nature, or engaging in creative pursuits. Prioritizing self-care allows individuals to recharge and replenish their emotional reserves, making it easier to cope with challenges and setbacks.

Communication skills

Communication skills are also essential for addressing this feeling. Learning to express emotions and needs assertively and effectively can help individuals navigate relationships and seek support from trusted individuals. This may involve setting boundaries, asking for help when needed, and engaging in open and honest conversations about feelings and concerns.

Support network

Building a support network of friends, family, or support groups can also be instrumental in managing feelings of being a burden. Surrounding oneself with understanding and supportive people who validate feelings and offer practical assistance can provide a sense of belonging and reduce feelings of isolation. Cultivating healthy relationships based on mutual trust and empathy can foster a sense of connection and reduce the perceived burden on both parties.

Professional mental health support

Seeking professional help is another important step. Mental health professionals such as therapists and counselors can provide valuable support and guidance, helping individuals explore underlying issues and develop coping strategies tailored to their specific needs. 

Several therapeutic approaches have proven effective in helping people manage the challenging emotions of feeling like a burden. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is widely used to challenge negative thought patterns and develop coping strategies for managing feelings of inadequacy and unworthiness. Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is another effective approach that emphasizes mindfulness, emotion regulation, and interpersonal effectiveness skills to improve self-esteem and relationships.

Additionally, seeking support from a mental health professional such as a therapist, counselor, or psychologist can provide valuable guidance and support. These professionals can offer individualized treatment plans tailored to address the specific needs and concerns of each individual. Online therapy platforms and telehealth services have also become increasingly accessible, providing convenient access to mental health support from the comfort of home.

How Charlie Health can help 

If you or a loved one is struggling with feeling like a burden, Charlie Health is here to help. Charlie Health’s virtual Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) provides more than once-weekly mental health treatment for young people and families dealing with serious mental health conditions, including depression, anxiety, and more. Our expert clinicians incorporate evidence-based therapies into individual counseling, family therapy, and group sessions. With this kind of holistic treatment, managing your mental health is possible. Fill out the form below or give us a call to start healing today. 

Charlie Health shield logo

Comprehensive mental health treatment from home

90% of Charlie Health clients and their families would recommend Charlie Health

Girl smiling talking to her mother

We're building treatment plans as unique as you.