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Feeling Like A Burden? Here Is How To Stop Feeling That Way

You’re not a burden. Now that we’ve sorted that out, try reading one of my other articles. Have a great day.


Ok, if you’re still not convinced that you’re not a burden and feel you need help with not feeling like a burden, then keep reading.



What Does It Mean To Feel Like A Burden?


No one wants to negatively impact their group, team, or family (McPherson, Wilson, and Murray, 2007). But when feeling like a burden, you’re frequently afraid you’re inconveniencing, annoying, or frustrating other people. Feeling like a burden is a common experience for many people, and feeling like a burden can be a debilitating and isolating experience. It can lead to feelings of guilt, shame, and hopelessness.


According to McPherson, Wilson, and Murray (2007), there are many instances where people may perceive they’re burdening others. Even if people (i.e. loved ones) reassure you that you’re not a burden, that doesn’t mean you’re free from that creeping feeling of doubt.


Groups such as the elderly, the disabled, or those with physical or mental health conditions may be especially vulnerable to experiencing this sense of being a burden (Gorvin and Brown, 2012). Furthermore, there is a link between these groups thinking that way and engaging in behaviours that are death-hastening (McPherson, Wilson, and Murray, 2007). By that I mean, they may turn down treatments that would extend their lives or have a do-not-resuscitate (DNR) in place.


As such, you might worry that other people are growing tired of you and your needs or requests. Such a feeling may hold you back from being your true self, asking for emotional support, or setting boundaries.


McPherson, Wilson, and Murray’s (2007) study found that in a workplace or education setting, people can feel like they’re a burden if they perceive themselves as performing poorly or not contributing enough to group tasks. This can cause thoughts like, “They’d be better off without me”. Does that thought ring a bell for you?


However, it is important to remember that you are not alone and that there are things you can do to address this feeling. 




How To Overcome Feeling Like A Burden


There are strategies to help manage these feelings of being a burden. The following are some tips for overcoming that feeling of being a burden.


Identify the source

Being able to trace the origin of why you’re feeling like a burden may help you start to overcome it. This can be a good journaling task so you can reflect on what situations or thoughts trigger the feeling of being a burden. It’ll also help you explore the expectations you feel you might not be meeting.


Also, reflect on situations where others have expressed care or support for you, showing that you’re valued and appreciated.


Challenge your negative thoughts

When you feel like a burden, you may start to have negative intrusive thoughts and distorted thoughts about yourself. When those thoughts arise, challenge their validity. Challenge these thoughts by asking yourself if they are really true. Ask yourself, “Are they based on reality or influenced by negative self-beliefs?” and “Could this be your perception rather than the truth?” More often than not, these thoughts are just exaggerated or simply untrue.


Consider trying a thought challenge to take such thoughts, such as ‘putting your thoughts on trial‘ and ‘reframing‘.


Recognise the feeling

Acknowledge that feeling like a burden is a perception, not necessarily a reality. Understand that it’s a common emotion. One that doesn’t define you or your worth.




Challenge your feelings

We are prone to develop cognitive biases, and one of those is mistaking our feelings for facts. So ask yourself, “Are my feelings lying to me?”. You can also apply the thought challenge, ‘putting your thoughts on trial‘ to put your emotions on trial, looking for evidence for and against what you’re feeling.


Recognise your worth

Remind yourself that everyone has ups and downs, and it’s okay to ask for help or support when you need it. Your feelings and experiences matter.


Express gratitude

Positive psychology teaches us that learning to express our appreciation for the support and care others provide to us helps us find the positives in our lives. Thus, recognising and acknowledging the contributions of others in your life is a great, yet simple, way to adopt a positive mindset.


Positive affirmations

The use of positive affirmations, such as repeating a positive affirmation each day can help shift your mindset. Going from a negative mindset that sees you as a burden to a positive one that realises you’re not a burden.





When we’re feeling down, it’s easy to neglect our physical and mental health. Try to prioritise activities that nourish your mind and body, such as eating healthy, getting enough sleep, and exercising regularly.


To take care of your physical, emotional, and mental wellbeing, also include activities like mindfulness and relaxation techniques. This can help boost your mood, self-esteem, and overall wellbeing. Make time for activities that you enjoy and that help you to relax and de-stress. Hobbies and interests are great for this.



McPherson, Wilson, and Murray’s (2007) study demonstrated that when we perceive ourselves as performing poorly, it generates an unpleasant experience. They also found that treating ourselves with kindness can mitigate that feeling.


Be kind and understanding with yourself. Everyone makes mistakes and needs support at times. Treat yourself with kindness and consider what a loved one might say regarding whether you’re a burden or not. Also, look for ways to contribute or support others in your own capacity. Engaging in acts of kindness or support for others can help shift the perception of being a burden as well.


Focus on your strengths and contributions

Write down your strengths, skills, and positive qualities. We all have strengths and positive qualities, even if we don’t always see them. Regularly remind yourself of the value you bring to your relationships and situations.


Make a list of your strengths and positive qualities and remind yourself of them whenever you feel like a burden. Reflect on the things you do for others, big or small. Recognise how your presence and contributions positively impact those around you. In fact, why not try shifting your focus from feeling like a burden to finding ways to contribute positively, even in small ways?


For many years, I’ve been involved in volunteer work and working as a mental health advocate for programmes like the Time to Change Champions. I got a lot from such experiences, even though I was struggling with my mental health at the same time.


The picture is split in two, with the top image being of a Black man covered in dried on mud holding his hands in front of him, holding a padlock. The bottom image being of a woman sitting and looking out of a window looking sad. The two images are separated by the article title - Feeling Like A Burden? Here Is How To Stop Feeling That Way



Learning to set healthy boundaries can help you to protect your wellbeing. It’s okay to say “no” to requests that you don’t have time for or that you don’t feel comfortable doing. A good place to start is by understanding and communicating your limits to others. Learning to say “no” or asking for help when needed doesn’t make you a burden; it’s a healthy way to prioritise your wellbeing.


Developing positive self-talk

Often, we develop negative self-talk when we’re feeling like a burden. Therefore, work on changing your negative self-talk with positive self-talk.



Gorvin and Brown (2012) talk about how men with chronic illnesses found it demeaning to ask for help, with masculinity also being a factor in that. This is why men need to take their wellbeing seriously. It doesn’t make you any less of a man to get support when you need it or talk when you need to. If anything, it takes strength to seek out help when someone needs it.


There are people in your life who care about you and want to help you. Reach out to them for support and let them know how you’re feeling.


Talk to trusted friends, family, or a therapist about how you’re feeling. Sharing your concerns can provide support and help gain a different perspective on the situation. Furthermore, communicating your needs and limitations clearly and assertively will allow others to understand how they can best support you and prevent misunderstandings.




This is why having a good social support network can be vital to our wellbeing and quality of life. It’s also supported by Jadwin-Cakmak et al., (2022) qualitative interview study into the LGBTQ community in Kenya. They found that being accepted and listened to helped bring relief to people, reducing the feeling of being a burden.


Seek professional help

If you’re struggling to cope with the feeling of being a burden on your own. Or if feelings of being a burden persist and significantly impact your wellbeing, there is no shame in seeking professional help. A therapist can help you understand your feelings, explore them with you, and help you equip yourself with tools and strategies to manage negative thoughts, build self-esteem, and develop healthier relationships.



Personal expectations, often influenced by societal expectations, also play a part in feeling like a burden (Gorvin and Brown, 2012). Often, this is because of unrealistic expectations and even poor goal creation. Therefore, set achievable and realistic goals and celebrate small wins.


Don’t put undue pressure on yourself to be perfect (because no one is) or to please everyone. Recognise that everyone has limitations. It’s okay to need help sometimes, and offering help is a way for others to contribute to the relationship.


Forgive yourself

It’s important to remember that our mistakes do not define us. Thus, to develop positive self-views, keep in mind that everyone makes mistakes. Forgive yourself, be kind to yourself, and give yourself credit for trying not to make the same mistakes again (Psychology Today).






The feeling of being a burden can be quite common, although it can be argued that everyone experiences moments of self-doubt or feeling burdensome at times. It’s essential to practise self-compassion, communicate your feelings, and seek support when needed to navigate these emotions in a healthy way.


You are worthy and deserving of love and support. It’s also ok to need help sometimes. I wouldn’t be alive today if I hadn’t reached out at various stages of my life. You bring value to the world around you, as everyone does. This makes it important to address our feelings of being a burden to improve our wellbeing and our quality of life, as no one is a burden.


You deserve compassion and understanding, both from yourself and from others. By implementing these strategies and focusing on being kind to yourself, you can overcome the feeling of being a burden and cultivate healthier, more fulfilling relationships.


Remember, you are not a burden. You are a valuable and worthy person who deserves to be happy and healthy.


As always, leave your feedback in the comments section below. Also, please share your experiences with feeling like a burden in the comments section below as well. Don’t forget, if you want to stay up-to-date with my blog, you can sign up for my newsletter below. Alternatively, click the red bell icon in the bottom right corner to get push notifications for new articles.


Lastly, if you’d like to support my blog, then there are PayPal and Ko-fi donation payment options below. Until next time, Unwanted Life readers.







Gorvin, L., & Brown, D. (2012). The psychology of feeling like a burden: A review of the literature. Social Psychology Review14(1), 28-41. Retrieved from https://openresearch.surrey.ac.uk/esploro/outputs/99512678402346.

Jadwin-Cakmak, L., Lauber, K., Odhiambo, E. O., Collins, B., Gumbe, E., Norwitz, G. A., Aloo, T., Lewis, K. A., Okutah, F., Amico, R., Olango, K., Odero, W., Graham, S. M., & Harper, G. W. (2022). “When you talk it out… you will feel like the burden has somehow gone down, you will feel light”: Social Support Received by Gay, Bisexual, and Other Men Who Have Sex with Men in Western Kenya. International journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 19(3), 1667. Retrieved from https://www.mdpi.com/1660-4601/19/3/1667.

McPherson, C. J., Wilson, K. G., & Murray, M. A. (2007). Feeling like a burden: Exploring the perspectives of patients at the end of life. Social Science & Medicine64(2), 417-427. Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/profile/James-Wirth/publication/341518041_Feeling_Like_a_Burden_Self-Compassion_Buffers_Against_the_Negative_Effects_of_a_Poor_Performance/links/5ed653c74585152945282d78/Feeling-Like-a-Burden-Self-Compassion-Buffers-Against-the-Negative-Effects-of-a-Poor-Performance.pdf.

6 thoughts on “Feeling Like A Burden? Here Is How To Stop Feeling That Way

  1. I’ve this feeling a few times when going out with our group and it is not good. This is great to keep in mind for next time or future group or family gathering.

  2. Excellent observations. My elderly father is feeling this way as he has to have many Dr’s appointments.
    I try to get him talking about the days when I was small and we spent quality time together. These memories seem to make him happy.

  3. This came at the right time for me. I have been having a really tough time with a fibromyalgia and chronic pain flare and feel like I am a burden to my family and my partner. So these tips are definitely helpful to challenge those thoughts. Thank you for sharing.
    Lauren – bournemouthgirl

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