Your Needs Are Not a Burden

If there were a handbook I gave to anyone starting their own therapy (or even just thinking about it), the title of this article would head the first page. It’s something that I wish every therapy client knew and could hold true both inside and outside of the therapy room. And in case it’ll get missed if I don’t, I’ll shout it louder for the folks in the back:

Your needs aren’t a burden. Not to your therapist. Not to your family. Not to your community. Not to anyone. Your needs aren’t, and never have been, a burden. Period.

In this article we’re diving into why any message you’ve been given about being a burden had nothing to do with you. Let alone your worth. Huge promise, I know, but stick with me here. Let’s start unpacking this so you, too, can see just how powerful understanding and answering to your needs can be. 

Why You Believe Your Needs are a Burden

It’s no longer surprising that when someone sits down on my couch and begins to unpack what brought them to therapy, that we stumble right onto this belief. The niche of humans that find hope and recovery in the work I do with folks are usually well-equipped with the belief that their needs are a burden in some way, shape, or form. To which I am no stranger in my personal life, so if I’m being honest, it’s an honor to be in the room when they are unwinding this belief and its supporting web. The strength of the emotional and cognitive gut punches that this can pack can be one of the heaviest.

And although it shows up in different sentences and experiences, the sentiment is always the same:

If I answer to my own needs, it means others can’t have theirs met. 

It’s like we see our ability to take care of ourselves and others as though it’s a pie with a finite amount of pieces. If I take one piece, that means that my daughter or husband or friend doesn’t get one. And then I’m left responsible for wrecking their day because they also wanted to enjoy the pie. Or even worse, they needed that piece of pie more than I needed it. 

Pie aside, what does this belief look like in real life? Here are some examples I’ve lived through:

  • “If I take time to myself because I’m frustrated and need space, that means I’m not available to support my kids during homework time; they won’t get what they need to succeed in math class.” 
  • “If I assert a boundary that I don’t accept hugs/physical contact from people I don’t want to, then they are hurt and their need for physical contact/love goes unfulfilled. I caused that pain.” 
  • “If I don’t allow my family to spend time at family functions without having our boundaries respected, that means I’m responsible for them not having a fulfilling relationship with us. I hurt them by holding the boundary.” 

Why That’s a No-Win Situation

Do you see the slippery slope that happens when this belief is put into action? The flavor of personal responsibility for others’ feelings, actions, experiences, etc., is strong in that belief concoction. All while being spurred on through a potent mixture of guilt, shame, and self-judgment. YUMMY… not. 

All kidding aside, that is a particular loop that a lot of us are stuck in. And it can be hell to try to unwind, because most of us have had this baked into our wiring for years on years on years. What ends up happening after deploying this belief pattern over and over again is that we get burnt out. Deeply, deeply burnt out, followed with some potential anger, anxiety, depression, frustration, withdrawal, confusion; you name it. It goes without saying that:

When you reach burnout, your body and mind aren’t asking you to fulfill needs anymore. It becomes a demand-and-requirement type of situation. And your stability is the hostage.

To make matters worse, while you’re completely engrossed in trying to remedy this for yourself so you can get back to life, it’s likely that interpersonal drama will start to unfold as well. Because, well, you’re not filling the role you have been thus far in your relationships. Others may have become completely accustomed to you sidelining your own needs to be able to answer their needs & wants first. By your attention diverted to digging yourself out of burnout, all of the you’re no longer available to be the lifeline they’ve always used. 

The end result? You’re burnt out. Others have big feelings about not having you as their go-to. You all feel like crap and no one wins.

What to Do About it

As much as I wish there was, there’s no fix-all I can give you to remedy this, in an article. In fact, any blanket statements I were to put in this segment might come with a pretty heavy eye roll on your part. 

Which makes a ton of sense to me. This belief you’re holding onto is deep rooted and probably comes with a lot of baggage. Telling anyone who struggles with this cycle of pain to “breathe deep” and to try journaling their problems is just…not the answer. So as unpopular as it might be to say, 

You might need some support with this one. 


Because when it comes down to it, healing requires community. It requires interconnectedness with others. Coping skills can be enough to keep you afloat, but healing what lies at the root of a core belief requires connection with others that solo journaling and deep breathing in isolation cannot provide. 

Finding a trained professional to support you through this process is a great start, and building a community of individuals who can hold space and offer reflection for one another during it is ideal. If this is new to our lives it can be a big shift and tricky to understand where to start. You don’t have to go it alone, though. Don’t hesitate to reach out with questions about this process, I’m happy to help get you started on this journey in whatever way it looks. 

From Falling Apart to Figured Out

How much would you give to sit across from an expert who was trained to help people just like you decrease your stress and love your life? Well, for anyone stressed over anything and everything, the price would be quite high and worth every penny. But for a short time, for a small number of people, I’m offering that opportunity…without charge.

That’s right, with my From Falling Apart to Figured Out call, you have the chance to work with me one on one, absolutely free.

Because I hold these calls personally, there are very few spots available, so if you’re serious about living life on your terms and would like the guidance and support of a trained expert, use the calendar provided to apply for your session now.

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