One of the most difficult emotions to deal with when having a hard time is feeling like a burden. As a crisis counselor for the Crisis Text Line, nearly 60% of texters who reach out tell me they have people in their life they could talk to about their struggles, but don’t want to burden them.
Feeling like an emotional burden can be caused by a number of things, including low self-esteem, anxiety, depression, or trauma. Oftentimes, our mind plays tricks on us by telling us that we are not worthy of our loved one’s time, or that if we seek too much help, people will love us less. These are negative thought patterns – stories that we are used to telling ourselves and our trained reaction to feeling down. Tools like CBT can help rewire our brains to tell us positive affirmations instead (“I am worthy of care” – “I deserve to feel heard and supported” – “I am loved” – “it its okay for me to ask for help”).
The concept of emotional burden stems, largely, from an individualistic perspective on society. It suggests that self-sufficiency is the strongest and most preferable way of living. Yet it actually takes so much strength and courage to reach out for support. I am humbled by those who reach out to the crisis hotline and take that brave step for themselves. We are humans – a social animal – and turning to each other in time of need is important. We all deserve care.
The idea of being “too much” for someone to deal with is an extremely common fear, although usually it is just that: a fear. Vulnerability in relationships is scary, yet critical. It’s also important to allow for boundaries when asking for care. Sometimes our friends do not have the capacity to feel our needs, and that’s okay. Having open communication and allowing the space for others to make their own decisions about the kinds of support they can offer is important. Saying, “hey do you have a moment for me to talk to you about how I’ve been feeling lately?” is a good way to get consent for opening up. We each have a responsibility to one another — both to care and care within our capacity.
If someone is not at capacity to fill your needs, this does not mean that your needs are “too much” or you have to change your needs. You deserve care and support regardless. Support hotlines, like Crisis Text Line and Suicide Prevention Lifeline, or long term therapy are good ways to talk through your feelings with someone who is trained and empathic.
You are never a burden for having feelings. You are not too sensitive. You deserve love, care, and to be heard. It is brave to reach for support and incredibly strong to take steps for your own healing.