Defeating the Need to Be Needed

Do you feel intense fulfillment from being needed? Do you think your purpose in life is to help others? There is nothing wrong with contributing to other people’s happiness, but it can become a problem if it gets in the way of your own happiness. We want to help you find a balance that protects your heart and mind. Here are some tips to help you create boundaries and find balanced fulfillment in your life.

What the Need to Be Needed Stems from

The best way to overcome or work through any mental health struggle is to figure out what’s causing it at the core. Why do you need to be needed? Here are some common reasons that may apply to your life:

  • You seek validation from others because you don’t know how to validate yourself. Instead of taking pride in your own accomplishments, you need other people to make you feel valued and loved. This may be the result of a lack of acknowledgment or appreciation earlier in life.
  • You believe extreme selflessness is the only way to be a good person. You’re appalled by anything that resembles selfishness, even if it would put you in a better position to help other people in the future.
  • You come from a life of high expectations. You’re so used to performing at full capacity that you feel lazy when you’re not being “productive.” This may cause you to seek out ways to help others to fill in gaps of time.
  • You’re avoiding some of your own thoughts and feelings. You might be doing this without even realizing it. You overextend yourself so you’re not left alone with depression, anxiety, trauma-processing, etc. It’s easier to help other people than it is to face some of the pain from your past.
  • You’re in a season of life where you feel loss. You’re in the middle of a job transition, divorce, move, or lifestyle change. You feel out of sorts in other parts of your life, so being needed allows you to feel like you’re contributing towards something.

These statements may sound like harsh truths, but they’re an accurate reflection of why many people find themselves in this predicament. Understanding what’s going on at the root can help you find effective and personalized coping strategies.

Why It’s Important to Set Boundaries

The need to be needed can quickly shift from a passion to an obsession. If the person or activity you’re pouring yourself into suddenly ceases to be, you may find yourself in a much bigger mental health struggle.

Think of your time and energy as your own personal currency. Let’s say that you’re investing all of that currency into taking on tasks at work. A tragedy happens, and you get let go from your job without warning. Suddenly, all your “money” is gone, and you have nothing to fall back on.

Set boundaries in all aspects of your life and establish healthy ways to feel fulfilled. Volunteering or being needed can be a component of fulfillment, but it shouldn’t be the only thing that brings you purpose. Find hobbies that spark excitement, or spend some time enjoying nature. At the end of the day, you need yourself just as much as other people need you.