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Trying to Feel Needed: Ask Noah

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Q: I work as a researcher/legal librarian at a big New York City firm. My colleagues and I devote long hours and are very necessary for the firm's success. Our salaries are modest for N.Y. standards -- matching the most junior of lawyers -- but that goes without saying for library science degrees.

My upset stems from the fact that my chosen career has been steadily losing respect. The Internet and getting information on the "fast and cheap" has somehow seemed to lessen the validity and value of what I do. Please help me bring this issue to light!

A: I want to feel needed. You want to feel needed. We all want to feel needed.

You asked me to help you "bring this issue to light!"

Would you like me to wage a public relations campaign for legal librarians? I don't think we are going to get a big audience for this one.

Regardless, it seems more relevant to address your internal struggles than help you with advocacy for your chosen vocation.

Seeking approval is a very human pursuit. The need to be appreciated is a very normal emotional desire that permeates every aspect of our lives. When we feel a strong sense of validation we feel that we matter. A strong sense of one's self-worth generally fosters calmness, allowing an individual to live comfortably within his or her own skin.

Your desire to be appreciated will always be present. Yet, it now needs to come from your strong "internalized" sense of professionalism and expertise rather than from a need for constant 'external' validation from society.

Your "core" issue of feeling replaced by technology has got you in a tailspin. It is the curse of being an effective reality tester and someone who also understands the changing culture of your profession.

If your goal is to "bring to light" the plight of the legal librarian, you will inevitably feel defeated.

However, as you and your colleagues are still incredibly valuable researchers, imagine how you might mentor the younger generations. You can not only teach them about the art of detail, but also the value of being succinct and the ability to finish tasks in a timely manner.

You more than anyone realize the need to understand technological research to keep up with the times. Therefore, be confident that your skill set and experience will remain your greatest assets.

In the end, self-approval is longer lasting than external validation and it is not conditional.

Thank you for the question. Stay positive, dedicated and keep up your good work!

Please send all questions to ASK NOAH at

Have a profitable and peaceful week,


This article was written by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.
Noah Kass is a psychotherapist specializing in addiction, relationship issues and work stressors. He has been Clinical Director at The Dunes: East Hampton and Realization Center in Union Square. Mr. Kass was a frequent guest on MSNBC's "The Dylan Ratigan Show," featured in a segment called "Kass' Couch" and regularly blogs for The Huffington Post.

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