In tournaments, how often you cash isn't nearly as important as how much you win. Since MTTs tend to pay around 10% of the field, you obviously need to get fairly deep in order to cash. However, getting close to the money before busting pays exactly the same as being the first one out.
When people bring up situations like yours, the most likely cause is that you play too conservatively to try to cash, which means that most times you get near the money, your stack is below average. And then, you probably tighten up even more.
While it may not seem so intuitively, this is actually counter-productive Over the long run, you make more money by increasing how often you get to the top few spots that pay the most, even if it means you cash in a somewhat lower percentage of tournaments. And to increase how often you get to those top spots, you have to get better at accumulating chips in the mid-game, and at taking advantage of those players who tighten up near the bubble.