One of the things that brings people to therapy is the tendency to take on other people’s problems and anxieties as their own, which in the extreme form can lead to a type of depression that psychologists call secondary trauma. There is a fine line between human kindness characterized by good listening and friendship and enmeshed care-giving where the helper “absorbs” the pain and suffering of the other. I like to ask clients if they can be a pillow rather than a sponge. How about you?
Are you a pillow or a sponge?