When I was a child, comparing the behaviour of two people in my circle was formative. One would turn out to help in any situation, from raking dirt on the local school oval in a working bee to stopping the car late at night to check on an old man hanging over the rail at a city tram stop. He never talked much about these actions, nor dramatised the recipients’ needs, beyond saying, if asked, that it was the ‘right thing to do’. The other person would become so upset by other people’s troubles, and feel their pain so intensely, that she would end up a teary, hand-wringing mess and require calming herself, taking away attention and care from the person in need.
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