The main thing I got from Harriet Lerner's book The Dance of Fear is that fear and anxiety aren't just individual problems; they totally impact the way we relate with each other. Anxiety is contagious and gets passed around between us whenever we interact with anxious people. Families, companies, organisations, churches, countries and social groups of all kinds can become infected with anxiety that affects everyone in the group. When a social system becomes fear-based or shame-based, everyone in it suffers.
Since anxiety causes suffering, we naturally want to escape. One way of escaping is to dump our anxiety on someone else. Being a sensitive person, I've always been susceptible to having other people's anxiety dumped on me, but it's only now that I'm learning to recognise when this is happening.
This book helped me identify such a situation once when I volunteered to lead a public speaking training course run by my Toastmaster's club. I had run it successfully several times before and we always got great feedback from the participants on how valuable it was. But this time I wanted to make it even better by talking more about how anxiety works physiologically, and throwing in some exercises I had learned during my acting classes to help deal with fear right up front.