I didn't know alot of people do that, but quite a few people do and I'm always incredibly flattered when they do so - at least for a while. Rather than this being an either or role; the answer in a one word statement is 'Both'. I do feel over-burdened by this sometimes, and I'm also glad for this for the reasons you said. But there is one factor that people don't bring up, that I am ashamed to bring up and that I will bring up.
The factor of appreciation.
Alot of the time, when people sort of confide in me - well, I don't feel appreciated. I know I am appreciated, but that is different from feeling appreciated and being appreciated. I listen to people and I try to treat them as humanely and respectfully as I can because as a living being, they deserve respect and dignity. And, as callous as this sounds, being respectful and honest and considerate and actively listening when I just want to fall down and have sex or the like takes alot out of me. And with my nerves being raw, it irritates me that people come to me for advice or support and then leave on their way without and indication of how the listener was feeling.
I would like to explain something to do; the best listeners and advisors are empathetic but stalwart. Specifically, I'm going to deal with the empathy. When one is an actively empathetic listener, it means that listener is attempting to emulate how the speaker is feeling, pain and all. And the best listeners succeed on some scale - thus, they are able to console since they can actively feel somewhat similarly and help create and offer solutions in terms of dealing with the pain, and dealing with the issue that caused pain.
Maybe that isn't what every listener does, but I've found the people I recognize as people who can heal and can heal themselves tend to follow that sort of trend. But really - read that again. I will not lie when I say that listening is a huge amount of work, and takes great care. I'm exceptionally pleased that people feel I can do this well, because I wish for people to be happy. That being said, I have to assume people believe this because it is rarely vocalized. I know the people who I speak with; they are appreciative and happy and all I ask is that they live a life that is honest, compassionate, and respectful. But when you don't hear it for a long time, you can wonder.
Here's an example (breaking academia!). My older sister often jokes (with some effect) that I have an ego, I think I am better than everyone else, etc. The other day, she came home from an appointment with her make-up artist for the wedding and she told me that the artist had said that I was wise beyond my years. Her make-up artist. I've said all of three or four sentences to this young woman, and she said this. The only reason I can see her saying this is if my older sister is speaking about me to her. The fact that my older sister was vocalizing something positive about me to this woman for her to say this makes me feel acknowledged and appreciated. This is incredibly rare to hear from her, so this made me happy.
And, ironically, that's what alot of listening and those confiding in me want. They just want someone to acknowledge they're in pain. That it hurts. And that even though it hurts, they've done well for the life they've lived so far. Often, they have a solution to the problem - but that doesn't make people feel better. What will is letting them know that they are acknowledged, appreciated, and have worth. We're taught to believe this, but it's impossible to stay the way of happiness entirely without a support circle. We need other people. We need other people.
This is also why I try to compliment people as much I feel is within a comfort zone. I'm not the only one who feels this way; as though I'm doing so much hard work that isn't being recognized or acknowledged. Feeling as though you're invisible is absolutely monstrous. And the world we live in is not a nessecarily nurturing environment; but it's within our capacity as human beings to be nurturing and to instill feelings of positivity in each other.
We all do hard work, and we all deserve compliments for that hard work. This does not mean we've done a perfect job, or that we're done or that we are perfect. What it does mean is that person struggles and works and fights for whatever tiny special life we have. And that amount of work that each individual human being does is, in my mind, absolutely amazing. We cannot play the compare game - not with pain or work. The base unerstandings must be that pain is unwanted but an inevitablity and we must learn to grow past our pain individually & together, and that we must all do as much as we can.
It's nessecary if we want a beautiful world, and more hard work is definitely needed to save this world, but we all do so much work. Something that may be incredibly easy for one person is incredibly difficult for another. Both of those people deserve praise for their work and effort. We need to work to make the world a better place, and hard work is one of the cruxes of a happy world. Being happy takes an incredible amount of work. But this incredible amount of work is nessecary in order to maintain our survivial as a species, as well as a way to allow us to thrive in ways that give our life meaning. And it must be acknowledged.
If there's one thing I believe we all need, it's affection.
So really, that's what this is all about. Affection. Our world has demonized affection.
I refuse to practice that any longer. It's literally killing us.
....Way to stray, me. I hope that answer suffices. <3