There are times in life when emotional trauma hits our family, friendship groups and general community. When trauma is a collective experience – for example, a family member falls ill or a natural disaster strikes – everyone suffers. Often, those closest to the event experience the most trauma. At such times, it can be difficult to know who to turn to for help.
But science has the answer. A rule called Ring Theory could be the key to helping people determine who they can turn to in periods of crisis. Developed by clinical psychologist Susan Silk, the point of this rule is to avoid burdening those who are suffering more deeply than you are.
Here’s how it works:
First, draw a circle and list the names of those who are directly affected by the traumatic event. Then, around that, draw another circle and write down the names of those next closest to the event. For instance, someone’s spouse and children might be most deeply affected, while their parents and siblings might be the next most affected. Keep drawing circles until you’ve included everyone who might be affected by this event. Then write yourself in.
The rule is you should only complain to people in the circles larger than your own. Furthermore, when you are speaking to someone in a smaller ring, you should only offer advice and support.
While everybody should be able to speak about their problems, and no one’s trauma should be diminished, it’s important to be mindful of those who are more directly affected by an event than yourself. The last thing you want to do is contribute further to somebody else’s suffering by comparing your experience as being on the same level as theirs.
Ring Theory offers a valuable guide to help recognise when it’s appropriate to have a vent and when you should just listen.
Read more at sbs.com.au.
Have you tried any similar techniques to Ring Theory?