Is it okay to complain about your problems?

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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.


Have you tried any similar techniques to Ring Theory?

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Written by ameliath


Total Comments: 14
  1. 0

    Complain here….

  2. 0

    Support certainly and as much as you can, but I don’t believe you should offer advice unless it is asked for. I have been inundated with advice which was proffered before I had really absorbed what had happened followed by inappropriate,inaccurate or unwanted advice, or about things I already know. Possibly say: I have had a similar sort of experience so if there is anything you think I might be able to help with, do call on me.

  3. 0

    Ah yes. This is so much more complex than a one paragraph article.
    You know the Black dog slogan “R U OK”. Its a wonderful – caring, sharing, helping etc. Then you do it. They grab you by the metaphoric neck and drag you down into their space sapping you financially, emotionally and physically.
    Unfortunately, the person who has been the strength and Captain at the helm will see all the possible helpers (the rats) fleeing from a sinking ship and leave that person to flounder alone while the rats find some other ship to inhabit.
    On another level woman tend to want to solve other people’s problems rather than just listen. It is tricky to know when to listen and when to help.
    If you do need to complain – and we all do from time to time – watch the receiver’s body language. Know when they are not the least bit interested and keep quiet.

    Everybody needs to feel happy. When things are absolutely at there worst sometimes jokes, happy songs, and being surrounded by happy people is what is needed to put the Black dog in its cage until you can cope with it. During the great wars everyone was traumatised to the point where no one could even mention how bad it was.

    Worst place to complain – the office – they are not your friends they are your competitive colleagues. Lobby for change don’t complain.

  4. 0

    I like this YouTube video. This is for the guys. It’s called” its not about the nail”.

  5. 0

    It is okay to vent with people you know rather than outsiders, If someone needs to vent say nothing and just be a good listener

  6. 0

    Good idea apart from the name: Ring Theory is a branch of pure mathematics (algebra).

    But how does this cover complaints about, say, bureaucracies?

  7. 0

    What’s new
    Women love to complain

    It’s call Biatch Theory



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