Using The Ring Theory For Your Kvetching Order

Kaisercraft card, Jubly-Umph Fighting Invisible Battles lapel pin, homemade stationary case and illustration of ring theory.

Imagine this: someone close to you is going through a crisis and you don’t want to say the wrong things to them, however you have your own worries that you need to release through conversation. Who is the best person for you to talk to? 

Let’s start with some background info first:

If you are like me and didn’t know, ‘kvetching’ is an old Yiddish phrase meaning to moan, grumble or complain continuously about something. Everyone is entitled to do this and we all do – it’s part of being human! We all need an outlet! 

The thing is that it is only appropriate to unload onto certain people about certain topics. Complaining to a person close to you that their illness or crisis is inconvenient to you is rather rude, blaming and hurtful, and incredibly inconsiderate seeing that it is probably more inconvenient for them. We all want to avoid situations like this and sometimes it can happen without us even thinking about it. 

Clinical psychologist, Susan Silk, and family mediator, Barry Goldman, wrote an article about The Ring Theory and Kvetching Order on how to provide the right support and not say the wrong thing to a person who is in crisis.

Silk explains how to create the rings of the circle. “Draw a circle. This is the center ring. In it, put the name of the person at the center of the current trauma. Now draw a larger circle around the first one. In that ring put the name of the person next closest to the trauma. Repeat the process as many times as you need to. In each larger ring put the next closest people. Parents and children before more distant relatives. Intimate friends in smaller rings, less intimate friends in larger ones. When you are done you have a Kvetching Order.”

Illustration of ring theory.

The theory is straightforward – the person at the center of the crisis can kvetch all they want to anyone. The people around them can comfort and support them but need to be careful about kvetching to them. The best people to kvetch to are the people who are further away from the person in crisis and are not experiencing pain or trauma themselves. 

The main thing to remember is: Comfort in. Dump out.

For example, if you are a colleague of a person in crisis (on the outer ring), don’t dump your anxieties on to their husband (in the inner ring). The husband may not be the person in crisis but they are close enough to it that it is directly affecting them too and they have their own worries without having to comfort you as well. The people you turn to for comfort and support are in your circle or on the next outer ring. 

We are constantly changing from the person at the center or the outer edge or the middle ring as we go through life in all our relationships. By applying this theory, we all receive the comfort, support and kvetching we need when the going gets tough. 

Take good care, Readers. I’ll keep the light on. 

Jubly-Umph Fighting Invisible Battles lapel pin.

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