The Ring Theory of Kvetching

A friend shared this article by Susan Silk and Barry Goldman that is linked below on Facebook and I like it. It’s a guide for saying the right thing to the right person in times of crisis.

We’ve all been there. We’ve all faced situations where others are suffering and we share in their suffering. We love our family, our friends, even our co-workers so that we want to express our empathy for them and our solidarity with them. Sometimes, their pain is our pain.

But, we need to be careful about what we say to whom. Yes, the pain that my good friend is feeling is very much effecting me. But, I can’t tell him that. That would only add to his pain, and my job is to comfort him, and not burden him with my pain on top of his. There are others to whom I can share the very real pain I experience when I see my loved one hurting.

The first rule of the Ring Theory of Kvetching is: Comfort in, dump out.

Basically, you draw a small circle or ring. In that ring, place the name of the person experiencing the pain, the struggle, the hurt. Around that ring, draw a larger ring. In that ring place the names of those closest to the person experiencing the pain: usually their spouse and children. Continue drawing ever-larger rings encompassing the smaller rings, with each larger ring holding the names of those less and less intimate with or close to the person in the middle ring: extended family members, close friends, fellow church members, co-workers, etc…

Now, identify in which ring your name is placed. Whenever you are considering what to say, consider in which ring you are in compared to in which ring is the person with whom you’re speaking. To those people in rings farther out from you, you’re allowed to complain, moan and groan, and share your experience of pain at the pain and struggle of your loved one. You can dump all your own pain and emotions on these people. But, those who are in smaller rings from you, closer to the middle, closer to the one who is suffering, and especially the one in the middle ring, you must limit your words to words of comfort.

Comfort in. Dump out.

This is an excellent guide, I think, in helping us to be good friends to those who are suffering.

Be Christ for all. Bring Christ to all. See Christ in all.

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