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In trying times, try using Ring Theory

There probably isn’t a single person out there who would argue that 2020 has not been a trying year. There’s been one thing after another, and it’s affected everyone in some way.

With COVID-19 and protests of racism and police brutality overlapping, it can be a challenge to process everything that is going on in the world. It may not solve the problems themselves, but Ring Theory can help struggling people figure out ways to cope within the context of their unique social circles.

In 2013, clinical psychologist Susan Silk and arbitrator Barry Goldman wrote about Ring Theory to help people say the right things during a crisis. That crisis may be medical, legal, financial, romantic or even existential.

The idea is that a person is at the heart of the crisis. To visualize it, draw a circle and put their name in the center. Perhaps it’s someone hospitalized with COVID-19 or the victim of a hate crime. They are the afflicted individual.

Draw a second circle around that one. It represents the closest person to the afflicted individual. Maybe it’s a spouse or partner. From there, each larger circle represents the next closest people, often immediate family, then close friends, more distant relatives, casual friends, colleagues, acquaintances and finally lookie-loos at the outermost circle.

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