Quoting directly from the article, the Ring Theory works like this:
|Illustration by Wes Bausmith from here|
Here are the rules. The person in the center ring can say anything she wants to anyone, anywhere. She can kvetch and complain and whine and moan and curse the heavens and say, "Life is unfair" and "Why me?" That's the one payoff for being in the center ring.
Everyone else can say those things too, but only to people in larger rings.
Comfort in, dump out. That is, you find your spot within the circles and then you offer only words or actions of comfort to anyone further in than you. If you need to dump on someone, you do that with those further out from your spot.
What is dumping? It's saying things like...
I couldn't believe how awful he looked.
I felt sick seeing him in hospital.
I hate going into hospitals.
I don't agree with some of the decisions the family is making on his behalf.
He is taking a long time to get over this.
I saw him the other day and he looked fine to me. He's just putting it on.
I remember when my neighbour was in that situation. She...(blah blah blah)
I remember when I had a similar problem. This is what happened...(blah blah blah)
This whole thing is really putting a dampener on our lives.
Do want to know what I would do if this was happening to me?
Are you still dragging yourself around?
Or doing dopey stuff like asking someone closer to the centre to look after your kids for you all weekend so that you can get away for a bit because the whole thing is getting you down.
The point is this. Your aim is to not make things harder for those further in than you. If you are struggling and you're not the person in the middle you should set out to find the support you need from those who are further from the centre and probably feeling stronger than you are, so that you can be strong to comfort and support those who are closer to or right in at the centre.
Comfort in, dump out. Good thinking.