October 1, 2019 by Dymphna

Truth Bomb Tuesday: How to help someone in crisis

Don’t stick your foot in it. Here’s what to say to someone in crisis.

I never expected it was going to be like this.

It’s one of the most interesting things about the work we do in the ILRE community. Stuff comes up. Big stuff. Big stuff that won’t go away. Big stuff you’ve just got to deal with.

When I first tried to figure out how I was going to escape the pretty ordinary fate our society dishes out to most single-mums, I was in crisis.

Big stuff was going on. The break up was messy. My accountancy practice was a ship that was sinking and was also on fire. Everything I thought I knew about myself and what my life would look like was shaken to the core.

The ground was giving way beneath me.

At the time, I thought it was just coincidence. I thought the timing had just lined up that way.

Experience has shown me now though, that these things tend to go hand in hand for a reason.

A crisis can force you to look at your relationship to money and to everything. It forces you too.

But at the same time, reworking your relationship to money and to everything brings a lot of stuff up. It brings in your childhood conditioning. It brings in your self-worth. It brings in your spiritual worldview about what the heck is this all about anyway.

Big stuff comes up and you can’t ignore it.

And so people look at what we do and say, “Oh, you help people take control of their finances.” And yes, that’s true. But it often ends up being a lot deeper than that.

And so I’m always on the look-out for tools to support people dealing with this big stuff.

And funnily enough, it’s often the people around them that have the toughest time with things. Mum starts having a good hard look at her life and how much energy she’s selflessly giving to the household, and dad and the kids start to get uncomfortable.

“Mum’s changed. Let’s make her ‘normal’ again.”

Anyway, there’s one tool I found the other day that I really liked. It’s called ‘Ring Theory’.

Really, it just codifies some common sense, but that’s often worth doing.

I found it in this article here, in the LA Times.

Basically, you draw a bunch of concentric circles. In the centre is the person in crisis. Maybe they’ve got a medical condition. Maybe they’ve just lost a loved one. Maybe they’re in an existential crisis. Whatever. They’re in the centre.

In the first circle around them are the people most intimately connected to the person. The spouse, the kids.

Around that circle are the next most intimate level of connections. Maybe it’s the best friends etc.

And on and on it goes in decreasing levels of intimacy. It looks like this:

Now, the rule is that you offer comfort inwards, from an outer circle towards and inner circle. And you can dump outwards, from an inner circle to an outer circle.

But you never dump outside in.

So maybe you go to visit your friend in hospital. They look terrible. So when you’re chatting to their husband you burst into tears and tell them that you just weren’t ready to see them like this, and why is life so unfair etc.

Wrong. You’re dumping in. If you want to freak out (nothing wrong with that), find someone in an outer circle you can dump on, and go for it. 

That release of emotion is necessary for everyone, but it should be done from the inside out.

And if you’re talking to someone who is on a more intimate ring than you, offer comfort and support. Listen. Offer understanding. Don’t try to offer solutions. Let them release.

Offer comfort in towards the person in crisis. Let emotional releases flow outwards and dissipate.

This is a great thing to remember if someone you know goes into crisis.

So I just thought I’d share this. It’s a great little tool, and a great little guide for supporting someone going through hard times.

And we all need to look out for each other.