Every once and a while I'm reminded how much the world needs RP (or something similar - to be fair we're not the only show in town). There was an "agony aunt" piece on one of the radio shows during the week. See what you think of this? A couple had made the decision to give up smoking together some time back and one partner, the man, had managed to successfully do it "cold-turkey". The woman had not manged it though. She was now writing to the station detailing how her husband was continually saying how he had given them up and that she should do likewise. Essentially, she wasn't able or ready to quit, and she was now quite frustrated at her husband reminding her how he had managed it. She was wondering if she should say something to him. Maybe take a second here to consider what advice would you give her?
To me it was an open and shut case. If you're at the stage where you're writing to a radio station for help you probably need to do something. Yes, she should say something and I immediately began formulating how, when and what I'd say if I was her. Then I caught myself though. Fortunately, I am now at the stage where I would be confident in this. But I wasn't always and not everyone else is there yet. I also thought how "you don't know what you don't know". A mere 5 or 10 years ago I would have been in exactly the same dilemma. I wouldn't have known what to say and, to be honest, I'd probably have dodged it - my best guess is I'd have waited for an argument over something and then "let rip". It's a lot easier sometimes to attack. We are culturally used to it. It's hard to say "You've reminded me three times today about my not giving up cigarettes. I am genuinely pleased you did give them up by the way and I'm proud of you for it. I feel sad though that I wasn't able and further sad when you remind me like that. I need time and support to try again. Would you be willing to give me some time here and let me do this in my own way?" (or some variation of this).
One of the central tenants of RP is Free Expression of Emotion. We need to connect with people and say how we feel. This takes time and skill though. And there's actually four steps to it. Firstly you need to recognise and name your own emotions (1). Once you know what you're feeling you need to manage these feelings responsibly (2). Then you need to be able to recognise the emotions of others (3) and, finally, act in a way that respects and maintains good relationships (4). No wonder we have troubles like we do in the world when a woman can't tell her husband how she feels. The good news is the answers are there for us. We just need to open up to them.
That's restorative practice.
My name is Joe Power and I am the RP development officer for Limerick. I thought I would write about my experiences in developing my own understanding of RP, as well as in trying to spread it across Limerick. The reason for this is that I find that both my own and other people's experiences are remarkably similar and there could well be some opportunity for other's to benefit from these thoughts (or ramblings!!). Anyway I hope you gain something from it.