Help! I need somebody
I made one of the biggest decisions of my life a little over 18 years ago. I'd spent four years studying Mechanical Engineering and a little over three years working at it. On the first day back at work after the Christmas break in January 2001 I decided, though, I'd had enough and made up my mind to quit. On the following morning I gave the letter to my boss and the rest, as they say, is history. I went on to work and study in the area of social care and now restorative practice and have never looked back. When I tell people the story, it usually gets a good reaction. People admire the bravery of the decision (as do I still it must be said) and many actually say they are thinking of doing something similar themselves (or wish they were brave enough to do so). But there's many ways of looking at a story and many lessons that can be learned from the multiple perspectives.
At another level, my decision to quit was also the result of an inability to seek help when I needed it. On the surface I was functioning as a quality control engineer and getting the job done (quality control is finding out why things break and putting in place solutions to ensure they don't break again), but I wasn't enjoying work. I wasn't learning new skills, wasn't seeing the bigger picture as regards my career and was carrying many of the problems I was dealing with home with me. So yeah, the decision to quit was inevitable you could say but, there was one other thing I wasn't doing - I wasn't asking for help. My boss, when he got the letter, was floored. Why hadn't I said something sooner, he asked. With the fullness of time, it was clearly the work of our new/old friend, Shame (a theme for many of the recent blogs, including one on Brexit, if you want to read back).
Shame is what stops us from asking for help or, when we do ask, doesn't allow us to be open enough in taking things on board (basically we can ask for the help as a tick box exercise, but don't really want to know about solutions). Lately a friend of mine asked me for help in dealing with his son's use of PS4 and Nintendo and God knows what other gadgets (surely another blog in that alone). Actually what he did was he gave out yards about his son and the screen time, but I understood it as asking for help. And what struck me was how unusual it was for him to even bring it up. Many of us never ask for help. At the risk of courting controversy, I suspect woman are, on average, better at asking for help than men. But I admired this guy for bringing it up and understood how it probably wasn't that easy to do so.
There are, of course, sometimes very good reasons in not looking for help. First and foremost, there's the possibility you won't get it. Your boss/friend/partner may not want to know, or may not know how to help. And it's easy to use one setback as an excuse not to do so again. The fact is however we all know plenty of people who would be more than willing to help in most circumstances. The proof of this is when someone asks us for help. We're made up. We get that good feeling from helping the other person, and we get the thanks/recognition from the other person directly. Basically, we love to help others. But, we then deprive others of that same feeling of reward, by not asking for help back.
So, this week, try to ask one person to help you with one thing you're struggling with. At a minimum you'll make them feel better, and there's every chance you'll get something too. (Tip: if you want them to just listen, tell them that's all you want. People love to know how it is they're meant to help. If you want advice, ask for advice. Some people hate giving advice when that might be the very thing you want.) It could make your classroom work a lot better, it could save you time/energy/heartache at whatever task you're at. It could even save you a career change.
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.
1/29/2019 05:44:14 pm
Yes, Joe, I am a serial helper myself! I get up daily at 6 to 'mammy', til I head off for work at 8 - where I mammy/ teach/ support/ ..'. Then after school I call in to my parents to do guess what?? Then off home to help part 2! I rarely ask for help, but will give it a lash this week - for the discipline of it! Very thought provoking this blog!!! Thanx.
1/29/2019 08:06:37 pm
Excellent point, well made. Asking for help is difficult because refusal diminishes the person, trivialises the task, fails to recognise the struggle, isolates the asker.. I was inclined to overdo the helper and never be the asker. Counselling showed me that there are other ways. My first time of risking a request for help was met with such emotion and enthusiasm that I was shocked "Oh, thank God you asked, I was never going to catch up with all the help you have given me" etc etc
1/30/2019 02:34:40 pm
Very inspiring Joe. I completely changed career 10 years ago after being made redundant from the banking sector. I went into social care also it changed my life made me more humble but it also helps me to help people if that makes sense. The coworkers I have met along the way are amazing but unfortunately I tend not to ask for help for myself. Due to some bad experiences in the past when I have asked for help and didn't receive it it makes it difficult to show weakness and be let down. I did a restorative practice course last year and really enjoyed it.
1/30/2019 06:04:11 pm
Seems to have sparked some thought. Good luck in your effort this week Mandy. Let us know how you get on. By the way, "refusal diminishes the person" only if we let it (I know, I know, easier said than done, but it's true). Asking for help only works if we grant the other person the freedom to refuse - otherwise it's just a demand. #all restorative practices are voluntary
1/31/2019 11:15:25 pm
Maybe I ought to have clarified my "refusal diminishes the person etc etc" What I ought to have said is that people have a perception that "refusal diminishes........" I stand by my encouragement, go ahead and ask. People generally like to help.xx
2/3/2019 09:48:53 am
Point taken Trish. Thanks again for the comments and the encouragement.
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