They say failure is just success waiting to happen. If that's the case then I should be able to count myself as quite the successful individual, given the amount of failure and mistakes I've made in my career and in my life up to now. Some stand out more than others. Some have an element (or more than an element) of pain, or even Shame, attached. There's a good reason though why pain and shame are negative emotions, i.e. they motivate people to improve, or at the very least not to repeat those mistakes. But I have made some doozies. I remember an OTT reaction once to a young person who was playing the TV at or near top volume in a residential center. It became a pure control battle and I basically couldn't think of anything other that repeatedly turning it off in front of everyone - he went upstairs soon after and proceeded to start self-harming. I am not judging him or me here, just stating the facts. Another one that stands out was way back in my late teens. There was a housemate in college, who gradually got more and more on my nerves, until the day I did a Mt. Vesuvius on it. It was "picture no sound" between us thereafter for the rest of the term. Slightly awkward but again, no judgement - you do the best you can at the time with the skills you have, and that was my best at the time. Closer to present day (well 10 years ago now) I had a falling out with the builder of my house nearing the end of the project. I literally had to put up the last ten rows of blocks on our chimney breast - fortunately it (the chimney) has stood the test of time better than my relationship with the builder. I'll stop now on the mistakes front lest I give people the wrong impression of me. These were, thankfully, rare enough examples. What has all this got to do with RP though?
Well obviously, RP can be used for conflict resolution. But, in all the above cases, the common theme was either knee jerk reactions by me (TV example) or a gradual build up in tensions that went unaddressed (flat "mate" and self build examples). Either way the first step should have been within me, hence the title of this blog - RP "begins at home". The minute your focus strays, and then stays, on the other person, then you are on a slippery slope. Reason starts to diminish, perspective goes out of focus and empathy becomes nearly impossible. None of this is to suggest that you should ever accept, or tolerate on an ongoing basis the bad behaviour of others. It is merely to point out that, ideally, we are better served responding rather than reacting to events. If you are just reacting instinctively, then you are liable to end up like I have from time to time. Perhaps you have found yourself in a similar situation once or twice yourself?
How do you do start to practice RP "at home" though? Well, I wish I could say there is a simple and easy answer. The truth is as follows. The answer is simple, but unfortunately far from easy. It takes time and practice (like pretty much everything else in life). The good news is, when you start to master this, it becomes almost automatic and reduces stress for you and people around you. So what does this actually look like? I'll boil it down to three steps:
1. Ask yourself an important question (and then another one or two)
2. Ask the other person the same questions
3 And this is important, don't wait for trouble to do this. Do it everyday AND do it for positive reinforcement too
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 others to benefit from these thoughts (or ramblings!!). Anyway I hope you gain something from it.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.