Have you ever traveled somewhere abroad where you couldn't speak the language while, at the same time, the people there had no English either? It's at times both deeply exciting or deeply frustrating, depending on whether you are talking gibberish to your newly found, and now eternal, best friend in a bar at two in the morning (been there) or, whether you've gone to the wrong end of the train line at night and are now settling down to sleep on a bench because the trains have stopped running (been there too). For the most part such events (or mis-events) are okay though. It's all part of the adventure, and make for great stories afterwards. But you generally manage them when they happen. You've got a guide book, some friends to share the experience with and, these days of course, your smart phone will probably even do simultaneous translation and get you out of any and all problems should they arise. Failing that, there's always our "flexible friend" to depend on. You can't really too far wrong, global world and all that.
Well, imagine this. What if you had to live there, permanently, not able to communicate, not able to make your thoughts, feelings or needs known? Then, what if your friends went home, your phone died and your "flexible friend" bounced? Not looking so rosy now is it? How long would you manage, not being able to communicate properly? In the cold light of day, you realise your new BFF has a life to get on with, you're sick of ordering raw horse meat (yip, been there too) and the train line has nowhere to take you that you'd like to go anymore. I'd wager the holiday would be a nightmare within a few short weeks, maybe sooner even.
Now imagine we're not talking about going abroad and, instead, that foreign language is actually the normal language of emotions (or emotional intelligence). Imagine you are a 16 year old who has no sense of him (or her) self and who was never taught to recognise when they were hot/cold/hungry/happy/sad/angry. Imagine you are a 15 year old who never received the "you're such a happy boy" baby-talk when he was 3 that is so instrumental to developing emotional skills, but that we completely take for granted (I once heard a shocking first hand report of a child being told "you're such a cute f***king baby, aren't you, you little *f**ker*, in that same baby tone of voice we all use, but just laden with expletives in this case). Many of us aren't great at expressing feelings (and I'm not talking about going to Roy Keane levels here) but there are some who have never expressed a single feeling, who literally don't know what they are, who were never taught. You might as well be talking a foreign language, as ask them how they feel.
The title of this blog is my favourite line from a song by Damien Dempsey. It sums the above sentiments, and the point I am trying to make, up perfectly. The world is full of "angry" young men like this (and more than a few angry young women too). If all we see is their anger and their (surface) actions we will never be able to help them. Of course, if we don't have the tools and the language to help them well, then, we will never be able to help them either. And finally, because people like this don't make it easy to be helped (you wouldn't like it either if you were told your entire way of being was wrong), we need to mind ourselves along the way. And finally, in case you're wondering, this isn't about saying it's okay to smash the delf either. We'll get to that a little down the line. First though we need to see past the delf to the real person. These people have generally been let down once already, they don't need to be let down again.
That's Restorative Practice
p.s. here's the link to the song. The line quoted above is about 45 seconds in. Enjoy.
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.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.