Did you know 86% of us think we are better than average listeners? And, furthermore, 88% of us think we are better than average drivers (no wisecracks please about men vs women here). Seriously, though, how can this be? After all, logically, 50% of us are, in fact, better than average at whatever you take your choice from. And 50%, by definition, must be worse than average, be it at driving, as a listener, or - have you guessed it yet? - being restorative. Obviously there is a tendency in us to overestimate our abilities, which means, sadly, we may not be quite where we think we should be. By my maths, this blog should prove useful to the 30-35% out there who are in this camp (with a little luck it may even be useful to the other 65-70% too). So, what are the four biggest barriers to being restorative? In no particular order, here they are:
No. 1 - Not Getting the Basics right
What do I mean by basics? Diet, sleep and exercise. No matter what the health or social problem in life, we tend to come in with the big solutions and treatments first when, in fact, one of the biggest things we can do is start with getting our basics a little better. Personally, nine out of ten times when I lose composure it's related to being hungry or tired or, is at least heavily influenced by this. If I've not looked after myself that day, checked in with my energy/food/rest levels I'm much more liable to snap at the kids (I would of course never snap at the wife), get behind on my work and just feel poorly. You can probably add other things to the list of basics, such as getting to meet friends and have some fun too. None of this is even news. You know it already. It's also in keeping with the preventative ethos of RP, the importance to starting with yourself and role-modelling to others. When did you last get 8 hours sleep as a matter of interest?
No. 2 - Not listening
"First seek to understand, then to be understood", "two ears one mouth", "fools rush in....", etc, etc, etc. How many times are we reminded to listen better and still we struggle to do it? At least half our time is spent listening and, if you're anything like me, you'll spend most of that time thinking about what you're going to say next. This is crazy. If we only took the time to listen first and get the full story, we'd probably eliminate or reduce half our problems straight away. Think about it - by listening you allow time for the other person to vent and express their emotions, and time for yourself to consider your response. Instead however we struggle to listen, rush in and add to the problem. My father always told us growing up "it takes two to argue". Try arguing with yourself, or getting someone else to argue with themselves. Neither will last very long I guarantee.
No. 3 - Not practicing
The All-Blacks are the best and most successful rugby team in the world, perhaps even the most successful team of any sport, ever. And what do they do at every training? They do the same passing drills you'd see the local u-8's at, i.e. they work at the basics, over and over and over. "You don't rise to the level of your hopes and expectations, you fall to your level of preparation". If you don't practice restorative language, or restorative questions, or circles, or Fair Process, how are you going to get it right when the time comes? You might get lucky of course but, as the golfer Gary Player said once, "the more I practice, the luckier I get".
No. 4 - Shame
You knew I wouldn't leave this out. If, by now, you've read the first three and are beating yourself up and/or thinking "I'll never get this right" there's some really good news for you. You are just in what Brene Brown calls a Shame S**t Show and there is an exit sign waiting for you. Take it. Go a little easier on yourself. Shame is what happens every time we compare ourselves to some unrealistic expectation or some other person who we think has it all worked out (i.e. another unrealistic expectation because no-one has it all worked out). Shame can be lessened when we just relax, stop taking ourselves so seriously and, ideally, talk to someone. Shame can only survive in silence.
Well, how'd you do? I tend to fall down on 1 and 2 quite a bit myself. The other good news is none of these are either/or scenarios. Any of these can be tweaked in just the smallest of ways and, chances are, once you recognise one or more, that's all it will take. By being just a little more mindful you'll have already started to make that change. Are you going to let one of these barriers get in your way?
That's Restorative Practice
My name is Joe Power and I am the RP development officer for Limerick. I also work for a restorative justice project. I thought I would write about my experiences in developing my own understanding of RP/RJ, 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.