Tulane VISTA Blog

Fighting Poverty with Passion

Lightswitches and Mulligans

In our restorative trainings we often say that becoming a more restorative person isn’t something someone can suddenly turn on; it’s a process.  There’s no magic lightswitch we could flip up and BOOM! we have both the will and skill to restore harm. If there is such a lightswitch someone should definitely tell me about that.


Becoming restorative takes practice, reflection and most difficult, mistakes.  The hopeful part of this equation is that those habits of punishment and harm can be identified and now our trainees have some tools to begin replacing them with new more life-affirming practices.  But this gets hard real fast because if you catch yourself punishing (youth, loved ones, strangers) and you want to practice being restorative you first have to admit that you just weren’t restorative, and that you just might have caused harm.  This reflection piece is the most important and we get no mulligans in life.  No do-overs, no redraws.  The game continues on and its not a game really, its our lives and our loved ones.

But none the less, excluding abuse contexts, we can try again and we probably should.  Self awareness can create demons out of shadows and that is partially because they’re there.  But shadows only grow larger when we close our eyes.  Taking on restorative approaches is a practice of becoming and trying and not letting our mistakes pass us by unnoticed.  Even if you don’t get to try and fix a situation, the question always to be asked is:

“How could I have been more restorative?”

This is a question I constantly ask myself and it helps to identify new skills I’ve developed and new habits.  But have no doubt that I need to still ask this because I still struggle.

And this gets to a deeper mantra of mine.  We can do better.  There is no reason we should see the year 2015 as some sort of end point for us individually or culturally.  The present is not some endpoint just because we’re experiencing it currently.  Life is continuing on and many of us have a lot more growing we can still do.  We should become comfortable admitting we’ve made mistakes because we have made a lot of them to own up to.  Becoming restorative, as with all the habits we need to take on, is a reflective process so friends, start practicing.



This entry was posted on May 8, 2015 by in VISTA Field Reports.



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