Like most people, I don’t like to be interrupted or have my thoughts completed incorrectly. Well, what, I judged as incorrect. Any well-versed Circle person knows there is no right or wrong. At these moments of frustration, I have learned to try to “observe” and consider why it seems “wrong”. Thank you to those that shared before I finished, saying you understood sharing with the talking piece as using “I statements”. It didn’t quite fit and it’s taken me awhile to know why. No disrespect to the “I statement” approach, which reduces blame, shame and conflict between individuals. I’m proposing “me-statements” for use in Restorative Justice Circle process.
Me-statements are used to speak from the heart. To relate your experience or your truth. Talking in “me” means: for me . . . , about me . . . , this happened to me . . . , because of me . . .. We have gotten conditioned to avoid being all “me, me, me” which implies being selfish. I’m not locking into the exclusive use of the word “me”. I’m talking about a perspective here. The me, perspective means having accountability, self-control and the ability to express yourself vs being selfish. Knowledge of “me” is emotional intelligence and a social-emotional skill-set. Teaching students and those in Restorative Justice process to speak from “me” provides a deeper Circle experience.
Here are 4 reasons Me-statements are helpful in Circle.
- Speaking from belonging. From the place of me, indicates you are part of a larger collective. There is a we, and you are individually identifying your experience. You are relating your story when you use the me perspective, you are speaking your truth.
- I, is a word of authority. In Circle we are connecting to the equality of dignity and worth. Me is less judgemental that I. Me is balanced and we can all speak from me, we might not yet know the “I’s” (when you _____, I feel ____). The basic Restorative Justice questions are how were you impacted, what did you think when you realized this happened, what do you think needs to happen to make things right. Me-statements offer a perspective.
- Circles are not about giving advice. To offer your wisdom in terms of “this worked for me . . .” or “what helped me . . . ” allows others to see you access your own inner strength and wisdom, and that is more beneficial than advice.
- Teach others to listen to the voice inside. That’s the “me” voice or the intuition, the soul, the ego, whatever you would like to call it, it is the place inside that young people need to connect to, to make decisions when authority figures are not around. Verbalizing from that place, in a Circle, strengthens the connection.
So the caution here is not to overly rigid, correct people using I statements. The way to be “circle-like” is offer what works best, to be able to explain how me-statements benefit in Circle. Get wisdom from Circle by asking people to talk about the difference between a me-statement and an I-statement.
Modeling is a Circle-keepers strongest resource. Practice some me-talk and see how it impacts your conversations and your Circles. Drop me a comment and let me know what you think!