Restorative Circles – Finding Connection in Conflict

Let me be clear … my basic personality type is to avoid conflict. It’s been my guiding force, my raison d’etre, all my life, and has probably led me into more conflict that any other trait.

So what a surprise for me to eventually discover how incredibly useful and productive conflict can be, if we walk towards it, and not away. I am eternally grateful to Dominic Barter, who came up with Restorative Circles through working with drug gangs in the favellas (slums) of Brazil. This is no namby-pamby, first-world-problem, lets-all-just-be-nice-to-each-other stuff.

Through my exploration of needs with nonviolent communication, I came to understand that one of biggest needs, perhaps surprisingly, is the need to be heard and understood – and it’s that that comes up over and over and over in conflict. Why do we keep screaming at each other? Why do we keep butting heads? We just can’t let go of the hope that the other person will hear us, will understand. And yet our strategies for getting heard tend to be unworkable, and result in pain all ’round – not only for those directly involved in the conflict, but often all those around them as well.

So, the process of restorative circles is basically a way of getting people to hear each other. This requires some scaffolding to provide the safety required for people to be willing to speak, and more importantly, be willing and able to listen.  It also is structured to include *all* the people involved, including members in the community who are affected.

Building this safe space starts with a trusted person – the “facilitator” – going around and having a chat with the people involved. This is called the “pre-circles”. The facilitator is generally someone who’s had some training in being empathic, in being able to hear a story with care, and without judgment.

I love the simplicity of the actual restorative circle. There are a set of questions that are asked by the facilitator of the various people in the room, often beginning with the person who is least able to hear other people at that time. The questions and process are simple, and they work.

A full description of the process can be read here.

TO DO: include link to Carolyn’s RC film


I am you

I am the terrorist. I am the Klu Klux Klan, with another life story, another history, another place of birth, a different family. I am capable of all those things. The rage and moral condemnation I feel for them is not in any way, shape or form different from the rage and condemnation they feel towards me. The desire to change them, to fix them, to make the world a better place according to my own ideology – no different. Same feeling, different skin. Same fears, same human frailties, same needs for belonging, for love, for air, for sleep. Same human body, different core woundings, different strategies to keep ourselves safe. Continue reading I am you


Gather everything for the category (ESSENTIAL)

Focus on what to keep, not what to discard

Discard first, put away SECOND.

Visualise what you want first

Thank your items before letting go

Keep thanking them (be grateful)

It’s not about minimalism

Working out categories for things can be hard … but it’s totally worth it


Ask the item if it wants to stay or go

Ask it where it wants to live (storage)


These resources are on other websites. Click on the images to bring up a new window for that website.



I choose and love my sobriety, and am eternally grateful for it, staying ever vigilant with the help of my HP. Holy spirit, please keep me sober today. Thank you! 🙂
I remember always that I’m human, and that insanity is ok and expected, and can be turned over 🙂 Humility and acceptance are keys to connection and joy.
I regularly check in with my higher power for guidance, reassurance and peace.
When planning my day, my HP helps me prioritize my time and energy in accordance with my preciously-held highest values of love, connection and nurturing my family.
I chose not to believe anything I think 🙂
I am always safe! There is never a need to defend myself, only to increase love and connection through vulnerability and courage.
The present moment is the ONLY moment there is. I relax and enjoy being in the moment, knowing that my greatest contribution to the world is to be present to it. I notice when I’m not present, and I gently bring myself back into connection and peace.
I notice and am grateful for this miraculous body, and listen to her so I know how to look after her.
I take time to notice and cherish my feelings and needs, even when they’re uncomfortable. Connecting to myself feels so much better than clinging to comfort, safety or previous experience/habit. Opening to pain feels so much better than trying to manage or control it.
When confused, distressed or stuck, I breathe in my pain, I breathe in the pain of the world, and I breathe out love and connection and peace.
When I’m lost in my own world, I take time to remember that others exist, and may be struggling, and I ask my HP what I can do to connect.
I always remember that I have choice, and don’t lose my way in self-pity and resentment.
I clean my beautiful home with massive gratitude for all the wonderful things I have, whilst noticing and holding that part of me that struggles with the idea of “housework”.  I make my home a relaxing, peaceful and welcoming haven, for myself and others.
I gratefully prepare food that nourishes and sustains us all, remembering all those not so fortunate.
I am grateful for all that I have, and for all that I don’t have. There is no room for self pity or resentment, only for vast gratitude.
Life is messy. To order all the leaves on a tree would be to destroy its wild beauty.
There is time for all things
– for joy, and for pain;  for stillness and for movement
– for rest and for play;  for self, and for others
– for mind work, and body work;  for doing, and for being
My Purpose: I learn and teach. I serve humanity. Humanity needs healing through connection. I help people be happier.