Making it Right

Ho’oponopono = to set things right, to correct, to make amends

Resolving an issue between yourself and another when there’s conflict and something out of balance

There’s an art to “setting things right” when there are disagreements, misunderstandings, when somebody feels slighted, hurt, upset. These emotions get tangled up in how we think about a situation that may have happened either to us or to somebody whom we care about. It could be between 2 co-workers, a family member or your dearest beloved. In Hawaii, the art of mental and emotional clearing, of setting things right, of restitution, is called Ho’oponopono.

From back as early as the 1800's Polynesian cultures believed that what cause discord (be it in words or deeds)could set one up for illness. Depending on the severity, the ramifications of this discord could be passed to future generations if it wasn't cleared up and thus it became very important to clear the air and make things right between family members as well as others. Ho’oponopono is the practice by which healing occurs for all concerned, mentally & spiritually.

This practice has been used and refined through the years. Morrnah Simeona in 1976 spoke about the value and process of it at the United Nations and she went on to lead seminars both in the US and in Europe helping people 'get it right'. The process was also used in the late 20th century in the court systems as an alternate form of restitution for both juvenile and adult offenders. They had to work with an elder who would lead that person and his or her family or those harmed, in a form of counseling in order to find resolution for all concerned. After Marrnah’s death in 1992, one of her students, Dr. Hew Len further refined the process to what it is today.

The process of resolving discord in relationships between family members or others is essentially as follows : To begin, one must sit quietly and become clear in yourself that what you are about to do is not to determine who is right or wrong in the situation or about what you did or didn’t do.

What you are looking for is 1 - recognizing that somebody you know is hurting (angry etc) and then 2 --acknowledging that you value or care for this other person, a little or perhaps a lot.

Sit with that for a few moments first because you want to approach them with care and with the thinking that -- I care for you, this friendship, this connection -- It may take time & inner effort to come to this awareness, to recognize what is REALLY at stake. It is has not about pride or defensiveness but has to do with the meaning & value of your connection with this other person.

Once you've settled into this place of knowing in yourself, you'll be ready to approach the person who is hurting. Not by text, email and not by phone. In person. You'll sit with them somewhere quiet, without distractions because this is important work you're doing together. The following 4 points are not rigid bullet points. They are simply guidelines of what you'll need to say. They are powerful in their simplicity.

1. -- I’M SORRY.

(I see that you're hurting and I'm sorry that you’re upset; I realize that you’re hurting; I’m sorry that you are feeling left out, ignored, not understood, etc.)

In this moment you are acknowledging that you SEE & RECOGNIZE their hurt or pain, without defending your own position or perspective, without making excuses, without explanations. Nothing. It’s just about really seeing that person and recognizing their hurt.


(I don’t even KNOW what I might have said or what I did, don’t know who’s in the right or wrong, but I clearly see that you are hurting and so if this is because of me, then please forgive me. I appreciate you and it troubles me that you are hurting; Your friendship is of value to me and because I know that beautiful thing that resides in you, I ask for forgiveness if I’ve in anyway caused you harm.)

Again, no defending, no excuses, no explaining – just seeing, acknowledging the hurt in another and asking forgiveness if it is there because of you..

3. -- THANK YOU.

(Thank for taking time despite your anger or hurt or sorrow or whatever; Thank you for being willing to sit with me; Thank you for taking time in your day for this; thank you for being willing to meet with me.)

When somebody comes to you not defending, not giving explanations, not asking for anything other than the time to speak from their heart to your heart.... it is incredibly powerful and WILL absolutely melt, will heal pretty much every wound. But one has to speak from the heart which ties back to that FIRST decision of become clear on why you are speaking up for it's the foundation for everything to come. This goes back to the fact that I VALUE YOU, that I have valued the friendship as it’s grown & become deeper etc. (And it's still not about who's right or wrong, who could have done this or that better or differently. It’s speaking TO the brilliant heart of another that is simply hurting.)

4 -- I LOVE YOU.

(I care about you; You mean so much to me; You’re dear to me; I’ve known you so many years and have always respected you; You’re my BFF; You’re my family.)

The beauty of Ho’oponopono is the clear path it lays out for us to follow and learn from. It’s a path we can grow in understanding about & with time and effort, we can become better at it. Remember that through being rigid and fixed on being ‘right’ there is a cost to all concerned and often it’s a steep price not only for the person who was “wronged’ but for us as well so it does require some serious consideration if we choose to remain fixed in our perspective.

As Ram Das beautifully said not long before he died in 2019, we are all just walking one another home. Home being to that place wherein we are free of pride & pettiness. Home being where we connect with the best in ourselves and in another, and in which we find deep value & meaning wherein we connect heart to heart.

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