Ho’oponopono

Charlene Norman
4 min readMay 19, 2024

You may recall that I decided to leap into a giant rabbit hole in 2016. That was the year I embarked on a five-year odyssey to understand how our brains work and substantiate my belief that the four inches between our ears are our best real estate ever. One of the first things I studied was NLP, shorthand for Neurolinguistic Programming.

It was during that course that I learned a fantastic technique for forgiveness.

Forgiveness is an underrated characteristic we humans could learn to cultivate much more. It has nothing to do with religion or self-sacrificing beliefs. It has everything to do with making peace, finding closure, or removing the bones of contention we needlessly hold on to.

Three important things about forgiveness,

Which took me way too long to come to grips with!

1. it has absolutely NOTHING to do with forgetting, and

2. it is NOT for the other person.

3. it is a gift we can give ourselves — when we are willing to put our egos aside.

Between you and me, I think the word forgiveness is too emotional, too fraught with injustice and doesn’t fit easily into any ‘regular or normal’ conversation most of us might have these days. That is the fundamental reason I prefer the term Ho’oponopono.

Ho’oponopono is

A Hawaiian term that roughly translates to ‘to make things right.’ This ancient practice involves making things right in relationships, including with ancestors, the earth, and yourself. Ultimately, the practice teaches the importance of love and forgiveness through a process that allows the participant to rid themselves of burdens or ‘pohaku’ to heal.

I’ve never met a human being who didn’t have an issue with another human being. And very likely, neither have you. We both have had issues ourselves with folks who annoyed us, harmed us, or wronged us in some fashion. We learned to bury the feelings or emotions that always arose during those periods, didn’t we? Except. Here’s the funny thing.

Those annoyances, harms and wrongs have a habit of popping back up somewhere else in our lives. Maybe we become more annoyed or enraged; perhaps we gain or lose weight; maybe we don’t sleep; maybe some part of our body or mind shuts down or doesn’t work. Whatever it is, when we don’t deal with the annoyances, harms and wrongs we have endured when they occur, the emotional and physical tolls will find an appropriate outlet at some other point in life. And NEVER is that appropriate point convenient.

Ho’oponopono is deceptively simple.

You repeat four lines over andover again until you begin to feel the issue lessen. (The problem will never completely go away, but your bad feelings about it will shrink to zero. Zip. Nada.) Ho-oponopono is very very private. You can do it alone, at any time or place that works best for you. There is no requirement to tell anyone what you did, how you thought, or why.

Why is it so important to ‘forgive’?

Have you ever felt the bliss of not being shackled to old resentments, hurt feelings, bitterness, indignation, irritation, displeasure, dissatisfaction, discontent, bad or hard feelings, acrimony, rancour, animosity or hostility? Looking at the world today, these emotions and feelings are incredibly high. And if you believe, as I do, that all change begins with the individual, then you will also agree that when we ‘make ourselves right,’ we can help others make their things right. Leadership always begins with ourselves. When we clean up our own house, we can move forward so much more quickly.

Up for a massive change in your world?

Try this exercise. Find a comfortable spot. Close your eyes and imagine a stage in front of you. On that stage is ONE person, place, situation or thing that most annoys or bugs you. Look at that person, place, situation or thing and say (to yourself or out loud)

-I’m sorry.

-Please forgive me.

-Thank you.

-I Love you.

Continue staring at the stage, imagining the person, place, situation, or thing, and repeating these four lines until you begin to feel a shift in your thought pattern about what you are seeing. Most of us need at least two or three sessions for the first ‘make it right.’ That is why I recommend starting with ONE person, place, situation, or thing.

Please keep these truths in mind. Making things right will NOT erase the events that occurred. It will NOT change your future direction. It will NEVER bring you what you’ve been pining for all these years. It WILL settle your mind, emotions and feelings. It WILL change your perspective. It WILL change the way you move forward in your future direction. It WILL give you closure. It WILL ease your pain.

There is much pain and suffering these days. From the mundane of unexpected illness, jilted loves and sudden death to the macabre — social injustices, stupid, senseless wars and the raping and pillaging of Planet Earth. We all carry pieces of all of this. And that burden often feels unbearable.

Lighten your daily load. Look at ‘making things right,’ at least in your own life. Forgiveness is the gift you give to yourself so that YOU can keep on keeping on.

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Charlene Norman

Inspiring good humans to make a difference for all on Planet Earth. Podcast host, author, and community leader. Fanatical about change for the highest good.