Ho'oponopono: technique of emotional responsibility

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Ho'oponopono: technique of emotional responsibility

Written and verified by the psychologist GetPersonalGrowth.

Last update: 15 November 2021

Ho'oponopono is an ancient concept for a modern world. It refers to a Hawaiian art of problem solving by taking care of their most emotional consequences, the ones that are often overlooked.

To do this, we must know how to ask for forgiveness, correct, be forgiven and offer kindness. Ultimately, it is a mental health strategy with which to facilitate proper emotional responsibility.



Ho'oponopono is a deeply rooted practice in various islands of Polynesia, and although it had a clearly spiritual connotation for them (the purpose was to connect with the divinity itself), it was only in 1976 that this interesting philosophy reached the Western world in a way that was as revealing as it was useful.

I love you, and if I have awakened hostile feelings in you, I am sorry and I ask your forgiveness. Thank you!

It was Morrnah Nalamaku Simeona, a Hawaiian priestess and healer, who adapted traditional ho'oponopono to today's social realities. They say about her that this achievement for her was a real treasure, a gift in the field of personal growth and, above all, to the world of positive psychology. If in the past this practice was carried out in a group with all the members of a family, now it has been made individual to be practiced at any time and when it is necessary.

Ho'oponopono allows us to free ourselves from the ballast, to redirect tensions, to purify the errors and to channel all the deep-rooted problems that sooner or later, as we know, we somatize in the form of diseases. Succeeding can be much easier with this ancient technique ...


Ho'oponopono: a practice with which to promote coexistence

Hawaiians believe that people are connected to each other through the aka. It is a sort of "etheric" conduit through which vital energy flows. Sometimes, however, this invisible conduit or channel weakens or becomes ill due to our differences, the problems we carry over from the past, the lies, the spoken words or the unspoken ones. The energy stops flowing so harmoniously and at that point it happens, the malaise, the problems, the disturbances arise.


Ho'oponopono helps heal the aka. Repair this bond with the people important to us e it allows us to reconnect with ourselves. What defines this philosophy, in fact, is the ability to practice goodness in its broadest sense, as well as an active and enveloping forgiveness that begins in the individual and that recognizes what is ethical, what is virtuous and noble.

It is clear, however, that this is not a science-based psychology. However, despite its spiritual and non-experimental tradition, it has been very effective in solving various social problems: acts of crime, disputes between neighborhood groups, families, different ethnic groups and also existential problems of a large part of the Hawaiian community.

It is known, for example, that Ho'oponopono has been used in prison programs with great success. The elders guided inmates in this practice to resolve tensions and conflicts, thereby promoting adequate emotional catharsis that improved coexistence in Hawaiian prisons.

Divinity, cleanse in me all that is contributing to this problem, allow all that is perfect and correct for all concerned to be revealed.


How to apply Ho'oponopono in everyday life?

Ho'oponopono is the code of forgiveness and emotional responsibility. This philosophy invites us to reflect on a very important element: all conflicts arise from the individual. We must not look for external faults, we must not make all the responsibility fall on others for what happens to us, annoys us or deprives us of calm. We all have the power to change things and make them favorable with kindness, common sense, and ethical and emotional consistency.

To achieve this, to shape this healing energy that constitutes ho'oponopono, we must put the following strategies into practice.


The 5 steps of ho'oponopono

  • To realize of our negative attitudes, emotions or behaviors, those that separate us from the people we love, those that impact our well-being and personal freedom.
  • Take responsibility for your actions, what has been said and what has not been said, what has been done or avoided, what has not been tried or errors and their consequences.
  • Visualize and feel love. We need to vividly experience the affection we feel for the person or persons we have neglected. We will open an inner "channel" that connects us with the other person.
  • It's time to take the plunge, di ask forgiveness. However, we need to clarify one important thing: in Western culture there is a tendency to say "I'm sorry" and we believe that this is enough. But to complete the cycle correctly, we must also receive forgiveness from the other person, we must listen to "I forgive you".
  • Experience liberation. Hawaiians say that when the aka connects again, when the bond is healed, our souls are free again. It is a wonderful feeling that allows us to feel fuller, lighter and ready to resume our paths with more confidence and wisdom.

Ho'oponopono is, as we can see, an exceptional philosophy capable of guaranteeing our well-being and the quality of our relationships. Let's put it into practice.



Bibliographical references:

Pukui, Mary Kawena and Elbert, Samuel H (2009). Editing: Contemporary Uses of a Hawaiian Problem Solving Process University of Hawaii (1986) ISBN 978-0-8248-0703-0

Simeon, Morrnah, Self-Identity through Ho'oponopono, Basic 1, Pacifica Seminars (1990)

Vitale, Joe, Hew Len Ph.D (2011), Zero limits. Ed. Hajefa, Publisher

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