Over the last few weeks, we’ve thought about how we as humans are stronger together than apart. I was chatting to a friend recently and learned that she had not spoken to her father since he’d remarried. For various reasons, she was upset and angry about the situation and felt strongly that she was the wronged party. Despite this, she was experiencing a multiplicity of negative emotions which were making her more and more angry and upset. Over time, these negative feelings had spiralled into a vicious circle from which she was unable to escape as she wasn’t prepared to say sorry for the way she had reacted to her father’s new relationship. This brings me round to today’s newsletter which is concerned with saying ‘I am sorry’, an aspect of the meditation technique known as ho’oponopono.
What is Ho’oponopono
The ancient Hawaiian meditation technique known as ho’oponopono is based on the premise that everything we know and consider to be reality is, in fact, created in the mind; everything we see, hear and feel, and the people we know and interact with, are influenced by our inner self. As ho’oponopono deems us responsible for our thoughts, it is concerned not with what we experience, but rather how we react to those experiences. The technique comprises four affirmations: I am sorry, please forgive me, I love you and thank you. In today’s newsletter, we will look at the first of these affirmations: ‘I am sorry’.
What does ‘I am sorry’ mean?
Saying sorry is something we usually do because we have said or done something to upset or anger someone we know. However, in the context of ho’oponopono, saying sorry also involves visualising and apologising (internally) to those who have wronged us, and even for events outside our control, such as natural disasters. Saying sorry for something you didn’t do, or cause may initially feel counter-intuitive. However, practising ho’oponopono is not about assigning blame, but rather about letting go of the negative emotions that are affecting who you are. If you find this difficult, try thinking about ‘I am sorry’ as an apology to yourself for all the time you have wasted in your life by allowing yourself to become upset by others, or by situations you did not create. By refusing to allow resentment, upset, and negativity to control your life, you are actively taking responsibility for your future happiness. In other words, you are making a choice, and having choices equates to having freedom.
Why ‘I am sorry’ is important
By saying ‘I am sorry’ to those who have wronged you, you are making a choice – freedom from the associated hurt, anger and resentment. Practising saying ‘I am sorry’ will allow you to stand back and see things more objectively, which in turn enables you to make the best choices for yourself and repair damaged relationships.
However, we need to remember that others have the right to freedom too. They are as free as you make choices without constraint. I like to think about this in terms of my children, who flew the nest some time ago now. I miss them all (with the possible exception of the middle child who moved next-door-but-one!) but knew I had to let them go; as young adults they needed the freedom to make their own choices in life, unhindered by me. Whilst I don’t always agree with those choices, in the interests of family relationships, I try to respect them. Respecting others’ choices can be difficult though as they often conflict with our own ego. However, we all desire the freedom of choosing the right path for us, and everyone benefits when we respect the choices others make and vice versa. Ultimately, it’s about showing understanding towards each other, and being prepared to accept the things we cannot change.
Ways to practise your freedom
You are free to choose YOUR WORDS, but don’t forget that what you say reflects the inner you. Words have the power to hurt or heal and are often spoken without thinking. Take time to consider what your words say about you and the impact they have on yourself and others. Do you sometimes speak without thinking, or regret what you said later? Thumper the rabbit (Bambi) offered some good advice when he said: ‘If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothing at all’.
You are free to choose YOUR ATTITUDE. Are you a glass half-full or a glass half-empty person? If you tend to see things from the glass half-empty, perspective, ask yourself how this makes you feel. From time to time, we are all faced with bad situations, but it’s the way we respond that makes the difference. If your current choice isn’t working for you perhaps it’s time to try a new one!
You are free to choose YOUR ACTIONS. The small daily choices we make become small actions which can turn into habits. Habits form character and shape your life. Every choice we make has an impact on us and/or others. For example, constantly complaining, or seeing everything in a negative light, is detrimental to our own happiness and wellbeing, but also affects those we spend time with by gradually eroding their happiness and positivity. This might also result in the loss of friendships, thereby compounding the effect on your own wellbeing. So, ask yourself, what actions am I choosing?
You are free to choose YOUR BELIEFS. What we believe pushes us to behave in certain ways. Collectively, our beliefs form our identity, and they are essential to lasting change. Beliefs are not set in stone though and can be changed if they are no longer relevant. If you find yourself behaving in ways that aren’t working for you it’s time to look at your beliefs to see which of them might be causing your behaviour. It’s up to you then to decide whether to keep that belief or change it.
Freedom is a gift that you can enjoy yourself, but it’s also one of the greatest gifts we can give to others. Make the most of your freedom of choice but choose wisely. By choosing to let go of attitudes, habits and beliefs that are not working for us, we ultimately choosing to get along better with others, and, as we’ve said before, we are all much stronger when we work together.
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