Lessons from a Recovering Doormat

Lessons from a Recovering Doormat

Effective Forgiving

Matthew James.jpgI’m delighted to have Matthew B. James, Ph.D., international trainer, lecturer, educator, and president of American Pacific University and the Empowerment Partnership as my guest today. His work is dedicated to creating personal transformation by teaching Huna, the ancient science of consciousness and energy healing, using cutting edge therapeutic techniques.


I recently learned the amazing Hawaiian technique of ho`oponopono and it’s been almost miraculous for changing the negative energy with people I’m having problems with. I planned to share my experience and will in a future post. I use it with people from afar. Dr. James gives suggestions for forgiving and letting go so you can have true closure on something that bothers you. That’s a great way to show yourself love and find peace.

The Huna Way of Forgiveness
By Dr. Matthew B. James

Have you ever felt like you were holding a grudge against someone, even after you had consciously tried to forgive?

All of us, at one time or another, need to forgive. It may be our spouse or a friend. It may be a co-worker or a former employer. After the mortgage and financial crises, some people may harbor resentment against real estate or stock brokers they feel gave them bad advice. In our hearts we know that holding onto negative feelings against others only harms us. So why is it so hard to forgive?


Huna, the ancient Hawaiian system of my lineage and life experience, emphasizes the need to forgive others and seek forgiveness and provides practical ways to do it.

In Huna, the concept of making things right is called pono. Though pono does not have a specific English translation, the closest word is right — not as in “I’m right, you’re wrong,” but right with each other and the situation. Pono is a feeling of congruency and calmness to the extent that nothing needs to be said.

What can we learn from the ancient Hawaiians about forgiveness? The process I use and teach comes from ho`oponopono, which literally means to make something doubly pono.

In doing research for my dissertation, I found the process works today just as it has for thousands of years. The research showed that those who engaged in ho’oponopono experienced a statistically significant reduction in unforgiveness compared to a control group, which showed no such change.


This was the first time the Huna method has been studied as a process-based approach to forgiveness. Upon validating ho’oponopono as an effective therapeutic forgiveness method, I believe the approach holds promise for improving relationships and mental health.

So how do we balance our approach to forgiveness so that we (1) forgive, (2) release the negativity, and (3) still learn from the event?

To take the first step in ho`oponopono, we need to rethink the process of forgiveness. In western thinking, our first approach upon wronging another person is often to say “I’m sorry.” However, an apology is only one-sided, a statement that asks for no response from the one harmed.

Huna understands that it takes two to tango. So the first step is to ask for forgiveness. The second is for the other to give forgiveness.


I’ve had heated arguments with people that definitely required an apology afterwards. But it’s like a meal that doesn’t last: Within a short time after all the apologies and making-up, either I or the other person bring it up again “this is just like the last time….” So even though we were sorry, we weren’t done and complete.

Getting to pono is different. When you are pono with someone, nothing else needs to be said or done. You are right with one another.

To become truly pono with someone, you first ask for and offer forgiveness for anything you may have done. Saying, “I forgive you; please forgive me, too” brings the other person into the picture and gets them actively involved. Rather than merely “being sorry,” a two-way street of forgiveness is formed.


Next, allow the space for you and the other person to say everything that needs to be said. Express what needs to be expressed without hiding or holding back. When you have both shared your thoughts and feelings, you should experience a sense of “I have said it all, and I am done.” Once again, give and ask for forgiveness from one another.

Finally, move forward. Huna says that we must learn from all of our experiences in life. Once you are pono, ask yourself: what do I need to learn from this event that will allow me to continue to be pono?

Learning is positive, about the self and future based. Take this learning with you to help you change your behavior and thinking, make better decisions, and to create the relationships and situations you desire.


A major advantage of this approach to forgiveness is the ability to have a fresh start. Although you may experience future difficulties with the same person, once you are pono, you won’t bring baggage from the past into new situations. You will begin new interactions from a place of being pono and with the insight from the learning you received.

To forgive and to never forget is to never forgive in the first place. Holding on to the negativity and even the memory of the negativity prevents true forgiveness and only hurts you. We owe it to ourselves to experience true forgiveness – to become pono.

Matthew B. James‘ doctoral dissertation is titled: Ho’oponopono: Assessing the Effects of a Traditional Hawaiian Forgiveness Technique on Unforgiveness. To learn more about Dr. James and Huna or to contact him visit Huna and check out his book, The Foundation of Huna – Ancient Wisdom for Modern Times.

Please leave comments under my posts so we can stay connected.

  • Michelle

    I think this is a great idea! I am in the middle of a divorce and carry a lot of negative feelings toward my soon to be ex. and would like to get rid of these. I was the one that asked for the divorce and thought that getting out of the situation would be enough to move on. We have a son together and still have to try to speak to each other, which is very hard to do without getting into an argument usually about things that happen in the past in our relationship. Which then brings these negative feelings right back to the surface. I would love to be able to do this process, but if i started a conversation about forgiving each other it would probably start an argument. So I guess the question I have is there a way to make this process work if you do not have the willingness of the other person to have a conversation about forgiveness.

  • Michelle

    Thank you for offering this and explaining how it works. I have always believed in this process and it is how I forgave my abuser, my father, and the man that raped me. I feel it takes some time with tragic or deeply dramatic events to forgive but know that forgiveness releases us from the pain we carry with us. In the situations I mention above, it was not possible to have a “two way” forgiveness but was filled with grace forgiving on my own and letting go of the pain.
    I have also always found it easier to forgive my husband and children for “things” or “words” as life experience has taught me, that is just what they are “things” and “words”. Hanging on to them creates a bitterness withing us that manifests in so many other ways.
    I have four sons, ages 27-17, I am struggling in this moment with the two oldest (adult children) as they still live in our home. I have tried to support them, nurture them, teach them, and hopefully not enable them. I have found recently that my husband and I are not on the same page about the meaning of support and enabling. I have waited too long now and I foster some resentment and loss of identity over it. I am working on forgiving myself and my husband for dismissing my emotions and feelings over this.
    I dont think I am quite ready to have this two way forgiveness, but will hold on to your words as I work through my disappointments over this troubling situation. Thank you again for opening my eyes….

  • Bill

    This is awesome. I was just re-visiting this process right this morning, as I had been using it and then sort of forgot for a while. I am trying to forgive myself and release myself from the wheel of karma and guilt.
    When I used this process before I wasn’t always sure if it was really doing anything, but looking back I see how things did open up for me at that time and I was able to let a lot of things go.
    I believe we are all truly innocent and the illusion of guilt and resentment are completely driven by the ego.
    Anyway, it’s very synchronous to have gotten this article today.
    Thanks Daylle!! and Dr. Matthew!

  • Daylle Deanna Schwartz

    I’m glad that you all found this helpful. There are varieties on this technique. Since both Michelle’s have expressed problems with doing this as a 2-way street, next week I’ll post one on ho’oponopono, which you can do on your own. It’s a phenomenal tool to do from afar. Stay tuned!

  • Paul

    Most relationships don’t work because people are usually in a ‘reaction’ mode toward them. 99.99% of the time I am in reaction (blame, anger, judging, etc) without I even realize it.
    The most important relationship is the relationship with one’s self.
    “If I am in my memories, all relationships won’t work for me, because my memories separate me from the Divine.”
    Here the beauty of Ho’oponopono starts to bloom.
    The Divine created every person perfect. What is not perfect is the ‘memories’ within us.
    With Ho’oponopono, the wonder is that ONCE memories get cancelled in me, they get cancelled everywhere in the Universe.
    What I do now when I’m facing any problem in my life is, I first ask myself: “What is going on in me that I experience this situation?.
    The next step is I say to the Divine within me: “I Love You; I am sorry; Please forgive me for whatever is going on in me that I perceive this as a problem; Thank You.”
    Then I’m allowing the Divine who created me to do whatever It sees necessary to erase those memories within me and releasing them from my soul, so that what is left in my memory’s place is Zero, so that I can be back to my original state of mind, which is in the image of the Divine (Perfect and Infinite).

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