The Gift of Forgiveness: 5 Signs That It's Time to Forgive
The holiday season is a time for joy and celebration. For some, it is also a time for reflection on past events in which there is a need for reconciliation. I know, for me, being around my family and friends during this time can bring joy as well as an understanding that some things need to be made right.
This concept of making things right in the system of Huna is called pono. Though pono is a word that does not have a specific English translation, the closest word is right but not as in "you are right and I am wrong." Pono is the feeling of congruency and calmness that we've all experienced at some point - that sense that everything feels "right," like feeling so at peace with a person or situation that nothing needs to be said. That is pono.
While there are many things that can tell you when you need to become pono with someone, there are five important things to look for: (1) specific negative feelings, (2) lack of balance, (3) the need for closure, (4) a feeling that you want to say something but can't, and (5) thoughts of “getting even.”
If negative emotions arise when you think of a person or while being around someone, this is a sign that there is a need for reconciliation. These negative emotions may include anger, sadness, fear, hurt, or even guilt. From the tradition of Huna, there is a metaphor about what happens when a negative event occurs in one’s life. If the individual is not ready to “deal” with the emotions or the content of the event, the unihipili (translated as little creature and a reference word for the subconscious mind) would put the energy or emotion into a black bag and push the bag into the body to hold until the time for resolution was right.
Modern scientific explanations would describe this phenomenon as the boundaries in the nervous system that block or alter the flow of information. According to Huna tradition, when the person is ready to release the emotion or energy, the unihipili will present the contents of the black bag so the person can do a release. In Western culture, we often push the black bag back down and continue to suppress the emotion. But in Huna, if this emotion comes up while around someone, your unihipili is letting you know that you are ready to let this emotion go. It is time to become pono.
When I was in my early twenties, I visited my mom during the holidays. I had planned the trip for some time and was really looking forward to seeing my mom and other family members. The first few days were uneventful. But during one of the many dinners we shared, I felt this overwhelming feeling of sadness come up during a particularly celebratory moment with my mom.
In Western culture, this would be wrong or inappropriate. Friends tell me that, when they feel such contradictory emotions, they "buck up," “fight back” the emotions and push through the celebration. In Huna, you would not do that. You would realize that the emotion was coming up for a reason. You would trust that the negative emotion would only appear because you are truly ready to release it.
Other signs that it's time to forgive include the sense of being out of balance, as when you seem to always "say the wrong thing" or act out of character with a particular person. For example, you might find yourself always picking a political fight with an uncle or getting tongue-tied or defensive around a sister-in-law. This happens when unrecognized negative emotions are first released from the black bag; before you experience and identify them fully, you may just feel yourself to be vaguely "off" or "out of sorts."
Need for closure is another sign that it is time to forgive. This happens when an event or interaction with someone feels unfinished. You might feel as if you've been misunderstood – or that you need to understand the other's position. A friend of mine felt distanced from her adult son for several years. Her son had neglected to visit when she was hospitalized for an injury. Though he had since apologized, my friend had trouble releasing the hurt. She realized that she nee