Remember the story of Dr. Hew Len at the psychiatric hospital in Hawaii? He used the Ho’oponopono affirmation each time he came into contact with an inmate: “I love you. I’m sorry. Please forgive me. Thank you.” The results were impressive. The concept is based on the idea that we are responsible for everything and everyone, creating “bad” and “good” people and situations out of our (flawed and incomplete) Knower/Judger concepts. But over the past eight years, I’ve coached many leaders, executives, and family guys who have had a hard time even thinking “I love you” while approaching an arrogant boss. So let’s modify this highly effective tactic to make it more palatable.
In the early 1960s, psychologist Carl Rogers focused his attention on the concept of unconditional positive regard (UPR). David Myers, in his book Psychology: Eighth Edition in Modules, gives us a very clear definition of UPR:
This is an attitude of grace, an attitude that values us even knowing our failings. It is a profound relief to drop our pretenses, confess our worst feelings, and discover that we are still accepted. In a good marriage, a close family, or an intimate friendship, we are free to be spontaneous without fearing the loss of others’ esteem.
An example of the power of UPR is the relationship between Republican President Ronald Reagan and Democratic Speaker of the House Thomas “Tip” O’Neill. Aggressive political opponents with opposite views on how the country should be managed, they never thought ill of each other. In fact, they were close friends. When Reagan was in the hospital after the assassination attempt, O’Neill was his first visitor.
If we don’t agree with someone’s K/J judgment, can’t we still regard that person highly? When we get into a debate with a co-worker, it’s quite normal to see his side of the argument as a personal affront. But maybe he has the company’s best interest at heart just as you do. You just have different paths. Does that make him your enemy? Can you not debate constructively and still go out and have a beer after work? If you face each other with mutual UPR, you can. And your mission will be the better for it.
Rogers discovered that most of his patients struggled with self-worth issues because other people (parents, teachers, significant authority figures) had told them what their value was. UPR helped them feel better about themselves. So using Ho’oponopono is a little like becoming a therapist for a moment.
As an interaction begins, embrace a feeling of UPR for the other person. At least momentarily, set aside your preconceived notion that this person is “bad”…an enemy, threat, someone to fear. The conversation will begin from a different point and head off in a completely different direction than it would otherwise.
Ho’oponopono at Work
I have a client who harbored a fear of High Dominant business owners. If he were a teacher, this would likely pose no problem. But he made a very good living by selling his wealth-management services to High Dominant business owners. His phobia was beginning to negatively affect his income.
I won’t go into too much detail, but he discovered that his “one-down” position in these conversations was generated early in life in his relationship with his father and others in positions of authority. Perhaps you’ve experienced the same thing.
Ho’oponopono is based on the idea that you are responsible. If you think the other person is going to be trouble, that’s what you will experience. If you can abandon that K/J precept, then the other person can be anything you want him or her to be. Using Ho’oponopono, this client took responsibility for the other person in the conversation and made him into a less threatening individual.
Like this client, you might have trouble standing outside the door of a future customer saying an affirmation that starts with “I love you.” But how about “I have unconditional positive regard for you”?
The “I’m sorry” helps us admit that we need to own up and garner forgiveness for our K/J judgment of this individual or situation.
“Please forgive me” is actually you forgiving yourself for struggling under these misconceptions.
And “Thank you” is acknowledging that, at least for the moment, your K/J’s preconceived, troublesome projection of this conversation is gone.
Now the coast is cleared. The conversation will not go as you originally projected. You are free to succeed.