Have you ever read The Four Agreements? If you haven’t, you should. As I suggested in my previous blog post, I would suggest going in with an open mind, because what he writes might blow your mind. I know it did mine. And it has never been the same since.
I started reading this book at the suggestion of a friend. It was a fairly short read but it wasn’t long before I started thinking about how these agreements relate to me and my life.
The author believes there are only four rules, or agreements, we should live by if we want to be live a life of fulfillment and content. They are:
- Be impeccable with your word.
- Don’t take anything personal.
- Don’t make assumptions.
- Always do your best.
He suggests that most people are asleep and it is only when they wake up can they see that what they thought believed, may in fact be someone else’s beliefs.
When we are born, we are at the mercy of our parents. They teach us everything they know about life; how to think, how to behave, our morals and values and what God to believe in. We, in turn, become “domesticated,” a word that Don Miguel uses to describe the process, just as you would domesticate a pet.
We don’t usually question this because when we do, we are “misbehaving” or “rebelling,” which is not tolerated in most households. We learn that there are consequences, and unless we want to be punished, we play the game, obeying, becoming miniatures of our parents (who learned that from their parents, and so on).
By the time we reach adulthood, we assume that what we believed all along was our truth, was in reality, something we never really agreed to.
Many people won’t question their beliefs, because they are loyal to their parents, their families, and to their Gods. Maybe they are afraid to rock the boat, challenge their beliefs, or maybe they are afraid of what they might find.
It is only when we have the courage to explore who we are, and decide what we want our lives to be, that we are truly living the life we are meant to live.
The following is my interpretation of the four agreements, and not necessarily Ruiz’s:
Be impeccable with your word.
I took this to mean that we should not talk bad about ourselves and others. We should say what we mean and be respectful when speaking to someone, even if they don’t always reciprocate. We should be careful with our words. Once they are spoken, they can only be forgiven, not forgotten.
Don’t take anything personal.
This is a great reminder, because many people struggle with self-esteem issues that involves taking responsibility for things they shouldn’t. The truth is, the way people treat you is not because of you. It has to do with who they are and their perception of life. For example, if you do something the other person doesn’t like, it’s because they were expecting you to do something, or expected you to be a certain way. But you have a right to be whoever you want. You are not here to please others. You are here to grow. In addition, when we take responsibility for things we shouldn’t, we are stunting others’ growth, as well.
Don’t make assumptions.
Assumptions can kill a relationship faster than anything else. If you want to know the truth about something, ask. Don’t assume you know. Just like the old saying suggest; “When you assume, you make an ass out of you and me.” I know it’s not pretty, but I use it to remind me that assumptions are based on preconceived ideas from my past experiences. It’s me thinking I know what’s going on inside someone else’s head, but there’s no way I could. I am not psychic. It’s better to have all the facts first, before we decide what our next step will be. Making assumptions also indicates that we know all there is to know, and there is no way we couod. Learning is life-long and when we assume we know it all, no one will want to be around us. Stop, listen, and ask questions; and then decide what’s next.
Always do your best.
“Your best is going to change moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse, and regret.”
I love this passage, because I used to beat myself up for not being perfect. I am not sure where I got the idea that I could be perfect. Maybe it’s because when I quit drinking and my head cleared, I felt like I could do anything. The truth is, I can’t. I can do some things well, but I will never be perfect. However, I strive to be better than I was yesterday, even if it is just a little bit, and I think that’s pretty good.
Knowing all I really have to do is my best keeps me from being too hard on myself. I used to think I had to be tough on myself, because I really did want to be perfect. I wanted to be the best at something, anything! Now that I know that is unrealistic, I am good with striving to always do my best.