This post is Part 3 in a 3-part blog series on agreements. (If you missed Part 1, you can find it here.)
I recently finished reading a book called “The Four Agreements” by Don Miguel Ruiz. As I mentioned in the last two posts, the author argues that as we grow up, we make a set of agreements or beliefs about ourselves and the world that hold us back from living our lives with joy, love, and purpose.
4 Agreements for a Good Life
In addition to stopping the bad agreements we have made with ourselves, Ruiz suggests we commit to make four new agreements with ourselves. Here are the four agreements:
- Be impeccable with your word. This agreement has to do with the things we tell others and ourselves. Often, we use our words to gossip about others, or to tear ourselves down. Being impeccable with our word means we speak with integrity. Our words match our actions. It also means we never use our word to speak badly about others or ourselves. Instead, we use our words in the direction of truth and love—both toward others and ourselves.
- Don’t take anything personally. This agreement has to do with how we react to others. Often when someone says or does something to us, we take it personally. The words and actions of others cause deep wounds in our psyche. We take in what other people say as truth. Not taking anything personally means we understand that when someone says or does something to us, usually it is more about the other person than it is about us. Other people can say what they want, but our agreement is to not take anything personally.
- Don’t make assumptions. This agreement has to do with our interpretations of the words and actions of others. Often we create entire stories about why people do and say what they do. Not making assumptions means we stop making up these stories about other individuals and their motives… because we don’t know. Instead, we are open and honest in our communication, ask questions when uncertain, and make requests in order to get our needs met.
- Always do your best. This agreement has to do with putting forth our best effort… and letting that be enough. Often we either sell ourselves short because of the limitations we have set for ourselves, or we strain toward perfection and feel upset when we fail to reach an impossible standard. Doing your best means we always put forth a maximum effort and bring our full selves into whatever we do. And then we let go of the outcome. Perfection is an impossible standard. But doing your best is always good enough.
Experiment with the Agreements
I would encourage you to experiment with keeping these agreements in your life, and see what happens. For example, I put these agreements on sticky notes and posted them to my bathroom mirror. When I gossip or talk bad about someone at work, I remember: Be impeccable with your word. When I judge myself harshly, I remember: Be impeccable with your word. Only allow thoughts and words that move me in the direction of truth and love. When someone is mean to me, I remember: Don’t take anything personally. When I make up a story about someone’s actions, I remember: Don’t make assumptions. And when I don’t put forth a good effort, or I struggle with perfection, I remember: Always do your best.
Replacing Bad Agreements
Little by little, these new agreements can take the place of the old negative agreements you have made with yourself. It won’t happen overnight. You have had a lifetime of making bad agreements with yourself, agreements that lead you in the direction of emotional pain and suffering. But today is a new day. And we can make different choices. Thanks goodness!
What do you think of the four agreements? Which agreement do you struggle with the most? What is one agreement you can commit to work on this week?