I’m very grateful for the friends I have. Thanks to them this past year has been about discovery and appreciation. We have been sharing documentaries, articles, and books that help us become what we’ve always been inside. Thanks to my friends I got to read Marie Kondo which improved my life in many ways. But there was one book that I kept being reminded that I needed to read, according to one of my girlfriends. Finally, after many months of waiting, she lent it to me. And oh boy. Are we in for a ride.
Don Miguel Ruiz talks in his book ‘The Four Agreements’ about the four principles that will guide you to a life of love and happiness. I agree with 90% of what he said in the book and I do try to apply it to my life every day. Living and keeping this four agreements is one of the hardest things you might ever do. Simply trying it for 3 months has deeply changed me. The book says that at first it’s very challenging to make them part of your habits but with practice and time the agreements become part of you, and it becomes easier.
Be Impeccable with your Word
Be mindful of your words. Say only the truth and what you really mean. Avoid using words to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. This might sound easy at first, but have you stopped to think what words you use to express to others or to talk about yourself? What words spoken by others have a big effect on you?
Don Miguel explains that every person is the complicated result of the culture and immediate society we grow up in. If you were called beautiful, graceful, strong, stupid, dumb, assertive or creative. It had an effect on how you grew up. And this reminded me of my 1st grade in elementary school. I remember that the teacher called my mom because she believed my mom had helped me do my writing homework. And I remember my teacher saying to her that my handwriting was too pretty and it was obvious it couldn’t have been me that did it. Of course, my mom cleared the misunderstanding. But I was unable to have a decent or pretty handwriting after that. And I wonder, what if that teacher hadn’t said that? Or what if I didn’t believe what she said?
“The word is pure magic – the most powerful gift we have as humans – and we use it against ourselves.
― Miguel Ruiz
At the end of the day, words are powerful. They can either curse you or bring happiness, or even help you be more productive. What if instead of saying “I have a lot of work” we change the phrase into “I’m looking forward to a successful day”. It changes from an obligation to the desired activity. Bernard Roth also believes in the power of words. I stumbled upon his method by accident while reading articles online. His method is pretty straightforward. Change the word “but” for “and”. Change “I have to” for “I want to”. When you use “but” you unconsciously make an excuse. When you use “have” you create an obligation. I’ve had a post-it note on my board with those instructions for more than a year and only after reading Miguel Ruiz’s book I understood their meaning and power.
Just this morning I received Mel Robbins newsletter, she started by mentioning that she changed saying “I’m busy” for “I’ve got a productive day ahead”. She mentioned seeing a big shift in her energy levels and attitude. That is exactly what Don Miguel is talking about. When you are impeccable with your words, you start to feel better. A big weight is taken off your shoulders.
Don’t Take Anything Personally
The world doesn’t revolve around you. Nothing others do is because of you. What others do is just a small projection of their own reality. In other words, every head lives in their own world where they are the protagonist. When you adopt this mindset, you become immune to the opinions and actions of others. For example, if someone calls you stupid and you believe them, you become stupid in your reality. They are not saying it to you, they are projecting it to you and saying it to themselves.
It comes down to choice. If you agree with what others say about you, you let it become an agreement in your subconscious. If you decide to not believe that, you protect yourself. Of course, it’s easier said than done. What about crime? For example, if someone steals. It might be easy to understand that is not personal when its a stranger. But how about that friend I knew in high school who stole my iPod from my own room. That felt pretty personal in my opinion. I struggled with this one.
“Whatever happens around you, don’t take it personally… Nothing other people do is because of you. It is because of themselves.”
― Miguel Ruiz
Don Manuel explains that even when someone insults you directly, it has nothing to do with you. What someone says, does and the opinions they express are based on the established agreements in their mind. Those agreements are the consequence of the program that was installed during their upbringing. When a person states something for example: “You look way too tacky”. It’s based on their feelings, beliefs, and opinions. It has nothing to do with you. When you take their word as a personal attack, your reaction is also based on your feelings, beliefs, and opinions. Which cause unnecessary conflict and drama into your life. This should also be the case if someone praises you. Bottom line, don’t take anything personally. And if you were wondering, I went from 0% to 95% into forgiving what happened with my iPod.
Don’t Make Assumptions
When we assume something, we become in agreement thinking that it’s true. We could swear that gossip we heard is completely true, even when it isn’t. Humans make assumptions about everything. We assume what others think or do, then we take it personally, and then we blame and react with words. It’s a toxic cycle that we could break by stopping making assumptions. This is solved by asking questions. If you want to know, just ask. Communicate with those around you to avoid misunderstandings, conflict, and drama.
“If others tell us something we make assumptions, and if they don’t tell us something we make assumptions to fulfill our need to know and to replace the need to communicate. […] We make all sorts of assumptions because we don’t have the courage to ask questions.”
― Miguel Ruiz
As someone with anxiety, I gotta say someone used to love making assumptions. I would be sure about the feelings of those around me. I would hold grudges, stop friendships and all based on my personal assumption about them. What a sad way to live, honestly I’ve realized that when we do that we live in our own bubble. I would even have full imaginary conversations with those people I wanted to talk with but never dared to. And if the conflict was resolved in my head, I used to think it was resolved in real life too. Assumptions are like a mirror, it’s just a reflection of your own internal beliefs and fear to communicate with others. The only way we could come to understand each other is through words, and it’s easier said if both parties involved are impeccable with them. To me, this has been the most difficult agreement to adopt as a habit. But I don’t lose hope if I catch myself doing assumptions and that is thanks to the last agreement.
Always Do Your Best
This last agreement sounds so simple. One would think its unnecessary and another more profound agreement should take its place. But it’s thanks to this one that you can start adopting the others. It’s thanks to doing your best that you can jump into doing something new. And is partly thanks to this one that I started blogging. According to Don Miguel when we do our best we avoid our internal judge from passing punishment on us. We all have that internal judge always watching, never fooled.
Your best is going to change from 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.”
― Don Miguel Ruiz
You can’t hide from your own conscience. When you don’t give your best, you know it. Later you feel regret, passing self-judgment that leads to feeling sad, ashamed or depressed. When you do your best, you can’t self-judge. You did your best. And that is always good enough. I’m still in the process of making these agreements into habits. Whenever I realize I’m not being impeccable with my words I forgive myself and state that I’ll try again. The same if I take something personally or start assuming something. Forgiving yourself is part of the process. The way we grew up is very strong in our unconscious and it’s going to fight back. Every time it happens, just forgive your self and move on, there is no time for self-judgment. I enjoyed reading the book and I encourage you to read it too. In order to help to remember the agreements I put together this monthly poster for you:
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I felt happier and lighter after practicing the agreements. If you haven’t read it share your first impressions in the comments below. If you have, please share your experience below, which was the most difficult agreement for you? Or just express what you thought of this post. See you soon in the next one!
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