The Four Agreements- Don Miguel Ruiz
My New Year’s Resolution: Reading A Book a Month!
To kick start January 2019, I’m reading The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. If you’ve watched my YouTube video, then you will know that this is the first self-help book that I ever read & I loved it!
So why this book?
This book really did live up to the hype… I loved it! The book focuses on the four agreements that you should make with yourself; to be impeccable with your word, not take anything personally, not to make assumptions and to always do your best. Below I’ve broken these down and interpreted them into what I believe them to be and how I use them in my everyday life.
Agreement 1: Be Impeccable with your word
Being impeccable with your word means to speak with integrity. It means that you should avoid gossip, be honest, don’t tell lies and avoid making promises that you can’t keep. I suppose in a way I have been practicing this for a while. It’s very rare that I would make a promise to someone if I knew that I couldn’t fulfil it. Obviously, life happens; you may promise someone that you will go to their birthday party but then you get sick and cancel… but this has a lot more meaning to it than just avoiding cancelling plans because you promised you would turn up.
There’s a quote that I absolutely adore, “Don’t promise things you will not do, for some hearts build lives based on your promises”- unknown. This rings true for me. This isn’t because I used to spend a lot of time making promises that I couldn’t keep, but it’s because I spent a lot of time relying on other people’s promises, and when they didn’t follow through with their commitment, I’m left heart broken. I’ve learnt that you can’t expect people to act the same way that you do, but YOU can be the one who is true and honest with yourself and to others. I like to take what people promise me with a pinch of salt. After all, words are cheap, actions mean everything.
So you get it, don’t make promises you can’t keep, but what about gossiping? Ahh, how us humans love to thrive off other people’s drama, is it because it makes ourselves feel better about our own lives or because we want to influence someone’s opinion about another? It’s wrong isn’t it. The saying “words cut deep” ring true. You can do a hell of a lot of damage by idle gossiping, especially when someone else’s business is none of your concern. I do believe that with this agreement, it’s not just about you gossiping about someone, but it’s also got a lot to do with not entertaining others gossip. You may already know someone like this, I know I do. This is a person that as you begin to tell gossip to and they aren’t shocked, they don’t ask for more information, but would rather shut the conversation down completely by saying something like, “ah that’s unfortunate, anyways what you up to on the weekend?” On the other hand, what about those type of ‘friends’ that would say, “X said this and that about you to me and apparently blah blah blah, and I can’t believe she said that about you…” This raises a cause of concern. Think. Why does this person feel so comfortable with having someone else bad mouth you? Why is it that this person was perceived as someone who would listen to the rumours in the first place? It shows a lot about someone’s character, so don’t let that person be you.
All the above seems very childish, but you would be surprised at how many adults still have the fourteen-year-old ratty teenager inside of them. Ready to ruin someone else’s reputation or lie to make themselves look better, and In an adult world full of human beings, some people do make off-the-cuff promises without realising the damage they can cause. So, I honestly believe that being impeccable with your word is so important, and there’s nothing I respect more than honesty. Just bear in mind that not everyone has this agreement with themselves, which leads perfectly onto the second agreement…
Agreement 2: Don’t take anything personally
The agreement of not taking things personally is to understand that how people behave and act, is a reflection of themselves and not a reflection of you. Humans have this tendency to project themselves onto others and you can truly see someone’s insecurities through how they behave in particular situations. Our opinions and judgements from others are never truly objective, there’s always some kind of factor which plays a huge part in how we see the world. Let me put this into context for you. Person A believes that person C is a whore because she sleeps around a lot, whereas person B believes that person C is free, confident and in tune with her sexuality. On the flip side, person C believes that person A is respectful, modest and marriage material because she keeps her sexual partners to a minimum, whereas person B believes that person A is frigid, insecure and needs to let loose every now and again. So, who is right here? Which opinion is true? Every opinion has been formed out of what they believe to be true about themselves or a reflection of some insecurity they have. Every opinion is influenced by something, and it all comes down to belief. The only opinion that matters here is the opinion of the person that is being judged holds.
I don’t know about you, but if I had listened to all of the criticisms, all of the “you won’t ever be able to do that”, I certainly wouldn’t be where I am today. Did you know that Meryl Streep was rejected for her first film role because she was ‘too ugly’? Twenty-one nominations for Academy Awards later, you can see clearly how she didn’t take this comment personally, and it worked out in her favour. As much as this agreement is important, I do think there are occasions when this agreement can be bent. It’s all well and good to not take negative comments personally, but we do all need feedback sometimes to identify things about ourselves that at first, we may not have noticed. ‘constructive criticism’ can be extremely useful, only when it is coming from a good place. I can’t tell you what that good place is though, that’s for you to figure out.
Agreement 3: Don’t make assumptions
Agreement numero tres; ‘Don’t make assumptions’… well I must admit that if I had stuck to this agreement in my younger years it would have saved a hell of a lot of arguments. The amount of times I had constructed a whole fantasy in my head on the basis of something that was not true is extraordinary. Seriously, in a two hour window of my boyfriend not replying to a text he’s been out, met someone else, he’s cheated on me, his mum knows, his friends know, I bet it’s that girl from the party that looked at him a bit longer than appropriate, but it can’t be because she was pregnant, wait, what if the child is his, what if they’re in some conspiracy together to be together once the baby is born, is that why he renewed his passport recently? Omg they’re going to flee the country together, I hate him, I knew it was too good to be true, that’s it we’re over- *beep*… “sorry babe I was updating my iPhone”… You get the picture, right?
We don’t do ourselves any favours by making assumptions, because that’s all that they are. it is always better to ask rather than assume, you can avoid being in a constant inner conflict with yourself by understanding that you aren’t a mind reader, you won’t always know someone’s intentions unless you ask without jumping to conclusions.
I do believe though, something that this book doesn’t mention, is that when you have a gut feeling about something you should go with it. Make use of your inner wisdom and common sense about someone’s behaviour. If you take this agreement to the extreme it can lead you to a state of complete delusion, you know the type of woman who will always have an excuse for their man’s behaviour, even though his erratic and unusual behaviour waves a huge red flag that he’s cheating? Yup. Delusional. I’m still very much in the process of finding this balance, it’s definitely the one agreement out of the four that I struggle with the most.
Agreement 4: Always do your best
My favourite, favourite agreement of them all! This is the easiest agreement to make with yourself as It allows leniency when it comes to ‘doing your best’, as our best will fluctuate at various stages of our lives. You might have ran 5k in thirty minutes last Sunday, but today you’re hungover, aching, tired so your best today will be a completely different measure to what it was before. This agreement allows you to not be so hard on yourself.
In order to properly put this agreement into action, you do need to keep in check with yourself though. You need to differentiate between laziness and ‘I physically cannot do any more than this’, and if it’s the former, you have the ability to shake up your mindset and focus on your end goal in line with whatever it is that you’re trying to achieve. Remember that the most important word in this agreement is not the word best, not the word always, but the word YOUR. The only person that you should be comparing yourself to is you, no one else.
I can’t recommend this book enough, it’s easy to read and short and simple enough to soak up the knowledge that Miguel shares. I know that this book is also available on audio, so if reading isn’t your thing (I’m assuming it is otherwise you wouldn’t be reading a blog), you can download it and listen on the go.
If you have any comments or recommendations on other self-help books that I should add to my collection, please comment below. Thanks for reading!