Packing up another box of books to donate – I came upon a well-worn copy of Don Miguel Ruiz’s “The Four Agreements” with my post-it notes still attached.
Ruiz’s work positively impacted me years ago with his mix of ancient wisdom and what I term every day psychology.
Looking at the notes with fresh eyes I noticed how the Four Agreements remain relevant today, though I have added some new interpretations that reflect what we’re all facing today.
Before reading ahead, I ask that you write down the Four Agreements (see below) on a piece of paper and write a brief blurb about which one(s) has the most impact on your life today?
Ruiz states that the most important agreements are the ones you make with yourself. And I say, some of our biggest struggles come when we don’t keep our own promises to ourselves.
Here are the Four Agreements:
1. Be impeccable with your word
2. Don’t take anything personally
3. Don’t make assumptions
4. Always do your best
I.BE IMPECCABLE WITH YOUR WORD
New Insight: To really ‘hear’ what someone is saying, listen very closely to the particular words they choose.
Our brains are naturally built to organize & link information, to put things together that seem to relate. For example – a person may watch a news show and be impacted by the topic – while discussing a different subject during a commercial break they may use a strong word or description that in some way links the news show and your current conversation.
Listening to the particular words chosen provides deeper clues to one’s subconscious thoughts.
Of course, Ruiz’s overall beautiful theme is asking us to stay present to speak with integrity. While this is relevant and important in speaking to and about others, it is also a reflection of how you think.
Quote: “Your word is a seed, the plantings are coming up all around you! “
II. DON’T TAKE IT PERSONALLY
New Insight: There are a lot of interpretations and thoughts regarding ‘protect your energy’ and the subject of energy medicine. In this second Agreement, let’s look at how we leak our personal energy, which I am going to interpret as: well-being, feelings of strength and centered, feeling unraveled or overwhelmed by others.
The idea here is to change focus, away from the drama that drains your energy. while it doesn’t feel good to receive unwarranted barbs during an argument, I’ve heard many say it feels worse tossing out hurtful statements that you later regret.
A big hesitancy in the statement “don’t take it personally” is what to do when a person has an intention that is not in your best interest. I usually stay away from all or nothing thinking. So let me add a twist to this Agreement, to watch and observe and question, to discern – either way, you can maintain a higher ground in your response.
Questions to ponder: “Can you change the situation, can you change your interpretation of the situation, can you change your reaction, can you ‘control’ or change the outcome, can you protect your energy?” Protecting your energy includes noticing if you take in others projections.
III. DON’T MAKE ASSUMPTIONS
New Insight: The idea behind ‘don’t make assumptions’ helps us to not burn up our emotional reservoir by getting tangled in the drama. The obstacle with assumptions (and we all make them) is our natural ability to look for patterns.
The loophole exists here for systems thinkers. Those of us who are naturally very good at seeing interwoven systems – patterns, can easily jump to a conclusion without seeing the intention or link cues together that are, coincidental.
It’s never a bad time to take a mindful pause which provides space to respond before over-reacting, or ask for an opinion from someone you trust, get another perspective.
Experience and express. The more we can hold our experience but instill a healthy detachment before expressing, the more space we provide for a healthy exchange.
Quote “You will know the tree by its’ fruit” – Don Miguel Ruiz
IV. ALWAYS DO YOUR BEST
New Insight: To bring us into right action with discernment over judgement.
Sometimes our best isn’t good enough. Sometimes we need to accept that.
Putting ‘tasks’ on a continuum, and deciding how much energy you have to spend on each task – picking one thing that is complete enough at 80% so something else can be 99% , and it’s all ok.
Grow with Emotional Agility.
Putting activities on a continuum means we Get Unhooked from stuckness and avoidance.
Here are a few questions based off Don Miguel Ruiz’s work to further explore this Agreement:
List 4 mistakes you have made in your life. How do you punish yourself? How many times have you paid for each mistake?
List 4 things you have accomplished. How did you reward yourself? Really open up to many types of accomplishments, really go for it.
To help explore a range of accomplishments finish these sentences, repeat and answer each question multiple times