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  • Jaime Lang

The Four Agreements

The Four Agreements is a book by Don Miguel Ruiz that was written based on a Toltec philosophy. If you are looking for a resource to change how you live your life I highly recommend that you pick up a copy of this book, read it, and apply the four agreements to your life.

The book is based on the premise that our reality is shaped by our own subjective perspective and the beliefs that we have agreed to and live by in life. As young children we hear these beliefs in the form of words and messages from those around us and we internalize them. Whatever we internalize we then carry out, often repeating patterns over and over again. Since everyone on the planet today has experienced some level of pain and disruption we often carry messages of pain with us and recreate them for others. This becomes a spiral pattern of destruction as the pain we feel bounces off each other and causes us to react and reinforce that pain.

When we realize, however, that we are not victims to these beliefs or agreements but the ones who get to choose them then we are suddenly in a position of power because we can choose to hold onto whichever beliefs or agreements we feel are best for own lives while releasing or rejecting those that don't work for us or that ultimately cause harm.

The book breaks down this philosophy and suggests four agreements (values to live by) to use to break the damaging pattern of previous agreements.

These agreements are:

1. Be impeccable with your word- this means saying what you mean and doing what you say, but it also (and more importantly) means recognizing the power of your words and using them in a constructive, rather than destructive manner. Words shape beliefs and relationships, they are incredibly powerful, but we often choose to use them to cause harm to ourselves or others. Being impeccable with your word is choosing to use words to promote love and truth rather than pain. Words are not just spoken words, but written words and thoughts. This means that if you are impeccable with your word you hold yourself accountable for thoughts that tear yourself or other people apart as well. Changing what we say and think about ourselves and others can go a long way towards healing and understanding.

2. Don't take things personally-- the idea behind this stems from the realization that we all experience life an a subjective way. No one can truly see or comprehend an objective reality. What we see when we look at each other is not who the person we are looking at truly is but our interpretation of that person through layers of thoughts, beliefs, biases, memories and other factors. Since we cannot clearly see each other no one can clearly see us, so when some one reacts to us we don't need to internalize their reaction. We can recognize that they aren't really reacting to us but to all those layers of projections that they are seeing us through and we don't need to agree with or own the messages that come from those projections. Remember we choose what we agree to or believe in, we don't have to accept anyone else's interpretation of us and so we can see that they are not responding to us and we do not need to act as though they are.

3. Don't make assumptions-- just as other people cannot clearly see us through all their layers of projections, we cannot truly see them. We also have layers of bias through which we interpret the world and each other. Assuming that we are all in understanding when we are all seeing from skewed perspectives is a good way to set ourselves up for misunderstanding and conflict. Instead using this agreement we can strive to communicate clearly by asking questions for clarity and understanding and being as clear as we can be as well. This helps us come closer to seeing and working with each other instead of those skewed ideas we have about each other and it breaks some of the illusion we tend to carry through those biases.

4. Always do your best-- we don't have to strive for objective perfection to be good enough. In any situation you do the best you can with what you have and where you are. Your best will not always be the same, but if in each moment you do the best you can to live in alignment with your goals and values you will quickly feel the power of self-judgment, guilt, and shame reduce. You don't have to do more than the best, but if you do the best you can and you know that you have then there is no more judgment to hold onto and that makes it much easier to move forward in kindness and understanding without the critical, painful words that we often hurdle onto ourselves for mistakes we make or failed expectations.

These ideas and agreements are really powerful. If you want to experiment with any new ways of doing things I would recommend starting here. Practice applying these agreements to your own life for a month and see if you notice any differences. Remember it doesn't have to be perfect but if you do your best you might be surprised by the types of changes you see.

If you are interested in the book I'm adding a link here:

You can also watch a video a made talking about this book here:

Thank you for reading and/or watching.

Have a great evening.

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