The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz is a guide to personal freedom, a book I highly recommend everyone read. Over the next four entries I will break down how each agreement discussed in the book has impacted my spiritual journey through Ruiz’s words of wisdom. I hope you enjoy your journey to a life full of happiness, love and freedom from the chains of your old patterns.
What are the Four Agreements? They’re a way of seeing, experiencing and living your life in a way that will bring you a freedom you might not have experienced. They are as follows:
- BE IMPECCABLE WITH YOUR WORD
- DON’T TAKE ANYTHING PERSONALLY
- DON’T MAKE ASSUMPTIONS
- ALWAYS DO YOUR BEST
I will focus today’s blog on the first and most important of all the agreements according to Ruiz. Be impeccable with your word. Read that line again and really let the words sink in. Ruiz’s intentions for the reader with the first agreement include the following:
- Speak with integrity
- Say what you mean
- Avoid speaking ill of yourself or to gossip about others
- Use the power of your words for truth and love
How many times can you remember saying something hurtful to a loved one, a stranger, about an event, to your child, and to yourself? If you’re like me the number is far larger than I care to admit, especially to myself! It breaks my heart to consider the pain I’ve caused others and how my reactions may have shaped the lives of those my words hurt. I read somewhere along my journey to self love about an experiment an incredible teacher did with her class, it has had a profound impact on me. I hope it will help you in a way that will remind you to think before you “react” but instead “respond” to others. The teacher handed out a travel sized tube of toothpaste to each of her students and told them their assignment was to squeeze as much of the toothpaste out of the tube onto their desk tops. As you could imagine the kids thought this was the coolest thing they’d ever heard her tell them. After all the toothpaste was spread out over their desks their teacher said to them, very seriously, your next assignment is to put all the toothpaste back into the tube like it was before you squeezed it out all over your desks. Try to imagine the looks on their faces, their frustration and the excuses that followed. After a few minutes the teacher asked them to sit quietly and listen to what she had to share with them. The toothpaste represents your WORD, once you say it, you can’t take it back………. Profound, right?! Mind blown. It still brings tears to my eyes as I type these words. We can apologize to someone but the damage can’t be undone. We can all learn from this lesson. For instance, when someone cuts us off on the highway, pushes past you to get in line in front of you at the checkout stand, takes the parking spot you had your eye on, the old man wearing socks with his sandals, the teenager with tattoos, pink hair and piercings in places you didn’t think you could have piercings in, your opponent, the prettiest girl in school, the boy no one wants to sit by on the bus, the list goes on, we can make a different choice. We have all been on both sides of this coin at one point or another in life. I’m here to say despite all the times we’ve been hurt or have hurt someone by not speaking with integrity, we can forgive, let go, be compassionate, and make a different choice the next time this situation presents itself.
As I mentioned this applies to our self talk too. In my humble opinion, I think its the most important place to start. If we can’t talk to ourselves with loving words, allow ourselves a space of grace to be okay with where we are in our journey, then how can we ever expect others to love us as we are? I, like many of you, can be my own worst enemy at various moments of my life. With the help of authors like Ruiz, I have made the choice to start with myself. Loving myself right where I am each day. Sounds easier than it really is, at least it is for me. I choose to only compete with the reflection in the mirror. I look at her and appreciate the battles she’s faced (with a 100% track record mind you), the scars left on her soul, the visual flaws, the accomplishments and the never ending strength that I see in her. I tell her I love where she’s been and I am excited to see where she will go from here. Today, I will only compete with myself and work to speak my truth, with integrity, love, and grace. Imagine how your world would change if you started to see yourself as extraordinary in your ordinary lives? Let me tell you my world has completely transformed from a daily struggle with not feeling “worthy” or not “enough” to believing I deserve every ounce of love and happiness my heart desires. My career is growing into something I am so proud of. I have met some truly incredible people through my job who’ve taught me as much as I’ve probably taught them. It’s truly humbling and gratifying to know you are making a difference in someones life. My children have been impacted by my journey as well. They are healthy, happy and successful. They are growing into these amazing souls that will leave an incredible mark on this world. I could not be prouder of their willingness to use each difficult situation life has placed in front of us as a learning opportunity to teach them important life lessons involving these four agreements. My personal life has also been greatly impacted by these agreements as well. When I started focusing my energy on loving myself, forgiving, letting go of things that no longer served my greater good, I opened myself up to be loved in a way I never thought I was worthy of. Let me just say that it has been the most amazing gift I’ve given myself. When we love ourselves unconditionally we open up the door for others to love us without condition as well. Its just silly in my opinion, that we grow up believing our happiness and feeling loved should ever be placed in the hands of another. What a huge impossible task for that poor soul! Its no wonder relationships fail time and time again. I see the light now, rose colored glasses gone for good. We are whole souls, responsible for our own love, acceptance and happiness. Our partner is just that, a partner to experience life with, to laugh with, support in times of need, to lift up when life seems to have knocked them off their feet, and to encourage them on their own journey.
The last point I’d like to address that many of us are guilty of (numerous times a day) is avoiding words like “NEVER” and “ALWAYS”. These words can be very harmful in certain contexts. You NEVER do anything nice for me. You are ALWAYS late. Really? I’m certain everyone has done something nice for the one they love and even the least timely people have been on time for something. Imagine the impact that words like this can have on those we love. I’m guilty of using these words in the past when the behavior of another had hurt me. What I should have said was, it hurts my feelings when you arrive late for something this important to me. Or, I appreciate all the wonderful things you do daily for me, can you be more mindful of the lack of attention in this area as well. It’s really about taking time to understand each situation and respond in a loving way rather than reacting to punish your loved one. I have to share this last little story before I end my experience with the first agreement. I am a very loyal (possibly to a fault) person and this loyalty extends to my love for the Miami Dolphins Football Organization. This summer I had a conversation with my sister about being almost 40 and single trying to navigate through the dating scene. (Awful by the way! lol) She presented me with a question that I reacted to without even thinking. She said, “What if you find the perfect guy for yourself and he loves the Denver Broncos equally or more than you love your Dolphins”? I said NO WAY, it’d be a deal breaker for sure. I do not like the Broncos and no man would be able to change my opinion!! NEVER EVER!! Ugh, yes, guilty, I used the NEVER EVER word and I was heated she’d even suggest such a thing! My sister is a smart beautiful woman and I am so proud to call her my sister. What she said to me, after my childish outburst, stuck in the back of my mind. She said, “Well, you may be surprised Tracey, you may find someone who loves you in such a way that you’d cheer for the Broncos because you want to support him in the same way he supports you”. I just laughed and said NO WAY! I met that man, the one who loves me just as I am, flaws and all. He has made such a positive impact on my life in such a short time. Guess what?? Yep, she was RIGHT! How could this be? As I sit in my kitchen typing away I am wearing a Denver Broncos sweatshirt and not because I’m on the bandwagon. (Okay, maybe the LOVE bandwagon!) I’ve been blessed to finally be able to give and to receive unconditional love. Because his happiness is just as important as my own I want to see him celebrate today. So, that “NEVER EVER” statement has come full circle and I’m eating a big helping of humble pie today. I must say thank you to my sister for planting that seed. I owe a huge thank you to my once in a life time love as well. Thank you for loving me in a way that I was able to let go of old thoughts and opinions that never served me in the first place. I will leave you all with proof of my humble pie……GO Broncos!