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The Four Agreements

There are an infinite number of tools we can use to improve our lives, interactions, relationships and so on, but over the course of my journey there are a few integral pieces to my foundation. One of them is the ‘Four Agreements’ by Don Miguel Ruiz. Don Miguel Ruiz offers and explains 4 basic principles to enhance the human experience. His principles bring the tools and awareness to walk through life avoiding unnecessary suffering and pain. This week will explore these principles and explain how they can rapidly transform your life. 





This principle is based on the understanding that our words (thoughts!) are our power of creation. If we are living in our truth with harmonious thoughts and words we will receive the gifts of life, but if our words are misaligned then it can create unnecessary suffering. Early on in my own journey I realized how meaningless my words were. I would always say the “right” thing, but knew they were not honest. My people pleasing and low self-esteem kept me prisoner to unfulfilled commitments and dishonest words. Ruiz explains that we are the ‘words’ we speak, so in order to create the reality we desire, we must only speak our truth. If we learn to speak with integrity and only say what we mean we begin to open our hearts and learn the true meaning of self-love. 


“As you can see, impeccability of the word goes much deeper than it seems. The word is pure magic, and when you adopt the first agreement, magic just happens in your life. Your intentions and desires come easily because there is no resistance, there is no fear; there is only love. You are at peace, and you create a life of freedom and fulfillment in every way. Just this one agreement is enough to completely transform your life into your personal heaven. Always be aware of how you are using the word, and be impeccable with your word.”

 

2.   Don’t Take Anything Personally


As we start to gain awareness we can see that our own rules, beliefs and opinions and understand that others have their own too. As we move through life, we can see that people are just projecting their own internal systems outwards. This lesson allows us to move through interactions and relationships unscathed and with compassion. For me personally, there are many past situations where someone’s words or actions caused a visceral reaction that I perceived as a personal attack. I would ruminate on the situation and cause unnecessary suffering. By using this principle we realize we have the power to become immune in those situations, by accepting that we have no control on how others behave and that every individual is projecting their own internal beliefs/systems. It takes work to retrain our own reactions, but eventually we can become the witness to these interactions and let go of the rest.


“Taking things personally is a set up for suffering. It makes you easy prey for other people’s emotional poison; they can hook your attention with one little opinion and feed you whatever poison they want.”


“When you truly understand this and take nothing personally, it doesn’t matter who gossips about you, who blames you, who rejects you, who disagrees with your point of view. Whatever people say doesn’t affect you because you are immune to their opinions and their emotional poison.”


3.  Don’t Make Assumptions 


This principle is a powerful one. Ruiz explains the power of the human mind and how our own imagination can cause us to believe its ‘truth’, versus the reality of the situation. We as humans have a need to ‘know’ or to make sense of things so our thoughts are always ready to justify situations. A simple example could be, my friend doesn’t reply to me right away so my brain begins creating narratives about ‘why’ she didn’t reply and creates a story that the friend must be angry with me (also taking things personally). When in reality, I don’t know why she didn’t reply and making assumptions only creates unnecessary worry and wasted energy. By using this principle we are able to live in the reality of our lives, instead of the narrative we have created. We can also avoid disappointment from our unspoken expectations. 


“Assumptions are nothing more than lies that we are telling ourselves. This creates a big drama for nothing, because we don’t really know if something is true or not.”


4.  Always Do Your Best


Ruiz explains that this final principle allows the first 3 principles to become deeply ingrained habits. Notice how he used the word ‘best’ not ‘perfect’? In the past I had held myself to unrealistic standards, where my perfectionism would take over and cause constant disappointment. These expectations built an internal system of limiting beliefs. On the flip side, when my limiting beliefs took over and I didn’t do my best or seek perfection, I would be filled with regret and self-blame. 


“If you just do your best, there is no way you can judge yourself. And if you don’t judge yourself there is no way you are going to suffer from guilt, blame, and self-punishment.”


As Ruiz explains, it's about doing your ‘best’ in any given situation, while also recognizing the different seasons of life. Your best today might be different than tomorrow, but we have the ability to gauge that through self-awareness. This agreement, if practiced repeatedly, will begin to transform our lives. 


“By always doing your best, you will break a big spell that you have been under.”

 

“Maybe we cannot escape from the destiny of the human, but we have a choice: to suffer our destiny or to enjoy our destiny.”



The Way



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