You know the days when you are stuck in the tailspin of wondering wff? And, making sense of your world doesn’t make any sense at all? It’s these days when all of a sudden, you have a conversation with someone or you come across the exact words that you need to hear and all of a sudden your world becomes just a little clearer. Well, the Four Agreements are just like that. Originally written by a Mexican author and a Toltec Spiritualist, Don Miguel Ruiz, and comprised within the book The Four Agreements. Many of you will be familiar with these seemingly simple statements and I want to share how I’ve learned to invite each and every one into my life time and time again knowing that although seemingly simple, these statements not only hold a lot of power but they really do help to bring a renewed sense of understanding to our world and more importantly they bring you back to your center so you can continue living from a place of your own agreements that guarantee your best life. So let’s talk about each of the agreements, what they mean, and then, I want to share with you how my experiences along the way have shaped these agreements even more.
Here we go, the first agreement, Be impeccable with your word. Be impeccable with your word. Yes, let us speak from a place of integrity while practicing what we preach as they say. But let us also speak the truth from a place of grace and loving kindness. I often think about how as humans filled and fueled by our own emotions that we are so often quick to react and responding seems to be so much more an afterthought. And it’s in our own reactions that we end saying perhaps what it is we do not mean or we end up using our voice in a way that in end, wasn’t useful at all. The thing about speaking from a place of grace and loving kindness, is that it doesn’t mean that we always need to be speaking at all. Often what we end up saying despite whether we are right or not, isn’t needful in the given circumstance. So the question becomes not whether we are right or wrong but are we gracious, kind and loving?
If we can practice speaking the truth, we don’t need to remember anything and when it comes from our sense of rootedness, our own core values and intrinsic beliefs, you will feel more affirmed in your own communications. And I’m willing to bet most if not all of your interactions will end in more peaceful, purposeful ways. One last thing, don’t forget that holding yourself accountable with your words, applies to those you speak unto yourself as well.
The second agreement is Don’t take anything personally. Yep, you got it. We are all humans and therefor as humans, we all are emotional beings, some more than others but all beautiful emotional beings. The thing is and to know and really come to understand is that nothing anyone else does or says, has anything to do with you. Nothing. As the emotional being that we are, we react or we choose to respond.
Remember agreement number one? And when we do, our reaction or response, is a complete reflection of our own rootedness. Our rootedness is conceived by our own values and beliefs both intrinsic and what we believe to be true in the moment. And no matter how much we try to place our feet in the comforts of other people’s shoes, we can never fully understand their clarity as our feet will never mould in the same way. I read years ago a quote by an unknown author, it was the heart of clarity and it went like this, “No matter how open, honest, and loving you are, people will only meet you as deeply as they meet themselves.” I never forgot these words and when I just don’t understand another person’s actions or choices, I remember these words because it allows people to be who they are where they are and it gives me hope that everybody is doing the best that they can from where they are and what they know to be true. If we can’t believe this than it makes the world that much harder. Brene Brown says in her book, The Gifts of Imperfections, and I’ll loosely translate this, that, we can’t let what other people say or do define us, but when we deny ourselves our natural visceral response, we start to lose the ability to connect and this is how we harden to the world. So, it’s important to allow yourself to feel the way you feel. To be human is to be human. And I think you move on past the actions and choices of others with more understanding from our own human-ness, when we allow the connection between one another to engage us into accepting others for who they are with a new belief in clarity. It’s between these two notions that I balance my world.
Agreement number three, Don’t make assumptions. Guilty as charged as we all do this. Whether or not you are making assumptions has everything to do with communication. Are you being brave enough to communicate? If you are not, it’s likely that you are caught up on not hurting anyone’s feelings or that you are afraid of getting your own feelings hurt. I am a big fan of boundaries. Healthy boundaries in any relationship that I am fully engaged with. And I like to refer to boundaries as meeting on the same bridge. Can you imagine if every time you needed to have a conversation, a clearing of the air, an opportunity to speak your truth, to move forward that you could meet openly in the peacefulness of the same bridge, smack dab in the middle? It’s a very different experience than one person seeing you on the bridge and walking right past you while the breeze sweeps you by. Meeting in the middle of the same bridge means that you get to walk in your own shoes with the peace and joy of your own boundaries in place.
It means that you walk onto the bridge with respect and an openness to what the other person has to say. It doesn’t always mean that you see eye to eye but it’s a very different feeling to be open, willing, seen and heard while you stand face to face with the same breeze on your skin.
Last but not least and perhaps the most powerful statement that has come to light for me personally. Always do your best. Placing our best foot forward. Placing one foot in front of the other. I few years back, I found myself treading water. It lasted more than a moment. I define treading water is dismantling your life, and seeing it in fragments floating in a sea of water. You have to discern between all the pieces of your life. What is worth keeping, saving and what is worth letting go, what is killing you. And you have to make all these choices while trying to keep your head above the water. It’s a lot of work and your body has seen much lighter days. This is treading water. There was a moment during this time where I asked myself if where I ended up was a result of me not doing my best. I asked myself If I had done my best, and in my heart of hearts and in the spirit of my bones, I knew that I had. It was in this questioning that I came to realize that if I always did my best, that I would never have to wonder if I did enough. There was so much unearthing is this statement because regret become irrelevant. It ceased to exist. And I knew, that one day to the next, my best looked pretty damn good and other days it looked like placing one foot in front of the other. But, this is how we go on. We go on without the dread of needing to do more. We go on.
There will be days when you say the wrong thing. There will be days when you take everything personally. There will be days when you make an assumption and there will be days where it doesn’t feel like you did your best at all. This is human-ness. And this is all okay.
And, the four agreements, they will show up when you need them. Seemingly simple statements yet when practiced, powerful, moving and life shifting. They are all connected as we are all connected. They can reign you in back towards your center, rerouting you back to your own peace, love and joy.