Sunday 19 August 2012

The Four Agreements....

Greetings everyone....

For several days I’ve felt the need to share with you The Four Agreements.  For those of you not familiar with this book, it was written by Don Miguel Ruiz.  This is a book I’ve reflected on many times over several years.  It is also one of a few books I will purchase used and “loan” out to people who ask me how I had the courage to live my truth. 
One thing you need to understand about me is....I truly do follow my heart and the energies I feel.  Often books I purchase because I felt ‘drawn’ to them, are the books that impact my life the most profoundly.  The Four Agreements is one such book.
The book is based on the Toltec wisdom.  Toltec wisdom comes from the Toltec’s (a society of artists and spiritual seekers) of Ancient Mexico and their experiences as they explored their external and internal universes.  By doing so, they learned a great deal about the nature of the human mind and how it dreams “reality”.  These “realities” are often then based on “truths” we’ve been taught since birth.  These “truths” then become the foundation upon which we make life choices.  The choices we make ultimately impact how we live both as individuals and as a society as a whole.  Because this interests me a lot, I found the book very intriguing and another stepping stone for my own personal journey.  I know not everyone shares my seeking zest at the same level.  I completely respect and honour that.  Yet at some level you’re interested and you’re exploring; which is brilliant!!!!
The book does go deep into a philosophy and belief, but if that is not what interests can still find value in each of the agreements in their simplest forms.  For many, people live a life based on “really” that is not theirs; whether it’s a religious belief, a career choice, or value structure.  Most often, these “realities” where not ‘forced’ on us with the intent to hurt us but handed down for generations based on ideals of the time.  For some these works and for others they don’t and so....we seek answers along our life journey that touches our heart and resonates in our soul as our own truth.
While we are ‘here’ we need to balance the law of our hearts/souls with the law of the land. Many of us seek to find a belief or wisdom that inspires us to rediscover our own value, centeredness, happiness and life purpose.  With this in mind, I would like to share The Four Agreements with you.  The idea behind learning these agreements is to decide if they make sense to you.  Do I believe they would bring value into my life?  Will these help me become more centered both in my internal and external universe?  If I were to accept these agreements and implement them in my life, would they bring me closer to my happiness?  Will they empower me to live my life purpose?

I will start by directly quoting the book; then follow with my thoughts.

The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz:

The first agreement is “Be Impeccable with Your Word – Speak with integrity.  Say only what you mean.  Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others.  Use the power of your word to the direction of truth and love.”  In short for me this means – say what you mean/mean what you say.  This doesn’t only mean when I’m speaking with others but also the words I use when I’m thinking and/or writing.  So, even if I’m frustrated or angry with myself, someone else or a situation, instead of using words like “I look fat in that dress” or “he is such a jerk for doing that” or “that really p’d me off”; I try to use words like, “That’s not a style I’m comfortable with”, “That wasn’t a kind thing for him to do” and “Ok that was a learning experience”.  In changing the words, it doesn’t mean I wasn’t hurt but I’ve changed the intent.  I’ve tried to remove the pain associated with those statements.  By saying I’m not ‘comfortable’ I remove the judgement about weight; or by acknowledging the behaviour may not have been kind it removes my judgement about ‘him’ and finally by looking at the experience as a ‘learning’ one rather than one that p’d me off, I allow myself to move forward rather than holding on to a feeling that pain it brings me.

The second agreement is “Don’t take Anything Personally – Nothing others do is because of you.  What others say or do is a projection of their own reality, their own dreams.  When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be a victim of needless suffering.”  What a hard agreement to reflect on?!  For most of our whole lives we’ve been taught our actions impact others.  The truth is...they do.  But how many times have you been frustrated about something that happen at work or school and took it out on a loved one at home.  The loved one automatically thinks it’s something they did, when the release is on them because of something that happened to you earlier in the day.  For example, you’re partner is at work and all day long people are demanding things of them. “Hey, did you....” “Oh and don’t forget.....” or “When will you....” Questions, questions, questions... for eight hours and from all directions questions are flying at them.  They walk through the door.  In your eagerness to welcome them home you ask “How was yo....” and before the sentence is finished they are all over you with, “Leave me alone – stop asking me so many questions....”  Normally, we would take that personally and maybe even bark back, but....if we applied the ‘Don’t take anything personally’ because what others do or say is more about them than us....we would not suffer needlessly.  We would understand they likely had a crappy day and they just need some time.

The third agreement is “Don’t make Assumptions – Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want.  Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstanding, sadness and drama.  With just this one agreement, you can transform your life.” true.  Here’s a very simple example.  It’s Sunday morning and you know Monday is garbage day.  You ask your partner to take out the garbage and they respond with ‘Sure hon, later’.  Monday afternoon you notice the curb is littered with everyone’s garbage cans, but there is none out front of your house.  First you might ‘assume’ someone has brought them in but quickly you learn the garbage was not taken out at all.  Now you ‘assume’ your partner didn’t take it out to bug you or they forgot.  You’re upset and ready to pounce on your partner the moment you see them, because – you could have taken it out but they assured you they would do it.  While you’re expressing your frustration for them letting you down they try to apologize and explain they thought garbage day was Tuesday.  You ‘assumed’ they knew it was Monday and they ‘assumed’ you knew it was Tuesday.  Who was right or wrong really isn’t the issue.  The issue is the garbage didn’t get taken out based on assumptions.  Had you clearly expressed the facts as you asked the question in the following manner, “Garbage day is tomorrow, will you take out the garbage tonight?” your partner could have still responded the same; with a better chance of getting the garbage out when it needed to be or they could have said ‘no’.

The fourth agreement is “Always do YOUR Best – Your best is going to change moment to moment; it will be different when you’re healthy as opposed to sick.  Under any circumstance, simply do your best and you will avoid self-judgement and regret.”  WOW!!!!  How often do we beat ourselves up with should of, could of, would of? As soon as you take any action you have that much more knowledge then you did the second before.  You can’t fore see the future with 100% certainty.  If you could, I’m guessing you’d be the riche$t person in the world.  So stop the self abuse.  You need to believe you did your best with what you had at the time you made your decision.  Angela Lansbury wrote “Hind sight is 20/20 and good for nothing.”  When you need to make a decision, all you have is the information you have up to that moment; nothing more – nothing less.  As soon as you realize this and assure yourself this is the ‘best’ I can do right now....accept is as fact; truth.  Find comfort in this knowing and let it be; no matter what the outcome is.  If you’re faced with that situation again in the’ll have this experience to reflect on then but in the meantime.... you did your best; no regrets.

As I said earlier; several years ago, I read this book.  And while I believed in these agreements, it was hard for me to implement them into my life.  The main reason is because they seemed to feel prickly and against the ‘norm’ of the realities I was taught as a child growing up.  I found myself, often, going back to the book until I came to realize I had made the changes in my daily living.  Do I sometimes fall into the ‘old’ me?  Nowhere near as often as I did.  I find it very uncomfortable to be there but sure I do.  But then I remember #4 – Always do your best and your best is going to change.  When I remember I’m doing my best....I stop the self abuse; regret and I celebrate the knowing that I always do my best to be impeccable with my word; I always do my best to not to take things personally and I always do my best to not make assumptions.
Tomorrow, I will be beginning a new journey which I will share with you.  As always, I welcome your insight.
May you always live and celebrate your best self.

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