New Series: The Four Agreements
Do you remember when you were very young, growing up first in your family, and later as you made your way through your school. Maybe attending a religious service weekly.
And all the things, the rules and concepts and laws that you, and me…all of us, were taught as we made our way along in family and society.
We learned what our language was and our religion, what the rules of the house were and what would happen if they were not followed. And we continued to learn the rewards and punishments as we moved through all the parts of society…home, school, church, work…etc.
Don Miguel Ruiz calls these Agreements. We made agreements with our families, our school and workplace, everywhere. We allowed ourselves to be domesticated by our society, by these hundreds of agreements.
If we wished for acceptance, we strived to follow these rules of rewards and punishments. This was what brought us love…and who doesn’t want love?
If we are beautiful enough…we will be loved.
If we are smart enough…we will be loved.
If we don’t show emotion…don’t cry…we will be loved.
If we stood out with talent, athletically or academically or musically or artistically….we would be loved. We’d have fans.
Don Miguel Ruiz tells us, “Whenever we hear an opinion and believe it, we make an agreement, and it becomes part of our belief system. …somewhere someone told us through their word, that we were not enough, and we agreed with it.”
And so, we end up judging ourselves…comparing ourselves against others. We judge the others too, searching for perfection.
Well, the time of making our way through life repeating the same 95% of the 60,000 thoughts we have every day is gone. We are way past the time foraging for food while at the same time watching out for saber-toothed tiger attacks.
Of all these agreements, the most important ones are the ones you have with yourself…who you are, what you feel, what you believe, and how to behave. I see it as your true self, your integrity.
When we hold onto agreements that make us suffer, make us fail in life…they hold us back. They interfere with our inner as well as outer, growth.
We must find the will, the courage to break these fear-based agreements.
To do that, we can use these positive, Four Agreements:
- Be impeccable with your word
- Don’t take anything personally
- Don’t make assumptions
- Always do your best
By making a pact with these four key agreements, an individual is able to dramatically impact the amount of happiness they feel in their lives, regardless of external circumstances
We will look at each for the next weeks and then associate them with the four themes of Advent. So, pay attention please, as we move forward, so you will be able to relate it all together.
First, Be impeccable with your word.
In Ruiz’s mind, this is the most important.’ Can you think why?
It is the most difficult one to honor
To be impeccable means to be in accordance with the highest standards of propriety; faultless.
We are told that being impeccable means “without sin.” A sin, according to Ruiz, is anything that you do which goes against yourself. When you are impeccable, you take responsibility for your actions, but you do not judge or blame yourself.”
We ‘speak with integrity.’ Saying only what you mean. And avoiding speaking against yourself or to gossip.
This is more than being honest. We are to use our speech to lift up ourselves and those around us, to build community rather than tear it down.
Being impeccable with our word begins with ourselves. We all know that a lot of negative self-talk goes on…in fact, we probably talk more negatively about ourselves than we do of others. If we use negative talk with ourselves, it’s bound to come out against others eventually.
Of course, we all make mistakes, but as we take responsibility for our words and actions without judgment for ourselves or for others, we learn and grow. And move forward.
Our words are not just a sound or a written symbol. They have energy, force…it is a power we all have to express and communicate, to think and to create.
We humans are the only creatures that have this power of the word, to create…like magic…
“Words are, in my not-so-humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic. Capable of both inflicting injury and remedying it.” – Dumbledore
Words have power. Their meaning crystallizes perceptions that shape our beliefs, drive our behavior, and ultimately, create our world. Their power arises from our emotional responses when we read, speak, or hear them.
Take the words interview and interrogation. Which would you like to hear when entering a meeting?
Each one presented a different vision in your mind as to what you might experience in the meeting, did it not?
So, we need to choose our words wisely.
Rumi: “Raise your words, not your voice. It is the rain that grows flowers, not the thunder.”
We learned to gossip by agreement. As children we heard the adults around us gossip, openly giving their opinions about others, we thought this was a normal way of communicating.
Gossip is likened to a computer virus, using the same language but with harmful intent. Often, hearing something said about another is imprinted in our mind, and it is difficult to release. This is the harm of gossip.
There is the story of a man living in a village. He got along with his neighbors for a time. Then, one day, his neighbors started ignoring him, He didn’t understand why. Eventually, no one in the village would speak with him.
One day he asked his neighbor what had happened, why wouldn’t they speak with him and the neighbor confessed that he had started a rumor about him, in a jealous moment of not thinking.
He asked what he could do to make amends.
The man asked his neighbor to come to his house. They went upstairs to the bedroom window, opened it and took a feather pillow, ripped it open and shook it out the window.
Feathers flowed everywhere, as they reached the ground a breeze came by a blew them further in all directions. The neighbor looked at the man who lied about his reputation said, ‘those feathers are like your words, once spoken, they can’t be brought back.’
We are imprinted with the words and the emotional code that they were said with. We may not know why the other was saying the words – were they angry, jealous? What was the motivation?
So, we end up looking through the other persons lens; their fear and judgments, instead of our own opinions.
We are always building our world with our words….what are you building?
If we are going to be Impeccable with our words, we are
- Building our own self up with the words,
- Supporting others, sharing love, radiating positive thoughts and feelings,
- Using our words in the direction of truth and the energy of love.
When we use our word to support another, to share love, positive thoughts, feelings, we are actually loving ourselves.
We can only use our word ‘against another, (which is actually against ourselves) if we do not love ourselves.
Buddha – “Whatever words we utter should be chosen with great care for people will hear them and be influenced by them for good or ill.”
From ‘The Four Agreements’ “For years we have received gossip from the words of others, but also from ourselves. We talk to ourselves constantly, and mostly saying things like: ‘oh, I look fat,’ ‘I look ugly,’ ‘I’m getting old,’ ‘I’m stupid,’ ‘I will never be good enough,’ and similar negative statements.” See how we use the word against ourselves?
We must begin to understand what the word is and what it does.
If we understand the 1st agreement, be impeccable with your word, we begin to see all the changes that can happen in our life. Changes first in the way we deal with ourself, and later in the way we deal with other people, especially those we love the most.
Consider that your opinion is only your point of view, created from your beliefs, your ego and your dream. Spreading it to others is your ego wishing to be right.
Being impeccable with your word clears your mind from negativity, so only words of love survive.
Just this one agreement can change your whole life. It can free you from all fear and transform it into joy and love.
Here are some positive ways to put this into practice:
Ask yourself where you are impeccable with your word?
Practice using your words with integrity.
Begin with yourself…tell yourself each day how much you love yourself, how great you are, how wonderful you are.
Use words to break the agreements you have made with yourself, maybe through domestication with your family, your religious beliefs.
Speak only words of love, peace, joy.