Nobody has ever abused you more than you have abused yourself. And the limit of your self-abuse is exactly the limit that you will tolerate from someone else.
In The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom, author Don Miguel Ruiz reminds us of how our thoughts, opinions and judgments of ourselves cause more harm to ourselves than others do. He calls these opinions and judgments “agreements”. We made these agreements through no fault of our own, because as we grow up and mature, we absorb all the stories we hear around us, making interpretations and judgements. Our neurological capability to be discerning of thoughts and opinions doesn’t develop until our mid-twenties.
Ruiz suggests replacing those subconscious agreements we made without choice with four simple new agreements. What I so loved about this book is its simplicity. If you make these four simple agreements with yourself, you will experience a qualitative difference in your life as soon as today.
The 4 principles that will improve your life today
1. Be impeccable with your word
The word is like a seed, and the human mind is fertile, but only for those kinds of seeds it is prepared for. What is important is to see which kinds of seeds our mind is fertile for, and to prepare it to receive the seeds of love.
Your thoughts trigger feelings and emotions. Repeated thoughts manifest into beliefs and values. Ruiz reminds us, this means if seeds of darkness are planted – from your upbringing or conversations you absorbed from your surroundings during your formative years – your mind is fertile ground for dark words and dark thoughts. They will grow and multiply with ease.
Being “impeccable with your word” refers to, your self-talk, that internal monologue that just doesn’t stop.
But what does it mean?
The definition of impeccable is: in accordance with the highest standards. Faultless. Flawless. So It means being kind to yourself instead of cruel. It means being encouraging with yourself instead of discouraging. It means being merciful with yourself instead of malicious. It also means to stop judging and blaming yourself for anything. If you messed up or made a mistake, take responsibility by fixing it, but don’t pile a tonne of bricks on yourself.
”Impeccable with your word” also refers to how you communicate with others. Avoid gossip, because it fertilizes your mind to give and receive negativity and dark thoughts.
2. Don’t take anything personally, It’s not you it’s them.
Has something like this ever happened to you?
You say the price of your product, followed by “It’s not very expensive” and they flip out spitting out, “Don’t tell me what’s expensive”, and walk off in a huff. Then you feel really bad and wonder what you said, and you didn’t mean to offend her. Then you’re carrying the weight of guilt and shame and blame. This happened to a someone in my workshop when she mentioned her price to an interested buyer.
And your flustered feeling might last a few hours, which impacts your next interaction, and so on.
Nothing other people do is because of you. It is because of themselves. All people live in their own dream, in their own mind; they are in a completely different world from the one we live in.
In your business, you might meet disagreeable people who send angry emails or flip out when you’re selling or approach them. Don’t take it personally; remember, it’s their internal dialogue projecting onto you. It’s not you, it’s them.
Our ego makes us the centre of the universe, where we think about ourselves with self-preservation as its core mandate. When you take things personally, you’re fodder for other people’s insecurities and unconsciousness. If you take offense, you’re also somewhat agreeing with what they say.
Not taking things personally liberates you; you don’t feel the need to defend yourself, you don’t react, or feel the need to be right. Accusations or insults aimed at you is a mirror showing what the other person thinks about themselves than what they think of you. So show compassion instead of taking offense. What they say to you shows more about their internal monologue, a result of their upbringing.
3. Don’t make assumptions
How often have you heard your partner or a friend say something in a certain tone, and you make up a story about how they don’t like you or what they think, and then your mind ruminates for the next hour or three? All based just on a certain tone? When in reality, the reason their tone was off was because they just read an antsy email from their boss?
Making assumptions sets you up for suffering Click To Tweet
We make assumptions about what others are doing or thinking then we blame them and react by sending emotional poison with our word. That is why, whenever we make assumptions, we’re asking for problems.
Asking questions detoxifies communication, clearing the flood of assumptions that drown you with ill feelings and reactions. Instead, be courageous and ask questions until you’re clear, and even then, don’t assume you know all there is to know about a situation.
Next time you find yourself getting upset about something, ask yourself, “what assumption am I making here?” When you establish you’re making assumptions, resolve to shelve that issue until you can speak to the person and ask for clarification. You can always worry about it later when you know the facts.
4. Always do your best
This one speaks for itself, and it’s a quality I so admire in my wife. Everything she does, she does it with perfection. Anything worth doing is worth doing properly, she says. This is one I’m working on the most, because sometimes I have the tendency to rush to get things done. But now, for example with writing, instead of hitting publish, I let it sit for a second and third edit before publishing. When you always do your best, you eliminate shoulda, woulda, coulda. You can say, “I tried my best, and that’s that.”
Summary of the 4 principles that will improve your life today
Here are the four new agreements that could make a qualitative difference in your business and life today:
- Be impeccable with your word: This means being kind to yourself, so be aware of how you speak to yourself, especially when you mess up. When you catch yourself being harsh with yourself or others, remind yourself to be impeccable.
- Don’t take anything personally: What people say to you has more to do with them than about you. When you accept insults, it means you’re agreeing with them. So don’t take things personally.
- Don’t make assumptions: Instead of letting your mind go off storytelling, check what assumptions you’re making. Then agree to table the “worry” until you can ask and get clarity.
- Always do your best: This speaks for itself.
Pick one from these four and try it out for the rest of this week.
You can buy the book here