Monday, March 29, 2010

The Four Agreements

The Four Agreements are based on ancient Toltec wisdom as shared by Don Miguel Ruiz. As I have become aware of and tried to begin to embrace these agreements, I have discovered their potent, life changing power. I've outlined the basic concepts from his writing on the Four Agreements. This is a short book, and while it can be a quick read, it is not necessarily an easy one if you really think about the personal application as you are reading. I have now read the book and listened to the book and know that I have only begun to scratch the surface of the truth and wisdom contained in this idea.

The idea, simply put, is that we have agreed to many false, destructive beliefs about ourselves and others that rob us of the joy we were meant to experience. For example, we may believe that when someone pulls out in front of us and we have to slam on our brakes to avoid a collision, that that person did that to us, and we get angry and we swear or honk or let negative energy and emotion fill us. In the Four Agreement's Ruiz tells us over and over that nothing anyone else does is because of you, so don't take it personally. Imagine how differently that driver pulling out in front of you would feel if you truly didn't take anything about it personally or make any assumptions about their motives. If you felt anything at all, it would be gratitude that you avoided the collision. No negative, no poison.

Emotional poison is what damages us and keeps us from being fully alive. The Four Agreements teaches us that if we can transform our thinking by following the agreements we can eliminate the emotional poison from our lives. This is a challenge, as we have spent our whole life conditioned to do the opposite of most of this kind of thinking. However, each interaction is an opportunity to practice making new agreements, and each time you break free from old negative thought patterns and practice, practice, practice the four agreements, you will get stronger and it will become easier. The only way to improve is practice. And while I'm not sure practice makes perfect (because perfect is unrealistic as a healthy goal), I do believe that we are meant to be joyfully alive, and the four agreements gives us the direction we need to live a new life.

Everything we do is based on agreements we have made. In these agreements we tell ourselves:
 who we are
 what everyone else is
 how to act
 what is possible
 what is impossible
What we have agreed to believe creates what we experience.

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 in the direction of truth and love.

Don’t Take Anything Personally
 Nothing others do is because of you.
 What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream.
 When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.

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 misunderstandings, sadness, and drama.
 With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.

Always Do Your Best
 Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick.
 Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse, and regret.

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