In the book The Four Agreements, Don Miguel Ruiz offers four simple suggestions to change the agreements we have with ourselves, and recover our personal freedom.
1. Be impeccable with your word.
What does impeccable mean? It means to be without sin (no I don’t mean not committing adultery or coveting your neighbor’s bmw). If you look up the root of sin, you’ll find that it means “to go against.” Being impeccable with our word means we don’t use our word against ourselves. If we don’t like what someone else has to say, we can walk away. But if we don’t like what we have to say to ourselves, we can’t walk away. Doesn’t it make more sense to use our word to go with ourselves, instead of against us? Just with this first agreement alone, we can transform our relationship with ourselves.
2. Don’t take anything personally.
We all have a feeling of “personal importance.” We think that when others do something, it has to do with us. In reality, others actions are based on their own internal world. When we realize that nothing others do has anything to do with us, we become immune to their words and actions. Even if someone shot you in the head, it was nothing personal. It had nothing to do with you, it was because of their own beliefs and fears.
3. Don’t make assumptions.
How many times we do we get upset at our loved ones or friends when they do something that offends us. We think “they should have known.” The truth is, no one knows the contents of our minds. When we make assumptions, we create a whole lot of unnecessary drama. Instead we can ask questions, and have the courage to tell others how we feel. If you’re not sure of how another person feels, ask them. If we have the courage to ask others questions and be open with our feelings, we can save a lot ourselves a lot of pain and suffering.
4. Always do your best.
Realize that your best will be different depending on different circumstances. When you’re healthy your best will be better than when you’re sick. Whatever your situation, always do your best. The first three agreements are about changing your agreements with yourself. The fourth agreement is about putting them into action. If you always do your best, you can free yourself from the judge and the victim in your mind. Even if you fail, you’ll know at least you did your best.