The Four Agreements
A friend recently told me about a book titled “The Four Agreements” by Miguel Ruiz. I haven’t read the book. I don’t read much. But that’s okay because I want to give you my own interpretations of the agreements without knowing definitions according to the book.
I understand these are agreements you’re supposed to make with yourself.
1. Be impeccable with your word.
Again, I didn’t read the book so I don’t know what Miguel means by this. But I take this as think before you speak. It’s something I’ve always struggled with. I tend to vomit first, using passion as an excuse, then sort out my words like refrigerator magnets as the person I’m communicating with tries to understand me. Eventually, I’m able to get my message across. But here’s the thing. Once you open your mouth, imprints are being made on the other side. The other person is feeling things and once they feel something, it’s difficult to start over or erase that. Unfortunately, there’s no delete what I said button. Now I try to think about the message I want to deliver before opening my mouth. And I admit, it doesn’t always happen. But here’s what I try to do.
I ask myself a few questions before delivering my message. These questions act as a filter that takes out noise and keeps in the nutrients of the message.
What do I really want to say?
Many of us talk a lot without saying much. Or sometimes we’re afraid to say what we really want to so we talk in circles. Ask yourself what you really want to say. What’s the message, opinion, feeling, or point you want to get across? Many times, what you want to say isn’t what you end up saying. Because we avoid. We’re afraid. We’re not used to giving ourselves permission to expression our truth. Once you know what you want to say, say it from a place of love. This can be tough, especially if your message is a response to being hurt. But if you’re defensive or combative, your message will get lost. People don’t listen to anger. They only feel it. Be honest but gentle.
What is my intention?
This is the why piece. Why do you want to say this? What is the intention of your message? Do you believe you deserve a raise or are you trying to cause conflict to get laid off because you hate what you do? Do you really want him to do the dishes or are you mad about something else? Why are you saying what you are saying? What do you want to accomplish by your message? Maybe you just want to be heard, and if that’s the case, I would start with that so your intention lines up with your words.
What will be the impact of your message?
Many times we don’t think about how our words will impact the others. Yes, we want to practice transparency and express ourselves but we also have to consider how it will affect the other person, especially if you care about him or her. I think so many people just spit. Or they let things stew for a long time and when it comes out, it’s explosive. Then feelings are hurt. They get a reaction back, which causes another reaction and now instead of communicating, we have two people attacking each other. It’s an unhealthy pattern that buries relationships instead of lifting them.
Finally, does everything line up?
Are you saying what you really want to say? Is it coming from your truth but also a place of love? Does it line up with your intentions? And have you thought about how your message could affect the other person?
I know this is a lot to think about which is why healthy communication is difficult. Most of us don’t go through a process. We just shoot from what we feel. Or we go the other way and decide to feel nothing, until it’s overwhelming and we explode.
No matter what your process is, make an agreement with yourself to think before you speak.
2. Don’t take anything personally.
Since we see the world through our own perspective, it’s almost impossible to not let our story and wiring influence and distort the messages we get from others. So “anything” is ambitious. But I think it’s important to be aware that most people’s opinions of us have more to do with them than us. So make an agreement with yourself to try to not take things personally. Because when we personalize, we internalize, and when we internalize, we are tying things to our worth. This is when we can become highly reactive and visit old thinking → behavior patterns. When we take things personally, it’s easy to get stuck and stunt growth.
Make an agreement with yourself to examine other people’s comments and actions with a distance, outside of self.
3. Don’t make assumptions.
Jumping to conclusions is a cognitive distortion we all struggle with. Know the facts before you make conclusions. Again, we see the world how we are. We are constantly triggered and that feeling can easily cause us to jump to our own conclusions that may not be true.
Make an agreement with yourself to gather facts because making assumptions. It will save you from a lot of spinning and anxiety.
4. Always do your best.
What this means to me is always try to bring the best version of yourself to everything. Work, relationships, and even to yourself, as in how you treat yourself. Our best version of ourselves change as we constantly learn about who we are, who we were, who we want to be, our turning and evolving. That’s the beauty of being human. Our capacity to always be someone new.
Make an agreement to run toward yourself instead of at others, to use your story for growth instead of grudges, because your story is bigger than you and it’s meant to change people, but only if changes you first.
Keep leaning forward,