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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Four Agreements in Review by Janet Callaway

The Four Agreements is an easy-to-read book packed with wisdom. Don Miguel Ruiz says: “You need a very strong will in order to adopt the Four Agreements—but if you can begin to live your life with these agreements, the transformation in your life will be amazing. You will see the drama of hell disappear right before your very eyes. Instead of living in a dream of hell, you will be creating a new dream—your personal dream of heaven.”

The First Agreement: Be Impeccable with Your Word. Let's look at how Ruiz defines this word: “Impeccability means 'without sin' . . . A sin is anything you do which goes against yourself. . . When you are impeccable, you take responsibility for your actions, but you do not judge or blame yourself.”

This means that we do not use our word against ourselves in guilt, shame or saying negative things about ourselves. It follows that we do not use our word to blame, criticize, gossip or judge others. Let's stop all this useless yet harmful talk against ourselves and others.

Think what a difference it would make if you said only words of edification about yourself or others. Think what that would do to changing the “wiring” in your brain.

Now let's take impeccable to our commitments. That agreement is the one you have with yourself--always. Whenever you say you will do something, either to yourself or to another person, you have made an agreement with yourself to do a specific action. Your brain hears what you are saying, whether you truly meant it or not, and registers it as a commitment. If you don't follow through, you will start to distrust yourself and, eventually, will lose faith in your ability to produce a result.

Before you agree to do something, especially if you know you're either not going to do it or are not likely to do it, think a bit about the momentary discomfort of saying what you mean vs. the long term psychological damage of consistently eroding belief in your self. Your self-esteem and the trust of others matters far too much to be carelessly tossed aside.

The Second Agreement: Don't Take Anything Personally. As Don Ruiz says: “Nothing other people do is because of you. It is because of themselves.” When you “get it” this is truly a freeing statement. Think about an interaction with a person who has had a great day, how are they likely to treat you? Pretty well, I should think. Now think about that same person having a miserable day, how are they going to treat you? Probably not so well. You are the same person in each situation. How they treated you is strictly because of how they were feeling and had nothing to do with you. Quit feeling hurt, upset or mad because of what others do or not do or say or not say. It is not about YOU, it is about them.

The Third Agreement: Don't Make Assumptions. Most of us have a tendency to make assumptions and then we believe those assumptions to be true. We then act on those assumptions, take it personally and create a huge drama over something that never even existed—all because we made assumptions. Rather than make assumptions, ask questions; keep communication clear. Ask rather than assume.

The Fourth Agreement: Always Do Your Best. This Fourth Agreement is about the first three, about bringing them alive. Don Ruiz says: “Under any circumstances, always do your best, no more and no less. But keep in mind that your best is never going to be the same from one moment to the next. Everything is alive and changing all the time, so your best will sometimes be high quality, and other times it will not be as good.”

In Japan there is a philosophy of kaizen which means continual improvement. Incorporate these Four Agreements into your life using the kaizen approach of small and consistent steps. Your life will be transformed.

Because I know many of you have read this book, I welcome your comments and insights.


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