The Four Agreements: A Guide To Personal Freedom And Spirituality
I read The Four Agreements by Miguel Ruiz a few years ago and it really helped shift my perspective to be able to experience more emotional freedom. This book would particularly be interested to those who are interested in spirituality.
This fundamental principles of this book are simply four ideas to live by, that is to be impeccable to your word, don’t take anything personally, don’t make assumptions and always do your best.
Be impeccable to your word
To be impeccable to your word is to avoid gossiping, complaining and criticising.
Words are symbols that carry meaning and has so much weight to it. Instead, we should try to use our words to edify others and with positive intentions.
There are ways to say things without doing so to intentionally hurt someone’s feelings.
We should try to speak sincerely and with integrity and aim to keep to our words and use words in the direction of truth and love.
If we raise the level of consciousness on how powerful our words are and the meanings associated with them, we would be more careful about what we say.
Many of us are guilty of speaking our minds, or too loosely that we do not have a concern for the effect these may have to other people’s feelings or possible outcomes these can have.
For example, in the court of law, if you say “He is lying”, then you are placing a moral judgement on someone’s character, which could cause that person’s character to be thoroughly analysed.
However, if you say “He is mistaken” then you are approaching his character from a more objective view.
The choice of words we use hold more power than we realise sometimes, and so we should aim to use our words carefully and coming from a place of good intentions if we are to achieve a level of emotional freedom.
Not only should we be careful with the language we allow others to use against us, more importantly we should be careful with the language we use on ourselves.
Often we are our own worst critics, and use self deprecating words against ourselves which create self limiting beliefs.
We often use words to criticise ourselves that we wouldn’t even allow others to speak to us in such a way.
For example, we often say “I’m rubbish at this” but we would not allow others to speak to us in this way. Instead, we should use more encouraging words like “I’m learning to becoming better at this”. Just a small change in language can create a paradigm shift in our minds.
Don’t take anything personally
This is by far my favourite agreement because so many of us are easily offended and in a constantly reactive state, reacting to criticism and other people’s negativity.
For example, if someone is having a really bad day and lashes out on you, and you become upset and angry by some of their comments as a result, then you are ultimately carrying their burden and become mentally enslaved to others.
Although this agreement is easier applied in theory than in practice, if we acknowledge that everyone’s perception of reality is different and that we should not take anything personally, then we will have control over our emotional being.
Similarly, this level of detachment should also come from when someone compliments us, for example.
To be able to not allow the opinions of others’ to carry too much weight that causes us to react so drastically, will help us to avoid being in a constantly reactive state.
Although many of us thrive of having compliments said to us, and indeed there will always be a level of pleasure associated to this, we must refrain from allowing the opinions of others’ to carry so much weight to be able to avoid the severe pain that many of us are subjected to by the comments and actions of others.
We must remember that everyone sees the world through different filters and their dreams and reality are make up of their personal experiences that are unique to them.
The actions from others’ towards us is not because of us but the meanings that they impose on us based on their interpretations.
To be able to not take things personally, we must try to develop our sense of identity and self assurance. If we are weak and vulnerable then we are easily susceptible to being verbally and emotionally attacked by others.
If someone makes a negative comment about you, unless you believe there is a degree of truth to this, and if you are insecure about yourself then you will always accept what others say about you to be true.
The key to being able to reject negativity and to not taking anything personally is to work on developing your self esteem.
Don’t make assumptions
Many misunderstandings and miscommunication often begin with assumptions being made. We must find the courage to reach out and ask questions and communicate with clarity instead.
Often assumptions are not backed up to be true and are simply ideas in your mind, and so when reality does not meet with your expectations then you become disappointed or feel rejected. By doing so, you are creating even more doubt for the future.
Assumptions can sometimes come from a place of ego (more on the dangers of operating from this place here).
We assume we know things so we don’t question it, but to be able to eliminate suffering, we must anticipate what we may not know and as humans we are always subjected to error and making mistakes.
We must adopt a level of humility when making decisions and taking action to avoid complacency.
Always do your best
If you do your absolute best in any given situation, then you can be free from future pain of regret.
Your best is subjective and will change in different times of your life, when you are sick or well, but in any circumstance, if you truly try your best then we can avoid self judgement and self abuse later on.
This is more about being at peace with yourself. Knowing that you did everything in your power with the best of intentions you will be able to lay your head on your pillow at night without suffering from the pain of regret.
Of course there will be times where we could have always done more, or done things differently, but understanding that we have control over the process and not the outcomes of situations, we are able to detach ourselves from suffering emotionally if the outcome is not how we anticipated or desired.
Personally I find this book to be a breath of fresh air. By trying our best to follow these four agreements, we are able to live a more fulfilled life without being a mental slave to the actions that are beyond our control.
Life can be very challenging and we never know what is going to happen in the next moment; the future is promised to no one.
It is therefore important that we take control of our emotions and have principles to live by to be able to help guide us to finding peace and happiness.