The Four Agreements

By Don Miguel Ruiz

The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz, offers us some words of wisdom to help us understand why we are the way we are and gives us guidance on how to break free from the conditioning and programming that has dominated the way we have been living our lives, and create our own path based on a new set of values of our own design.

The person that we have become is based on programming and conditioning that began before we were even born and continued through our childhood and into our adulthood. That programming is continually reinforced daily via our friends, family, society, social media, mainstream media, and even the government.

These rules that we are programmed to follow and the self-judgements that it leads to are all part of what Ruiz calls - The Domestication of Humans.

The First Agreement: Be Impeccable With Your Word
Our word is the power we have to create. Through our word we express our creative power.

The human mind is like a fertile ground where seeds (opinions, ideas, and concepts) are continually being planted. You plant a seed, a thought, and it grows. The word is like a seed, and the human mind is so fertile! The only problem is that too often it is fertile for the seeds of fear.

To be impeccable with our word, we must realize that when we gossip, we are not respecting the absent, and that our opinions are just our points of view and are not necessarily true. When we catch ourselves gossiping about someone or try to force our opinions on someone else, we need to ask ourselves why we are doing this. Most often the answer will not justify the reason why.

The Second Agreement: Don’t Take Anything Personally
Nothing others do is because of you, it is a projection of their own reality. When we are immune to the opinions and actions of others, we won’t be the victims of needless suffering.

Personal importance, or taking things personally, is the maximum expression of selfishness because we make the assumption that everything is about “me.”

The whole world can gossip about you and if you don’t take it personally you are immune. You are never responsible for the actions of others; you are only responsible for you.

The Third Agreement: Don’t Make Assumptions
We only see what we want to see, and hear what we want to hear. We don’t perceive things the way they are. Because we don’t understand something, we make assumptions about the meaning.

It is very interesting how the human mind works. We have the need to justify everything, to explain and understand everything, in order to feel safe.

We make the assumption that everyone sees life the way we do. We assume that others think the way we think, feel the way we feel, judge the way we judge, and abuse the way we abuse.

The way to keep yourself from making assumptions is to ask questions. Make sure communication is clear. If you don’t understand, have the courage to ask.

The Fourth Agreement: Always Do Your Best
Under any circumstance, simply do your best and you will avoid self-judgement, self-abuse, and regret.

When you always do your best, you take action. Doing your best is taking action because you love it, not because you are expecting a reward. Action is about living fully. Inaction is the way we deny life.

Don’t expect that you will always be impeccable with your word. Your routine habits are too strong and firmly rooted in your mind. But you can do your best. Don’t expect that you will never take anything personally; just do your best. Don’t expect that you will never make another assumption, but you can certainly do your best.

If you break an agreement, begin again tomorrow, and again the next day.

My Take Away
These are some difficult ideas to process, believe in, and ultimately model our lives over. We have made many mistakes in life and we will continue to do so. And even if we fully adopt the four agreements as the framework on which we will model our lives, we will make mistakes with them as well. But it is the fourth agreement that will allow us to stay the course.

When we make a mistake, even a big one, we just need to ask ourselves if we did our best. If we didn’t, then that gives us something to work on, and if we did, then we make the necessary apology, rectify the mistake as best we can, accept ourselves for being a flawed human, and then move onward. That’s all we can do.

Remember - Focusing on the past leads to guilt, focusing on the future leads to worry, but focusing on the present is living.

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