Miguel Ruiz - The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom
(A Toltec Wisdom Book)
(Amber-Allen Publishing, 1997)
I read The Four Agreements at the suggestion of my amazing counselor/therapist, Rhea, in 2009. The power and simplicity of Miguel Ruiz's explanation of toltec wisdom grabbed me right away.
The four agreements are:
1/ Be impeccable with your word,
2/ Don't take anything personally,
3/ Don't make assumptions, and
4/ Always do your best.
These simple truths spoke to me. I found that when I did not make assumptions, I could no longer live in my head. Not making assumptions meant I had to ask questions and find out what others were thinking, what they intended and not simply interpret their actions, or lack of action, in a way that aligned with how I wanted to see another or how I wanted my relationship with another person to be.
I discovered that 90% of how other people act and what they do is based on that person - not on me. Imagine that, I am not the center of the universe; I do not control other people's actions. This is a very good thing. I can barely figure-out what I should do, what is best for me and my life, let alone making these decisions for others!
I need to respect other people's autonomy and be confident enough in who I am to allow other's to make their own choices even when I do not like those choices, even when those choices create a separation between me and another.
Not taking things personally when it came to losing my marriage was a very important lesson. By not taking the failure of my marriage personally, I was able to walk away from the feelings of worthlessness instead of being consumed by my faulty interpretation of these painful feelings. By not taking things personally I reasoned that my ex husband's actions did not mean that I was not worthy, that I did not deserve - it was about him, not me. While his choices still hurt me, they did not diminish my worth and this was a key aspect of my ability to move forward and move away from the part of me that wanted to die alongside the love that I once shared with him.
I read The Four Agreements a few times and I picked up additional copies, giving them away to my cousin, to a friend, and to anyone that I thought may identify and benefit from Miguel Ruiz's writing and insight. I also read The Fifth Agreement when it came out in paperback in 2011. I enjoyed it as well but having encountered The Four Agreements first, I found the original more compelling - probably because of the novelty of the ideas and information.
I wrote the four agreements on a large card and stuck it to my bathroom mirror. I remind myself every day to be impeccable with my words, not to take things personally, and not to make assumptions as well as letting go of my self-judgment by telling myself that I am doing the best that I can (stop beating myself up about past mistakes or unmet expectations). On some days I feel like I don't do enough but I no longer come down on myself so hard and I try to remember to focus on what I do have instead of what I don't have, what I wanted, or what I lost.
Pictures on this page were taken while traveling in Turkey (Nov 2009)