The Four Agreements by Don Ruiz
excellent affirmations to live by
These are practical and simple agreements you make with yourself described in detail in Don Ruiz’s famous book The Four Agreements. And they have indeed, at least intermittently and partially, worked for me. By focusing your attention on four simple agreements Ruiz says you will start conquering the inner negative ‘tapes’ which are now running your life.
Ruiz’s four agreements are as follow:
1. Be impeccable with your word.
2. Don’t take anything personally.
3. Don’t make assumptions.
4. Always do your best.
1. Be impeccable with your word top
“Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.”
Since your spoken word is a physical, obvious, somewhat controllable action this is a great place to start controlling your thoughts and feelings. It’s applying William James’ “act as if” principle.
An expansion of the concept is to “be impeccable with your thoughts”. Why? Because what you think about comes about. Your thoughts are often just going to pop out so to be impeccable with them would involve (1) noticing them, then (2) focusing on another thought that is more worthy.
A good way to notice unworthy thoughts is to notice if you are feeling good or bad. If you are feeling bad then the thoughts you are thinking are unworthy. An indication of whether or not the replacing thought you come up with is more worthy is does it make you feel better.
You’ve heard the saying ‘count to 10 before speaking when you are angry.’ When I’ve noticed myself blurting out inappropriate underlying thoughts about a subject I sometimes try to count to 2 before saying anything at all on the subject. It’s a skill I haven’t mastered but sometimes works for me and is worth further practice.
2. Don’t take anything personally top
“Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering. ”
This is a great agreement to seriously consider when you are upset with others for any reason. I’ve used it successfully several times to reduce anger and embarrassment. The more you think about this agreement, before or after any specific situation, the more it seems to work. Such thoughts tend to help you respond appropriately the next time … rather than just automatically jump with no heed for consequences..
If there is something someone else is doing that is repeatedly getting you irritated or angry this agreement can also work. It tends to defuse your anger and can reduce automatic knee-jerk reactions that get you into trouble or at the least rile you up. E.g., This is good one to practice in the car while watching other drivers be obnoxious or crazy.
A corollary thought is that you are not ultimately responsible for the situation of others. They create their own lives with their own thoughts. Probably the best you can do for them is to be a good example of what is possible. You have no reason to feel guilty for the plights of others just as they have no reason to feel guilty about yours.
When you do do something ‘good’ for others you are really doing it for yourself rather than for them. A possible but poor reason is because it relieves feelings of guilt. A better reason is because giving opens the flow of abundance to and through you. I.e., God loves a cheerful giver.
3. Don’t make assumptions top
“Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness, and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life. ”
Note that you are responsible for both sides of a communication … for the sending and for the clear reception thereof. If the recipient did not understand you then the communication is not complete. Why are you responsible … because if there is miscommunication then you will pay the price for same and might as well not have bothered at all.
This agreement also applies to worrying about the future. Don’t assume and then worry about the worst that can happen. Take reasonable precautions, i.e., do your reasonable best to protect yourself, then forget about the future until another protective step can reasonably be taken. Besides actually making for a happier life in the worst case this approach will save tons of needless worry in many more likely cases.
4. Always do your best top
“Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse and regret. ”
This agreement has worked many times for me. Combining it with the realization that you couldn’t have foreseen the future helps too. If you did your reasonable best given your awareness and physical, mental, emotional limitations at the time then how can you reasonably blame yourself.
I’ve also found that it helps in very tough times such as when caring for a relative who is in serious physical condition. Or, when you are seriously sick yourself. In such situations there often is not a lot you can do about the facts of life but your best. If you do that then there should be no regrets. Think this through and you will see it is true which helps reduce regret and self-abuse.