A couple of weeks back I read a book by Miguel Ruiz, The Four Agreements A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom
The book was certainly interesting to me as I finished it in one day. A very easy read and a helpful guide to those looking for new perspectives. The book holds insights and believes from the Toltec (American Indians in Mexico before the Aztecs). However, many psychologists and behavioral therapists have similar concepts as the Toltecs once did.
To start, the book poses the argument that we are indoctrinated by society, by our parents and leaders. Ruiz explains how we are all born without any “agreements” (preconceptions), perfectly loving, playful and genuine. However, our parents and leaders, impose leanings and conditions that we as children follow. In this idea, it’s implied that we quickly learn standards of behavior in order to be rewarded or punished. As those standards are learned they become “agreements”, unconscious sets of instructions that guide us in situations and limit our views. Image this, we are trained by our parents, teachers and other members of society, based on their beliefs, on their standards. and what they have learned from their ancestors. Even when we are all different, we have something in common, and that is that we are limiting ourselves to live by standards imposed to us.
The learned standards of right or wrong, the consequence of being rewarded or punished, is something that follows us through our life. Every time we reminisce on a mistake or a poor decision we’re punishing ourselves. Why? Reminiscing on bad moments triggers negative thoughts and emotions, unconsciously making you suffer. On the other hand, celebrating or remembering success or good moments is a way of unconscious self-reward.
You may be thinking so what’s the big deal? There’s always good and bad, there are a yin and yang to everything. The problem is that when it comes down to your mind, thoughts and unconscious agreements, self-punishment, and negativeness take precedence. Your brain is equipment and wired to quickly spot wrong doings and negative circumstances for self-preservation. In other words, what mostly stuck to us from our childhood are those “bad” standards that we consistently respect in order to avoid punishment; but mistakes and failures are inevitable, therefore, self-punishment becomes the almost habit.That’s why the key to freedom is to replace old beliefs with new ones and break all unconscious… Click To Tweet
That’s why the key to freedom is to replace old beliefs with new ones and break all unconscious agreements by implementing new 4 agreements:
Be Impeccable With Your Word
You see we act on what we say. People tend to believe or respond with actions or unconscious agreements to our words. The words you choose to use can build or destroy the people around you. For example, if your dad said you were smart and pretty, you would feel great and you may actually believe it. But what happens if you dad called you stupid? What happens is that your unconscious retains that information and lowers your self-esteem. So, from now on speak positive, choose your words carefully when providing feedback and be constructive, not destructive. Also, remember that everyone’s perspective is different and therefore their agreements are different. You may say something that to you is not hurtful, but to others may be simply because of their views and established “agreements”.
Don’t take anything personally
So remember that the first agreement is about choosing your words wisely to avoid hurting people. This second agreement helps you to protect yourself from getting hurt by others. Each person is a unique world, full of “agreements” and perspectives. What people in your life do or say is not towards you, is only based on what they have been taught, so never take anything personally. When you don’t take things personally you create a type of immunity to suffering. You can truly become immune to what other people say or do, by knowing that these actions or words have very little to do with you. As Ruiz explains “If you keep this agreement, you can travel around the world with your heart completely open and no one can hurt you”.
Avoid Making Assumptions
No one has a crystal ball to really know what people think or how people are. We have a sense, but we cannot be certain. Asking for certainty or evidence before implying or assuming is key to having strong relationships. You truly need to make a conscious effort to cut the habit of making assumptions and labeling everything you see and experience. Quieting the mind chatter helps to break free from assumptions. With practice as your mind jumps to conclusions you are able to spot it and correct its behavior. Some man say is “women” like to pretend men should know how they (girls) feel or think in a specific situation. Men really can’t know or should assume. So, ask questions, clarify and communicate clearly to avoid misunderstandings or assumptions on the other side.
Always do Your Best
You’ll never feel remorse if you try your best. See how your standards changed all the sudden? Whether you’re talking about life, goals, or relationships be and do your best. There’s no universal measure, everyone’s best is different because everyone is unique. Pushing yourself too hard will burn you out, and doing too little will give you remorse, therefore doing your best should be your new standard. “Your best” will change every day and over time, based on your mood and how you’ve evolved. But keep in mind that doing your best will give you immense happiness, the feeling of being the best you can push you to live with intensity and purpose every moment of your life.
“The Land of the Free” is what we call the United State of America. We have a concept of freedom based on what society and politics have to offer. But are we really free? The true idea of freedom as Ruiz seeks to highlight is “being who we really are”. The only way for you to be who you really are is by breaking free from all preconceptions.
Live by these 4 agreements and you’ll see a huge change in your life. First, you won’t feel remorse if you are and do your best. Secondly, you’ll be happier and alleviate your suffering, as you are less likely to get hurt by those around you because you’ll know that their words and actions have nothing to do with you, and more to do with their personal “agreements”. Third, choosing your words wisely will make you stand by them and live them, helping you to change negative habits for positive ones. It’s not an easy path, it will take time, but it is certainly worth it. You owe it to yourself to have your own set of perspectives and live happier.