Some years ago my shrink recommended a book called, The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. Talk about a challenging self-help book. The 4 agreements are for us to learn, know and practice to help us not to suffer in vain. All suffering is not necessary.
The first agreement is to be impeccable with your word. I believe that is hard for most of us. Not saying things against ourselves, not just in an audible voice but to ourselves. Beating ourselves up over shame and mistakes shouldn’t have any room in our lives. And when we tell someone something, speak with integrity and follow through with your word. I find a lot of wishy-washy people, especially in business.
The second agreement is not to take anything personally. This one is the biggest challenge for me. I have to repeat the lesson that not everyone thinks like me, believes like me, has a heart like me and what they do has nothing to do with me. If they pick chocolate and I expect them to pick vanilla, that’s on me for having the expectation and taking it personally. Nothing anybody does is because of you. It all has to do with them. I find the childhood wounds and past traumas come up to the mic and speak when we take things personally.
The third agreement is don’t make assumptions. Again if I assume you are going to pick vanilla and you pick chocolate, I assumed it. It may be because that has been your pattern for 20 years. It may be because I didn’t ask you. Asking questions always will get you clarification if the other side tells you the truth. Lack of communication is the foundation of misunderstandings, miscommunication that can lead to drama and lots of mixed emotions.
This last one is my favorite. It’s the one I’m currently embracing and hugging daily. Always do your best. Our best changes daily. Sometimes it changes hour to hour or minute to minute depending on what’s happening in our lives. My best looks like a rollercoaster at Six Flags. Some days I’m doing great with lots of energy and feel like I’m 20. Some days I’m tired, pushing myself, and feeling all of a 1/2 century old. All I know is I’m doing my best both days and it’s not for me to judge or speak against myself or anyone else to judge it or speak against it.
I highly recommend this book. I’ve had to go back to it several times and remind myself that these are the four agreements that will keep me from suffering needlessly.