What I'm Reading: The Four Agreements
The first time I read “The Four Agreements” was a few years ago. I don’t remember exactly when I picked it up or why but given the general time frame, I was most likely searching for some kind of wisdom or knowledge - searching for some answers. I’m discovering as of late that there are occasions which you go searching for answers and are not where you should be to receive them. Think of it like when you tell someone to meet you at a certain spot and when they don’t show up in the exact moment you expected them to, you wander off and then they show up at the designated spot and they go off looking for you and it continues. Granted, these instances are fewer now that we have cell phones but for those that recall the home phone struggle, you know. Anyway, I’m sure the reason Don Miguel Ruiz’s book didn’t resonate as much with me before as it has in a second reading and heaving highlighting. Seriously, the number of Post-Its in this thing.
The Four Agreements are:
- Be Impeccable with Your Word
- Don’t Take Anything Personally
- Don’t Make Assumptions
- Always Do Your Best
Upon reading that list, you might think “That sounds easy enough. What’s the big deal?” The big deal is that so much of what we are taught from the time we are little kids goes against these agreements. It’s not any one individual’s fault; we cannot solely blame our parents or grandparents because it’s what they were taught, too. Because those beliefs/agreements means what is or is not taken from this book is entirely dependent on the individual and where they are in their lives, I want to avoid going into detail about what each of the chapters on these individual agreements. Instead, I want to go over a couple points what really stood out to me.
When discussing the Second Agreement, Ruiz says “You create an entire picture or movie in your mind, and in that picture you are the director, you are the producer, you are the main actor or actress… It is your movie (p. 52).” In most movies and literary works, the first person or third person omniscient narrative perspective is the method of storytelling used and typically focuses only on one or a small handful of characters but we still have a field of view based on the story that the writer is trying to tell. In life, that field of view is how we see the world based on our agreements, what we believe to be true about ourselves and others and every day is the sequel of our own personal movie - another episode in a series about your life. If you’re unhappy with what you see, then you have to write a different scene, a different sequence, a different act. By all means, literally write it down if you want to. Think of this as scripting which is a powerful Law of Attraction practice. There are links down below to two of my favorite YouTubers’ videos on scripting but I want to give you a personal (accidental) example:
In a screenplay I started over a year ago, my main character experiences a panic attack after forgetting whether or not she turned off the stove after boiling water to use for a French press coffee maker. When asked by her younger sister why she wouldn’t just use the electric coffee maker with an automatic shut-off, the main character confesses she does not know how to use it, much to her sister’s surprise.
Apart from the panic attack that preceded the main character’s panic attack, this interaction actually happened between my sister and me months after I wrote the scenario down on paper and later transferred it to Final Draft. In the moments after this occurred in my reality, my train of thought came to a screeching halt in amazement. There have been other instances but we’ll stick to the one for this purpose because I wrote that with no intention behind it. Imagine if you put that kind of power behind what you put down. “The word is the most powerful tool you have as a human; it is the tool of magic.” When we write and when we read to ourselves or aloud, we are referring to little more than lines on a page but they have the power to create worlds and the power destroy them or ourselves. “...tell yourself who you are, what you feel, what you believe, and how to behave (p. 21).”
Another aspect of this book that I have a greater appreciation for after reading it again is that it encourages us to ask questions not only outwardly to others as to avoid making assumptions but also inwardly to ourselves about what we believe to be true and why. If experience has taught us what we believe is true, it reinforces our belief system or “Book of Law” and if our experience contradicts that, we make a new agreement. But first, we have to be aware of what those agreements are. “With awareness you can rebel… You can look for a way to heal and transform your personal dream (p. 99).” I am glad that I am reaching greater levels of self-awareness for myself that I don’t beat myself up over asking what I might have considered as stupid questions before. Instead, I am constantly taking inventory of the limiting beliefs that come up for me throughout the day and asking myself why I believe them. In recognizing those beliefs, I can face and replace them with ones that better serve me. It isn’t an easy undertaking but, I do my best.
Have you ever read “The Four Agreements”? Which of the four do you find to be most important or useful in your life? Let me know in the comments below.