When I started this blog, I made one promise to myself. Whenever I touched upon books related to self-help, motivation, spirituality, and the like, I would strive to be cautious and, as much as possible, objective. For two reasons. Firstly, because there are too many books in these fields, and a large number of them often amount to nothing more than smoke and mirrors or the recycling of already stated ideas. And secondly, because I am deeply involved in this material myself and I am genuinely trying to find which of these books truly make sense and can help people. That’s for starters.
From my modest experience, people struggle with understanding these books because they think they are instant solutions and that they must blindly adhere to what is written in them to change what they want. First off, these books are not an instant solution. They can (on occasion) lead to an “aha” moment and give you an idea of what to do with your life. And secondly, some rules and guidelines in these books are fine to modify if they yield positive results for you.
But, those are topics for other stories. Maybe we’ll touch on them someday.
Now, shall we return to the book, what do you say? 🙂
Don Miguel Ruiz’s “The Four Agreements” has been with us for a while now… about 20 years. 🙂 The book has been praised and criticized, supported, and disputed… well, maybe not so much the book itself as its author. From whether Don Miguel’s teachings are indeed teachings of the ancient Toltec civilization, to whether the Toltecs even existed. If you’re more interested in that, start your research. 🙂
And now, why, despite quite a few controversies, so many positive reviews on various websites? Is it possible that this 100-something-page book holds some answers?
My (truly) honest answer is… yes.
This is one of the few books in this genre that I would actually recommend others read. Really…
What’s the essence of this book, “The Four Agreements”? Well, it’s that we live in a kind of “planetary dream“, which is made up of rules, information. The rules tell us what to do, how to behave… And information is transmitted to us by other people. And imagine all this information as agreements you have signed with yourself. And congratulations! You are officially domesticated and living in an illusion. You have built a belief system. Over time, you have concluded more and more (negative) agreements with yourself (“I’m stupid”, “Nobody loves me”, “I can’t do it…”). And again “congratulations”! Now you are unhappy, existing on this planet dissatisfied with your life… and in the end, you die.
This belief system is your book of laws, and your internal judge and victim strictly behave in accordance with it. If you try to change something, your internal judge will criticize you for not behaving in accordance with the “Book of Law”, and the victim will whine even more “oh poor me, oh poor me…” And you don’t change, but (now) you feel even more miserable.
But, there is still hope…
According to Don Miguel Ruiz, there are four agreements that a person should definitely make with themselves.
- Use your word impeccably
- Take nothing personally
- Make no assumptions
- Always do your best
Sound familiar? Sound cliché? Sound simple on paper? The answers to all three questions are yes. But still, there is something in all of this, believe me…
I’ll try to express in a few sentences how I experienced these agreements.
1. The first agreement is simultaneously the most important and the most difficult.
Use your word impeccably.
Words have magical power. They can create love, and they can create war. What we say to others (and especially to ourselves) affects our lives, as well as the direction they will take. After reading this agreement, you will think twice before you want to say something negative to yourself and “beat yourself up.” Do not use words against yourself!
2. The second agreement is surprisingly very practical.
Take nothing personally.
The point is simple. If someone insults you, and you take it personally, you are actually agreeing with what was said, even if it’s not true! It’s like someone wants to inject poison into you, and you voluntarily allow it.
Also, the way people treat you may not have anything to do with you at all! People have made some agreements with themselves and therefore behave that way. When they try to be bad to you, they are actually dealing with themselves and their fears. Don’t swallow other people’s emotional garbage or the poison they send you!
3. The third agreement is perhaps the biggest challenge.
Make no assumptions.
We tend to constantly make assumptions and, what’s worse, believe they are true. We make assumptions about what others are doing, what they think of us… And the worst is when we misinterpret something and then immediately create a wrong assumption.
When we don’t understand something, we again make an assumption about what it should mean. And when we find out the real truth, then we get mad at ourselves for assuming incorrectly.
And why do we make assumptions? Because we lack the courage to ask questions and find out the truth. Communicate, don’t just make assumptions!
4. The fourth agreement is quite clear, except for one detail.
Always do your best.
If you try too little, you will be angry with yourself and feel guilty. If you go to the other extreme, you will spend too much energy and maybe the best outcome won’t turn out that well.
But, the essence is: whatever state you are in – do the best you can with what you have! And then you won’t have to blame yourself whatever the outcome.
What’s important to know is that old (bad) agreements are a kind of addiction, and you need to put strength into new (good) agreements to overcome the old ones. New agreements are like muscles… the more we exercise them, the stronger they will become.
Don Miguel Ruiz also touched on the ways of breaking old agreements. At first glance, they seem quite mystical, but are, in fact, practical and easily applicable with a little practice.
All in all, your old (bad) agreements are a kind of parasite. Declare war on them!
The essence is that, since we have already come to this planet, we have a choice. To just suffer and exist. Or to try to get the most out of life.
The booklet is small and reads quickly. Just one piece of advice: read it again, but more carefully.
I think this book is worth it. What about you?
Question for you: Are you also ready to break old, bad agreements?
(Originally reviewed: 08/05/2018)