The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz is one of my favorite books. It’s an easy read, you can open it up at any page to gain valuable information and it can be read repeatedly, you will discover many new gems by which to live. If you haven’t read it yet, stop everything and go get it.
Trust me. For those that have read this poignant book, you know what I am talking about. This book taught me how to change my perspective from negative to positive within many aspects of my life. Don Miguel Ruiz breaks down each agreement/lesson in 4 parts and fills them with insight and inspiration. His second agreement, “Don’t take anything personally” made such a huge impact on my interpersonal relationships. “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.” I didn’t realize the narcissism involved in the false belief that someone else’s words or actions had anything to do with me. I was creating such drama in my own head that didn’t even exist. For instance, becoming hurt when a discussion suddenly turned heated with name calling, blaming and projections. The agreement emphasizes that in order to avoid hurt feelings, we must stop letting those negative words penetrate our psyche. This happens when we can recognize that the person losing all rationale may have a completely different life experiences that is most likely unrelated to the present situation and has nothing to do with you. Understanding this perspective can enable you to listen without getting involved, hurt or heated. Their insults toward you are just that, their insults, not yours to hold on to and believe. That really helped me to stop and pause in an argument rather than react and add heat to the fire.
Compassion and empathy are much more useful in these types of confrontations. There’s a term used in mental health called “the window of tolerance” that can be applied to acrimonious interactions. It describes the time frame in which a person can think and reason clearly, as well as staying calm and stress-free. We all need to recognize our own “window of tolerance” during an interaction. When one person starts to personalize the other’s comments, it’s best just to walk away and continue at a later time.
The other “agreement” that Don Miguel Ruiz so eloquently illustrates is that we should “not make assumptions.” Again, getting caught up in our past stories or insecurities can create havoc on our daily lives. Therefore, I cannot stress enough the importance of this book to self-love and self-worth! When we are riddled with insecurities, “the human mind creates a lot of chaos which causes us to misinterpret everything and misunderstand everything.” My achilles tendon, aka insecurity, used to be related to friendships and a lack of inclusion. Learning that friends would get together without inviting me would trigger my feelings of unworthiness and lack of self-love. Questions like, why I wasn’t invited or thoughts that I am no fun would riddle my mind until I could calm down my inner critic. I knew in my head that these were irrational thoughts that only created unnecessary turmoil. After I read this book, I was able to realize that people’s actions have nothing to do with me and unless I clearly communicate my needs to others, there is potential for disappointment and sadness.
Most often than not, the story we create in our heads has no basis in reality and often lead to feelings of shame and embarrassment for entertaining those negative thoughts in the first place.
Assumptions are dangerous and need to be avoided at all costs. Communicate, ask questions, and for the love of yourself, don’t personalize other people’s actions.
For the purposes of not spoiling the whole book for you, I will end this blog by merely stating that The Four Agreements will create a space in your life to let go of unwanted self-doubt and needless distress.
Here’s the love…
Reading this book will only add to your self love and worth. It will provide you tangible daily tools to help you become the best version of yourself. And…if you think you already are the best version of yourself, read it anyway!