photo by madhava
Our agreements with ourselves determine how we behave, what we believe is possible and impossible. We have many agreements with ourselves, the only problem is many of these agreements go against us. Self-limiting beliefs rob us of our freedom. We can blame the state of our lives on others, society, or our environment, but we will never be free unless we take responsibility for own freedom.
The agreements you’ve made with yourself can either be an elevator or a cage. Our doubts and fears are not true in themselves. Our deepest beliefs about ourselves and the nature of our world are not true in themselves, but our thinking makes them true in our experience. We can change our thinking and change even our deepest core beliefs.
In the book The Four Agreements, Don Miguel Ruiz offers four simple suggestions to change the agreements we have with ourselves, and recover our personal freedom.
1. Be impeccable with your word.
What does impeccable mean? It means to be without sin (no I don’t mean not committing adultery or coveting your neighbor’s bmw). If you look up the root of sin, you’ll find that it means “to go against.” Being impeccable with our word means we don’t use our word against ourselves. If we don’t like what someone else has to say, we can walk away. But if we don’t like what we have to say to ourselves, we can’t walk away. Doesn’t it make more sense to use our word to go with ourselves, instead of against us? Just with this first agreement alone, we can transform our relationship with ourselves.
2. Don’t take anything personally.
We all have a feeling of “personal importance.” We think that when others do something, it has to do with us. In reality, others actions are based on their own internal world. When we realize that nothing others do has anything to do with us, we become immune to their words and actions. Even if someone shot you in the head, it was nothing personal. It had nothing to do with you, it was because of their own beliefs and fears.
3. Don’t make assumptions.
How many times we do we get upset at our loved ones or friends when they do something that offends us. We think “they should have known.” The truth is, no one knows the contents of our minds. When we make assumptions, we create a whole lot of unnecessary drama. Instead we can ask questions, and have the courage to tell others how we feel. If you’re not sure of how another person feels, ask them. If we have the courage to ask others questions and be open with our feelings, we can save a lot ourselves a lot of pain and suffering.
4. Always do your best.
Realize that your best will be different depending on different circumstances. When you’re healthy your best will be better than when you’re sick. Whatever your situation, always do your best. The first three agreements are about changing your agreements with yourself. The fourth agreement is about putting them into action. If you always do your best, you can free yourself from the judge and the victim in your mind. Even if you fail, you’ll know at least you did your best.
Learning From Great Teachers
Whether they knew it or not, many great thinkers and teachers followed these agreements to some degree. Thomas Edison proclaimed “Hell, there are no rules here– we’re trying to accomplish something.” He knew that if there were too many rules, their creativity would be limited.
Gandhi was a master of not taking things personally. He knew that if he responded with violence, he would only promote more violence. He was able to see that their oppression was the result of their own beliefs, their own agreements.
When I think of someone who didn’t make assumptions, Jesus Christ immediately comes to mind. He didn’t judge others for their actions, he had the courage to ask questions and clarify his beliefs.
Albert Einstein knew that if he failed, there was simply another incorrect possibility eliminated. He could have easily become frustrated and given up. But he used the power of his word to go with himself.
Returning to Uncommon Sense
Most of these agreements might seem like common sense at first glance. But they are entirely the opposite. They are uncommon sense. When I first read this book, I thought “My god, how could I have not realized this before?” It’s so deceptively simple.
Implementing these agreements into your life, on the other hand takes hard work. Make the agreement to practice them just today. The more we practice these agreements, the more we’ll regain our personal freedom. We’ll unclutter our inner world save ourselves a lot of drama. Not only with ourselves, but with others as well.
By practicing these agreements, we can chip away at all the self-defeating beliefs we’ve created within us. We can recover our personal freedom.
Have you been practicing these agreements without knowing it? What are some of the agreements or beliefs you’ve changed that have helped you recover your personal freedom? Share with us in the comments. =)
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