The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz is a book that’s had a profound impact upon the way I view myself and everyone I encounter. It’s about adopting a code of conduct that results in a deeper sense of happiness and well-being.
Early in life, we adopt beliefs about ourselves and the world, based on what we’re taught. Those beliefs form a “Book of Law” that becomes our inner Judge, judging everyone and everything in our lives—including ourselves. Without a conscious awareness of this presence, we can allow this Judge to make us feel guilt and shame for no good reason.
It takes courage to challenge the rules and beliefs you've embraced your whole life because they’re so familiar. And you risk activating the Judge in others if you deviate from behaviors they've come to expect from you.
The book recommends adopting four “agreements” that empower you to break away from beliefs that don’t serve you well.
Incorporating these four patterns can eliminate the drama in your life—both the drama you create within yourself and the drama you allow others to create by the way you react to them.
1st Agreement – Be Impeccable with Your Word
When I first read this one, I thought, I've got this covered. I consider myself a person of high integrity and I tell the truth.
But there’s much more to this agreement…
Being impeccable includes being “without sin” in the way you treat yourself. Blaming and judging yourself are forms of self-rejection, so it’s important to avoid using “your word” against yourself. How much energy do you dedicate to loving yourself?
I have to admit, I've had to make a conscious effort to keep my inner critic from running rampant. It’s always been easier for me to dwell on how I fell short, what I did or didn't do well, instead of treating myself in a loving way and giving myself credit for the positive things I did.
Another aspect of this agreement is what we say to others and about others. Do you convey respect and kindness in your interactions with loved ones and strangers alike?
When you allow your Judge to criticize others – whether verbally or just in your own mind – you create a negative ripple effect. What can you do to inject more positive energy into conversations?
2nd Agreement – Don’t Take Anything Personally
You take things personally when you interpret a person’s words or actions as being about you. Most often, their reaction is about where they are at that moment.
If you’re like me, you may find that you’re most sensitive to others’ words when you’re experiencing self-doubts. It’s easy to take offense and jump into defending your actions or trying to prove you're right.
By adopting this agreement, you avoid unnecessary suffering and angst. You avoid being hurt by what others say or do. You trust your ability to sort through what’s said and make responsible choices going forward.
3rd Agreement – Don’t Make Assumptions
The problem with making assumptions is that we often believe our assumptions are true without verifying their accuracy.
We tend to expect others to see things the way we do, and we experience all kinds of negative emotions like frustration, anger and resentment when they don’t.
The solution is to have the courage to ask questions when you’re not absolutely clear what someone else meant in what they said or did.
And be ready to ask for what you want. Others cannot read your mind, even though you might wish they would. Never assume that they should know!
4th Agreement – Always Do Your Best
This last agreement is what allows you to make the first three deeply ingrained habits, because it’s about taking action.
If you consistently put forth your best effort – whatever that may be at a given moment in time – you silence that inner Judge. There’s no opportunity for guilt, blame or regret because you know you gave it your best shot.
When you do your best because you want to do it – just for the pleasure you get from doing it – you’ll find that you experience genuine happiness.
And accept that you won’t be perfect in implementing the first three agreements. But if you consistently do your best to apply each one, eventually your old habits will grow weaker and the new habits will dominate your thinking and behavior.
As I read this book, I realized that our ProStar Coach system exactly aligns with the Four Agreements. Its purpose is to give people the resources to become stronger for the challenges they’ll face with the first three. And its structure provides the perfect set-up for taking action and practicing in order to make the behavior an ingrained habit.
“If you do your best always, over and over again, you will become a master of transformation. Practice makes the master…Action is what makes the difference.”
- Don Miguel Ruiz