Self-Awareness 101 Episode 11: The Four Agreements
In this episode Willard discusses "The Four Agreements" by Don Miguel Ruiz. Imagine what life could be like if everyone lived by these four simple ideas: 1) Be impeccable with your word. 2) Never assume 3) Don't take things personally and 4) Always do your best.
Several years ago I was invited to lead a book discussion group by the manager at a local Barnes and Noble's. One of the first books that we discussed was "The Four Agreements" by Don Miguel Ruiz. I loved being involved in that book discussion group because when you have a group of people sharing their perceptions of the same topic, you become aware of perceptions that you never would have if not for another person's point of view.
After reading and discussing this book, I choose to take the four agreements and integrate them into my life as a tool for daily living. And I believe as I share with you the simplicity and power of these four agreements, you may yourself see how it could dramatically impact your own life, and even the world if we all applied these in our day to day interactions.
The first of the four agreements is to be impeccable with your word. When you say something, mean it. Not only with your commitment to others but with your word to yourself. So often we agree to things, or say we will do things with no real intention of following through. Whether you plan on dieting, whether you plan on exercising, when you commit to anything be impeccable with your word.
Being impeccable with your word also means being honest. As a friend of mine, Gary King shares in his program The Power Of Truth, "There is no such thing as an inconsequential lie." When we speak, do it honestly. Being impeccable with your word is also about being totally open in what you want to share with people, not being ambiguous. Be clear, and take away the potential for misrepresenting yourself. Being impeccable with your word is knowing that communication, that level of honesty and that level of commitment to follow through on your word, is so valuable.
The second commitment is to not take things personally. Now that can be a little tough in the beginning because we've all had experience where someone says something to us, maybe they even yell at us. We've all had those experiences where someone says something that really knocks us off guard and we're thinking, "What the heck did I do?" We can choose to take that personally, but let me turn that around and ask you, have you ever lashed out at someone when they really weren't the person you were angry at? Something to think about.
When we stop taking things personally and realize that the issue more than likely has nothing to do with us, then we're actually able to listen to what the other person is saying and work on healing that communication, rather than inflaming it by becoming defensive.
The third agreement is to never assume. Think about this for a moment, we never have all of the information that we need to make a correct assumption. We have one perception, and a very limited perception at that. There's an old saying that when you assume you make a ..(@!#).. out of you and me. Our assumptions are usually way off base because we simply haven't gotten all the facts. So instead of assuming, why not ask questions that get you the more information and help you to see the full picture? By not assuming and asking questions you can actually be involved in communication rather than confusion.
The fourth agreement is to always do your best. People who know me, know that I have a very strong aversion to the word "try". I say that because I believe that "try" is an excuse to fail. That when you say that you will "try" you don't really have to apply yourself to doing anything. When you say that you will "try" you're you've avoided making any kind of commitment to follow through on. But when you always commit to doing your best, that's when you begin setting a standard for yourself. You're committing that you will give 100 percent, no matter what. You may not succeed, you may make mistakes, you may fail; but you're going to give everything you've got to following through.
Now, when you tie those four agreements together it becomes a very powerful way of living your life. Take a moment and think about what kind of person you would be by applying them.
The first one, be impeccable to your word, to others and to yourself.
The second is to not take things personally. This will allow you to free yourself from the judgment of being accepted or rejected.
The third is to never assume, but actually gather the information, gather the facts.
And the fourth is to always do your best. It's an amazing feeling to go to bed at the end of the day, knowing that you could not have done any better than what you did.
I invite you right now to journal, or make some entries into the computer and list each of the agreements.
List all four, and then next to each one ask yourself ... and be honest about it, ask yourself, "Where can I improve?"
Where can you improve in regards to the commitments you make? Can you improve holding yourself accountable in those commitments? Can you improve the level of honesty in your communication?
Maybe you can think of specific relationships where you do tend to take things personally. Maybe its with your spouse, maybe its with a parent, maybe its with your boss where in your communication with them you often take things personally. Maybe by recognizing this you can distance yourself the next time it happens and say to yourself, "You know what... whatever is wrong with them more than likely... does not really have to deal with me."
Ask yourself where are some situations where you can stop assuming and get more proactive in gaining the information you need to make communication more fruitful and less combative.
And ask yourself, where can you honestly raise your standards on doing your best, rather than just trying?
I look forward to hearing how you apply what we've shared in this episode. I look forward to your feedback and I definitely look forward to hearing back from you soon.
Have a great day.
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Self-Awareness 101 Series with Transcription Plus
Introduction To Self-Awareness 101: To Inspire, Educate and Empower
SA 101 Episode 1: The Importance of Developing Self-Awareness
SA 101 Episode 2: How to Truly Learn from Mistakes
SA 101 Episode 3: To Soar, I Needed To Let Go Of The Past
SA 101 Episode 4: The Meaning That We Give Things
SA 101 Episode 5: Kind Words And Good Deeds Are Eternal
SA 101 Episode 6: Life Begins At The End Of Your Comfort Zone
SA 101 Episode 7: Two Most Powerful Words You'll Ever Say
SA 101 Episode 8: Making Time For What's Truly Important
SA 101 Episode 9: Expectations and Desires About How It Ought To Be
SA 101 Episode 10: Tap Into The Sources Of The Universe
SA 101 Episode 11: The Four Agreements
SA 101 Episode 12: Courage-Being Scared But Saddling Up Anyways
SA 101 Episode 13: The Power Of Belief Systems
SA 101 Episode 14: Change Is Inevitable, Growth Is Optional
SA 101 Episode 15: Establishing Personal Boundaries; It's OK To Say No
SA 101 Episode 16: Encountering External Resistance To Change
SA 101 Episode 17: Creating A Supportive Environment
SA 101 Episode 18: Our Decisions Determine Who We Become
SA 101 Episode 19: Personal Development Tests
SA 101 Episode 20: A List Of Excuses Vs. Results
SA 101 Episode 21: The Meaning Of Honesty
SA 101 Episode 22: Living In Gratitude
SA 101 Episode 23: Repetitive Patterns
SA 101 Episode 24: Non-Verbal Cues
SA 101 Episode 25: Be Brave Enough To Accept The Help Of Others
SA 101 Episode 26: Positive Thoughts And Positive Intentions
SA 101 Episode 27: Active Listening Skills
SA 101 Episode 28: How Self-Awareness Relates To Spirituality
SA 101 Episode 29: Positive Affirmations
SA 101 Episode 30: Basic Meditation Exercises
SA 101 Episode 31: Personal Development At Work
SA 101 Episode 32: Toxic Shame
SA 101 Episode 33: Eliminating Clutter
SA 101 Episode 34: How To Forgive Others
SA 101 Episode 35: Self-Forgiveness
SA 101 Episode 36: Deepening Self-Awareness
SA 101 Episode 37: What Is Fear?
SA 101 Episode 38: How To Overcome Fear
SA 101 Episode 39: Dealing With Your Anger
SA 101 Episode 40: How To Find Your Passion
SA 101 Episode 41: Increasing Your Self-Awareness
SA 101 Episode 42: How To Feel Deserving
SA 101 Episode 43: How To Be A Humble Observer
SA 101 Episode 44: Progress Not Perfection
SA 101 Episode 45: Expectations And Perfectionism
SA 101 Episode 46: Dealing With Anger
SA 101 Episode 47: Taking Responsibility For Yourself
SA 101 Episode 48: Achieving Higher Consciousness
SA 101 Episode 49: Trust Life
SA 101 Episode 50: Being Skeptical
SA 101 Episode 51: Benefits Of Closure
SA 101 Episode 52: The Final Episode