The four agreements support personal change. We can can replace unhealthy thoughts with healthy thoughts. In short, this book could be a primer for cognitive-behavioral therapy.
Children do not know any better than to agree with the adult realities into which they are indoctrinated. Children do not argue with the meanings of words or grammar as they are learning language. If our parents tell us we are smart, we believe them. If they tell us we are stupid we believe them.
As we mature we can consider new agreements.
1. Be impeccable with your word.
In a sense, social constructionists are correct about words creating reality. We act on what we tell ourselves is real. Albert Ellis encouraged us to screen our self-talk for negative, irrational chatter. So, what kinds of words to you use when you describe reality? Do you lie and say hurtful and poisonous things about yourself and others? Not healthy! To be impeccable with your word is to be truthful and to say things that have a positive influence on yourself and others.
2. Don’t take anything personally.
The first agreement suggests that we avoid treating others hurtfully. The second agreement provides us with a way of dealing with potentially hurtful treatment from others. Because each person sees the world in a unique way, the way that others treat us says as much about them as it does about us. To not take anything personally is to acknowledge the unique identities of other people. We respect their subjective realities, realizing that their views do not necessarily describe us accurately.
3. Don’t make assumptions.
Assuming that you know what other people are thinking or feeling about you is a limiting thought that Aaron Beck called Mind Reading. Obviously, none of us can read minds. When we try to engage in mind reading we will often be wrong, leading to undesirable consequences. The antidote to mind reading is to ask for evidence before concluding what people are thinking.
4. Always do your best.
One obvious reason for doing your best is that we cannot achieve our goals by being lazy. If you do your best, not only are you are more likely to achieve goals, but you will also avoid criticism from what Ruiz calls your internal Judge. There are also more subtle issues about doing “your best.” One is that you should not try to do better than your best. Pushing yourself too hard can cause pain, injury, and mistakes. More subtle still is the recognition that our “best” will vary from moment to moment, that, in a sense, you are always doing your best.
The Four Agreements, Don Miguel
More from the author of, “Don, Tell us the Four Agreements.”
Number one is to be impeccable with your word, which means that you never are going to use the word against yourself. You never go against yourself.
The second agreement is: Don’t take anything personally. If you don’t take anything personally, you will not be offended wherever you go. Because the truth is that whatever people do or don’t do, it is not because of you.
Number three is don’t make assumptions because the way we learn to dream the dream is based on assumptions. That is how we create all those big dramas. By not creating assumptions, we avoid all those lies– we recover part of our integrity.
And the most important agreement is: Always do your best. For sure, you always can do your best. And your best changes all the time– when you are sick or tired, your best is different than when you are awake and fresh. But by always doing your best, your are always going to be content with yourself.
You have the power to make the choice. And magic begins to happen in your life. This is the mastery of life. This is the path to personal freedom.