The Four Agreements – Escape Your Living Hell
29 March 2019
Book Category: Self-Help
Is your life a living hell? Regardless of whether it is, you need to read The Four Agreements.
Ben Laing from Ben’s Business Book Club kindly sent me a copy of The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz for being the top engaged member of his club. I’m glad he did. It turns out this is the exact book I needed at this time in my life. Read on to find out why and how it can help you too.
Have you ever felt so stuck in your own mind you couldn’t get out? Has it been hard for you to get up in the morning because you didn’t feel like getting out of bed? Have you ever felt unmotivated to go to work? There’s a reason for that.
I was feeling all these things and more. It felt like I was stuck but I knew better than to feel like this and I knew I could get out of the rut I was in because of the handy tools called books. I just needed a little push in the right direction and that’s what this book gave me.
It’s one of the simplest and most actionable books you’ve ever read. Some points are even so obvious I thought to myself why I hadn’t applied these tips in my life earlier. The answer to this is because (as the book calls it) I had been ‘dreaming the dream of the planet’ rather than my own dream.
In this review of The Four Agreements, I’ll summarize the four agreements and give you examples of how this book has changed my life and how it can change yours too.
The Four Agreements: Everyone is Domesticated
The dream of the planet includes all of society’s rules, its beliefs, its laws, its religions, its different cultures and ways to be, its governments, schools, social events, and holidays.
The way society works from the day we’re born until the day we die trains us to be like everyone else. Primarily domestication teaches us to fear everything from what clothes you’re going to wear to what your boss thinks of you. Ruiz even says at one point we autodomesticate ourselves.
The adults around you give you everything, feed you everything and tell you everything and as you don’t know any better you believe and trust these adults. What they say, what society tells you becomes part of your belief or agreements.
Our parents and teachers punish or reward us depending on our behavior and actions. Fear punishes us and rewards make us happy. But soon both become an addiction. Society makes us fear getting punished as well as not getting a reward. So we start pretending to be someone we aren’t just to avoid punishment and receive rewards.
When we become adults the planet dream of suffering and living hell seems normal to us. People always argue, fight, gossip, get mad and just plain don’t understand each other. This also includes putting yourself down. Telling yourself you’re no good because you failed your exam or you didn’t meet your goal. You didn’t get into the university your parents wanted you to go to. Well, guess what? The world moves on whether you fail or succeed. Fear blinds us. Misunderstanding blinds us. Our own mind blinds us.
If we make an agreement with ourselves to eradicate the fear and negativity in our minds, bodies, and lives then our life will be beautiful. Below are the four agreements you need to incorporate in order to live in heaven rather than hell.
The Four Agreements: Be Impeccable With Your Word
Being impeccable is not going against yourself. When you are impeccable, you take responsibility for your actions, but you do not judge or blame yourself.
Words are powerful. Wars have been started by words alone. Wars in your own mind are the most common war there is. That’s why being impeccable with your word is the most important agreement you must make with yourself.
Words can make you happy but can also make you sad or angry. The words you tell yourself also can affect you in a positive or negative way. Therefore thoughts are also considered words. When you tell yourself you’re stupid over and over you begin to believe it. Same goes for when other people call you stupid over and over. When you completely believe those words it starts to become a part of you. It becomes an agreement.
These agreements become very hard to break. For example, last year I met someone who I thought was a friend. We got along very well especially when we talked about self-development and business ideas. We built up trust with each other. But then he started putting me down by saying, not in these exact words, ‘Your skill isn’t good enough to help other people develop themselves.’ ‘Your videos are boring.’ ‘What you’re doing right now is going to get old quick.’ These are just a few examples of the words that hurt me, and as I repeated them in my head it started to become an agreement. I believed them.
It has taken me a while to break this agreement and I can feel myself fighting it. I’m still working on breaking this agreement, telling myself over and over that I am good enough to help people, my videos aren’t borning, and I’m going to continue adapting to make my content fresh and exciting. As you can see from my example words can be poisonous to your mind. If you want to read more about the story between my old friend and I click here.
Tips to help you get rid of poisonous agreements
- Never talk badly about yourself or other people.
- Only put positive thoughts in your mind.
- Only do positive actions towards yourself and others.
- Never gossip about others.
- Never think, feel, or say you’re better than anyone else. We’re all human.
These tips all seem obvious but you’d be surprised on how many times a day you break them. What helps me to uphold this agreement is to repeat ‘I am impeccable with my word. I will think positively about myself and others around me and will not gossip. I will always say and do positive things. Everything else negative will be shut out of my mind and life.’
The Four Agreements: Don’t Take Anything Personally
When you take things personally, then you feel offended, and your reaction is to defend your beliefs and create conflicts. You make something big out of something so small. because you have the need to be right and make everybody else wrong. You also try hard by giving them your own opinions. Whatever you feel and do is just a projection of your own dream and agreements. What you say, what you do, and the opinions you have are according to the agreements you have made with yourself.
This section of The Four Agreements helped me out the most because it made me realize how much I was depending on the opinions of others. It also made me realize how offended and defensive I got about what other people said about me. I realize now that I was mistaken and that not taking things personally will help me to achieve any goal I want to no matter what others may think about it.
Everyone has their own opinions, so let them, but don’t let THEM control you. It’s okay to listen to someone who is genuinely trying to help you but never trust anyone fully because if people are lying to themselves then how could you possibly trust them not to lie to you. The most important thing is that you know who you are, then you base what the person is saying on who you truly are. But always remember never to take things personally.
When knowing who you are you completely love yourself. Not in a selfish way. This love of yourself will project from you in everything you think, say and do (Be impeccable with your word). So when someone says you’re stupid or even when someone praises you because you performed well you won’t take it personally because you know who you are and you love yourself.
A Thousand Voices
Even the opinions you have about yourself may not be true therefore you don’t even need to take the voices (thoughts) you hear inside your head personally. Now here I am talking about voices inside your head. This doesn’t mean you or I am crazy. You’ve probably experienced this yourself at least a dozen times in your life where the voice inside your head was going from one thought to the next. This article about ‘thought-chatter’ explains it best.
One way to deal with those voices is to meditate, another way is to listen to them and take whatever we feel is worthy of taking. We can consider the voices coming into your mind as the subconscious speaking to you. We can also consider these messages as someone sending them to us from a different realm. I say it so casually but whatever you believe these voices may be just make sure not to take them personally as well.
Make It A Habit
In order for the lessons of this book to affect your life, you must make ALL four of the agreements part of your daily habit. Making the agreements a habit is especially difficult after years of being hypnotized by society. What has worked for me is to repeat the agreements after I wake up, in the middle of the day and in the evening. The results have had a very positive effect on my life. I’d recommend reading The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg to learn more about how to create a solid habit.
The Four Agreements: Don’t Make Assumptions
When you think about it for a second you’ll realize that you make assumptions all the time. The problem with making assumptions is you don’t really know if your assumption is correct. Then you might end up jumping to conclusions too fast. That can cause many problems you could have easily avoided by not making assumptions.
What the book suggests is to ask questions. Do not feel shy about asking people questions. If you don’t know the answer or want to clarify something with your friend, boss or even stranger then just ask the person. If the person you’re asking thinks it’s a stupid question that’s not your fault. So don’t take it personally (The second agreement). It doesn’t matter whether other people think. The agreements play off each other very well. Each one needs the other in order to live a completely peaceful life.
Also when speaking to people make sure you are clear enough in your explanation that the other person doesn’t make assumptions about you. But even then, if the person does make an assumption that is completely out of your control and you shouldn’t take it personally.
The Four Agreements: Always Do Your Best
It makes sense to always do your best. Nothing more. Nothing less. If you initially think this agreement sounds very easy and obvious try implementing in your daily life first before you make an assumption. It’s harder than you think, but not that hard if you consciously remind yourself to always do your best.
Always do your best and nothing less
You know that if you don’t perform as well as you know you can you feel guilty about it and beat yourself up for it. You will be blaming yourself for not trying harder to meet your own and other people’s expectations of you.
The antidote for this feeling is to always do your best.
Always do your best and nothing more
Your best will always be different from day to day. If you only got five hours of sleep your best may not be as good as if you get eight. If you’ve got the flu or a fever your best will definitely not be as good as when you’re at your 100%. I know you want to get as much work done as you possibly can but there is no sense in working so much that you sacrifice your mental and physical health for it. In the long run, working beyond your limit will make you less productive which is the exact opposite of what you set out to do in the first place. By always doing your best you’re planning for the long haul or as several entrepreneurs might say you’re not running a sprint, you’re running a marathon.
So please remember when you do your best it really IS your best and you know it. You can truly feel it deep down. If you end up trying to go beyond your best you end up stressing out, or even worse, burning out.
All the other agreements can’t be accomplished without this one. If you always do your best you will be impeccable with your word, never take things personally, and never make assumptions. The four agreements are interconnected but not always used at the same time. Nonetheless, they are all essential to be able to get out of your living hell and into the peaceful life you’ve always dreamed of living.
The Four Agreements: A Personal Note
This is more than just a review I wanted to put up on my website and share to all social media channels. The teachings in this book truly mean a lot to me because of how my life has changed after reading it. A huge weight has been lifted off my mind and has freed me from the dream of the world. I am now living my own dream where I always am impeccable with my word, don’t take things personally, don’t make assumptions and most importantly always do my best. I encourage you to learn how to live your life freely by using the four agreements. Pick this book up now.