In his best-selling book, Don Miguel Ruiz discusses some basic self-limiting beliefs that tend to deprive us of joy and may create high levels of anxiety and unnecessary suffering. In working with many adults, adolescents and couples in a therapeutic setting, I believe The Four Agreements proposes an insightful and powerful new way to help us change our lives and experience all levels of relationships in a new, healthier manner. One of the most impactful themes of the book deals with the idea that we all have a choice in how to react when faced with stressful or difficult situations. Ruiz stresses the idea that personal happiness and peace can come to those that are no longer reliant on other’s opinions, perceptions or approval.
In The Four Agreements, Ruiz encourages readers to follow these 4 rules:
Be Impeccable with Your Word. Speak only with integrity. Say only what you mean. We act on what we tell ourselves is real. Being impeccable with your word asks that you are truthful and to say only things that will have a positive influence on yourself and others.
Don’t Take Anything Personally. In the first agreement, Ruiz focuses on the idea of treating other with respect. The second agreement helps the reader to deal with potentially hurtful information from others. He further explains that what others say and do is a projection of their own reality as well as their own dream. People tend to see the world through their own lens and we must learn to respect these realities even when do not match our own.
Don’t Make Assumptions. It requires a great deal of courage to ask questions and to express what you really want or need in all situations when things seem confusing or misleading. Making assumptions of others thoughts and behaviors will often lead to disappointment and sadness when trying to have authentic relationships.
Always Do Your Best. Your best is going to change from day to day depending on what you may be experiencing at that moment. However, when you are able to simply do your best, you will have a much better chance of avoiding self-judgment, disappointment and regret.
In discussing this book with many of my clients, I have found an openness to its simplistic and straight forward style. Many have mentioned the experience of feeling more compassionate and less judgmental when faced with challenging interpersonal situations. They have often referred to this feeling as an awakening or a new way for our mind view assumptions, have emotional reactions and to slow down the need to make self judgements. It is often through these types of uncomfortable realization that our awareness is challenged and forced to grow.
(A Toltec Wisdom Book)