In 1997, don Miguel Ruiz published a little 138-page book called The Four Agreements. I think the first time I heard about it was during an interview Oprah Winfrey was doing with Ellen DeGeneres, and DeGeneres was talking about what an eye-opening book it was for her. I’d see and pass by that book in stores for a couple more years, but eventually, I bought it. I read it in a single session, and I remember feeling like my brain was literally expanding with every word. Ruiz wrote so simply and clearly about big ideas. His point was that if we live our lives according to these four agreements, we can free ourselves of a lot of pain, heartache, and misery.
The Four Agreements are Be Impeccable with Your Word, Don’t Take Anything Personally, Don’t Make Assumptions, and Always Do Your Best. These seem pretty self-explanatory, but his in-depth commentary on each one brings clarity and food-for-thought. For me, the one with the biggest impact, the one that I have tried to keep in the forefront of my head and heart for the past 20 years is Don’t Take Anything Personally.
Ruiz basically says that anytime someone says or does something that produces in you a feeling of inferiority or defensiveness it’s because you’re taking it personally and agreeing with them. For example, if someone tells you you’re stupid (which is NOT being impeccable with their word), and you feel like shit about it, you have just swallowed their poison. Swallowing other people’s poison makes you more likely spew it back out, and then we’re in a disgusting cycle of abuse that nobody benefits from. If you can remember that whatever other people do is a result of the dream that THEY are living, it will help you to take whatever they do or say less personally. Don’t swallow their poison.
This is not always an easy thing to do, and Ruiz does not for a minute pretend that it is. I mean, he wrote a book about these things, so he gets that. But he does suggest that you can practice these agreements to the point that you’ll be functioning in your own dream with integrity and peace. And who couldn’t use a little more of those things in their life?
If you haven’t already, I highly recommend getting yourself a copy and treating yourself to this quick but enlightening book. If you’re open to it, it can be a game-changer.