It happens this way …
Two weeks ago, a Facebook friend posted a reference to the 1997 spiritual classic, The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom by Don Miguel Ruiz. I remember enjoying this book in the early 2000’s, so I was happy to see a renewed interest in its ancient wisdom. And, I’m happy to say, I found a copy on my bookshelf.
One of the more meaningful ideas early in the book is a familiar one: we all made mini- contracts with ourselves about ourselves based upon what other people told us was true. Ruiz calls these agreements the Book of Law. It contains the beliefs we adopted from the moment we were born to the moment we opened our computer this morning and brewed our first cup of coffee. To challenge these beliefs – or narratives – takes courage because, even though they are probably wrong, adhering to them makes us feel safe.
Consider this: By the time we were 12, most of us had been reprimanded 150,000 times. We went to school with its hundreds of quizzes, tests, report cards, and classmate critiques. Then, our working lives were filled with performance reviews. Now, if we live with a significant other … well, I won’t go there! In any event, that’s a long and complicated story-line we’ve lived with and believed in.
As Ruiz explains, ” … even if we know we didn’t choose all these beliefs, it is also true we agreed to all of them. The agreement is so strong that even if we understand the concept of it not being true, we feel the blame, the guilt, and the shame that occur if we go against the rules.”
Want to read that again?
Today my thought forward is to take a quick look at the four agreements over the next few weeks to see what wisdom they hold for us in 2019. What can they teach us that we haven’t already learned? Let’s give it a try.
This one couldn’t be more timely, no? Voltaire was correct when he said, There are some who use words only to disguise their thoughts. We could add, There are some who use words even when they don’t have thoughts. But that’s them not us!
As teachers, students, writers, parents, spouses, friends, family members, we’re surrounded by words every day. Lots of noise pollution! Perhaps you’ve seen that other Facebook post that asks that before we open our mouths, we ensure that our words are true, necessary, and kind. Can you imagine the blessed silence we’d experience if even a minority of people put their words through this test?
I get the “true” and “kind” part, but the “necessary”? Of course my words are impeccably necessary! Yet, do I have to counter every story I hear about another’s grief, success, struggles, travels, whatever with one of my own? Can’t I just let the spotlight stay on them and not move back to me? This is something I have to work on.
On the other hand, words are not just symbols and sounds. They are powerful energies that can lift others up or destroy them. In this age of social media where anyone with an opinion is an expert, those energies can throw kerosene on kindling or they can heal and uplift in miraculous ways.
But you know all this. So do I. Enough about words then. Actions are needed. I’m going to try to be more aware of the words coming out of my mouth this week to see how true, necessary, and kind they are. How “impeccable” are they? Ruiz defines this as taking responsibility for them without judging or blaming ourselves. That’s a fine definition. I’ll remember it when I hear the words I send out to the Universe. How about you?