Saturday, April 24, 2010

The Four Agreements

Nothing other people do is because of you. It is because of themselves. - Don Miguel Ruiz, The Four Agreements
Lately—and especially in response to some of my more recent posts, several friends have recommended that I read The Four Agreements

The Four Agreements are:
  1. Be impeccable with your word
  2. Don’t take anything personally
  3. Don’t make assumptions
  4. Always do your best

I had actually tried reading it almost 10 years ago, when a friend gave it to me and said, “this seems like something you’d like”. I tried reading it then, but it just didn’t “take” at the time. I don't think I even made it past the second page.

Like just about everything else, the timing with this book has to be right.

Well, the time was right now.

I learned so much from this simple, easy book. While it's written in simple language and it's a fast read... I often found myself reading passages over and over again, to really let the lesson sink in. I have of course marked up my copy accordingly.

(Yes, I'm one of those.)

The agreement that hit me the hardest was number two: don’t take anything personally.

I’m the queen of taking everything personally!

You take [words/actions] personally because you agree with whatever was said. As soon as you agree, the poison goes through you, and you are trapped... What causes you to be trapped is what we call personal importance. Personal importance, or taking things personally, is the maximum expression of selfishness because we make the assumption that everything is about "me". We think we are responsible for everything. Me, me, me, always me! 

I read that at least six times, almost in tears, with a wave of indignance rising up—a lump in my throat that I could not swallow back down.

This is a curse of the relater… aka the people-pleaser. I want everyone around me to be happy and feel good, and I’ll sacrifice what I want for myself for the greater good of the group—so there will be harmony.

Harmony is key.

But… the flip side is that I also want everyone to like me. And I’m slowly realizing how selfish that is.

And that sucks.

I don’t want to be selfish!

How awful!

But, like any other eye-opening, knife-in-the-gut realization… now that I know—I can work on it.

I know it’s impossible for anyone to be as hard on me as I am on myself. It’s highly unlikely anyone judges me as much or as harshly as I judge myself.

I’m also learning that life is too damn short to be so critical and judgmental towards myself. My heart, soul, and my being are worth more than that!

The book was hugely impactful for me, and I immediately realized where I’d been faltering. And yet—I also know that in the circumstances, and at the time, I did my best, so I was able to let it go.

Letting go of all of yesterday’s failures—whether large or small, perceived or real—is altogether freeing and empowering. I feel free to be myself and get up again… and I feel empowered to do my very best with every moment of the day.

Today, I have only done what I want to do, and I’ve taken pleasure with every task—even the mundane tasks, like getting ready for the day.

And, it’s been an absolutely glorious day.

Today I have not been critical of myself.

Today I have been positive, smiling, and relaxed. I have listened before speaking.

I have paused.

I have breathed.

Today I have enjoyed this precious and precarious state of being called life.


I have done my best.


  1. As always, wonderful insight and resources (the book). I am quite guilty of #2 and #3 ... things I am constantly working on. It is hard for me to match what I know (knock on my head) with what I feel (that bottom of the elevator dropping out feeling).

    Keep on keeping on, LL. You are in my thoughts. ♥

  2. Beautiful post. I hope you continue to be easy with yourself, to not take things personally, to be content with doing what is truly your best.

    Lord knows I'm trying. ;)

  3. I have the 4 agreements in cards and give them to friends- love them

  4. This was such a beautiful, heartfelt post. Thank you so much for sharing it with all of us. *hugs*