Newvine Growing Book Club: The Four Agreements are simple but challenging

Don Miguel Ruiz‘s slim little book, “The Four Agreements,” offers four simple pieces of life advice:

  1. Be impeccable with your word — say only what you mean and be careful the power of your words
  2. Don’t take anything personally — the way others behave is more about them than about you
  3. Don’t make assumptions — it’s easy to misunderstand when you don’t have all the facts
  4. Always do your best — you might not be perfect but give it your all and be proud of that

Pretty straight forward — but for me, a continual challenge.

I have spent years taking things personally, perhaps because I have made assumptions.

When someone behaves a certain way toward me, it’s easy to assume it’s because of something I’ve done or something I haven’t done. I have beaten myself up for being imperfect enough to cause them to act that way toward me.

I’ve assumed it’s about me.

Yes, I do want to be a better person and help develop strong, healthy relationships where the people in my life treat me well. BUT sometimes the way people act is about them, not about me.

If I’m doing my best and you’re grumpy with me, maybe you had a bad night’s sleep or a fight with your spouse and it has nothing to do with me. Maybe you’re focused on your own needs and not on mine.

Even if you’re grumpy with me because I laugh too loud, imposed on you or am otherwise annoying to you, well, I’m focusing on doing my best but that doesn’t mean everyone is going to like me. That’s not personal as much as a fact of life that we don’t all like each other equally.

So I’m reminding myself frequently about The Four Agreements — doing my best to follow them and consciously saying I will continue to improve. I’m asking for more information when I need it, and giving people room to behave as they behave, without assuming it’s about me.

Have you read The Four Agreements? Have you put any or all of the agreements into practice in your life?

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Categories: career, creativity, lifestyle

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2 replies

  1. Love this book. Referenced it indirectly from my “things I’ve learned” list (what other people say and do is about them, not you…)

  2. It’s been a long time since I read this book but thanks to this I’m going to pull it out again. I originally read it to improve personal relationships, but I like the idea of applying it to professional ones as well. As a relatively new manager of people I’ve been looking for tools to help me improve the “softer” skills – which by the way are always the hardest to work on!

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