Four Agreements - 1. Be Impeccable with Your Word
Updated: Apr 24, 2020
Breaking Down the 'Four Agreements' as they Pertain to my Life
As so many of us in this moment, I currently have had the time on my hands to re-evaluate aspects of my life that have not been working for me. A continuation of the work I have been doing since I stopped drinking. These are the chinks in my armour, the cracks in my foundation, the crosses that I bear. Diving deeper into aspects that I didn’t necessarily see or acknowledge before. Programs & behaviours I was living unconsciously by on a day to day basis. Shadow work, as they say.
Diving head first into the messy world of personal evolution is pretty much like diving into a sea full of hungry sharks - You think you’re going to die, that this is going to kill you. But then, miraculously, after much kicking & screaming, treading water, going under & making it back up for air, you, or I should say “I” have become the shark, and I fight for every inch of this life I am able to.
One of the most recent books I have read on really beginning to peel back the layers of conditioned shit many of us have grown up with throughout most of our lives is “The Four Agreements” by don Miguel Ruiz. It’s a very simple breakdown of four tools for transformation aimed at helping us break free of judgments & stories, lies & shame, programs & other peoples perceptions of ourselves, to a much more balanced, harmonized, creative, loving life. You may have heard of these Agreements in some other context before, I have. But listing them together under the umbrella of ‘The Four Agreements” really just spoke to me as a guide through life. So much so that I felt compelled to write these four posts dedicated to each of the Agreements, and how I interpret their meaning with regards to my life experiences. And share with you my struggles and triumphs within them in hopes you may perhaps one day align with these Agreements too.
Be Impeccable with your Word
Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the work to speak againsts yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth & love.
It is said we are lied to up to 200 times/day, the average person lying up to 26 times/day. Let that sink in for a sec. Do you know how many lies you tell in a day? Even ‘white lies’? I have a challenge for you - do it. Count how many times you catch yourself in a white lie, or straight out lie for that matter. Holy shit was this ever an eye opener for me. Fabricating ‘little white lies’ can happen for many reasons; My ego is running the show (I don’t want to look bad in front of others, I want others to view me a certain way, I’m afraid of being judged, I feel as though I am right, I want to be in control, I don’t want this person to leave me, etc), I don’t want someone to feel bad, I don’t want to feel bad, to get out of trouble or not cause it in the first place, etc. Example - I wrote an Instagram post the other week about my Daily Routines during self-isolation. As I began to write it out, I found myself ballooning these daily activities, ones I wasn’t even coming close to doing myself on a daily basis. But I wanted to ‘look good’. For what? For who? Certainly not for me. It just felt gross, and so out of integrity. So I took a step back, scrapped the list, and started again from a place of truth. The more I practice this, the more I can sense the instant I am not being truthful with myself, when I am living out of integrity and it’s an awful place to be. Just knowing I am lying purposefully makes me feel as though I'm chewing and swallowing a big pile of burning shit. I want to throw it up and get it out of my system as fast as possible, but my mind won’t allow for that - I have to sit with the feeling in my body until I’m ready to look past the ego and come into my truth.
This Agreement also speaks to how you use your words. Over-exaggeration is one faculty. “I’m starving.” "I'm going fucking crazy." "My headache is killing me." "It's impossible to finish this." Now, you think, ‘what’s so bad about exaggerating once in a while?’ (How about my "burning pile of shit' comment, although not totally false). First, I highly doubt we exaggerate once in a while, that would be an exaggeration in itself. Second, these exaggerations or specific use of words can actually lead to harm. Example - A woman in my Yoga Training was having a brutal time at work leading into the Christmas holidays. Office gossip, negative energy, passing the buck, back stabbing - all these weak & poisonous energies kept swirling around her office. One day, she had enough and told herself she ‘didn’t want to hear this shit anymore.’ She purposefully decided to zone out the white noise in her office. Problem was, her brain didn’t associate when she was at work and when she wasn’t and she began to lose her hearing all together - not making the association that telling herself she didn’t want ‘to hear’ would be taken so literally. It’s important to remember that our brain listens to not only everything we say externally, but everything we say internally as well. I’m certainly just waking up to becoming more aware of the power words can have. I have begun to drop many of the exaggerations once familiar to these lips. The next steps after becoming aware of what I’m saying & thinking is using my words to share positive thoughts & energy, and ultimately love. Baby steps. (And in case you’re wondering, the swearing stays put, for now..)
The above also ties into gossiping about yourself and others. My childhood best friend and I met in swim club when we were just maybe 5 or 6. She and I also went to the same elementary school together. We were inseparable until another girl came into the mix when we were about 7 or 8. In my experience growing up, ‘threes’ in friendships never ended up very well. Shortly thereafter, I remember we started pinning ourselves against each other. Two of us would talk shit about the other, bonding ourselves together over the misery of the other, just thankful it wasn’t us. Until it was. This merry-go-round happened for a long while, until this third person went to another school a couple of years later. Did we mean to hurt each other? No, we were just kids at the beginning stages of development and trying to fit into our tribe. Needless to say, our friendship never really repaired itself, the hurt still lingering for me like a light layer of fog - enough to see it’s there, not enough to deal with in the moment. But in hindsight, it would have been best to do that as it completely affected other relationships I have with women up to this day. Feeling as though someone is talking about another just to gain some points and leverage within the friendship. Which generally speaking, isn't the case. It’s just a story I make up in my head to protect myself and keep the walls up so I don’t truly have to put myself out there in relashionship. Problem with that is, I haven't allowed for anyone to really get to know me, and that has put a MAJOR halt on building solid foundations of friendships or even relationships. Which ties into my next point.
If lie and/or not speak my truth in relationship with someone, I’m manipulating the situation, whether I am conscious of it or not. I am not allowing the person I am communicating with to step into their own conclusions, their own opinions, their own response to what I have to communicate, to my truth. I have taken that away from them because of my own control issues, because of the protective barrier I have built around myself. This has been a monstrously sad pattern that I have just recently become aware of. Without meaning to, I have been manipulating relationships for years - probably decades. Yet, I’m so grateful to be aware of this now so I can begin to make reparations, and start to break down the walls of rugged rock I have fabricated around me. I felt for the longest time that if I spoke my truth in relationship, that person would leave me - a massive fear of abandonment. But the only person I have been abandoning is myself. Punch to the gut (exaggeration, but not far from the truth).
That sums up where I’m currently living in the First Agreement. In my next blog post, I will speak to my relationship with the Second Agreement - Don't Take Anything Personally.