The Four Agreements are a concept that the author Don Miguel Ruiz came up with and conceptualized in his bestselling book The Four Agreements. The book gained worldwide attention, and Oprah was one of the many celebrities who sang Ruiz’s praises.
The Four Agreements act as a guide to wake yourself up and embark on a journey to discover peace in an often chaotic world. The book seeks to help us stand up for ourselves, abandoning the shackles of outsider’s opinions, and learning to say “No” where it counts. It’s about stopping ourselves from living our lives for others in the name of love.
As Don Miguel Ruiz says in his book, “Whatever happens around you, don’t take it personally… Nothing other people do is because of you. It is because of themselves.”
This is just one of many insights from the book we can remember for our own benefit and our own sanity. What others do, whether it’s saying something offensive or doing something rude, it’s often because of their own self-hate that they act this way towards us, and we therefore shouldn’t take it personally.
The question that is likely on your mind is whether the Four Agreements actually work if we implement them into our own lives. With so many self-help books out there and numerous ways of learning to love yourself, can this method be all that different? The truth is that I have always dismissed self-help books as preachy and pompous, but the Four Agreements genuinely helped me see myself very differently.
This is a journey that I took alone, but it showed me how to grow as a person. The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz could be the perfect guide for you as well.
What is the Origin of the Four Agreements?
Ruiz was inspired by the ancient Toltec people, a Mesoamerican culture that once lived in Mexico – one that predates the Aztecs. They held a set of spiritual beliefs that allowed them to reinvent their lives and transform their mindsets – helping them better experience love, freedom, and true happiness. This concept and these beliefs are what make the Four Agreements.
What are the Four Agreements?
“I will no longer allow anyone to manipulate my mind and control my life in the name of love.” – Don Miguel Ruiz
Leading on from the spiritual origins of the concept, Ruiz states in his writing that everything we do in life is based on a series of agreements that we make with ourselves and others, sometimes even a deity or life itself. It is within these agreements that we tell ourselves who we are, the ways in which we are supposed to act and behave, and what is possible (or impossible) for us to achieve. These agreements form the foundations for our outlook and sense of self.
Some of the agreements we make are good, but many of them have a negative impact – whether we make them with ourselves or others. These negative agreements often have their origins in fear, and they can drain our emotional energy and destroy our sense of self-worth. In short, the wrong agreements are forms of self-limiting beliefs, and they create unnecessary suffering.
What Ruiz does in his book is propose a series of four agreements that we can make with ourselves for better well-being. These are positive agreements that have a beneficial impact on our lives, outlook, and overall well-being. Through this, we gain the power to live happier and more fulfilled lives without being affected by the external circumstances that surround us.
Below is a summary of the Four Agreements.
Agreement One: Be Impeccable with Your Word
The first agreement centers around the concept of thinking before you speak and choosing your words carefully. This isn’t just in regard to other people, but also the way you talk about yourself. The notion around being impeccable with language is that you hold yourself accountable for the words you use and their impact, and you do not judge yourself or others for the same.
Ruiz has often noted that this is both the most important and most difficult of the agreements. As someone who is very blunt by nature and often speaks without thinking first, I can absolutely agree with that.
Agreement Two: Don’t Take Anything Personally
“There is a huge amount of freedom that comes to you when you take nothing personally.” – Don Miguel Ruiz
Sometimes people are going to hurt us, and this is something we can’t escape in life. However, when we have a strong sense of self, we learn to stop relying on the opinion of others, we stop seeking external validation, and only look to ourselves for self-validation. It also helps us understand that every person has their own unique worldview, and it is their perspective that acts as a projection of their personal reality.
Through accepting this and learning to only seek validation from yourself, it is believed that feelings of jealousy, sadness, and anger can be eliminated from a person’s life (or at least significantly lessened). This is the power of self-validation, and something I have been trying to work on myself as outside perspectives have often deeply impacted me as someone with anxiety.
Agreement Three: Don’t Make Assumptions
You know what they say; you should never assume – it makes an ‘ass’ out of you and me. This agreement about never making assumptions focuses on how making assumptions does nothing good for anyone. The constant assumption of what other people are thinking, or assuming other people’s motives, does nothing but cause us to be struck by internal turmoil and conflict that weakens our confidence and sense of self. Not to mention, we often draw the wrong conclusions about others when we assume things instead of asking questions.
How do we resolve this? I have found Ruiz’s advice to be excellent – we communicate with others and have clear conversations where emotional expression ensures everyone comes to an equal understanding without the need for assumptions.
Remember that instead of making assumptions, you can ask questions, gain answers, and learn to accept without judgment.
Agreement Four: Always Do Your Best
This is the final of the four agreements, and it involves combining the previous three agreements so that we can start to reach our full potential. It’s all about making a promise to yourself – an ‘agreement’ with yourself – to do the best you can each day. Still knowing that it’s okay to have days where you might struggle to do this. We have to remember that every day is a fresh start, and so is our mindset.
If we do our best as much as we can, we can stop feeling like failures, avoid judging ourselves, and stop feeling regret. We can only ever do our best in life, and there’s not much more we can ask of ourselves. Through this, we can put an end to self-ridicule.
Do the Four Agreements Work?
Don Miguel Ruiz says, “Every human is an artist. The dream of your life is to make beautiful art.”
As someone who has always been skeptical of self-help and mindset media, I opened this book thinking it would be more of the same. Instead, I discovered a different way of looking at myself and the way in which I interact with others – the agreements that I make with myself and the world around me on a daily basis. For example, I never stopped to think about how often I assume without asking questions.
The Four Agreements definitely work if you take them seriously, and it is through them that I have been able to start shifting my mindset, the way I see myself, and how I interact in a healthier way with other people. This book teaches you to rely on yourself and your own sense of validation and worth and to not be influenced or manipulated by other people in the name of love (in any sense).
We all need to love ourselves better, be more confident in our own abilities, and we need healthier communication with others. With the assistance of the Four Agreements, we can start to make positive steps towards loving ourselves more and developing a sense of self-respect.
The Four Agreements could be essential to our sense of self-worth and the way in which we perceive ourselves and the people that surround us. We could learn to rely on ourselves for validation, to seek that praise and worth from within instead of seeking external sources for the same. This gives us strength and allows us to become confident individuals, even during periods of loneliness.
Getting to know yourself better is another great idea for fostering more self-love. When you use CircleDNA to take a DNA test, it can actually give you a great deal of insight into who you are as a person. It can show you if you are more prone to mental health struggles like anxiety, increased stress levels, or depression – all of which can have an impact on your sense of self. You’ll also learn about some of your genetic personality traits and behavior traits. Through the test, you can get a headstart on your journey to acceptance and self-love.
- About – The Four Agreements. The Four Agreements. Published December 14, 2022. Accessed February 23, 2023. https://www.thefouragreements.com/about/Cartwright M. Toltec Civilization. World History Encyclopedia. Published April 27, 2018. Accessed February 23, 2023. https://www.worldhistory.org/Toltec_Civilization/