06 Nov The Four Agreements – Don Miguel Ruiz
I was first recommended this book five years ago and, as a self-help book lover, I was thrilled to get
my hands on this wonderful gem of a book. This book is based on ancient Toltec wisdom and offers a
practical guide to personal freedom.
The book is broken into four agreements and there is a chapter on each. The book is a mere 160
pages and with much appreciated large script now that my eyes are starting to belie my age! It is
easily read in an afternoon but would have more resonance if digested over a longer period. It has
been on the New York Times bestseller list for over eight years and has over 6 million copies sold in
the US alone. So, it might be worth a read!
The Four Agreements begins with “Be Impeccable with your Word” and this was the most difficult
one for me and was a major factor in the long delay in this review! I am a very honest and open
person and sometimes that doesn’t always allow for 100% impeccability!! However, as I put my
resistance aside, I learnt that being impeccable with my word does encourage honesty, with myself
and others, but also to always remain proud of my words. This chapter challenged me to look at the
messages I tell myself and in doing so to be kinder to myself. This change in how I speak to myself
then also filtered to how I speak to those around me. “If you make an agreement with yourself to be
impeccable with your word, just with that intention, the truth will manifest through you and clean all
the emotional poison that exists within you”.
The second agreement is “Don’t take anything personally”. This agreement was easier for me to
come on board with as, working as a (Cognitive Behaviour Therapy) CBT therapist, I often encourage
this in my clients and myself. “Nothing other people do is because of you. It is because of
themselves”. That person who took your parking space, the person who never offers thanks to you,
that person who chooses to always see the worst in you? Any of this sound familiar? Now, think
about it – what if not one of these actions is anything to do with you. Sure, you may be in the firing
line, you may be in their way on that day, but their disrespect, rudeness and unkindness are nothing
to do with you, it is just them showing themselves up. They may be having a bad day, so in line with
the first agreement, wish them well, or maybe that’s too much of an ask. Either way, try to not
personalise their behaviour – it is nothing to do with you or me. How freeing is that?!
The third agreement (and the book is nearly done at this stage) is “Don’t make assumptions”.
Another principle central to CBT is to challenge the truths we tell ourselves. We build our life on
facts that we operate from. These facts are often true but are also, just as often, our interpretation
of events. These interpretations are quickly accepted as facts and decisions that we make, feelings
that we have that are not positive for us are often borne out of these “facts” (assumptions) which
are not in fact true! Imagine that we do that to ourselves repeatedly? Tell ourselves lies (or at the
very least not accurately true facts) that are painful for us and make us feel unhappy within
ourselves. No-one is doing this to us, just us. “All the sadness and drama you have lived in your life
was rooted in making assumptions and taking things personally”. The biggest challenge to this? Be
courageous enough to question. Question that which you believe to be true. “Once you hear the
answer, you will not have to make assumptions because you will know the truth”.
And so, we come to the final agreement, my favourite, “Always do your best”. A small critique of this
book would be that I feel this agreement would be better placed as the first agreement. Personally,
if I knew reading chapter 1 (reminder – be impeccable with your word) that I only was ever being
asked to do my best with it, it might have lessened my resistance! This agreement recognises the
fallibility of the human spirit – we will all make mistakes every day. However, if we carry with us
these four agreements and the intention to do our best in executing them, we are on our way to
personal freedom. “If you do your best in the search for personal freedom, in the search for self-
love, you will discover that it’s just a matter of time before you find what you are looking for”.
I adore this book. It is remarkably beautiful in its simplicity and its message of kindness and
empowerment. It is a book I am constantly referring to and, daily, I find inspiration within. A must
for any other spiritual souls but also, I feel, a gift to anyone looking for contentment within.
Next book*: The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*!k – Sarah Knight
*I’m not putting a timeline on this one! I’ve learnt my lesson! It will be up when it’s done ��