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“I loved the book so much, I ordered a Hindi translation for my mother.”
That’s what my book blogger friend told me when he recommended Don Miguel Ruiz’s The Four Agreements. As an avid reader, I’ve been asked to read several books. But this came with so much conviction, I was intrigued.
Maybe that’s why I immediately ordered myself a copy. I was skeptical at first because I’m not really a fan of self-help books. But this one hit me on another level. So much, that I decided to put together an article compiling the four most important lessons I learned from this book. Read on for some amazing insights that will make you wish you’d known them earlier.
Are We All Victims of Our Past?
Ruiz brings up the term Human Domestication, which means that we’ve been taught to think and behave in a certain way since childhood. As young kids, our good deeds were rewarded and mistakes punished. We’ve spent so much time surrounded by this mentality that we've internalized this method. It’s now become second nature to reward ourselves with a break or a cheat meal when we accomplish something and punish ourselves when we fail to live up to our expectations.
Humans are the only animals that suffer from the same mistake more than once. We keep reminding ourselves of every time we fucked up and punish ourselves by feeling sad. In a way, our society is based on punishments.
How to get over it
Accept the fact that humans are imperfect creatures. Don’t hold yourself and others to impossible standards. Don’t judge anyone based on your idea of perfection.
Drop that image of always doing the right thing. This will teach you to accept yourself as you are. Only then you can accept others as they are. Be ready to break your old habits that set your life in agony. To do that, you need to learn the following four agreements.
Humans are the only animals that suffer from the same mistake more than once.
Lesson One: Be Impeccable With Your Words
Words are a powerful tool They reflect who you are and what you think. Recognize the kind of power words possess and use them carefully.
We often carry all the demeaning remarks people told us as a child — you’re not thin enough, not smart enough, not deserving enough. We internalize these hurtful words so much, we accept we aren’t good enough.
To break free from this self-imposed trap, learn to be responsible for your behavior without the need to condemn yourself. Accept yourself as you are and make decisions based on love.
Choose your words carefully. Don’t lie to yourself or blame others. Don’t breed hatred. Forgive people for acting as they do. Use your words to spread love. Lift yourself and others up. Stay away from gossip and be generous with compliments. This will unlock the doors to success, abundance, and personal freedom.
Be responsible for your behavior without the need to condemn yourself.
Lesson Two: Don’t Take Anything Personally
If a person doesn’t know you, what they said reflects on them and not you. Taking things personally means you assume everything is about you. In truth, people say what they want to say based on their own opinions, beliefs, and feelings. It rarely has anything to do with you.
If you take hurtful words said by others personally — it means you’re giving them the power to make you feel sad. When you stop accepting someone else’s power, you let yourself out of the trap.
You become immune to bitterness.
If you like to abuse yourself, it makes it easier for others to abuse you too. Don’t expect people to be honest with you because they aren’t honest with themselves. Trust yourself and make a choice whether to trust other people.
Never think you’re responsible for other people’s actions. You are responsible for yours. Think of it as a gift when someone walks out of your life. Don’t let rejections bother you.
When you stop accepting someone else’s power, you let yourself out of the trap.
Lesson Three: Don’t Make Assumptions
Asking questions is always better than assuming. When you make assumptions, you tend to get disappointed when your assumptions aren’t satisfied.
We make assumptions because we’re obsessed with making sense of everything. We reject ourselves before we get rejected by others.
A way to get out of this trap is to be truthful about the things you really want. Make your agreements with other people perfectly clear. Clear communication transforms relationships in a positive way.
This isn’t easy as most people aren’t aware of the habits they have. But with time and mindful practice, this can definitely be incorporated into your life.
We reject ourselves before we get rejected by others.
Lesson Four: Always Do Your Best
Your finest performance may not be always the best. How the audience perceives your work doesn’t depend upon you. Things change — their mood, the time of the day, their energy level, etc. All these are factors beyond your control.
What you can do is put your best foot forward. Just don’t stop working.
It doesn’t matter if your performance is not excellent. This isn’t reason enough to judge yourself — especially if you always give your best. That’s something you must ensure. Never settle for anything less.
Focus on the process. If you put your heart in it, the accolades will come.
We keep reminding ourselves of every time we fucked up and punish ourselves by feeling sad. In a way, our society is based on punishments.
While most of the lessons in this book might sound like common knowledge, if you practice even half of them, you’ll become an infinitely better and happier person. You’ll attract the right kind of people, achieve success in your field of choice, and truly understand what peace of mind is.
Remember: be careful with your words, don’t take everything personally, don’t reject yourself before others do, and always do your best.
Lastly, acknowledge that you’re not here on this planet to constantly suffer. You’re here to be happy. Embrace that. Love yourself.
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