Have you ever read The Four Agreements? I did, a long time ago, and had kind of forgotten about it until author Suzanne Brockmann mentioned it during her talk at the Georgia Romance Writers meeting back in March. I own the book, so I made a mental note to pull it off the shelf and re-read it, then forgot all about it again until a long-distance friend brought it up a couple of weeks ago while we were on the phone. So in between snatches of We Are Not Alone and To Kill A Mockingbird and at least six other books I have going concurrently, today I cracked the cover of The Four Agreements.
In this book, shaman and healer Don Miguel Ruiz shares wisdom passed down from his Toltec ancestors. The four agreements are these:
- Be impeccable with your word.
- Don't take anything personally.
- Don't make assumptions.
- Always do your best.
Now, when I saw the phrase "Be impeccable with your word," I assumed it was referring to the importance of always telling the truth. But there's more to it than that; this actually has more to do with the way we use words to talk about others or ourselves. The things we say are powerful, and can have very long-lasting effects. I wish I had a nickel for every time I called myself stupid or lazy or fat or ugly or a failure or any one of a thousand other terrible names I would never call anyone else; I would be a millionaire many times over. Sadly, much of this self-perception is based on words that others have used against me. My piano students do the same thing; just this afternoon I had an eight year old boy tell me he isn't any good at the piano and a teenage girl tell me how stupid she is. It was heartbreaking.
This definitely dovetails with my blog post from yesterday and I think this is just another way we all keep ourselves down - with our words. Name calling is abusive and negative self-talk is counterproductive; I am going to call myself on it just as I forbid it in my piano students. From now on, only positive messages are allowed inside these four walls.
Needless to say, I am looking forward to digging into the rest of the book. But I am going to take my time and give this lesson some time to digest before I move on.
Are you guilty of being less than impeccable with your word? How do you overcome the habits of a lifetime? Have you ever read The Four Agreements? If so, what was the most powerful lesson you learned from it?