So much is wrong in the world of 2020. How do I even begin to make a difference? I have faced this question many times in my life. Many of the travesties we face did not begin in the past weeks, months, or years. They existed long before me, but must the trappings of mistrust, and disrespect, and hate continue?
One person cannot change the world. But, what if I started with myself? What drives my actions? The time has come for me, for you, to look into the beliefs that bind us and those that reflect our truest and best self.
Miguel Ruiz shares insights into the source of our self-limiting beliefs. He invites us to explore and discover the beliefs that reflect our truest selves. In The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom, Ruiz sets us on a path to transform and see with new eyes.
The Book of Law
You come into the world without self-limiting beliefs. If you spend any time with very young children, you will see them laugh and play freely. They play side by side without any beliefs regarding physical characteristics or place of birth of the child next to them.
As you grow up in your families and society, your beliefs become shaped by the people around you. You and I learn a set of beliefs. We did not choose them. This is how it should be. Our society passes on values and beliefs that create a community and a shared culture.
Somewhere along the way in our life’s journey, those beliefs turn on us. We begin to criticize and judge ourselves. We carry this book of law with all the rules imposed by our belief system. We reward and punish ourselves based on those rules.
The belief system handed to us may tell us we are weak, the wrong color, the wrong weight, or that we are better than others not like us. These beliefs become our truth and the frame in which we interact with the world and ourselves. Positive values and beliefs co-exist with those that separate and divide us from each other.
The book of law creates an image of perfection. That perfection is a lie. Yet, we search relentlessly to find it because we think that is who we must be and become.
Inside ourselves, we know something greater, a truth, lies beneath the belief system that has built a shell around us. You can see this search for our “authentic self” magnified in books, social media, and online articles. We are all searching.
All the laws create agreements you make with yourself. They shape your personality and tell you what you can and cannot achieve. You have the power to construct new agreements that can transform your life. We don’t have to live the lies that limit our capacity to learn and be our best.
When I read about Ruiz’s four agreements, I realized each held the potential to do more than release us from negative beliefs. I thought to myself:
What if each of us committed to these four simple agreements?
Indeed, we would transform more than ourselves. You and I, collectively, could make a difference in our famiies, communities, even the world.
The Four Agreements
While the agreements seem simple and straightforward, living them takes courage and strength. We must possess a willingness to break free of the constrainsts that limit our potential. The following comes from the text in The Four Agreements.
No. 1 Be impeccable with your word.
Speak with integrity. Say what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.
No. 2 Don’t take anything personally
Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their reality, their dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.
No. 3 Don’t make assumptions
Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness, and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.
No. 4 Always do your best
Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstances, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse, and regret.
What if we used our words to build bridges of understanding and empathy?
What if we took responsibility for our actions and stood up for what is right without worrying about what others might think of us?
What if we stopped making assumptions, and instead, started searching first for the truth?
What if we started today to do our best to treat ourselves and every human with kindness?