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Day 1648 - Agreement One

Tuesday, June 04, 2019

A couple months ago I read a book at the recommendation of a presenter at a conference I attended in February. I found it to be a valuable resource in helping me cope with the challenges of my job as a community college dean, and with life in general. I had been wanting to blog about the book for a while, and just haven't had the time. I've got the day off today, and it's about time I did what I said I would do.

The book is called The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom by Don Miguel Ruiz.

The Kindle version is a bargain, and the paperback isn't that expensive either if you prefer to read your books on real paper.

Today's blog is about Agreement One: "Be Impeccable with your Word"

As much as I try to be impeccable ("without malice or sin"), there are times when I misstep. Gossip and unkind words pop into the conversation or I fall into buzzwords and shortcuts in my communication that are misinterpreted. While it's not my intention, I am trying to focus more on always being impeccable. The toughest time for me is when I'm angry or frustrated - those moments are when I'm most likely to lose control.

Ruiz shares this story that really resonated with me.

"There was a woman, for example, who was intelligent and had a very good heart. She had a daughter whom she adored and loved very much. One night she came home from a very bad day at work, tired, full of emotional tension, and with a terrible headache. She wanted peace and quiet, but her daughter was singing and jumping happily. The daughter was unaware of how her mother was feeling; she was in her own world, in her own dream. She felt so wonderful, and she was jumping and singing louder and louder, expressing her joy and her love. She was singing so loud that it made her mother's headache even worse, and at a certain moment, the mother lost control. Angrily she looked at her beautiful little girl and said, 'Shut up! You have an ugly voice. Can you just shut up!'

"The truth is that the mother's tolerance for any noise was nonexistent; it was not that the little girl's voice was ugly. But the daughter believed what her mother said, and in that moment she made an agreement with herself. After that she no longer sang, because she believed her voice was ugly and would bother anyone who heard it. She became shy at school, and if she was asked to sing, she refused. Even speaking to others became difficult for her. Everything changed in the little girl because of this new agreement: She believed she must repress her emotions in order to be accepted and loved.

"Whenever we hear an opinion and believe it, we make an agreement, and it becomes part of our belief system. This little girl grew up, and even though she had a beautiful voice, she never sang again. She developed a whole complex from one spell. This spell was cast upon her by the one who loved her the most: her own mother. Her mother didn't notice what she did with her word. She didn't notice that she used black magic and put a spell on her daughter. She didn't know the power of her word, and therefore she isn't to blame. She did what her own mother, father, and others had done to her in many ways. They misused the word."

[Ruiz, Don Miguel. The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom (A Toltec Wisdom Book) (p. 36). Amber-Allen Publishing. Kindle Edition.]

The harm we do by misusing our words can cause lifelong damage. This is something I try to remember, and it is especially true on SP because we are all here because we want support and validation, not criticism or belittling. I promise to continue to improve on this first Agreement.

Speak with integrity.
Say only 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.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Being a working parent can be stressful especially if you have emotional issues of your own. I realized that I did respond badly to my daughter’s antics when she was young. I am more aware with my grandson and try my very best to be positive with him. Or explain why I am having a problem. He cries when I leave.
    668 days ago
    Wow, just wow! I went ahead and purchased the Kindle version of this book! My maternal grandpa has always been my hero. He's gone now but he continues to be my hero. He was such a kind and gentle soul! Of course, I wasn't his daughter and don't know what he was like as a father figure. From what I can tell though, he wasn't much different when he was younger. Everyone who knew him loved him and his grandchildren weren't any different. I always try to project the best part of me. I am human though and I am far from perfect. I always try to be the way I saw my grandpa...being kind to other people and not speaking badly of others. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and a little bit about the book!
    675 days ago
  • PICKIE98
    We must be in a good place within, before we expose ourselves to any outside contact. This may be relatives, co-workers, or any interactions with everyday routines. That mindset can become a habit if consciously practiced as part of our routine.
    You deal with so many different cultures, age groups, background differences, that checking yourself will become a practiced habit eventually.
    You are the perfect man for that job, you know it because you LOVE it.
    681 days ago
    Interesting book. I seriously doubt that the example would ever apply to you though or to me either really. In my job as a critical care nurse I worked with a lot of patients, families, staff every day who often were not in a good place emotionally. Some were in pain, some were stressed, some were vulnerable, some were angry, some were sad, some were exhausted some were worried, on and on and on. I was in charge of this chronic, ever-evolving chaos, not by choice, but by request of the people I worked with. So my approach to this was to remain positive, troubleshoot, and have really thick skin. On every given day someone, or bunches of someones, were going to unload on me. Some of their complaints were justified, some not, but my response was always the same - remain positive, troubleshoot, have really thick skin. Repeat. There were plenty of times that I wanted to "enlighten" someone about how I felt about what they had to say but it wouldn't have benefited the situation which was to defuze and not accelerate it. People often say things they don't mean and even the truth isn't always pretty. I am always bound by the truth though and I am not going to feed you lies to make you feel better. Never once did it cross my mind though that I might be worth less because someone was else was unhappy. Happiness comes from within. My self esteem doesn't come from what other people think of me but what I think of myself. I think it's unrealistic to expect people to always be happy, kind, compassionate, considerate. We should all try to be but sometimes your tail gets hung in a door and it's okay to scream about it. Sometimes letting other people know that we are dissatisfied is the first step in much needed constructive change. It's important how you deliver that message and knowing you, I tend to think that your messages are usually delivered in the best possible way. Mine are usually too because I do think about what I am going to say and whether I should say it or not. On the small percentage of times you or I don't respond therapeutically I tend to think that it's a life lesson to ourselves and others too. We are human. While I am long suffering I am not going to be a door mat. I'm going to be truthful while being tactful. Treating others like you want to be treated goes both ways. If you don't follow that rule you are vulnerable in reaping the consequences. You and me and everyone else. You are doing an excellent job.
    682 days ago

    Comment edited on: 6/10/2019 4:33:27 PM
    I love this and thank you so much for sharing. I have read the book a long ago. I always get stuck on agreement one.. It has a special meaning for me as well.. I was not wanted by my family..they did not want to hear from me let alone see a result ..I shrank back and would not allow others to see the real me. I made up a pretend me in hopes that I would somehow "be okay".. I did that a lot of years.. If my own family could not love me what hopes would I have of ever being loved by anyone..When I first started on the internet was years, I mean years, before I would let others see the real me and put up my picture...even today I have days when I want to take my picture down and put up something else.. I resist the urge..I have come to far to turn back now. Thank you for posting this and allowing me to be reminded..That it is okay to show the world the real me.
    683 days ago
  • no profile photo CD15118206
    OMG!!!! That is truly one of my favorite books!! I have given it out as gifts on multiple occasions! So happy you read it!

    Much Love!!!
    683 days ago
    emoticon emoticon emoticon
    684 days ago
    I have said so many things over the years that I wished I could take back now knowing that they may of had negative impact on that person or situation.

    I have said so many things to Jeremy when frustrated that I can see the impact it has now made. I agree with Ana that we can correct it. It just that the words remain there and I myself am not sure how to correct them in a way that he can believe me and still progress.

    I am going to look into getting the kindle or nook version. It does sound like a book to live by for sure.

    Thank you for sharing with all of us here on Sparks.

    684 days ago
    I've enjoyed reading these in the evenings when I have some quiet time here at the beach.

    It seems I have a permanent recording in my head of things I wish I'd not said. I guess that's why I've become much quieter as I get older.

    685 days ago
    emoticon I just love when you blog. emoticon
    685 days ago
    I got to make a confession--I bought this books months ago but haven't read it. I'll put on the front of the queue. Nevertheless, I appreciate your scholarly "Cliff Notes" version. Thanks.

    686 days ago
    Thanks for sharing - I just ordered the Kindle version.
    686 days ago
  • SPICY23
    If only, if only ... ...
    if only this great work included a method for reversing those life changing agreements that we made with ourselves when we were too young to know better... most of bear some of these scars.

    Peace and Care
    687 days ago
    As usual, reading a blog written by you is a nice way to educate me. Thanks for taking the time to do it!

    "The Four Agreements", by Don Miguel Ruiz me, one of the most important books I ever read. It's like a manual about how to live our lives in a happier and less conflictive way. I also got shocked by that Mother-Daughter experience, the most because my Mom was so clear with her words. She was said something like "My love, can you please sing softer now because I have a headache?" Or sending me directly to the patio. I raised my Son the same way.

    Everybody and mainly the kids need explanations according to their age. Also, if we tolerated too much before talking, we will be nasty.even with our kids. But we are humans. We make mistakes and we can correct ourselves.

    Let's see where do I have that precious book, so I can follow better your blogs

    Have a very good day!

    Hey! I can't imagine you being angry!
    687 days ago
    687 days ago
    This agreement is very helpful,
    if all people followed it, half the suffering in the world would be eliminated,
    maybe even more. We can do our part every day, every moment.
    687 days ago
    Thank you for this thoughtful, powerful blog. I will get a copy of the book, and look forward to reading it. Or studying, I think is a better word than reading.
    687 days ago
    Steve, being the best version of ourselves, something we should all aim for. Our word is our bond, so choose those words carefully! Thank you for sharing.
    688 days ago
    Wow!!! That is powerful. I am going to need to get this book. Thank you so much for sharing! emoticon
    688 days ago
    I KNOW the book! A challenge for us to be the best versions of ourselves.

    Know that you are a very busy man. Hoping you will have the opportunities to share more about your experiences connected with this book.

    I found the book to be quite powerful. Thanks for the words of encouragement and support you have shared with me over the years, dear friend. I appreciate you!


    688 days ago
  • GEORGE815
    Life can be very complicated.
    688 days ago
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