Sober Book Review: The Four Agreements
The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom, a Toltec Wisdom Book by don Miguel Ruiz, is a quick read and chock-full of useful wisdom for everyone but especially for us recovering addicts. The key to freedom is to become aware of our irrational and limiting thoughts so that we can replace them with healthy thoughts. This book is about ancient Toltec wisdom but it could be a primer for cognitive behavioral therapy, like that used in addiction treatment.
The Four Agreements:
1. “Be Impeccable with your Word: 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.”
This is like the saying, “the tongue has no bones but is strong enough to break a heart, be careful with your words.” And it is just important that we be impeccable with our word not just for others but for ourselves. Because we are also listening to what we say and think. This first agreement refers to changing all of our negative self-talk, as well. What we hear ourselves saying is what we believe about ourselves. Change your story and your self-limiting beliefs will change, too.
2. “Don’t Take Anything Personally: Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.”
Another saying comes to mind here: It is none of our business what others think of us. It is not worth the time or energy to wonder and worry about what others might be thinking about us. Again, this sort of thing is detrimental to our well-being. Never mind what others think or say, it is a reflection of what they are obsessed with and it’s usually about themselves. Being able to not take things personally is the healthiest way to go through life.
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.”
It’s true, as important as agreements 1 and 2 are, if you take anything from the book, it should be this: don’t assume. Be a good communicator and encourage others to be as well. If you don’t understand why someone is acting a certain way or says something that might be off-putting, get clear, don’t just assume. This will only lead to misunderstandings which can then spiral into something worse.
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 circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse, and regret.”
A good way to change our negative self-talk is to follow this agreement. That way, you will begin to acknowledge yourself for doing your best rather than beat yourself up if you do not succeed in the way you expected. We all know what it means to do our best; perhaps that is why we tend to be so hard on ourselves – when we know we weren’t really giving something our all. By always doing your best, you can begin to feel better about yourself.
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