Honestly, don Miguel Ruiz’s book, The Four Agreements triggered me when it first came out in 2003. Their simplicity, and the way they felt at a distance from many of the dilemma’s I was facing caused me to dismiss them as “pop-psychology” and having nothing to do with me. Thirteen years later I can admit that what I was dismissing, was myself.

I tend to get triggered when something is calling my attention. In these moments of aversion it is common to want to look away, put the information down, or stop the conversation. It takes practice to turn down the internal noise enough to listen and learn from what life is offering as a growing edge to sit on. If you are up for a psychological spring cleaning, this series of posts is for you.

I started experimenting with holding myself to these agreements to see what they really had to offer recently, and what I found along the way surprised me.

The book as a whole basically says:

  • Your truth is your love – when you speak without it, you are not loving yourself nor those you are in relationship with. This does not mean to be harsh or radically honest, but to be in touch with what is true for you, and then in loving consideration of how your words impact others.
  • You are part of an interconnected field of love in this life. There are many ways to disconnect from that, and these agreements may help you find your way.
  • When you kick yourself down in a self-critical way, you aren’t serving yourself or others any good.
  • When you think you know what is going on without getting clarification, you aren’t loving yourself nor who you are in relationship with – especially as you make up stories and assume that your perception is the whole story.

Ruiz agreements steer us towards self-care and truth as a way to generate love within ourselves and our relations. They are lessons that can rattle us from the inside so we can wake up to the ways we may be acting unconsciously. What this means is that in living the agreements out, we are challenged into a sense of clarity, truth, and love. I know, it sounds so lofty. But to embody the lessons, pause enough to remember the agreement, and let it turn you toward yourself is a centering act. It is only lofty if you only think about it and do nothing to live it out.

In this next series of posts, I will be going over each of the agreements from a somatic point of view so to look at how they challenge us to grow and become more aware, and what our bodies have to do with the process. Each agreement asks you to meet the signals of your body, and how these signals are essential anchors for your own clarity and self-care.

Learning to make an agreement and keep it – not as an obligation but as choice in each present moment – is one of the most earnest tasks of conscious life. Marriage, dating, friendship, spirituality, discipline of any kind- all have to do with the ability to make an agreement and then live yourself through it. They are not about some already formed future moment like an “I will,” do this or that. Living agreements out takes an upgrade in presence so to catch yourself in a habitual or reflexive moment and remember what you are holding yourself to. I have found that they are kept or broken based in my ability to know where I am within a felt-sense of myself – I will hold myself accountable or betray an agreement based on what I am doing and how present I am. A particular sense of myself will lend itself to a different set of actions.

How do you have to body yourself in order to hold to an agreement? What kind of presence does this entail or awaken? I invite you to hold these questions in mind as you try the agreements on for yourself.

Each agreement comes along with their own challenge, and each with their own reward. Yours will surely be unique to you, and I would love for you to share with me on how you met them in some way – privately or here in the public forum.

For those of you that are not familiar, Ruiz’ Four Agreements are:

  • Be impeccable with your word
  • Don’t take things personally
  • Don’t make assumptions
  • Always do your best

He later added a fifth agreement: Be Skeptical but Learn to Listen.

These agreements are about making commitments to oneself, not to others. They are in service of your ability to feel into freedom and clarity.

They offer lessons on self-care and on the power of love – not a kind of love that gives you away like charity, but the force of love that connects you to a vital, clear sense of presence. To live them out can connect you to a powerful, nutritive force within your life.

What I have found is that they work on smoothing out sticky places of doubt and judgment and fear. In the unfolding events that go on as I challenge myself to keep an agreement, there is a kind of powerful healing force that starts to reveal itself. They offer a quality of presence as I go about navigating my life, and the simplicity of them is most welcome. 

Do you know the ways that you make or break agreements?

Is there a way that you would like to grow in the direction of making more concrete agreements, or giving yourself more flexibility within the one’s you make?

What signals does your body send you when you are agreeing to something that you may not be able to follow through on?

If you are interested in a more personal conversation or support around these ideas, bring them into therapy with you.

Next post: Be impeccable with your word.