In his book, Ruiz endeavors to assist us in enhancing our communication with our inner and outer environments, and he does this by recognizing four agreements we can make with ourselves to lead a life free of suffering. With the support of the data in this book, you can acquire important counsel and even direction, which aid in making the rest of life easier, based on the old knowledge of the Toltec culture, which flourished in South America during the pre-Columbian period.
Nevertheless, it is noteworthy to say that the recommended path is not always simple to execute, and if you choose to follow it, it will be an everlasting venture. You will need a lot of determination and fortitude to overcome the struggles that come your way and to discard old customs that you have acclimatized to yourself. However, once you succeed, you will gain many rewards. The bedrock of the first agreement: keep the purity of the word.
The First Agreement: Keep the words pure
The starting point is the most important yet also the most challenging. The word "purity" is the opposing concept to "sin." In this context, "sin" is sinning against oneself - any action, idea, belief, or statement that harshly criticizes, berates and punishes oneself. Holding oneself in contempt and being overly critical are sins in this sense. When you avoid such sins, you will be less prone to feeling shame that can paralyze you.
The book bestows a great amount of power onto words when it talks about this subject. Ruiz suggests that words are incredibly powerful. What other creature can express itself truly through words? They are a powerful tool for creation, moving from thought and intention into reality. Words are the power of communication. If used wrongly, they could lead to distress. However, when used correctly, they can result in a life of love, serenity, and harmony.
Words have the power to either liberate or enslave you, and if you ponder on it, it is like a spell. Reflect on the time someone insulted you - these recollections will be ingrained in your consciousness like a blemish. According to Ruiz, the human brain is like a fertile field, and phrases that contain notions, beliefs, or concepts are like seeds. When someone expresses his views to you and you accept them or agree with them, you are figuratively irrigating the seed he sowed in your beliefs. This might lead to good and bad outcomes.
The more you preserve the purity of the words in your head, the better you will live and liberate yourself from toxicity that harms your spirit. Begin by talking to yourself with more optimistic words, and avoid succumbing to the sin of disparaging yourself. You will become a better and more successful person, just tell yourself that you can be like that and reinforce the seeds of these ideas daily.
The Second Agreement: Don't take things personally
Rewording this deal: this narrative has nothing to do with you. According to Ruiz, having a great sense of one's worth is a sign of being self-centered. When everything is about you, then all matters are associated with you, and you are in charge of all that happens. Let go of this burden that you have imposed upon yourself, for the reality is that nothing that other people do is because of you - their decisions are theirs and theirs alone. We are all accountable for our deeds, but not for those of our companions.
This agreement dictates that we all exist in our life-spheres. Even if someone is rude to you, it can be indicative of their hurt and not necessarily a reflection of you. The external environment cannot harm you, but when it reaches your internal realm, it can cause pain. Clear away the suffering and you will realize that the world cannot cause you any harm. It might sound severe to think this way, yet this is the only way to get stronger, go beyond your emotions, and not be held accountable for someone else's feelings. The third cornerstone of this agreement is to not presume.
Third Agreement: Don't make assumptions
Every individual is capable of being convinced that what they are thinking is accurate. However, our beliefs about others' goals and doings are not always accurate. We tend to make hasty assumptions due to our fear of asking questions or seeking clarification. It can lead to us feeling scared and perplexed, and all this occurs inside our minds.
When you create assumptions, you are inviting problems rather than solutions. We all have a strong desire to work out things so that we can feel safe, and we prefer having a surety and having all the solutions available to us. This is why we invented the stories of myths, which came to explain everything that humans could not comprehend with the means available to them at that time. Whenever we don't have answers, we make up our own tale, but when we do this concerning other people's motives and activities, it only results in our misfortune and unsteadiness in relationships.
Oftentimes, we make decisions based on our feelings instead of facts, and then our logic works to explain our emotions. This can lead to a snowball of hurt, confusion, and insult, even if nothing bad has truly occurred. We can get stuck in this cycle of pain because it's all we know, and no one can read our thoughts. If someone doesn't comprehend us without us communicating, it can be hurtful. We are the ones hurting ourselves due to our expectations of others.
Many of us mistakenly believe that everyone is similar to us in how they think, feel, and judge people. This is far from accurate, so it's necessary to talk to each other in order to have a fulfilling life. Ask inquiries, be brave, and don't make assumptions that will bring about undesired results. The Fourth agreement states that we should always do our best.
Fourth Agreement: Always do your very best
The last agreement is a combination of the preceding three. He will be there to help you put them into action when you make an effort to protect yourself from negative self-talk, although it is not easily accomplished and takes time. To establish a good basis, you have to comprehend that "your best" is liable to change over time. When you are tired, for instance, your performance will not be identical to days when you are energized, and that is acceptable.
This agreement consequently necessitates you to always check yourself and question how you feel - physically and mentally - and act as required. You must use sympathy, respect, and loyalty to yourself throughout this process. If you can do your best without wearing yourself out, you will be able to get rid of feelings of guilt entirely. On the other hand, if you do anything less than your best, you will certainly be prone to self-criticism and guilt.
It is essential to be conscious of any potential circumstances where you are doing something that appears to be "more or less" the proper thing, yet it may be due to the wrong motivations. You may be expecting something in return or maybe you feel obligated to take action. These two motivations don't aid you to reach the desired outcomes. A more positive motivation is love, either for yourself or another person. Monitor yourself often and be honest with yourself.
So, to summarize, the four agreements are:
First, stay faithful to the language you use - this is a practical method for self-care and caring for others, and it builds the foundation for your communication skills.
Second, never take anything personally - this agreement helps you to abandon the duty you thought you were under for other people's actions. It is a tool that teaches humility and keeps away from egotism.
Third, do not jump to conclusions - this contract offers a chance for open communication in any relationship. He proposes that you exchange tales that you create out of interest, with his guidance you will ask questions until matters are plain to you and you won't have to fabricate lacking facts yourself.
Fourth, always give your best effort - the final agreement prompts you to be attentive to your mind and body and take note of the changes they are continuously going through. He remarks that it is not always feasible to put the same amount of vigor into something which is totally natural.
Uphold them and take action on them, and that's how you can begin to exist in a life devoid of remorse, distress, and guilt.