Two Major Life Lessons I've Learned from "The Four Agreements"

    During the summer into my sophomore year of college, I was a bit of a hot mess from the previous semester and decided to go on a self-journey in the span of three months. During this time I got into low waste, making friendship bracelets as my number one hobby, and reading self help books. I wanted something that could help me think about the world differently because I was closed minded towards myself and therefore had a low image of myself. “The Four Agreements” written by Don Miguel Ruiz, both an author and Toltec spiritualist, not only helped fix my mindset in the moment, but guided me through situations I still deal with in my head today. Before getting into different self help books, I constantly overthought situations I couldn’t control and turned the blame on me. I would be so obsessed with how others act towards me and compared myself to everyone on the daily. Though I still struggle with these insecurities today, I’ve learned to be content with some of them though reading The Four Agreements. In this book, Ruiz challenges the reader to make four key promises to themselves: be impeccable with your word, don’t take anything personally, don’t make assumptions, and always do your best. Of course, there is more context beneath the titles of the four statements. 

   One of my favorite lessons I learned from The Four Agreements was, “Everything you feel or believe or say against yourself in a sin. You go against yourself when you blame yourself for anything”, and, “When you are impeccable, you take responsibility for your actions, but you do not judge or blame yourself”. Self care isn’t just thinking you’re beautiful inside and out, but it’s also how you treat yourself. In other words, I would never tell my mom, the most respectable woman to me, ’it’s because you’re so annoying and awkward that people don’t talk to you’. With this in mind, why can I treat my mother with such respect and yet neglect respecting the person that should be taking care of me the most, which is me? 

    In The Four Agreements, there are a few quotes that help me rationalize why I take things personally, or why people say and do things that intend to negatively affect you. “You take things personally because you agree with what is said…Personal importance, or taking things personally, is the maximum expression of selfishness, because we assume that everything is about me.” It can be easy to get inside our heads and manipulate the situation to make us the bad guy, we are our worst enemy after all. Whenever we get into that manipulative mindset, we should also think about the other person’s point of view. Ruiz also explains that, “All people live in their own mind; they are in a completely different world from the one we live in”, meaning that you could perceive their actions or body language as an attack towards you personally, but another side of the story that has nothing to do with you could exist too. A better way to practice getting into a healthier mindset is to start with yourself. It sounds really vague and cheesy, I know, but start by looking at both your assets flaws and being content with them. After all, no one is perfect and the reason we are different from one another is because we all fit certain roles in both our lives and other people’s lives. Once we learn to accept ourselves, being able to not take things as personally is easier to manage because we are more secure about our character.

    With these two key lessons in mind, I’ve become increasingly at peace with myself in who I am. In some ways, you can think of it as an, ‘it is what it is’ scenario. Therefore, you shouldn’t think about what is wrong with you and justify yourself to others based on their opinion or body language, as they most likely won’t change their behavior. When we overthink less and take ourselves out of our perception of reality like Ruiz touches on in The Four Agreements, we can become both stronger and confident versions of ourselves.