Several months ago, I came across a list of the Four Agreements of the Toltec religion. The Toltecs were the predecessors of the Aztecs. While I may not agree with all of the tenets of their faith, the Four Agreements really resonated with me. Each one seemed to be an area of my life that could benefit from a little focus, and each one would be an avenue towards further peace and simplicity.
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.
I find that I really need to work on my tendency to speak against myself. As I have said, we are often our own harshest critics, and I am no exception. I also really appreciate that this agreement speaks of the POWER of words. We can truly be encouraging or destructive, loving or hateful, constructive or toxic, merely by our choice of words. Let us not use words in a heated moment that we will later regret.
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.
I think this one, for me, relates to the previous point. Since I am hard on myself, I have a tendency to feel that others are being hard on me as well. It seems much easier to take things as a personal affront than it is to take a step back and analyze the situation, and try to see what’s going on in the other person’s mind. Perhaps they didn’t intend for what they said to sound as harsh as it did. Or perhaps they were so caught up in something drastic that’s happening in their life, that they didn’t realize they were being insensitive. Let us not jump to the conclusion that instances of perceived callousness are intentional personal attacks.
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.
Again, it seems like it’s easier to jump to conclusions than to take the time to find out what someone really meant. So many personality clashes and arguments could be avoided if we were more clear in our communication. If you immediately assume you know what your boss/spouse/friend wants without listening and fully understanding, you may find yourself investing a lot of unnecessary time in what turns out to be not at all what they were going for. Likewise, if you assume that someone understands you without taking the time to thoroughly explain, don’t be surprised if you don’t end up getting what you wanted. Let us be willing to take the time to fully understand one another, and to ask questions when we don’t.
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 when you are sick. Under any circumstances, simply do your best and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse, and regret.
This one is the hardest for me. Since I have Addison’s Disease (which is kind of the ultimate Chronic Fatigue Syndrome), I have a tendency to get really frustrated on those days when I’m particularly weak. I have to constantly remind myself that my best today may not be as good as my best was yesterday. I need to remember that all I can give is my best for that moment, not someone else’s best, or my own best on another day. Let us neither beat ourselves up for not constantly performing at our peak of perfection, nor slack off instead of giving what we have to give.
How about you? Do any of these agreements particularly ring true in your life? What strategies have you used to adhere to these ideals?
I have printed out this page and placed it on my refrigerator to help remind me to focus on the agreements throughout my day. Feel free to do the same! Four Agreements