The Four Agreements by don Miguel Ruiz was one of those books I couldn’t put down. I read it back in 2006 when I was going through an emotionally stressful time.
I was living in Sydney, working in an executive environment, and struggling with family matters. I was so emotionally stressed by compounding factors I started seeing a psychologist. I was dealing with the usual stuff, issues with work colleagues, family dramas and the haunting ghosts of my past.
My emotional stress was so escalated it was affecting my life in every aspect. Relationships with friends were strained, my work suffered, I was constantly sick and not a pleasant person to be around. I was snappy, angry, moody and unable to think clearly. I would take what people said the wrong way and be aggressively defensive. My sleep was erratic, I was tired, and my overall mind set was in a dark place.
My psychologist suggested I read The Four Agreements to help me understand my thoughts. She also gave me some other tools, valuable insight and techniques which helped reduce my emotional stress.
After reading the book I felt more peace within my mind and I recall telling everyone “You should read this book!”. And although I only saw my psychologist for a brief period of time, I feel it helped me immensely (I’ll blog about this in more detail another time).
In my own little world, in my mind, I was adhering to these thoughts...
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.
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.
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.
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.
I still reflect on ‘The Four Agreements’ from time to time at different stages in my life. I find these words can be a powerful reminder when I need to reconnect with my mind.
Not only was my emotional stress high at the time but I was also smoking, drinking, eating takeout/fast foods in excess and lacking vital nutrition. My body began to breakdown due to physical stress, which saw the onset of constant cold sore outbreaks particularly in my eye (yes eye!). Colds and flus were upon me and I was tired all the time. All of which exacerbated my already fragile emotional state of mind.
Our newly purchased warehouse apartment was the one no-one wanted in the building hard to buy into. It had lead paint and 28-year-old germ infested carpet. It was located next to a train station in the inner city of Sydney. These factors caused my environmental stress to rise particularly once renovations commenced. I also found the renovations took a toll on my emotional and physical stress levels as well.
I had the 'Big 3’ stresses working against me in every aspect however I only saw the emotional stress at the time. I focused on getting my mental health back and found The Four Agreements very helpful. This book was a great starting reference for me when I was in a very fragile state of mind.
Today in the present and now
Through years of practice I’ve trained my brain to become more positively active. This helps my mental clarity and rationalization giving me the power to communicate effectively. Once my communication skills improved I noticed my relationships with people improved dramatically and I was much happier within myself.
Experience and research have led me to discover why my body breaks down and reacts differently depending on its stress. I nourish it now with the foods it requires to make it a happy ‘organ’ playground.
To reduce my environmental stress, I make the necessary changes within my power to eliminate these contributing factors.
By knowing the 'Big 3’ and its ‘trigger factors’ I have improved my life immensely. I realised life is a jigsaw puzzle where every piece has its place to complete the puzzle. This unfortunately is not something your local GP, psychologist or anyone else will tell you. After many years of research, living and learning I have been fortunate to work all of this out.
In hindsight now I would have handled that time differently with a quicker and more positive outcome. However, everything happens for a reason and I learned valuable insight through challenging times.
My blog on the 'Big 3’ Stress Solutions Puzzle will look at all these stress and how to tackle them so you too can reduce your stress levels. However, in the meantime if you are looking for a great book on how you can help change your mind for a more positive thought process, then maybe The Four Agreements might be a good place to start.
Until next time be thoughtful, be mindful, be present. This is Character 32 doing her best to help you!