It has been a long time since I shared my reading notes with you. Today, I would like to tell you about a particularly powerful personal development book: “The 4 Toltec Agreements” by Don Miguel Ruiz. This is the kind of book that you need to reread several times because the principles mentioned seem so simple… but are not so easy to integrate into our daily lives.
The book presents four agreements, whose titles are very simple to understand but more difficult to follow. These agreements or principles aim to improve one’s personal life and reduce one’s level of suffering.
The four agreements are
- Be Impeccable With Your Word
- Don’t Take Anything Personally
- Don’t Make Assumptions
- Always Do Your Best
There is even a fifth one which I will tell you about at the end of the article.
I will summarise each agreement for you.
We must speak with integrity. We should be aware of our words and especially of their impact on others and ourselves. We must be sincere, authentic and respectful in our words. In other words, we should only say what we really mean, and not attack others.
It is easy to speak without thinking, especially when we are angry, frustrated, afraid or feeling insecure. But unthinking words can cause pain, confusion and guilt, both in ourselves and in others.
By practicing this first Toltec agreement, we can learn to be more conscious in our verbiage and choose our words more carefully. We can learn to communicate effectively, resolve conflicts and build strong relationships. It also allows us to respect ourselves and others.
It is important to note that being impeccable in one’s speech does not mean being perfect, but rather making a conscious effort, at all times, to be authentic, respectful and sincere in our words. We should avoid using words to badmouth others, but also to criticise ourselves. Of course, we are asked to avoid lies, rumours and unnecessary gossip that can cause pain to others. In short, the idea is to use the power of speech in the direction of truth and love.
We are not the cause of the actions of others. This agreement commits us not to take the opinions, beliefs or actions of others as a reflection of ourselves. People say and do things according to their own reality, their own beliefs and their own history, and this has nothing to do with us. It’s just a projection, everyone has their own map of the world.
It is easy to take things personally, especially when others criticise or blame us. This can make us feel hurt, angry or guilty. But in reality, other people’s opinions do not reflect who we really are. If we don’t take things personally, we can remain calm and objective, and focus on our own path rather than being distracted by the opinions of others.
By practising this second chord, we can learn to be more detached from the opinions, comments, views or behaviours of our social environment. In this way, we focus on our own truth. This allows us to live more freely and avoid unnecessary conflict. It is also a way of not allowing ourselves to be affected by the judgments of others, and not allowing ourselves to be manipulated by people who seek to control us. We are immune to the unimpeachable words of others.
There is no point in assuming what others think or feel, or what they will say or do. Nor should we assume what things mean or how they should be. Instead, let us have the courage to ask questions, to find out for real, to express our wishes clearly so that there is no awkwardness, misunderstanding or misunderstanding.
It is easy to assume things, especially when we do not ask for clarification or communicate clearly. This can cause confusion, frustration and anger, as we act on our assumptions rather than reality. And as we just said in the second agreement that everyone has their own reality, you can imagine the problem!
By practising this third chord, we can learn to ask for help, clarify things and communicate in a much healthier and more effective way. This allows us to avoid misunderstandings and to live a more authentic life, rather than remaining in a world of assumptions. It also allows us to understand others better and to manage relationships better. Let’s learn to identify our assumptions as soon as they come to mind so that we can put them into perspective and get rid of them.
In all circumstances, this agreement tells us that we should give our best, without judging or blaming ourselves (impeccable speech!). It also means that we should accept that our best varies according to our physical, emotional and mental state. Our ‘best’ can change at any time. We are not superman or wonderwoman!
It is easy to judge and blame ourselves for not doing well enough, especially when we compare our performance to others. This can cause guilt, depression and frustration. But we only see of others what they want us to see. My mentor Martin Latulippe tells us not to compare our backstage with the frontstage of others.
By practising this fourth Toltec agreement, we can learn to be more forgiving of ourselves and focus on our own progress. This allows us to feel more at peace and more satisfied with what we are doing. It also allows us to continue to learn and grow, rather than getting stuck in guilt and frustration, in a kind of mental self-maltreatment.
It is important to note that “doing your best” does not mean being perfect, or even being better than others, but rather striving to do your best in every situation. It means being aware of your own limitations and not putting unnecessary pressure on yourself. In short, let’s silence the perfectionist in us.
This fifth agreement invites people to be sceptical, i.e. to question the ideas, beliefs and opinions of others, rather than accepting them simply because they come from a reputable authority or source. At the same time, it invites us to learn to listen, i.e. to remain open to the ideas and opinions of others, even if they differ from our own, because we can always learn from others.
The aim of this agreement is to promote personal development by learning to think for oneself, while remaining open to the ideas and perspectives of others. This allows us to develop a broader and more nuanced view of life, and to move away from limiting beliefs that can cause suffering.
These Toltec agreements are a real toolkit for transformation, for elevation, because they lead not only to stop judging others and oneself, but also to find serenity in a way of life more aligned with one’s values and worth. One frees oneself from guilt and suffering by breaking through certain limiting beliefs. One welcomes more of one’s creativity and is much more accepting of others.