There are times where we find ourselves to be self-critical or judgmental of others. There may be something that we view as negative and we spend time giving our energy away while ruminating about it.
We may take situations personally and feel offended by the actions or words of others. Or we may misunderstand an agreement and find ourselves assuming something which is inaccurate. Or perhaps we are the one who was not clearly communicating.
We can also be afraid to be ourselves, afraid of not being perfect and of vulnerability. We try to create an image of perfection to please others but this fails us because we are not being true to ourselves. When we feel we are not perfect enough, then we may feel self rejection.
We make so many agreements with ourselves. Perhaps “I am not any good at…” or “I always…” or “I am a failure at…” or “I am better than anyone else at …” or “I cannot…” or “I should…”. The repetitive mantras we tell ourselves can often be negative. A better mantra might be something more like “I am loving when I…”, “I am capable when…”, “I am kind…”, or “I am honest…”. What would you rather reinforce? What kind of agreements should you be making?
So many difficult situations arise when we shift into old programmed behaviors that are less than loving and kind. There is much conditioning that goes into the thoughts and ideas we have about ourselves, others, and our world. By changing our agreements, we open up to new and improved outcomes.
We can break ourselves from negativity if we become aware of it and put in the work to create change. This in turn helps us to move from a toxic state into a more positive state. Everyone is challenged at one time or another. We are not perfect and that is what makes us so beautiful as humans because we have so many situations presented to us that allow us to grow.
We can find some enlightening concepts in a book called The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz, which “reveals the source of self-limiting beliefs that rob us of joy and create needles suffering.” The agreements are a code of conduct that allow us to transform our lives, increase freedom, happiness, and love.
I read this book over ten years ago when I was working in a harsh environment where I took difficult phone calls for a company. It was this book that helped me to see that the negative comments said to me over the phone were not about me at all, but rather they reflected the customer’s perceptions surrounding their own individual circumstances. Instead of taking their words personally, I learned to listen to the story behind their words to determine what was important to them so that I could offer them genuine understanding and the best assistance possible.
Just recently I found myself having a number of life situations that felt less than desirable. Before taking any action or making any judgement about myself or others, I decided to take time to reflect on what happened and how it could have gone better. It’s easy to make a quick judgement and point fingers, but ultimately I needed to observe the situation, figure out where I needed to improve, and to not condemn anyone involved (including myself). Forgiveness is important as well as maintaining a healthy and loving attitude. Even when we make mistakes, we can still adopt the principles behind the Four Agreements to move forward. We can create positive and loving interactions with both ourselves and others.
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.
If you are not sure of something, ask questions, clarify, and reach out for more information. Say what you mean. This doesn’t mean to be unfiltered. Kindness and honesty are important. Don’t wander off with your words, saying something that sort of kind of means what you want to say but not exactly. Passive aggressive communication is not the best way for us to help others understand our concerns and intent. Words (and tone) are important, and it is critical that we are clear.
Say what you think and speak your truth without blurting. Avoid using words that negatively impact yourself or gossip about others. When we speak an untruth about others, there is no benefit or positive flow. It might feel good at the moment to vent, share, or express yourself, but the aftermath of that not being impeccable is then out there forever. This creates a potentially toxic flow of energy. And toxicity requires healing and resolution.
Embellishing a statement or expanding into an area of half-truths to make a point is also lacking in impeccability. Are you using a casual bunch of words or one well said word? Also, be aware of your voice – is it loud, forceful, high pitched, or demanding? Is it irritated, intolerant, or unkind? Or perhaps emotional, whining, or freaked out? Making a conscious choice to speak evenly and slowly with intent and truth, when you are ready, is an opportunity to have others listen because they respect you more when there isn’t an emotional charge. People will listen to and respect words that have been well thought out delivered in a calm voice.
Think before you speak, make sure you are communicating clearly, and reach out for understanding in a loving and truthful manner. This may require follow up or asking questions to make sure both parties are clear about intent and expectations. Most importantly, strive to always act and communicate with integrity, truth, and loving intent.
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.
Nothing that someone else does is because of you. Everything everyone does is because of them, their dream, their vision, their interpretations, and projections. What other people do and say is their projection of reality. When we become immune to the opinions and actions of others, there is nothing to take personally. This negates suffering because no one can make us feel sad, angry, or bad. We choose how we feel. Always. If we choose to base our feelings on other’s behaviors, we are allowing it.
We ultimately make the choice as to what belongs to us or not. We do not own other people’s projections of reality or behaviors and we do not need to make them our own, unless we choose to. We always have this choice.
So if something someone is doing is upsetting to you, remember that you don’t have to own that. You don’t have to take that on. Take that moment to stop and remind yourself that you get to choose moving forward how you feel and what you want to think about. It takes practice but this is one of the best things you could ever consciously work on.
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.
We all do it. A lightning-fast judgement is easy to come by and it’s challenging to find freedom in this way of operating. We must find the courage to ask questions and to express what we truly want. Sometimes we don’t want to step on other’s toes or bother them so we don’t ask for what we want. We are all guilty of this because we don’t want to ask questions. We are often afraid to ask questions because we don’t want to feel less than.
We are more respected when we do ask questions. Look deep for the courage to ask the questions that need to be asked. When someone misunderstands you, it is not them, it is us because we have chosen not to be articulate enough. When there is a misunderstanding, you are a co-creator, not the person who didn’t hear you clearly. This means you didn’t speak clearly or articulate clearly. If we can communicate clearly as we are possibly able to, we will have less drama and sadness.
Being truly willing to step out and ask questions instead of assuming will powerfully evolve ourselves from where we are to where we want to be. This agreement is difficult because we are afraid of appearing less than brilliant, perfect, powerful, or whole. The reality is that everyone can engage and freeing ourselves of assumptions is truly empowering
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 circumstances, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgement, self-abuse, and regret.
We are always operating from our own level of consciousness. When you can evolve your level of consciousness and work forward from that point, you are striving to do your best. When we are sick, weak, or having difficulty, we are coming from a different level of consciousness. We need to accept where we are at and not judge ourselves so harshly. Would you treat a friend like that? If not, then you are likely not being a good friend to yourself either. It’s okay if we did something stupid, said something we didn’t mean, made a mistake or were not clear… but this leaves a toxic residue out there if left unresolved.
If we can turn it around and understand that we were not paying full attention or that we did or said something wrong, we can understand that we were doing our best at that moment, kindly offer acceptance to ourselves, request forgiveness from others, and eliminate regret. If we are coming from our best self at our personal highest level of consciousness, we can negate that self-criticism and regret. Do not get mired in self judgement.
The Four Agreements are something that we can integrate into our daily life and if everyone practiced these, it would change the world. It takes time to integrate these practices into our lives, not just a day. We have decades of conditioned behaviors to contend with when we start and even with practice, no one is ever a hundred percent.
I invite you to find ways to integrate these practices into your daily life and experience the power and transformation they offer. You can focus on one agreement each day, for example, and find inventive and creative ways to implement it. Over time you can find many opportunities to usher in positive energy into your life through use of the agreements. Which one will you start with?