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The Four Agreements – 4 principles for personal freedom


The Four Agreements 4 principles for personal freedom

I just re-read ‘The Four Agreements. A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom’. It is a very popular book in personal development circles for good reason, although it is a bit too esoteric for my taste, agnostic as I am. But it has wisdom and I can definitely get down with that. Especially as the four agreements are four principles that can help us be our authentic selves and live without fear and suffering. Have a read, consider them and see if they would make your life better. 

Be impeccable with your word

Being impeccable with our word means we communicate in a positive way with others and ourselves to avoid emotional poison. When we speak unkindly or cruelly to or about someone else, we are actually also using the word against ourselves, because we create negative energy. It will also make us susceptible to other people doing the same to us. 

The words we use matter, because we use them to think, communicate and create the events that make up our lives. Words are also the filter we perceive everything through. We can use kind words and create positivity and kindness or we can use unkind words and create negativity and fear. 

When we agree to be impeccable with our word, our mind will be in a positive state and we will have the power to choose how we allow other people’s and our inner critic’s words to affect us. This means we can reach a state where we can truly say: “Sticks and stone may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” 

Don’t take anything personally

It gets easier not to let words hurt us when we don’t take things personally. I have a sign on my wall that says: “What you think about me is a projection of you”. Nothing other people do is because of us. It is because of themselves. 

We create our own emotions. Whatever we think and feel is because of our own beliefs and emotional baggage. When someone says something that hurts us, it is not them hurting us, it is us hurting ourselves, because their words touched an emotional wound. 

Our inner critic is very good at hurting us because it knows where all our emotional wounds are. But we don’t have to take our inner critic’s words personally either. The inner critic is a projection of the society’s expectations of us. It is not us. We have a right to choose what to believe and what to reject. Reject what makes you suffer.

Every single one of us are dealing with our own feelings, beliefs and opinions and we are only responsible for our own thoughts and actions. We are not responsible for other people and we can’t change other people. We can only change ourselves and inspire and support other people in their change process, but whether they want to change is up to them. 

When we manage to control our ego and don’t take anything personally we also enable and empower ourselves to stand in our own truth and trust ourselves. 

Don’t make assumptions

When we assume something, we accept something as true without evidence. We end up misunderstanding things and base our thoughts and actions on fiction. A lot of our problems and suffering is caused because we assume things. Especially in relationships with our nearest and dearest. 

It can be scary to ask for the truth, but when we find the courage to uncover the reality and turn assumptions into facts we make better decisions and communicate more effectively. Creating an environment where it is safe to ask questions, is the best thing we can do for our relationships, both in life and at work. 

In my own life I ask: “Can I just check my assumption with you?” or if I need help to fight my inner critic: “I am making up this story in my head, can you help me find out what is true?”. The truth might hurt, but facing it and moving on from it is freeing and empowering. We don’t have to attach ourselves to the pain. 

Not making assumptions also applies to our relationship with ourself. We overestimate and underestimate ourselves all the time, because we don’t take the time to uncover the reality. A key part of the coaching process is to find out what the reality is and create actions around that so we can be more effective and get positive outcomes. 

Knowing is very empowering and that is what this agreement is about. Being who we are and allowing others to be who they are. 

Always do your best

Finding the balance between overdoing it or doing less than our best is tricky. When we overdo things, we deplete our energy and risk burning out. When we do less than our best, we get frustrated and feel guilty. 

It gets even more complicated, because our best changes from moment to moment. When we are tired our best will not be as good as when we are well-rested. When we are sick our best will not be as good as when we are in full health. When we are troubled and worried our best will not be as good as when we are carefree. 

Deciding what our best is, what success looks like to us, depends on what we want out of our lives. We are here to be happy and joyful. Not to waste our lives away and not to overwork or punish overselves. 

Doing our best is about expressing ourselves and living our life intently and intensely. It is about expressing our dream. In order to do that we need clarity about what we really want.

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