Most have heard our parents or teachers say, "Pay attention." Excellent advice. We are constantly inundated with messages and information in today's fast-paced world.
Our capacity to pay attention acts as a filter, keeping out what we don't need and assisting us in making decisions.
The Toltec counsel offered by Don Miguel Ruiz in his book "The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom" emphasizes the importance of paying attention.
Another reason to pay attention is that the Toltecs were recognized across southern Mexico thousands of years ago as "men and women of knowledge." Ruiz believes that if we follow their guidance, we may achieve "personal freedom."
Throughout our lives, we have utilized our attention to learn how to act. We determine what to believe and what not to, what is appropriate and what isn't, what is good and evil, and what is right and wrong.
But how did we figure out what we needed to know? By observing and learning from others' experiences. We didn't have the option to select our views as youngsters, so we believed what our family and friends told us. We decided to concur and put our faith in their recommendations.
We develop a picture of perfection after adopting these ideas, which we attempt to live up to. The issue is that we have set the bar too high. We are all flawed human beings with flaws.
We perceive perfection as a huge struggle, and as a result, we don't think we're good enough for ourselves. We're hard on ourselves because we're not who we want to be or think we should be.
Following the Toltecs' teaching, Ruiz says that the most important person we must consider is ourselves.
While we make numerous promises to others to demonstrate our value, the most significant promises we make to ourselves are the ones we make to ourselves. We inform ourselves who we are, what we experience, what we accept, and how to act in these agreements. Our personality is the consequence of this process.
Ruiz advises us to use the Toltecs' four agreements as a reference. We may use them to guarantee that our commitments lay the groundwork for self-satisfaction: pride in ourselves.
The First Agreement - Be Impeccable with Your Word
Wow! What do these big words mean? Let's take it one step at a time and start with "your word." This is a term that we frequently utilize. "Your word is your promise." "I'm going to take your word for it." "You have my word."
Your word is a commitment to truth in each of these statements. It's the way you aim to live and fulfill your responsibilities.
Let's look at what the term "impeccable" means—perfect in every way.
Ruiz offers an alternative definition: Impeccable is derived from the Latin word pecatus, which means "sin." Because the word “im” implies "without," impeccable suggests "without sin."
Every negative statement we make about ourselves is a flaw, such as when we condemn or blame ourselves for our mistakes. Being flawless does not imply that we are inferior. We accept responsibility for our acts when immaculate, but we do not condemn or criticize ourselves.
As a result, being true to our word does not imply that we are using the term against ourselves.
Consider how many times we put someone down with our comments in regular human encounters. It's referred to as "gossip." It's become a method for us to feel closer to one another because it helps us feel better to watch someone else suffering in the same manner we do.
Ruiz compares the human mind to a computer, with gossip being compared to a computer virus. When a computer is infected with a virus, it stops working properly.
According to Ruiz, if we stick to the first agreement, we may make the necessary changes to live a more productive life.
Changes in how we feel about ourselves are followed by how we interact with others, particularly those who have power over us. We can begin to advance to a more optimistic frame of mind if we stick to the initial agreement. The first step in our rehabilitation is to keep our word.
The Second Agreement - Don't Take Anything Personally
Taking things personally, according to Ruiz, is the ultimate act of selfishness because we assume that everything revolves around "me."
However, nothing that other people do is due to ourselves. It's all because of them. People exist in their own dreams and minds; they live in a very different world from ours. When we take things personally, we assume that they are aware of what is going on in our world and want to impose our reality on them.
We become offended when we take critical comments personally, and our response is to defend our ideas and cause disputes.
Because we need to be right and make everyone else wrong, we may build something enormous out of nothing. Even our own ideas about ourselves aren't always accurate, so we don't have to take them personally.
People lie for a variety of reasons, and we sometimes tell ourselves lies. Others will lie to us if we lie to ourselves. Therefore what they say to us may be false. According to Ruiz, we must trust ourselves and choose whether or not to believe what others say.
We may prevent many problems in life if we make it a practice not to take things personally. If we don't take things personally, our rage, jealously, envy, and even negativity will go away.
We won't have to rely on what other people do or say. All we have to do now is trust ourselves to make decent decisions.
We are not responsible for other people's acts; we are only accountable for our own. Negative words or behaviors from others will pass us by once you realize this and refuse to take them personally.
The Third Agreement - Don't Make Assumptions
The trouble with assumptions, as Ruiz points out, is that we believe them to be true. We're convinced they're real. We make assumptions about what others are doing or thinking, then take it personally, blaming them and reacting by spreading "emotional poison" with our words.
We create assumptions and feel we are correct because we are reluctant to ask for clarity; we then defend our beliefs and prove someone else incorrect. It's really better to ask questions than to make assumptions, according to Ruiz, since assumptions set us up for failure.
Even if we don't comprehend what we're hearing, we create assumptions about what it means and then trust them. We assume that everyone views life the same way we do. We presume that people think the same way we do, feel the same way we do, and judge the same way.
To avoid making assumptions, we must ask questions. We must ensure that the communication is clear. We inquire if we don't comprehend anything. We must have the guts to ask questions until we are completely clear, and even then, we must not assume that we know everything there is to know.
As Ruiz says, we won't have to make assumptions since we will know the truth once we get the answer.
The Fourth Agreement - Always Do Your Best
It's as simple as that: always do your best, no more, no less, under all circumstances.
We must remember, though, that our finest will never be the same from one instant to the next. Everything changes all the time. Therefore our best will be high quality and not so excellent at other times. Our best will be determined by how we feel.
If we push too hard to achieve more than our best, we will expend more energy than necessary, and our best wouldn't be enough in the end. When we overdo anything, we exhaust ourselves, and it takes us longer to achieve our goal. But if we don't give it our all, we'll become frustrated, which will lead to self-judgment, regret, and guilt.
The majority of individuals only perform when they expect an incentive and do not enjoy the action. That is why they do not give it their all. On the other hand, we will find that we love every effort we perform if we do it just to do it, without anticipating a reward. We'll get our rewards, but we're not attached to them.
We are truly enjoying life if we like what we do and constantly give it our all. We're having a good time, we're not bored, and we're not frustrated.
Action, according to Ruiz, is about living completely. An inaction is a form of denial of existence. Inaction is when we sit in front of the television every day for years because we are frightened of being alive and expressing who we are.
Taking action is saying who we are. We might have a lot of wonderful ideas in our heads, but it's what we do with them that makes the difference. There will be no creativity, results, and reward if an idea is not put into action.
Only if we give it our all will the first three agreements prevail. We should not expect to be able to keep our promises all of the time.
All we can do is our best. We should not expect to never take things personally; instead, we should try our best. We shouldn't expect ourselves to never make another assumption, but we can definitely try.
Even if we still make assumptions, take things personally, and don't keep our word, if we're trying our best, we'll feel good about ourselves if we're doing our best.
Breaking Old Agreements
The first step to personal liberation, according to Ruiz, is awareness. To be free, we must first recognize that we are not free. To fix an issue, we must first understand what the problem is.
We gain a bit more freedom each time we tackle one of our anxieties. We must cease instilling fear in people. To do so, we must develop emotional control and stop feeding the feelings that arise from fear. If you realize that everything in our lives is a product of what we think and what we believe isn't true, you may start to alter it.