~by Ruth West
When I first saw this beaming face on Oprah, I knew Don Miguel Ruiz was a very special man. Was it a trick of the lighting, or some camera-man magic that made him look angelic? Perhaps. So, I raced to buy this little book. It was so small - and I was so excited to think that I might master it quickly and imbue his wisdom.
It sounded so simple! “Be impeccable with your word. Don’t take anything personally. Don’t make assumptions. Always do your best.” This was easy stuff. Soon my face would shine like his! Well, you know the saying “It’s very simple – but it isn’t easy!”
I Agree – I Agree – I Agree – But what was I agreeing to? Let’s start with the First Agreement. I thought I was honest with people. I said what I thought. I could honor my commitments. So far so good. But I read further. I was not to use my words against myself by indulging in guilt or shame. I was not to blame, criticize, or gossip – or complain. I could not JUDGE. OK – this was already getting sticky!
Maybe I should skip to the Second Agreement. Don’t take things personally? Not so easy! When somebody cuts me with a remark, my first reaction is to slash back – with a real zinger. It is hard to step back and think – maybe that person had a really bad day. But don Miguel reminds us that, “Nothing other people say or do is because of you.” As I once heard, “Whatever anyone thinks of me is none of my business.” HHMMM -
OK – not doing so well – maybe I should jump to the Third Agreement. Don’t make assumptions. Well, I just assumed you meant this – when you said that. Now, I’m boiling over! I KNOW you meant this! I don’t even have to ASK! Suddenly there is a big Drama brewing. Don Miguel advises – ask questions – clarify. Don’t EVER assume anything, because each person’s interpretation is very, very different. Be very sure you are really on the same sheet of music, before that fat lady sings!
That last agreement sounds like a piece of cake. Always do your best. Well, of course I always do! Why would you ask? But today, I’m tired and cranky. And yesterday I was rushed – so I had to cut some corners. I can see where this is going!
Back to the drawing board. This is a small book with a lot of big concepts. Before I can really AGREE to commit to any of the Four – I need to slow down – make each one a Practice – and take baby steps. It can start with my words – to choose them more carefully – because they can be poison, or medicine. Each one is a choice. Maybe you can start there too.