The Four Agreements

by Nancy Travers,LCSW

In The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz he uses Toltec (an ancient Mesoamerican culture) knowledge and practices to describe four critical “rules” to implement in your life in order to change your life and live one full of joy and integrity.

First, you must be impeccable with your word. Mean what you say and say what you mean. This is the most important and hardest to implement. Although simple-sounding, it is difficult to maintain. Misuse of your word can create a living hell, while honoring it can help make your life heaven on earth.

Just as you should be impeccable with your word to others, it is equally as important to avoid using your word against yourself. This may be overt or covert. Overtly, how you use your word against yourself contains the negative self-speak you do on a daily basis, within your head. You manifest outwardly what you think internally. By changing your self-speak to more positive, affirming dialogue, you can manifest truth and love coming from within.

Covertly, by hurting other people you’re actually hurting yourself. When you use your word against others, you breed dislike which will actually, ultimately come back on you. The universe returns to you what you send it out. Positive or negative, you get what you give.

The remaining three agreements are really branches of the first.

Second, never take anything personally. Nothing anyone else does is because of you. We are all responsible only for ourselves. No one can make you do or feel anything, nor can you make anyone else do or feel anything.

When someone insults you, if you take it personally you are agreeing with them. Anything anyone else as or does is more about them than you. By internalizing their opinions, you’re giving them power all over yourself. Really, they are dealing with their own feelings, beliefs and opinions. As explained above, when you lash out at other people, you’re actually hurting yourself.

By taking things personally, you are allowing others to have power over yourself and making yourself easy prey. In the same way you shouldn’t take negative opinions personally, you must not take it personally when you receive positive opinions, either. Regardless of what others think, what is important is how you think of yourself.

When you take things personally, it is as a result of fear. If you live without fear, there is no way you can take things personally. Without fear, there is no anger, hate, jealousy or sadness. By avoiding these negative emotions you feel good and everything around you is good. Then, you are happy, loving and at peace. By loving yourself, you can love everything around you.

Third, don’t make assumptions. When you assume, as is said, you make an ASS out of U and ME. As human beings, we tend to make assumptions about everything. Then, we believe that they are true. Next we take our assumptions personally, blame others, and react negatively, sending our emotional poison out into the universe.

Avoid making assumptions by asking questions first. Find the courage to do so and then articulate what your true desires.

By clearly expressing your wants and desires, and avoiding gossip and assumptions you show respect for yourself. Respect others’ points of view and refrain from arguing just to win. Never expect anyone to know what you’re thinking.

Four, always do your best. Regardless of the circumstances, when you do your best you escape your own judgment, blame and regret. Always doing your best regardless of the circumstances, will ensure you will never suffer self-recrimination. By always doing your best, you can live life fully, be productive, good to yourself and happy. Have patience with yourself. Take action. Practice compassion and forgiveness, for yourself and others. If you do your best always, positive changes will occur as a result.

By following the advice in this book, you can improve your life and relationships with others. Ruiz offers inspirational, uplifting advice that everyone can take to make positive changes in their own lives that may then ripple outward into the world.


Nancy Travers is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. She specializes in all types of relationships; We all want them, We all need them; How to get em and Keep them. Nancy’s office is located at 2212 Dupont Dr., Suite I, Irvine, Ca. 92612.

For more information or to make an appointment, call 949-510- 9423 or contact us.
copyright a division of Counseling Corner, Inc.
As seen in The Blade magazine June 2005.

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