Don Miguel Ruiz released his worldwide best-seller, “The Four Agreements” in 1997, and since then the prescriptions for life that he outlined in this book have been adopted by millions. The widespread acceptance of the tenets laid out in The Four Agreements is due in large part to the fact that there are only 4 specific axioms that we need to follow in order to facilitate our personal growth as human beings. As we will see as we begin to unpack these agreements, while they are all easily understood, they are much more difficult to put into practice consistently as they require patience, hard work, honesty, and faith. Let’s begin by taking a look at the first agreement.
Arguably the most important agreement from a psychological standpoint, the first agreement states: “Be impeccable with your word.” Honesty, it could be argued, is the highest virtue because speaking truth in the face of evil can be the primary antidote to curing ourselves of the potential temptation of engaging in dishonest conversation. When we allow ourselves to be dishonest, we leave the door open to the possibilities of lying to ourselves and the people around us in order to take whatever shortcut we see available with the intention of avoiding difficult, yet necessary truths. Because honesty is one of the highest of virtues, the consistent engagement in honest speech and acts also makes it one of the most difficult of the agreements to adhere to. As individuals in recovery, we have already learned the difficult lesson of seeing how dishonesty can affect ourselves and everyone around as honesty is typically anathema in the context of active addiction. Engaging in honest speech also creates more opportunities for closeness and connection because as we develop this skill, other will notice our commitment to the truth and will be drawn to us because the truth is a universal that we all seek. Another way to look at truthful speech is that it helps to construct reality as often times the reality of a conversation is manifested through speech. From a personal standpoint, we also act out what we believe to be real so in that sense if we allow ourselves to lie to our innermost self, we begin to operate in a reality that has been constructed by falsehoods. In part II, we will discuss the second agreement which is, “Don’t take anything personally.”
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