The first agreement: Be impeccable with your word
First published in 1997, Don Miguel Ruiz’s book The Four Agreements has since sold millions of copies. The book consists of four principles to guide you to living a life of love and happiness. This is the first in a series of Reflections on the Agreements, which are as follows:
The Four Agreements are:
- Be impeccable with your word
- Don’t take anything personally
- Don’t make assumptions
- Always do your best
What happens to us as we are growing up is that we start to make our own set of agreements without realising it, based on our experience of the world and on how others treat us. Often if our parents rewarded us for certain behaviours and punished us for others, we developed a belief system based around how we thought we needed to behave in order to be loved and accepted by others.
We may arrive at adulthood with assumptions about life that are based on us pleasing others rather than being our true selves.
So the work of following the Four Agreements is in part finding out what your unconscious agreements or assumptions about life have been, and undoing them.
This first agreement, ‘Be Impeccable with your word’ asks us to
- Speak with integrity
- Say only what you mean
- Avoid using the Word to speak against yourself or gossip about others
- Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.
Words are very powerful. They are the result of thoughts, and they have the power to manifest realities. As conscious creators, which we all are, whether we know it or not, our words are constantly creating our experience of life.
The process is that first we have thoughts about something or someone, then depending on our level of evolution we may process or filter these thoughts, then we speak, and then we act.
So just like your thoughts, your words have the power to create happiness or suffering for yourself and others. If you speak against yourself and put yourself down in any way, you are effectively suppressing or diminishing your power in the world.
Most people are familiar with the affect of hurtful words used against them by others, but how many people are aware of the damage that their own words can do to themselves?
Every time you criticise or judge yourself, you are harming yourself as well.
If you think of your words as like a magic wand, or a sword, you can imagine the positive or negative affects that they can have on others. So choose to add magic and sparkle to yours and others’ lives with your words.
Practising ‘Be impeccable with your word’
1. SILENCE: If you are not sure what to say to someone, and you can feel anger or negativity arising within you, you may want to try silence. Silence is very powerful and can act like a circuit breaker if you are in a heated argument or discussion with someone. Then if you need to express your truth to them, come back to talk with them later when you are feeling more calm
2. SPEAK YOUR TRUTH: Speaking your truth can sometimes be challenging, but it is the best route to harmonious relationships. If you have something difficult to say, try taking a deep breath and relaxing your whole body before speaking.
3. USE WORDS TO UPLIFT: You know how when you see some people they just make you feel happy? Their words and their energy are uplifting for you. By choosing to use the power of your words in the direction of truth and love, you can be an uplifting force in the lives of those around you. Just expressing emotion in words in a heartfelt way like saying: ‘I love you’, is great way to touch and uplift people.
Be Kind to Yourself and Know That This is Not Easy
Studying and living the Four Agreements is not necessarily easy. It means we need to do the work of investigating what our old un-spoken, un-acknowledged agreements and assumptions about life are and questioning them, before we are able to fully commit to living according to the Four Agreements.
But if we are able to do this, guaranteed our relationships and our experience of life will transform for the better.
Has this First Agreement, ‘Be Impeccable with your word’ resonated with you? Perhaps you’d also like to read another article called Choose One Word a Year – and also about consciously choosing your words.
Michelle is a writer, musician, meditation and yoga teacher based in Bali. She teaches meditation and yoga retreats through her own business, The Global Yogi. and also offers coaching sessions in Self Love.