The Third Agreement: Don’t make assumptions
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 second in a series of Reflections on the Agreements, which are as follows:
The Four Agreements
- Be impeccable with your word
- Don’t take anything personally
- Don’t make assumptions
- Always do your best
The third agreement, ‘Don’t Make Assumptions’ is about maintaining an open mental emotional space when considering a situation or interaction or thought.
On the website (Toltec Wisdom), a student of Don Miguel states about this agreement:
“Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.”
What are the kinds of things that we often make assumptions about in our everyday lives?
If we are considering having a difficult conversation with someone, perhaps a family member, a friend or someone we know very well, we may start imagining what they are going to say in response to us. Because we know this person so well, we might automatically make an assumption that they will behave and respond in a certain way. But as soon as we make this assumption, we are impacting the outcome of our conversation because we are projecting something already and not giving this situation the space to come alive in the way that it wants to.
If we are considering perhaps applying for a new job, or stepping into a new career, we might make an assumption about all the things that are required for this to happen. We might assume that because we don’t have exactly the right qualifications, then we will not be considered for the position. We might think that because there is a standard way of getting into that new career, that we have to follow it, rather than perhaps side-stepping or jumping off from another platform (like some of our personal experience that may substitute for a qualification).
We might also be in the habit of making bigger assumptions relating to our life story. We might assume that we will always live in the same place, that we will always do the same work, or be with the same partner. Although none of these things are good or bad (‘only thinking makes them so’ as said the wise shaman, Shakespeare), what if we let go of all of these assumptions as well? What if instead of seeing life as something that is laid out before us like a neat garden path, we choose to live it more as an ever unfolding adventure story taking us to more and more marvelous places and connecting us up with an ever-expanding array of beautiful beings?
What if we stopped assuming anything, and stayed continually fully present and open to what the present moment has to offer us? What kinds of wonders might we start to experience?
What if we could ask for what we want from the universe, knowing in our hearts that the universe wants for us what we want, because we are co-creators in this game of life. The universe is excited to work with us in manifesting our truth.
Like the other agreements, this one is about really questioning your subconscious belief systems and being prepared to have them overturned.
What if they way you thought about something could be shown to you to be completely wrong?
Do you choose to be angry because life has proven you have been barking up the wrong tree, or do you laugh, shake your head, and wonder what you will learn next?
Practising ‘Don’t make assumptions’
1. BECOME AWARE OF YOUR ASSUMPTIONS: Tune into what it is that your subconscious expects of a situation before it happens and be curious. If you are single and interested in meeting someone, check what your assumptions are about your date or dates, and what they are about yourself. Perhaps you have an insecure voice that says ‘Oh he / she won’t like me because of X or Y’ or ‘He or she will think B about me because of A that I said the other day’.
Just watch these assumptions, and question them. Why am I thinking anything about what this person thinks about me? Why not just be myself and have fun?!
What would it be like to be free from these thoughts?
2. WHEN OUTCOMES ARE DIFFERENT THAN YOU EXPECTED, REJOICE!: When you are able to stop making assumptions about situations, relationships and other events in your life, you open up space for newness and new possibilities. When things unfold in a brand new way for you thanks to this new mental / emotional space you have opened up, rejoice!
Give yourself a pat on the back or do a salute to the sun in the garden in thanks.
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.
The work of following the Four Agreements is the work of a spiritual warrior.
Becoming a warrior is not for the faint of heart! 🙂
But it is OH SO WORTH IT, because the prize is personal freedom, which is essentially – becoming free from the prison of your own mind, and being able to be fully alive in the dance of life.
Of course yoga and all the practices we do at Happy Buddha Retreats are also designed to facilitate your metamorphoses into spiritual warrior-hood. We are fully with you in this!
Has this Third Agreement, ‘Don’t make assumptions’ resonated with you? What are the challenges and how do they arise with practicing this agreement?
Michelle is a writer, musician, meditation and yoga teacher based in Melbourne. She teaches mindfulness courses and leads yoga retreats. She runs her own business called Inner Alchemy and is available as a coach and mentor.