THE FOUR AGREEMENTS
So I posted last night, I think, just to post. It had been a week. I was feeling like I had to do it. I was tired. I was trying to be funny. Now I'm reading it this morning, I think I may have missed the mark. Hopefully, after a good night of restful sleep and some cuddles with my boys this morning, my rejuvenated mind will make an appearance. Here goes ...
So last week I posted an entry entitled "Be Impeccable with Your Word" - now I knew when I wrote that title that it was a reference from Don Miguel Ruiz's "The Four Agreements," but when Brian actually pointed it out to me I was struck with the inspiration to read the book again. And that's what I've been doing this morning. I've read through the introduction and stopped after finishing the First Agreement and I'd like to share some of my reactions. As I've said before, I highly recommend the book. It's beauty lies in its simplicity, and yet it isn't an easy How-to-Change-Your-Life book. It's more than that. It's a philosophy that just makes a lot of sense to me. And most importantly, it's about valuing yourself and rejecting all of the poison that comes our way in everyday life. Let me explain ...
Ruiz believes in "domestication" of human beings just as human beings domesticate other animals like dogs and cats. In other words we are trained from birth on how to be civilized human beings through our parents, brothers, sisters, friends, religion, etc. Anybody who has an opinion on how we should behave inflicts that opinion on us and when we take it in we create an agreement with that person and with ourselves to believe it. As children we don't have much control over what we believe and what we don't. Generally, these agreements are pounded into us until we submit and begin to practice them.
However, as we grow we may start to realize that some of the agreements we have within us contradict who we truly are. I found this to be particularly true when it came to being raised in the traditions of the Lutheran church. I began to rebel as a teenager because Lutheran teachings just weren't sitting right with me. Yet, it was even before I was a teenager that I had these feelings, but I went along with it anyway because that's what was expected of me and because I figured my parents must know what they're talking about, right?
It's this inability for people to break agreements that were forced upon them as children that makes us miserable as people. Only when we break those agreements which do not ring true for us and make new agreements that allow us to be true to ourselves will we be happy and in turn we will experience real freedom. (Not that crap they feed us about living in the U.S. When we use that word in reference to this country - I get nauseated.)
For example, Ruiz points out that when we hold agreements about things that do not ring true for us we reject ourselves and feel that we are fakes. This feeling of presenting a phony person to the rest of the world only creates more misery and we punish ourselves for being a phony through self loathing and fear of being found out. And it escalates because we begin to get angry not only about our false life in the world, but about the lies we tell ourselves. And suddenly, it's not about the world anymore, it's about oneself. "We cannot forgive ourselves for not being what we wish to be, or rather what we believe we should be." And that inability to forgive causes many to open up a world of abuse.
You see, no one beats up on us more than we beat up on ourselves. You won't put up with someone who treats you worse than you treat yourself. However, if you believe that you're not worth much, you'll let others treat you accordingly. For example, I will never allow someone to hit me in the name of love (or anything else for that matter), but there have been times in my life where I've allowed people to call me stupid and ugly and tell me that my opinions don't matter much. And I believed it. I was the girl who refused to raise her hand in school because she was so sure she would have the wrong answer (even when time and again I had the right answers.) I believed my words didn't matter.
Over the last few years, and in leaps and bounds over the last few months, I've begun to reject that agreement with myself. I'm definitely not stupid. I'm definitely not ugly - I mean, what's more beautiful than a woman who can nurture life within her own body? (Post pregnancy belly and all!) And my opinions? Well, as you can see I'm beginning to come around on that one too. This blog has been an eye opening experience for me. I'm not afraid anymore. I don't believe that I'm always wrong. That my thoughts don't carry weight. It used to be that I'd do a lot of reading online, but would never dream of posting any kind of comments. But now I have the power to raise my hand and be counted.
It's not easy. There's a lot of stuff to get through when trying to get to the very core of your self doubt or loathing. But it's possible. As Ruiz says, "If I can do it, why can't you?" And that's what I say, too. I see a lot of my friends putting themselves down for simply being themselves. I see women in my life constantly taking the crap that any creep will give them. I see women in my life obsessed about their weight and dress size. It's all because we fear that we'll be found out for being a phony - that is not being our true selves. So stop it! Be yourself and don't apologize for it. You are beautiful in all your unique being - don't hide that away from the world because you are afraid.
Yes, it's a risk. Yes, people can say awful, hurtful, devastating things - but they're only devastating if you allow them to be. No one can hurt you unless you allow them to. Have enough love for yourself not to let it happen. And then pass what you've learned onto your children so they don't have to spend half a lifetime in misery. It will be the most precious gift you can give, not only to them, but to yourself.