THE 1ST OF THE FOUR AGREEMENTS

The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz - The 1st Agreement

INTRO

Don Miguel Ruiz wrote a best selling book called The Four Agreements - I really appreciated his insights and thought how well they could be applied to Midlife. So throughout August I'll be covering them one at a time. Today it's the First Agreement and what Midlife has taught me in regard to it.

AGREEMENT 1 - BE IMPECCABLE WITH YOUR WORD

Being "Impeccable" means being without sin and being without fault - flawless and perfect. That's a LOT to consider before we open our mouths. It's a big definition to live up to, but it never hurts to aim high - and when it comes to what we say and what others hear us say, being thoughtful and intentional about the words we speak is something we can all aspire to.

The 1st Agreement -  Be Impeccable with your Word

SPEAK WITH INTEGRITY. SAY ONLY WHAT YOU MEAN

So often I hear people say something and not follow through. They don't "walk their talk". If you're going to be authentic and if you're speaking your truth, then living it out is easy. Integrity and honesty go hand in hand - if you say what you think people want to hear, and it goes against your basic core beliefs, then you lose your self-respect - and ultimately the respect of others.

There is a converse side to this - if you speak your truth loud and clear, without taking account of the feelings and beliefs of others, then you step on a lot of toes and your message gets lost in the fallout. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but there are consequences to blurting that opinion out with no regard to the thoughts and values others may hold.

We don't need to agree with everyone, we don't need to stifle our own beliefs and values to fit in with the popular train of thought. We are old enough and wise enough to agree to disagree - to hold our tongues if it will cause dissention, but also to stand firm on what we believe to be true - this is wisdom (one of the bonuses that come with getting older). The loudest voice is not necessarily the right voice - we need to think first, and speak with consideration - not blurt everything out without thinking it through.


The word is a force; it is the power you have to communicate, to think, and thereby to create the events in your life.  Don Miguel Ruiz

AVOID USING THE WORD TO SPEAK AGAINST YOURSELF OR TO GOSSIP ABOUT OTHERS 

Midlife has finally brought me to a place where I can look at myself and like the person I've become. I've gotten past the days of being critical of myself - of all the little things I didn't like about how I looked, or how I performed, or what opinion I held. I don't second guess myself as much and I don't tend to put myself down as often. I might still question myself at times, or find fault in myself, but I don't talk about it like I used to. Finding fault with myself and announcing it to all and sundry just erodes my self-confidence (and nobody needs that!)

I'm also getting better at not blaming myself or others - this is a work in progress and Brene Brown's little video clip titled "Damn You Steve" has become the go-to expression in our house when we toss blame around. I've included the Youtube clip and if you haven't seen it, it's worth giving it 3½ minutes of your life (trust me!)




Once the blame game stops, and we take responsibility for our actions and reactions, life with others becomes so much simpler and less stressful. You don't need to be on the attack or the defence - you just accept that annoying things happen and get past it. We're all allowed a dose of frustration here and there but trying to pin it on someone else is such a waste of time and energy.

The same goes with gossip - I still struggle with this area because it has such a lure to it. Being told something that others don't know and wanting to pass that on is human nature. Knowing to stop and consider if it's a) true, b) helpful, c) kind or d) what my motivation is, all helps pull me back into line. Gossip never ends well - it has a salaciousness to it that can be hurtful and quite ugly. Midlife is the time to put a stop to it if you haven't been mature enough to do it previously (reminder to self!)

USE THE POWER OF YOUR WORD IN THE DIRECTION OF TRUTH AND LOVE

Avoiding gossip and blame leads right into this final section. Speaking the truth in love means staying within your core values with what you say, but also taking the feelings and thoughts of others into consideration before you launch. So often we are busy defending our opinion at the expense of others - maybe it's time to be kinder with our words and less adamant in how we speak them. Gently firm is so much nicer than loudly obnoxious! 

Being impeccable with your words will reflect in your life and in your relationships with others. Midlife is teaching me this every day and minding my tongue is something I'm constantly working on.


WHAT ABOUT YOU?

Are you impeccable with your words? Is integrity important to you? Are you a blurter or are you working on being more considered with what you say?


The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz - The 1st Agreement

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32 comments

  1. Wow. Some thought starters here. While I'm pretty good with consequences and tend not to stroll through the blame garden, one thing I think I'm guilty of is gossip - but not of the "did you hear" type, but the judgement you pass when you shouldn't be passing judgement. I tend to be careful about who I share this with - and there's never a malicious intent - but even so...

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    1. Gossip is such a trick area isn't it Jo? We always feel we're only sharing with people we know and trust, but it can still easily slip into something more when it's overshared or misheard. I need to close my mouth more for sure!

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  2. Interesting post Leanne. I particularly liked the parts where you write in the first person :)
    Integrity, thoughtfulness, honesty - great things to aim for, even if perfection and flawlessness are beyond us in this life!! I liked Brene Brown's clip on "blame" and could relate!! I find it can happen as quickly as she described.
    Like you, I find gossip an easy one to be lured into, especially in the workplace. It can so easily happen that a gossipy conversation starts in the office and I'm right there hearing it whether I want to be or not! It can be hard to strategically remove myself without giving the impression that I'm judging the gossips.
    The apostle Paul has much to say about how we use our words. When he writes in Ephesians about "speaking the truth in love" he's referring to how we are to train one another in truth - the foundational gospel truths, truths about who God is and what He has called us to do, hard truths of correction, etc, and that our motivation to do so should be self-sacrificial love that works for the benefit of the loved one. Paul also urges us to show love to unbelievers by sharing the truth of the gospel with gentleness and respect. This is all super hard for me (as you know, I'm still learning to hold my tongue)!! But really there's no more glorious direction in which to send my (hopefully gentle, kind, loving, respectful but truthful) words, and so I continue to aim for this and I press on......!!!
    Have a lovely day xx

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    1. I thought the Agreements tied in well with biblical truths too Sue - the "speak the truth in love" one immediately came to mind. I think the old maxim of WWJD (or say) is a great reminder for me and a way to pull myself up when I'm slipping into the grey areas.

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  3. I would like to adhere to all of these, but occasionally I do partake in a little gossip. I'm trying not to, but sometimes the words simply come out of my mouth! I think I'm work in progress. #TeamLovinLife

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    1. It's hard isn't it Kathy - when you know something really interesting and you know the people you're sharing it with - so hard to not want to be the bearer of "interesting news"!

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  4. Such a lot to think about. First, I'm so impressed with your (learned) ability -- "I can look at myself and like the person I've become. I've gotten past the days of being critical of myself ...I don't second guess myself as much and I don't tend to put myself down as often". I want to be able to say this same statement someday!

    I also like the clip on blame. I don't think I'm a blamer. I'm more a "it happened, let's deal with it". And gossip has been easier to avoid not being at work anymore! My challenge is passing judgement, like Jo says above. That is where I need to remember I don't know everything that is going on in people's lives.

    Thanks for exploring this really tough subject!

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    1. I'm still a work in progress Patricia but I feel like I can recognize when I'm doing or saying things that aren't in my best interest (or the best interest of others). I think I was always more aware of how things affected other people and now I take time to be kinder to myself (I've earnt it!)
      I loved that Damn You Steve clip because it's so easy to do - I'm getting better at pulling myself up when I start - so I'm working on that area too.

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  5. I really enjoyed the Brene Brown clip on blame (I adore her, so much wisdom). It’s funny how that’s almost hard-wired into us - to place blame. When I noticed my kids doing this, I became very mindful of how I responded to mishaps. I knew the best way to change that was to model a different response. I’m still a work in process, but as with anything, it gets easier with practice.

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    1. I love Brene too Kristin - she is such a wise woman and I really liked that the blame story was one of her own and although it was funny, it was so true and something I know I've been guilty of many times. When my husband says "damn you Steve!" to me I know that I've headed down the blame hole and need to pull out.

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  6. This really hit home from a work sense of me Leanne. One of the pieces of positive feedback I've gotten since I started on this current project gig is that I'm up-front with people and keep everyone in the loop. It's something my workplace isn't known for but I'm a firm believer in providing info to anyone and everyone who needs it (or might need it). A major deadline for a project changed yesterday and my first instinct was to let everyone know (as I know resentment will build if we delay it) but for reasons out of my control I've not been able to share it and I suspect it will come back and bite us on the butt.... we need to walk the talk as you say!

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    1. I've worked in environments where some people were "in the know" and others were in the dark and it's an awful culture. Open and accountable wins for me and is something I value in colleagues too. Good on you for promoting it and I hope you don't get too much fallout from the latest delay!

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  7. Hi Leanne, I can tell I'm going to enjoy your series this month. I recently did the Mindful in May challenge and watched a video about using 'Wise Speech', it really made me stop and think about how I react to situations. Keeping true to ourselves, having integrity and speaking truth (or keeping quiet sometimes) is essential to building trust in relationships, isn't it?

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    1. Integrity is a big one Sue - I think if we're honest (with kindness and consideration) and true to ourselves then we're going to do okay. There is always the risk of being misinterpreted, but we can't control other people and I guess that's where the next Agreement comes into play.

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  8. Hi, Leanne - Thank you for this reminder of the importance of our every word (both spoken and written). I believe that in our current times, and surrounded by our current news cycles and social media, we have an added challenge. Like yourself, and many of your other readers, I have definite areas to work on. Retirement has made this easier as it has removed workplace drama.

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    1. I'm really looking forward to leaving workplace drama behind one day Donna. It seems that everywhere I've worked there has been drama of one kind or another - maybe because I predominantly work with women??? I'm a huge advocate for getting on with things and speaking kindly and doing my best to not take things the wrong way - it's so easy to choose to take offence, now I'm getting better at giving the benefit of the doubt.

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  9. A thoughtful post and one that made me want to do better and be the better person. Although I'm not bad on the 'blame' issue, I have to admit to indulging in a little gossip, although it's never malicious, it is the urge to pass on information to others who might be interested. I think there's gossip and there's gossip, a fine line between hurtful and not really harmful. But gossip nonetheless. Note to self - just think before you speak.

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    1. I think all the areas in this Agreement have aspects to them that I can work on Jo - I think the whole "impeccable" aspect is a huge expectation, but it gives me something to work towards - at least if we know we're doing our best, then we're further along the path than those who are blurting stuff out all over the place without giving it due thought.

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  10. My parents taught me to think first and speak afterward. And above all, own what you say. (So make it good!)
    Love this post Leanne! It SO made me think of my mom and dad.

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    1. They sound like they were very wise teachers Diane - and look what an impressive daughter they raised - wise in words and in writing!

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  11. beautifully put Leanne,and one of the trickiest of the agreements - a teaching from a wiradjeri law woman- they do a symbol of a person, it has eyes a line for the nose and no mouth and she tells us that's because the mouth can cause us so much trouble and when we paint up for ceremony the ochre placed at the chin says may only kindness and wisdom pass my lips.like you I try to be this and yet I am a blurter from way back so sometimes.... on the wall going into dads room is a chart about him and it has attributes deemed most important and dad has put integrity and honesty.. the voice is such a power is it not - keep practicing I say...x

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    1. I love all those descriptive words Sandra - kindness, wisdom, integrity and honesty - all things to be aspired to before we open our mouths - wouldn't it be a wonderful world if we could all practice those four attributes!

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  12. Hi Leanne,
    You did a great job with the first agreement. Setting that bar high, my friend! I love the Blame video. Damn you Steve will definitely be on my mind, and hopefully my lips, the next time I am tempted to lay blame.

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    1. I still say it to myself regularly Karen - for some reason it's makes things easier for me if I can find a reason why things didn't go according to plan - having someone or something to blame makes it all seem so neat and tidy - and really doesn't fix anything. It does manage to add resentment into the mix - so Damn You Steve helps me to not go there in the first place.

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  13. Leanne - thank you for the honest and thought-provoking post. Having integrity in my speech has been a priority for me for a long time. This certainly doesn't mean that I am perfect at it -- but I've worked on it for a long time. Since my 'random crying moments' that I referenced in some post recently (25 terrifying questions, I think) - I struggle most with being kind when I am upset at some random person. I instantly feel badly when I am not kind. Working from home - without the drama of coworkers is wonderful for avoiding gossip! Thanks for a great post!

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    1. I am SO looking forward to the time when I won't have work drama and "discussion" to deal with Janet - it saps my soul sometimes and I find myself over-sharing stories from work as a way to debrief and let off steam - not a good practice either. Being authentic and showing integrity is so important to me now and I'm still working on it too!

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  14. I blurt. If my feelings get hurt I might say anything. This goes with what my grandmother used to tell me "closed mouth is the easiest mended". I am still a work in progress.

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    1. I'm getting better at taking myself out of situations that are likely to cause me hurt and that lowers my blurting. I'm looking forward to retirement because work is probably the worst culprit for drama and making it difficult to close my mouth.

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  15. It's always a good thing to take time to see if you are being as positive as you want to be.

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    1. Yes you're right Betty - that self-audit button is something I need to remember to keep pushing!

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  16. I grew up in a home where "saying what you mean" wasn't encouraged. We all danced around what we wanted to say or should have said for fear of retribution. The children saw the consequences of speaking that way and it wasn't a safe place to go. It's a really tough thing to learn to do when you become an adult. I'm still working on it. Thank you for this thoughtful post.

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    1. It's an interesting balance Jean between saying something truthfully and saying it kindly. I think we were always taught not to say anything at all and that allowed louder and more obnoxious people to have the most air space. Now we're being braver and speaking up and I think that's a very good thing!

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