The Four Agreements

A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom (A Toltec Wisdom Book)

Recommendation: I really enjoyed this book and highly recommend it. Short and to the point or as some like to say, high signal and low noise.

Favorite line: “If others say one thing, but do another, you are lying to yourself if you don’t listen to their actions.”

The Problem: I am asleep. From a young age, society has trained me to see and interact with the world in a specific and conforming way. This “way” can be thought of as fog or smoke that blocks me from seeing my true self.


Because of how I’ve been socialized, I have never been given a true opportunity to think for myself. I am trained to believe that conforming is good and following my own path is bad. Like Pavlov’s dog, I am conditioned this way.

As an adult, I am so conditioned that who I am is no longer clear. I am as society made me, not as I made myself. When I break the rules of society, I am judged by society and I judge myself.  I am filled with emotional guilt and pain. I was trained to feel this way.

When I begin thinking for myself it hurts because I am in conflict. I realize that I never had to conform and if I don’t have to conform to society then my life to this point has been a lie. So much time wasted and that is a tough pill to swallow.

Deep down inside, I know that conforming exactly as society wants is in conflict with who I am as a person. It makes me feel as though I am living a lie. I am hiding who I truly am in order to conform and it leaves me feeling shallow, fake and lost. I am a victim of my own ingrained desire to conform to society. Knowing that I can never do so perfectly.

The Solution: There are four steps I can take to wake up from this dream.

First – I must be true to who I am and never judge or blame myself when I do not perfectly conform to society. I must avoid self-criticism. I must practice self-love and speak positively to myself.

Second – I can’t take anything personally. It’s so easy to get caught up projecting my own perspectives onto life. This is a major reason I feel poorly. Everyone approaches life from their own unique perspective, many of them are asleep, trying to conform to society and struggling in their own ways. They aren’t thinking in terms of me, they are thinking in terms of themselves.

 The things they say or do to me are manifestations of this and cannot be viewed as a personal attack on me because they don’t truly know my life. Who I am, what I’m thinking and so on. They don’t walk my path, they walk their own.

They project their own truths onto me but they cannot be my truth.

On the flip side:

If I am hurt by something another person has done to me, it is my truth that hurts me and not theirs. It is not personal. My pain is a reflection of a pre-existing internal issue and not an issue others could know or understand. How could they? They have not walked my path.

Because of these factors, it is most important that I learn to trust myself more than I trust others. Only I can understand the source of my pain. Only I can take steps to remedy these pains. Only I can understand what brings me happiness.

Third – don’t make assumptions. Assumptions lead me to improperly project my life onto situations. I therefore would only see what I want to see and not the truth of the situation. My perspective is my truth but is not the truth of anyone else. Everyone else walks a different path and therefore my assumptions are inaccurate.

I must ask questions and seek clarity to avoid suffering from faulty assumptions.  This is also a truth for myself. I can never make an assumption about myself without having facts to back it up. Making an internal assumption is a lie to myself. I must find proof rather than make assumptions. I need to ask questions and find ways to create truth as opposed to conjecture.

I need to establish a beach head in reality.

Fourth – I should always do my best, understanding that my best will vary day by day. As long as I am making my best effort, no more and no less, I will find contentment in what I do. If this is true then I can never judge myself for failing or feel bad that I didn’t try hard enough. By understanding that each day I will have a different set of circumstances, providing me with a different definition of what my best is, will allow me to avoid burning myself out.

By doing my best each day I will find contentment in a life lived fully.

Starting the Process: To wake up and be who I truly want to be, I need to break old habits and follow the four agreements. Until I do, I will be asleep, a slave to society. True freedom, individual freedom is the ability to be who I truly am without self-doubt or judgment.

I need to start by understanding that I am asleep. That as I live and operate in society today I am conforming to a predetermined model of who I should be. I am not being a true and authentic version of myself.  My suffering in life can be traced to this reality. The end of my suffering can only be brought about by waking myself up to who I really am.

I need to understand that there are multiple voices that have been programed in my head that represent society trying to keep me conforming. They will make me feel guilty, they will hurt me and they will judge me for going down a path of my own choosing. By understanding these voices and the root of where they come from I can take action against them.

By knowing these voices, I can address them directly.

I can build goals to overcome society. Every time I overcome a goal I grow stronger in my ability to resist society.  Each accomplished goal brings me closer to the true and authentic version of myself. By achieving these goals, I am able to build positive momentum, stacking wins and compounding the value of each future win.

But the truth is that this process will be long and hard. It won’t happen overnight. I will struggle along the way and need to keep the focus on compounding the value of the four agreements over time.

Most importantly, I need to forgive society for conditioning me to conform. As the second agreement states, it’s important to not take this reality personally. Those that have trained me to conform do so because that was how it was done to them before me. They know no better.

I need to promise myself to keep one main idea in focus when it is hard to battle conforming to society.

“Imagine living your life without the fear of being judged by others. You no longer rule your behavior according to what others may think about you. You are no longer responsible for anyone’s opinion. You have no need to control anyone, and no one controls you, either.”

Closing thought: I am struck by the irony of sharing this review that is a projection of my unique worldview. These are my takeaways and key in on aspects that are important to me. Anyone else reading this book could have totally different takeaways based on how different their path in life has been. I think that’s probably why I enjoyed it so much. We are all different and keeping that in mind as we interact with one another is important. When our differences in world view aren’t viewed as personal attacks, it makes shared interactions more enjoyable.

***

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2 thoughts on “The Four Agreements

  1. […] I can on any given day but most importantly, I have to show up and hit the finish line. Reading The Four Agreements really helped maintain this mindset by helping me to keep the perspective that life is both a […]

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