By Debbie Olujobi
Life as we know it is based on agreements. We commit ourselves to others, to tasks, to careers, partners and the list goes on. We have to agree to communicate and interact. Business requires agreements. Love, marriage, even divorce requires agreements that states the expectations and responsibilities of participants. Agreements come in variants and they cover absolutely everything.
A language is based on a societal acceptance of symbols and meanings; its an agreement. In the English speaking world, a mountain is a large natural elevation of the earth’s surface, rising abruptly from the surrounding level; a large steep hill. In China, there is no such acceptance or agreement, so a mountain means nothing, its just a sound without value. Religion is an agreement, some agree some don’t and there in lies the dichotomy of beliefs.
Most of the agreements that keep the world going are historical, we are taught them and we accept them till we grow enough in our consciousness to ask why? The journey of self discovery has caused me to disagree with many fundamental agreements; I just don’t agree with them. I find some norms of culture and religion suffocating and consider them a subtle means of human domestication.
A few years ago, I discovered a book by Katie Byron “Loving what is”, it remains a beautiful resource but in that period I also bought another audio book. It is also available in print. That work of genius is what inspires this column. Its a gift from Don Miguel Ruiz to the human race and it is “The four Agreements”. In his native Mexico he is referenced as a national heirloom and reading him confirms him as a universal gem.
I had that book in my audio library for 5 years but just never got round to listening to it till 2 years ago and since I did I find myself going back to it again and again. I discover something new every single time; it is that good. The book is a strong advocate for personal freedom from the beliefs and agreements we have inherited, made or entered into with others and ourselves. These agreements and beliefs are the ceilings that limit us, because they domesticate us, just like the animals we tame; the dogs, the horses, we become tame, limited and dissatisfied. The four agreements have become a way of life for a lot of people who seek to know and be more and I consider myself blessed to be in that group.
Bullying is an act I totally despise, I have always resisted being bullied and consciously work hard at not being a bully (with a personality as strong as mine, its easy to bully even unconsciously). The domestication of man by man is bullying no matter how it is done. Bullying is done by a repeated conditioning of the mind till it starts to take a point of view that is not necessarily true or right for the individual in question.
I should state quite clearly here that Don Miguel does not use the term bullying; that is all me. It comes from years of resentment against beliefs that are forced down my throat by general perception of others disguised as political, cultural religious truth. It seems the world has been taken over by religious sales men selling their own brand of beliefs, some more forcefully than others. The trade is quite successful as religious figures the world over sit atop vast affluence and influence.
I am not an atheist so I am not anti God, what I am is anti anyone getting in the way of seeking God for myself. Lately I have become an onion and I am hoping to totally peel off layers of agreements and hopefully undomesticate myself before my journey on this side of eternity ends.The Four agreements are not new, we all know them, somewhere in our psyche, these truths already exist, we just start to live them and thats where it all gets a tad interesting.
The first agreement is simple; Be Impeccable with your word. Speak the truth, speak with integrity, speak without causing harm to others and yourself. Use your word in the direction of truth and love always. It seems like a no brainer but how many people can claim to speak with integrity and truth always? The need to manipulate situations and people prevent us from being impeccable so we bend the truth, we lie, we gossip and even withhold love by mismanaging the power that is to be found in the words we speak. Ultimately all of the wars the world has seen began when a word was spoken that spread hate and not love; think Adolf Hitler.
The second Agreement; Don’t make assumptions. This was a problem that plagued me a lot when I was younger. I blame this on my inability to always handle rejection; so I just assumed versions of a fantasy that I hoped would become true eventually.
I lacked the courage to ask questions, to ask for clarity and demand what I wanted from people and situations and the result was a lot of hurt. I have since learnt that clear communication completely avoids misunderstanding, heartbreak and despair. This second agreement is most important in the affairs of the heart, we all must learn to ask people who want to be in our lives what they want and state our expectations, so we can walk away where and when we are not validated by the liaisons. We cant just assume that lust will eventually turn to love.
The third agreement is famous, we say it all the time; Don’t take anything personal. Unfortunately we do, we all have huge egos that need constant massaging, so we take everything personal , when it really isn’t! Nothing others do is because of you. People are busy living their own realities. Their actions are a projection of their own dreams, it could be heaven or hell but its not personal. Giving up our power by taking the actions personal just makes us victims of needless angst and suffering. When I eventually developed enough courage to stop people projecting their own negativity into my life, I got happier, I just did not invest any energy in caring what people thought of me and my choices.
The fourth agreement in my view is priceless, I live by it; Always do your best; . Doing ones best is all one can do after all. My best may not always be good enough but its the best I have to offer and there is a major satisfaction I get from trying my very best regardless of the results. I remember telling my significant other that if we didn’t work I would be sad but not despondent. I had explained that I did everything passionately, giving my all and my very best, so if things did not work out after that, it was okay; just not meant to be. Doing our best in all things help us live our authentic best and that I always agree with.