This week was the third in my four-part sermon series on Don Miguel Ruiz’s book, The Four Agreements. For this blog to make the most sense, you may want to visit (or revisit) the previous two! All four agreements work in our lives to help us be the beings of light and love that we are deep inside. These agreements help us to shed the layers of programming, triggers and baggage that hide our authentic selves. This is the spiritual journey.
The First Agreement was Be Impeccable With Your Word toward yourself. Love yourself and stop the negative self-talk that so many of us have running in our minds. The Second Agreement was Don’t Take Anything Personally. If people are aiming poison, angry words, negative behavior toward us, it is about them, not us.
(For the full audio version, click here.)
These lead us to the Third Agreement that we need to make with ourselves which is Don’t Make Assumptions. We do this constantly… sometimes we’re right, but often we’re wrong, then we take things personally and we create our own little dramas and suffering because of it.
Here’s a simple example. My wife, Julie, and I talk early in the day about going for a walk later. Later comes and she’s sitting reading a book, so I assume she isn’t ready to go for a walk and I get on the computer for a bit. Finally, I ask if we’re going to go for a walk and she says “I was just waiting for you.” And I say, “But I was waiting for you!”
Our society is also really great at labeling people and then making assumptions based on those labels. A pastor friend of mine has a gentleman in her congregation who is a staunch republican to the extent that he will only sit on the right side of the sanctuary. He also happens to sit on the church council and is a fairly influential member of the congregation. Not long ago my friend was having conversations with the congregation about becoming a Reconciling Congregation (one in which LGBT folks are fully welcomed and accepted) and assumed that he would be against it. She had quite a bit of angst about how he would feel about this. Turns out he was a huge supporter of the idea. When I asked her why she hadn’t just asked, she said she realized she should have, but she was afraid.
That seems to be the bottom line… for some reason, we’re afraid to ask for clarification. Why is that? Is it an earlier agreement we made with ourselves that it isn’t safe to ask questions? Is it because we are afraid of what the answer might be? And if the answer isn’t what we’d like then we’ll take it personally and feel bad?
I started to pay attention to how much I do this and it’s ridiculous! So often we perceive things according to our agreements… so we see what we’re expecting to see, or programmed to see, and we hear what we want to hear. But we don’t perceive things as they really are.
It is true that relationships are not made without risk and vulnerability. But good communication doesn’t happen without courage and honesty and not taking things personally! We need to ask the questions that we’re afraid to ask. More often than not, it will be easier than expected and keep us from living in fear and anxiety.
Being courageous in our communication is not only asking for clarity, but sometimes asking for what we want. Sadly one of the agreements many of us have made with ourselves is that we shouldn’t have to ask for what we want or need with the person we love. They should just know. We think it makes us seem selfish if we ask for what we want or need. Or we think that person just doesn’t love us enough to understand us. But people like and need different things. And we don’t read minds.
When my ex-husband and I were first married we had an argument about something and I got upset, walked out of the room and went in the bedroom. He thought that meant I wanted to be alone. But for me it meant he was supposed to come find me and hold me and work through it. I finally had to spell that out to him.
These things sound much easier than they are. But I’m convinced that a healthier way to live that leads us to wholeness and peace, that leads us to live authentically and in relationship with the Divine truly does become easier when following these agreements:
- Be impeccable with your word – put your energy into love and truth toward yourself
- Don’t take anything personally
- Don’t make assumptions