The Four Agreements was recommended to me by Paul a few years ago and I have found myself returning to it again and again. Based on Toltec wisdom, it addresses the self-limiting beliefs most of us have that create self inflicted and needless suffering in our lives. I guess it officially comes under the genre of a self-help book though I don't feel like it is typical for this category as many similar books are full of unrealistic ideas and stories that don't transpose into real life. This book is different ... it has 4 rules to follow that are easy to remember, achievable and applicable to everyday life.
BE IMPECCABLE WITH YOUR WORD
Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.
DON'T TAKE ANYTHING PERSONALLY
Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won't be the victim of needless suffering
DON'T MAKE ASSUMPTIONS
Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you an to avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama.
ALWAYS DO YOUR BEST
Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance simply do your best, and you will avoid self judgement, self abuse and regret.
I find it hard to express the points made about domestication and the unrealistic requirements we put on ourselves to please others but I hope this helps sum it up:
'During the process of domestication, we form an image of what perfection is in order to try to be good enough. We create an image of how we should be in order to be accepted by everybody. We especially try to please the ones who love us... ...Trying to be good enough for them we create an image of perfection, but we don't fit this image. We create this image, but this image is not real. We are never going to be perfect from this point of view. Never.I felt this book really applied to me. I know I have a bad habit of taking things personally and I'm the worst for assuming what others are thinking, or believing that I am not living up to their expectations (as set by my own unachievable image of perfection mentioned in the above excerpt!). It helped me understand these things and address them, encouraging me to ask more questions about what people want, expect and feel as well as not taking everything so personally in life.
Not being perfect we reject ourselves... ... We are not good enough for ourselves because we don't fit with our own image of perfection. We cannot forgive ourselves for not being what we wish to be, or rather what we believe we should be'
This really only scratches the surface of what this relatively short book has taught me. As I said earlier, the four agreements are easy to remember, though it's easy to fall off the wagon and revert back to your old ways. However... following rule 4 'always do your best', rather than giving yourself a hard time and punishing yourself for not being perfect, it's possible to just move on and try again.
As the months and years go by you'll find yourself reading this book again and again. I have no doubt that you'll end up giving it to a family member or friend....
....Then, most likely, you'll buy another one as you're going to want to refer back to it in years to come!