The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz


This month, we looked at The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz.  This wonderful book offers simple rules to live by, that are applicable to all of life’s situations.
How many times do we pay for one mistake?  The answer is thousands of times.  The human is the only animal on earth that pays a thousand times for the same mistake…We have a powerful memory.  We make a mistake, we judge ourselves, we find ourselves guilty, and we punish ourselves…but every time we remember, we judge ourselves again, we are guilty again, and we punish ourselves again, and again, and again.  (P12)
How could we possibly move on when we constantly pull ourselves back to the past?  This happens in all of us, regardless of whether we are enduring infertility or not.  We have moments that have caused us shame and regret, that play over and over in our minds.  This can cause anxiety, fear, depression, and anger.  It can also physically manifest in tension headaches, ulcers, and increased heart rate.
1.  In order to free ourselves from this debilitating cycle we must create new habits.  When we make a mistake or regret something, instead of harboring ill feelings and hurt, try the following process instead:

  • Analyze the situation and determine whether this is a rational event that you committed on purpose, or if there was a moment when you made a conscious decision to move in this direction.  Is it rational to feel guilt in this situation?  Was this something that happened completely out of your hands?  If you are not feeling irrational guilt, then continue.
  • Take ownership of, and acknowledge the situation you have created.  Was it a mistake, or did you intentionally hurt someone?  Recognize the repercussions of the event.
  • Apologize to either yourself or the other person for what pain you have caused.
  • Allow yourself to feel the relief that comes from the apology.
  • Tell yourself, ‘OK, it is over” and move on.  Do not replay the situation or use ‘what if’ statements.
  • It is normal for you to remember what happened and to feel temporary anxiety.  However, this is the important stage of letting go.  Remember the ownership of your mistake and the apology.  Remember the feeling of relief when you acknowledged what happened, and you said ‘I’m sorry.’  Finally, remember when you told yourself ‘OK, it is over’.

2)    It may take a few times to cycle through the memory of the event, but each time you remind yourself that you adequately apologized and ‘paid’ for the event, your feelings of guilt and anxiety will diminish.
3)   You have to be your best friend, and your own advocate.  You have to let go of your guilt.
We especially try to please the ones who love us, like mom and dad, big brothers and sisters, the priests and the teacher.  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! (P17)
1.  What is your ‘image of perfection’?

  • Make a list of a few characteristics you see as perfect, or desirable.
  • Now think, who created this list?  Where did these characteristics come from?  Are they healthy goals to set?

2.  Often we have a skewed image of perfection set by society, or our social experiences.  However, who is to say what is right?  Would you sacrifice your health or morals to obtain this perceived perfection?  It is important to focus on being the best ‘you’, not what society views you as.
Our image of perfection is the reason we reject ourselves; it is why we don’t accept ourselves the way we are, and why we don’t accept others the way they are. (P21)
1.  Once you realize that you already ARE perfect, because you are YOU, than this disappears.  You will no longer reject yourself as ‘not good enough’.  You will begin to accept yourself as you are, and embrace what you have become.  Only YOU can determine what and who you want to be.  It cannot be from an outside source.
Every human is a magician, and we can either put a spell on someone with our word or we can release someone from a spell.  We cast spells all the time with our opinions.(p29)
1.  It is important to realize both sides of this statement.  We can put a spell on others, as well as ourselves.

  • Be impeccable with your words towards others.  As hard as we try not to be, we are influenced by what others say.  It is a constant battle to not take things personally.  Think to a time when something your partner said hurt you tremendously, even though they didn’t mean any harm by it.  Now imagine all the words you share with your partner during the day.  Try to be as mindful as possible and use your words for love, not for hurt.
  • It is even more important to be impeccable with the words you use with yourself.  We have continuous conversations with ourselves throughout the day, and what we say is incredibly important.  We have to be our own best friends.  If you continually judge and use derogatory language towards yourself, you will begin to believe it.

You are never responsible for the actions of others; you are only responsible for you.    (P60)
1.  Often we try to control everything, and everyone around us.  Remind yourself that you can only control yourself and you are only responsible for yourself.  This helps to bring the focus down to a much smaller world, with much easier tasks to accomplish.  When you release yourself from feeling responsible for everyone around you, and how they act, then your job becomes much more simple.
We create a lot of emotional poison just by making assumptions and taking it personally…  (P64)
1.  A good example of this is when your partner is seemingly detached from a situation.  Often in our practice we see that women feel their partners are detached, preoccupied, uninterested, or appear to not care.  Most of the time this is completely false.  The misconception happens with a different display of emotions on behalf of the partner.  Instead of asking what the partner is feeling, many patients make the mistake of assuming the worst- that they don’t care.  Your partner may be deeply imbedded in worry or grief, but may not display these emotions as explicitly as you do.  Instead of assuming something and causing more distress, simply ask a question.  You are always entitled to ask.
You were born with the right to be happy.  You were born with the right to love, to enjoy and to share your love. (P84)
1.  Popular to what you may believe, you do have the right to be happy.  Are you restricting yourself from happiness because of your fertility journey?  Are you allowing yourself to enjoy your friends and family throughout this process?  If you close yourself off, and focus strictly on the goal of pregnancy, it is very likely you will suffer from higher levels of stress, anxiety, and depression.  As difficult as it is, it is important to continue your life through this obstacle, and not let it incapacitate you.
Forgiveness is the only way to heal.  We can choose to forgive because we feel compassion for ourselves.  We can let go of resentment and declare, “That’s enough!  I will no longer be the big judge that goes against myself.  I will no longer beat myself up and abuse myself.  I will no longer be the Victim.” (P115)
1.  It is incredibly important to forgive yourself.  You are not accountable for 99% of what you blame yourself for.  Here are some breathing/meditation exercises to practice ‘letting go’ and release of guilt:

  • I forgive you. Sometimes we find that our mind races with negative thoughts about ourselves.  Things we should have done, things we shouldn’t have done.  We find ways to blame ourselves for so many things we cannot control, that it becomes a negative cloud that constantly follows us.  Often, the repetitive nature of these thoughts can feel suffocating, and exhausting.  For the exercise, place yourself in a comfortable position in a quiet area suitable for meditation.  Close your eyes and begin to breathe slowly and deeply.  On the exhale, say the words ‘I forgive you’ or ‘I forgive myself’, whichever suits you best.  You are literally releasing yourself from the accountability and blame of all of those events you couldn’t control.  Play around with the tempo and the tone of the mantra, and feel that cloud drift away.
  • Out. This may be my favorite mantra.  Similar to the first activity, place yourself in a meditative position.  Begin to breathe slowly and deeply.  This time, on the exhale say the word ‘out’.  Try it slowly annunciating each letter, then try it a little faster, and to the point.  You will find a tempo that works for you.  Each time you hit the ‘t’ in ‘out’ feel your tongue physically push away the sad and negative feelings you have.  Allow the word to cleanse your anxiety and sadness for you.  You will begin to feel physically, and emotionally lighter as you continue this exercise.
  • You may practice these for as long as you need, but I suggest placing 5 minutes aside at least for each exercise.

Imagine that you love yourself just the way you are.  You love your body just the way it is, and you love your emotions just the way they are.  You know that you are perfect just as you are.  (P126)