“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 Miguel Ruiz
In the continuing blog series focusing on the book the Four Agreements by don Miguel Ruiz, today we will talk about the first agreement: Be Impeccable with your Word. According to Ruiz, the first agreement is the most important agreement but it is the most difficult one to keep. You might be thinking to yourself that it sounds simple and not understand why it is the most difficult agreement to honor. The answer lies within the fact that you manifest everything in life through your word. Thoughts become things.
It is imperative to recognize that the word is not just what you speak aloud, but it is also the thoughts you have about yourself and others. It includes the written word and all of the things you communicate in texts, emails and other written communication. The word is a force, it has energy and can be used for good or evil. Your kind words can heal and bring beauty and love and your harsh words can cause pain and suffering. Depending on how you use words, you can set yourself and others free or enslave them.
Don Miguel Ruiz tells us that impeccability means “without sin.” He is not talking about the “sin” that most organized religions discuss. He shares that everything you feel, think or say against yourself is a sin. When you judge yourself or blame yourself for things, you are not being impeccable with your word So, to follow this agreement, you will not judge or blame yourself. You will be mindful of all you say and do and take responsibility for your actions. You can measure the impeccability of your word by your level of self-love. When you are impeccable with your word, you feel good, happy and at peace.
To practice this agreement, pay attention to your thoughts, oral and written communication. Look at how you speak to yourself and others. What thoughts run through your head when you look at yourself in a mirror or see others in the world? Slow down and pay attention to what you are going to say before you speak. One of the key practices I try to follow is asking the following questions by Socrates before I speak:
In many cases, the first two statements are true, but the last is not. It is usually my ego that wants to speak and share a story. By asking these questions, I don’t talk as much and am more likely to be impeccable with my word.
Are you impeccable with your word including your thoughts, oral and written communication?
How can you incorporate the first agreement to be impeccable with your word into your daily life?
“We need a great deal of courage to challenge our own beliefs. Because even if we know we didn’t choose all these beliefs, it is also true that we agreed to all of them.”
~ don Miguel Ruiz
I recently taught a four-week meditation class based on the book The Four Agreements by don Miguel Ruiz. Over the next weeks, I am going to share some of the key points, from the book, in this blog. If you haven't read this book or haven't read it in a while, I highly recommend reading it and adopting the agreements. Ruiz is a master in the Toltec tradition and he shares powerful teachings from the Toltec Wisdom.
One of the first concepts that impacted me was the belief that humans are domesticated just like dogs and cats. As children, we did not have a choice in what to believe. We learned the rules we had to follow based on our culture, society, parents, teachers and adults in our life. We were punished if we did not follow the rules and we were rewarded when we followed them. I learned to please others so that I would be praised and accepted and did not break the rules for fear of being disciplined or judged unworthy. I became so well-domesticated that I no longer needed the adults in my life to punish me. I did a great job of beating myself up and chastising myself for any misdeed I committed. Ruiz calls these beliefs the ‘Book of Law’ and we each have our own set of rules that differs from everyone else. I judge myself and others based on my Book of Law, which causes serious problems because everyone is playing from a different set of rules.
One idea that affected me the most was the fact that I didn’t have a choice about the rules when I was a child. But, now as an adult, I can take time to examine the rules and see what I accept and what no longer serves me. I want to live a life of joy and fulfillment, therefore, I have found the courage to break the agreements that are fear-based and claim my personal power. I will be authentic and no longer say or do things from the perspective of pleasing others. I know from within that I am lovable, worthy and good enough and I no longer will seek approval from others. This isn’t easy and is a work in progress, but awareness is crucial for the transformation.
The Four Agreements will be discussed in future blogs. The agreements are:
During our domestication process, we learned the rules to be a “good girl” or a “good boy.” What were the rules in your house for being “good?” What did your caregivers consider "bad?"
What agreements do you need to break that are fear-based and claim your personal power?
“Don't be shy about asking for help. It doesn't mean you're weak, it only means you're wise.” ~anonymous
Somewhere early on in life, I learned that it was a sign of weakness to ask for help. I am not sure where I learned that silly rule or why I followed it for so long, but I believed the social norm to never ask for help and tried to do it all by myself. I did everything I possibly could and then went above and beyond because I believed I had to give 110% to be successful. I didn’t dare delegate anything as I thought that would be a sign of weakness due to the fact that I was asking others to do something I couldn’t do, plus I was a control freak. When my back was hurting or my arthritic knees were bothering me, I still moved the furniture, crawled on the floor to get to the computer cables and carried the boxes. I cared more about what others thought of me than I cared about my physical and emotional well-being.
Luckily, as I got wiser, I learned that asking for help was beneficial to everyone. By asking for help, I was involving others in the tasks and the outcomes were usually superior because more minds were involved in finding the best solution for the job. I wasn’t as tired because I wasn’t doing it all myself, so I had more to offer others. I was taking care of my body and listening to what it was capable of doing and not injuring myself.
It took a lot of courage to initially start asking others for help. Now, I see that asking for help is not a sign of weakness but a sign of strength. I help others, others help me, and I express my deep gratitude for all the help I receive! It is so important to lend a helping hand to those in need and to feel comfortable to ask for help when you are in need!
How do you view asking for help? Is it easier to offer assistance then to ask for help?
Do you ask for help? Why or Why Not?
“Remember, you have been criticizing yourself for years and it hasn’t worked. Try approving of yourself and see what happens.” ~ Louise Hay
Does the critic inside your head tell yourself things like “I’m a moron,” “I’m stupid,” “I’m not good enough,” “I’m unlovable,” or a host of other negative thoughts? If it does, you are not alone, as we all seem to have an internal judge who is critical of us and our actions.
I am really working on not judging myself, letting go of the inner critic and practicing self-acceptance, but it is on-going practice. For the last several weeks I have been learning a new skill. When we do something new, we will make mistakes and we must be gentle with ourselves. I was learning about astrophotography and creating star trails. To create a star trail image, you take hundreds of pictures on a tripod of the same part of the sky over several hours and combine them all into one photograph as each photograph captures the movement of the stars. Each night I would try different ISO settings, shutter speeds, white balance settings and a variety of other settings so that I could be most successful during the photo shoot at Oracle State Park under a new moon.
One early morning, I went out to retrieve the camera from the backyard and was expecting to see that the camera had taken 400 pictures only to discover that it had just taken a few images – I had forgotten to change the battery. My inner critic said, “You are such a moron!” I immediately was aware of the inner critic and said to myself, “you just got out of bed and are not totally awake. You made a mistake, it isn’t critical in the big scheme of life. What can you learn from this mistake?” In a matter of seconds, I stopped the inner critic and reframed the situation. The mistake was actually a blessing. With the mistake, I learned that I need to make sure that my batteries are fully charged, but it also got me thinking about how old the rechargeable lithium camera batteries were and I ordered a new one. When the new one arrived, I learned that instead of the battery running out after 400 images, that it could take 650 images on a battery charge and therefore get more images for my star trail. The mistake I made helped me to capture an even better star trail photograph during the actual photo shoot. The star trail image from the new moon is the picture above and the parts that look like clouds are actually the Milky Way. I am so grateful that I learned from my mistake!
It is important to silence the critic in ourselves. We can do this by practicing love and compassion towards ourselves. If you find yourself being critical, stop and appreciate yourself for all you do and all that you are, and send yourself love. If you made a mistake, ask what you can learn from the mistake and how you can rectify what has been done. Be gentle with yourself, try treating yourself with compassion as you would treat a young child who made a mistake. If beating yourself up hasn’t worked over the years, try self-love and approval.
How do you deal with the inner critic?
How can you send yourself more love and approval when your inner critic arises?
Peggy Steffens is an artist and Chopra Certified Meditation Instructor
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