The Four Agreements - Day 48
This is part of an ongoing series of articles/posts detailing my experience with experiencing The Four Agreements. If the content below doesn't make any sense out of context, then be sure to check out the original post to better understand my goals and motivations for doing this.
I love being pleasantly surprised at how life lessons are delivered to me. When I began this journey, I tackled it like I would a series of affirmations: sticking to one component for 30+ days before moving onto the next. The goal was simple: do not take on too much and really internalize each part. It was a reasonable approach, but there were at least two flaws that I will share with you right now.
When any exercise becomes repetitious, my minds disengages and goes to another place: spacing out, thinking about dinner, counting the minutes until completion, etc. I loved to read this chapter every time, at least in the beginning. In subsequent weeks, I found myself unable to push out other thoughts as I went over the chapter for the umpteenth time. I was physically present, but not mentally present while my eyes went through what was now becoming a chore.
I've learned a better approach. After taking a full week to read the chapter once a day in its entirety (and getting to the point of memorization), I'm going to switch to a skimming style in order to find 1-3 key points to focus on for that day. I've applied this approach for the last 2 weeks. It's replenished my enthusiasm for this endeavor and helped me focus on how and where this is being applied to my life.
My recommendation: always check your progress and your strategy against your original purpose. My purpose is to embody these ideas into my life. Once I realized that my strategy wasn't working, I had to alter my strategy versus being stubborn and bulldozing through it for the sake of merely doing it. I'd rather achieve my goal versus simply being disciplined for its own sake.
This is not advice to give up at the first sign of resistance, which will always appear in any pursuit that matters to us. However, if you find that you are able to persevere and still not get the intended results, then you can change it up. Be determined, yet adaptable.
The beauty of The Four Agreements is the number: 4. It's not the eight agreements or the sixty three agreements. It's 4, a number small enough to be ingested and in one bite. I could even argue that each agreement is simply a shade or a perspective shift of one overarching principle and that its almost impossible to master one part without embracing the others.
Here is what happened to me. I spent almost 40 days of focus on agreement one: be impeccable with your word. I found it difficult, however, to maintain this agreement in the face of conflict with other individuals. And then I started to get down on myself for not being able to stick to this one agreement. I mean, how could I possibly learn the other 3 if I already stumbled on the very first one!
But that, my friends, was the lesson for me. It was NOT that I had to master agreement 1 before I had the skill to take on 2, 3, and 4. Rather, each of the agreements reinforced the others, so it would have been advantageous to skip ahead and around so as to support my focus on agreement 1. I know this because I simply decided to read ahead one day and found that the advice and strategies described in agreement 2 markedly improved my ability in agreement 1! I had been trying to block out the very material and insight that would help me.
My realization: the best way to learn the 4 agreements is holistically versus in individual components. Yes, I'm very happy that Miguel (and the Toltecs) broke them down into the parts for learning and identification purposes. But to truly live them requires using all of them in harmony. To be impeccable with ones word without knowing how to not take things personally is to set oneself up for a very difficult battle! Had I learned the tools with more intensity at the beginning , perhaps going a week per agreement and THEN spending 1-2 months embodying them all, I would probably have had an easier time.
This has been an extremely valuable lesson learned. And knowing the best advice is that advice I give to others, I'm going to follow my advice here. My plan of attack: spend 1 week per agreement 2, 3, and 4 and then spend another month with all the agreements.
What is your experience with the 4 agreements? I'd love to hear your take.
About Rick Manelius
I'm a Drupal Ninja (brown belt), an aspiring author, a personal development fanatic, and an overall explorer of life. I own SoundPost Media, LLC— a Drupal agency that works with small to medium sized media compaies looking to improve their presence on the web. Stick around by subscribing to my feed, following me, or simply leaving a comment below. I appreciate you stopping by!