Be Impeccable With Your Word: Day 1

Published on March 22nd, 2011

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.

An Overview

It might be helpful, before I start detailing my experience, to briefly go over what it means to Be Impeccable With Your Word. The author's synopsis of this agreement (found on the front jacket of the book and the website) is as follows:

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.

I don't think the author could have been more succinct in his explanation. Only use your word in an empowering way. This means no more self deprecating self-talk, no more gossip for the sake of filling the air with words, no more spreading unconscious viruses that debilitate us. In short, if you don't have anything nice to say (or think), don't say it at all! But this is not meant to be said in a commanding or demeaning sort of way (e.g. "don't do this or your bad"). That would essentially be using the word against yourself having done something you've simply picked up on from an early age in life. The way of speaking an empowering truth is to start speaking it, not to dwell and relive the very past one is trying to heal.

I can't and will not speak for the author because, again, I don't believe I will come across as eloquently as he did in this fantastic book. But I do hope that my insights and experiences can help other travelers along the journey.

Day 1

A funny, hypocritical thing happened today. Our dog Linus is (still) a very fearful dog and never likes to see a stranger come to the door, which means he always get a startle around 3PM when the mailman passes by. I was lost in my work and hadn't noticed it was about that time for his loud, powerful bark. So when he belted it out, what did I do? I yelled "LINUS! Stop Barking!"

Yelling at a dog to stop barking. Oh how funny, hypocritical, and yet unavoidable. See I was yelling before I even had time to think. I was actually quite startled myself that the words came out of my mouth. We both experienced the exact same thing. Something startled us and, before we even knew what we were doing, we were both barking as a result.

Why am I saying this? It's certainly not winning be brownie points as yelling at a dog is not good. It's bad training for him and it certainly isn't something I like to do. I'm admitting this for one key reason—gossip. For me, watching others (and myself) gossip is watching another knee jerk reaction. It's so easy to do and done so often that we're hardly aware we are even doing it. I know because I caught myself gossiping at least 5 times today. That means, it was probably more like 50 and I just didn't catch and/or notice it.

That was really quite a shocking revelation. I had no idea how often I talked about the celebrities while watching TV. I had no idea how much I talked about others while in a conversation with someone else. And most importantly, I had no idea just how much self talk gossip I would play in my head about myself during my work day. It was like I had a nagging boss critiquing everything I did and said. Well that's certainly not too helpful! It's hard to perform at a peak performance level when all that negativity is flowing in. Athletes that have negative thoughts during competition are far more likely to be defeated. I know that from both my days as competitor and as a coach.

Awareness is the Key

In watching my thoughts and words, I was able to finally catch and observe the habitual self-talk and gossip. I'm not going to look at this as a negative as that again defeats the purpose and only perpetuates the negative energy back at oneself (e.g. the silliness of saying "I'm so stupid for being negative to myself"). But by observing and breathing before saying anything, I was able to stay much more focused and grounded. I got a lot more accomplished in my work day and I didn't feel as drained doing so.

So awareness is the key for me at this stage. Once I'm aware, then it's a matter of choice. Do I go with the knee jerk reaction or am I impeccable with my word? With awareness, I now have a choice. It's not to say that I've mastered it in a day, which is why I'm planning on spending so much time on this so that it truly develops into a habit. Still, I feel like I've gained a lot just in a single day of focus on this one meme. I hope that the benefits keep coming. After all, what owner wants to bark at their dog... 

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About Rick Manelius

Quick Stats: CTO of Contact Mapping. Author of Winning the Lottery Within. Graduated from MIT in '03 (BS) and '09 (PhD). Life hacker and peak performance enthusiast. This blog is my experiment in creative writing, self-expression, and sharing what I've learned along my journey. For more information, read my full bio here or contact me.