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  • Writer's pictureIngela Onstad

Book Review: Agreement #1 of The Four Agreements

I recently re-read the book "The Four Agreements” by Don Miguel Ruiz. I was gifted this book decades ago by a woman named Kaye Thompson who went to high school with both of my parents. I believe Kaye gave me this book while I was still in high school and it probably took me a few years to read it. I can’t remember the first time I read it, but I know that I found it interesting. I even brought it with me to college in Canada and then to Germany.

It was interesting to re-read the book during this season of my life. I’m viewing many things through the lens of “how can this be helpful to me and my clients?” I’ve decided to break each of the four agreements into a separate blog post because I have so many thoughts about each one.

The first agreement states: Be impeccable with your word.

The Four Agreements Book Review with Ingela Onstad
Book, coffee, pajama pants - good combo

Ruiz states “your word is the power you have to create”, meaning that our words influence the world around us, both outside ourselves and inside our beings. The challenges that I see for us as performers is twofold – using our words against others and also against ourselves.

We often use our word against others: organizations, other performers, the business itself. We make statements about lack of opportunity, people/organizations/agents who have “wronged” us, how “difficult” it is to survive as an artist. We complain about others. We badmouth other performers and talk about their flaws.

I worked at an organization years ago (which shall remain nameless) that had awful morale amongst the company members. It became a bit of a sport to bond with colleagues over the shortcomings of the building, staff, management, you name it. I’m not denying that there were problems, however, the negativity game made it an even more difficult place to work.

Meanwhile, all of these complainers were artists who made a full-time living in music, which is something that SO MANY artists strive for.

I know that there is a time and place for venting, feeling angry, or just feeling our feelings in general, but be honest: is all of the complaining and venting truly helping you? Or is it possible that you are stuck in patterns of negativity?

I know we can all think of a few people in our lives who are very negative or constant complainers. In my humble opinion, all the negativity that these folks spread does nothing to help their careers, their self-esteem, or their relationships.

Having someone or something to badmouth might make us feel bonded at first, but I don’t believe that these types of relationships lift us up or inspire us to do and/or be better.

But more often we use our word against ourselves: we denigrate ourselves and our abilities both to others and in our self-talk, we focus on the negative and things we are “lacking”, we beat ourselves up over perceived faults and failures. We complain about ourselves. We make unsupportive statements both in our heads and to others. We are not supporting ourselves with our words.

Once again, this isn’t about being all “rah-rah, I’m amazing” all of the time, unless that works for you. It’s possible to be aware of areas for growth and development without using our words against ourselves.

I challenge you to think of ways in which you are not using your word impeccably. I don’t think it’s about being false or inauthentic in our word, it’s more about using “your energy in the direction of truth and love for yourself” as Ruiz so eloquently states.

How are your damaging yourself and others with your word?

How are you using your word to create a different reality for yourself?

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