Building narratives: The four agreements–a good read for the dreamers

The book essentially talks about how dreaming is the main function of the mind and how at birth humans were domesticated to dream or think in a certain way modelled along what Ruiz termed “the society’s dream” or “the dream of the planet”.

Don Miguel Ruiz’s book The Four Agreements, which has been described by many as a “wisdom book” is a good read for those who dare to challenge their self-limiting beliefs and dream big.

Ruiz is a renowned Mexican-born spiritual teacher and internationally acclaimed bestselling author of the “Toltec Wisdom Series,” including The Four Agreements, The Mastery of Love, The Voice of Knowledge, The Four Agreements Companion Book, The Circle of Fire, and The Fifth Agreement. The Toltec Wisdom books have sold over 16.5 million copies and have been published in 52 languages worldwide.

The book essentially talks about how dreaming is the main function of the mind and how at birth humans were domesticated to dream or think in a certain way modelled along what Ruiz termed “the society’s dream” or “the dream of the planet”.

“The dream of the planet is the collective dream of billions of smaller, personal dreams, which together creates a dream of a family, a dream of a community, a dream of a city, a dream of the country, and finally a dream of the whole humanity. The dream of the planet includes all of society’s rules, its beliefs, its laws, its religions, its different cultures, and ways to be, its government, schools, social events and holidays” (pp.2)

Ruiz argues that at birth we are conditioned or taught to learn how to dream by our parents who in turn model these dreams along the way the society dreams.

“The outside dream uses mom and dad, the schools and religion to teach us how to dream”. (pp.3)

In this instance, it becomes clear why most children aspire to be accountants, doctors, engineers, lawyers, and pilots at birth despite the fact that they may be born with different gifts outside the stated professions or careers. This is because society has modelled and pinned its big dreams along the stated professional careers as the bar or apex of dreaming big or being successful.

It is against this background of this “domestication of humans” and “the dream of the planet” that Ruiz challenges us to unlearn and relearn so that we dream big.

 “All our normal tendencies are lost in the process of domestication. And when we are old enough for our mind to understand, we learn the word no. The adult says “Don’t do this and that, we rebel and say “No!”

Ruiz suggests that before adopting new dreams, we have thousands of agreements we have made with ourselves, other people, society, spouse, and kids but the most important dreams are the ones we make with ourselves. He points out how it is on the fundamental of these agreements that we shape our personalities and dare to see a world of possibilities. He therefore suggests four agreements for those who dare to dream big.

Being impeccable with our word

Ruiz is correct to observe that words although seemingly simple, are very powerful and have a spiritual force which allows to transcend may dreams to levels of existence or what he terms “heaven on earth”. For Christians, a good reference is made to the gospel of John which speaks about how in the beginning was the word, and the word was with God and the word is God, and how God created the earth using words as creative power.

There are many stories of people who were told that they would never be successful in life. Those who uttered those words intended to cast poisonous spells on their recipients of such. Those who uttered those words or spells were definitely not impeccable with their words. For those who dared to challenge and block these spells, they uttered self-affirmations and declarations that they were destined for success and greatness and were impeccable with their words.

“Impeccability of the word can lead you to personal freedom, to huge success and abundance, it can take away fear and transform it into joy and love…With the impeccability of the word, you can transcend the dream of fear and live a different life. You can live in heaven in the middle of thousands of people living in hell because you are immune to that hell”. (pp.45-46).

Don’t take anything personally

I’m sure we have all had experiences or moments when people are rude to us for no reason and we wonder why, in some instances, people are too kind with their word to us especially when we would have done them a favour.

Ruiz says in both instances, whatever happens around us, we shouldn’t take it personally.

He argues that if someone says we are “stupid” or we “suck” that only reflects their opinion of us at that given time but does not necessarily reflect who we are as long as we don’t agree with it. Once we take it personally then it means we agree with it.

The same applies when someone tells you “You are awesome” because you would have bought them a gift, Ruiz again says we shouldn’t take it personally because we are awesome or great even before buying them that gift. The main point is that we don’t need validation either negative or positive otherwise we would be stuck in a “personal importance dilemma” where we think everything is about us.

“As you make a habit of not taking anything personally, you won’t need to place your trust in what others do or say. You will only need to trust yourself to make responsible choices. You are never responsible for the actions of others; you are only responsible for you. When you truly understand this and refuse to take things personally, you can hardly be hurt by careless comments or actions of others” (pp.60)

Don’t make assumptions

Here Miguel says one of the agreements we should make with ourselves is not to make assumptions on what others are doing or thinking for we may end up taking that personally and end up uttering emotional poison with our word.

He points out “making assumptions” as one of the chief causes of the breakdown of many relationships, marriages, and friendships.

He advises us to always seek the courage to ask questions and communicate with others clearly so as to avoid misunderstandings, sadness, and drama.

“This is what I want, this is what you want. If we communicate this way, our word becomes impeccable. If all humans could communicate in this way, with the impeccability of the word, there would be no word, there misunderstandings. All human problems would be resolved if we could just have good, clear communication” (pp.73)

Always do your best

This final agreement according to Miguel, allows the other three to become deeply engrained habits. He says we should always do our best being aware of the fact that our best moments will change from time to time. Over the years, I have drawn inspiration and lessons from political candidates in Western democracies who graciously concede defeat and thank their electorate for turning out in huge numbers to support them and make a further pledge to hold the incoming government accountable to the electorate. These political figures know what it is to be impeccable with their word and to always try their level best. They know that they are the best and the alternative and understand that nothing is personal in life and in politics. This approach explains why some of them go on to win the electorate in the future.

The same applies when we don’t get the opportunities we want despite trying our level best. Those who go on to succeed do not judge themselves but are keen to give it another try and will not take things personally if they don’t work out.

In breaking down what doing our level best means, Miguel states,

“So, if you fall, do not judge. Do not give your judge the satisfaction of turning you into a victim. No, be tough with yourself. Stand up and make that agreement again. Okay, I broke the agreement to being impeccable with my word, I will not take anything personally, I will not make any assumptions, and I am going to do my best” (pp.90)

In The Four Agreements, Miguel challenges us to unlearn self-limiting beliefs and invites us to understand our perceptions of realities that we can change at any given time so as to dream big.

  • Fungayi Antony Sox is a seasoned communications and publishing specialist who has advised and consulted for CEOs, executives, entrepreneurs, youth-focused start-ups, businesses, several institutions, and organisations. For feedback contact him on 0776 030 949, connect with him on LinkedIn on Fungayi Antony Sox, or write to him on [email protected].


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