Be Skeptical, but learn to listen. The last and final Agreement makes you slow down and hear what is really being said, not just by other people , but in your own mind too.
We have our heads screwed on backwards. As you begin minding the first four agreements, you start wondering exactly how this happened. We’re cornered in these little boxes, trying to make everyone happy but ourselves, not saying what we mean, wondering what others mean, assuming intent, and half heartedly committing to life because we never want to put ourselves out there and experience failure. It’s ok to want more and different in life. But we’ve been guilted and coerced into conformity by well meaning friends and family who don’t intend to harm us, yet don’t know any better. We get into bad habits of tearing others down, speaking ill against them, and an even worse habit of speaking ill against ourselves. Our negative self talk is out of control. We impose limits on our dreams and abilities without ever testing our full natures because we can’t get our bassackwards selves out of the mucky muck.
As I sit here, I think of some of my mentors and what they have shown me that has truly saved my life. I don’t mean like I was standing in front of an oncoming car, get pushed aside to safety saving. I mean I was standing in a dark room, tongue tied and blindfolded with obstacles all over the floor, getting in the way of me finding the exit door. And little by little, someone clears a path, another removes the blindfold, and finally someone cracks open the door so I can see the outline of light in the dark and find my way out. These heroes all live by the five agreements. Their word has value, they say what they mean. They aren’t victims, they take nothing personally and they assume nothing. More often, they make me clarify to avoid confusion. They always do their best, and they LISTEN.
There are some moments that were turning points for me, that emphasize the agreements. If you’re not sure what these agreements are – if you are new to this blog, this post is the last of 5 that reviewed the lessons from The Fifth Agreement.
Slow down – stop rushing. I was trying (ack there’s that word, but it’s past tense) to do so much, and I couldn’t do it all. So what I did was piss poor jobs on lots of things, instead of stellar jobs on a few things. I couldn’t effectively communicate because I was rushing to conclusions and assuming things without stopping to understand.
Don’t respond immediately and sometimes for the heck of it, say no. I was so used to being a customer service all-star. Immediate, positive, complying responses. Always the helpful one, always working, always adding to my plate. This was a tough one! I almost fell out of my seat considering it. Make people WAIT? But I wasn’t taking the time to listen to myself, to my needs, to my time restrictions, and I was overtaxed and getting (ok already was) resentful. Pausing, and waiting to respond lets communication flow better, and lets both parties in the transaction walk away happier. It took a while to retrain the people around me. They would say, hey do you have some time? I’d say no. They’d keep talking. And I would just have to giggle. It was out of the realm of possibility that I would say no! The first time I actually said, “no, I can’t help with that”…I felt like the earth was going to open up and swallow me whole, but afterwards, I felt so free! And I’ve begun asking more questions. Do me a favor used to get a “Sure!” from me. Now it’s a “what do you want?” I don’t mean be rude. I just mean, protect your valuable time and energy so that you can Always Do Your Best, Be Impeccable with your Word and Not Make Assumptions.
Stop using noncommittal words like sure, okay and try. They are not truly affirmative, they are noncommittal and they make a liar out of you when you don’t intend to follow through. They break the first rule, Be Impeccable With Your Word. They are also words that would tempt others to assume your intent – we don’t just want to avoid assuming ourselves – we want to make our intentions clear to others to help clear chaos and confusion from all of our transactions with other humans.
Ask more questions. Become a master at asking questions. It’s as if we are in a battle, a war against chaos and confusion. Once someone removes your blindfold and opens the door and you can see clearly and communicate and think with purpose, then it’s natural that you should pay it forward. Help people out of their miasma. Clarify, be specific. It will keep you both from Making Assumptions, and it will keep anyone from Taking things Personally. Do yourself and them the favor of slowing down, asking more questions and having clear, direct conversations that leave no room for misunderstanding.
WHY? Why do I think I have to blah blah blah, why do I feel responsible for everything, why do I think like this? Why do I stress about the outcome of everything? Why not be happy with the right here and right now in life, and DO MY BEST at the task at hand. WHY live in the future and the past and be a shadow of myself in the moment instead of being fully present and meaning everything I say?
Think bigger. Some of the lies we must question are the lies that we tell ourselves, or have been told to us. For centuries women were told we weren’t good at math or science, so we weren’t. Until one man broke the 5 minutes mile, no one could run it faster, but as soon as he did, so did many others. Our own lies imprison us and keep us from doing more and becoming more. Sometimes these are just lies we have heard over and over. I had a friend in high school whose parents always told her she was too slow and not book smart enough to go to college. The minute we’d start on homework she would mumble that she wasn’t book smart. It was a recording she was repeating over and over. It was such bullshit. And I was mad about that, but until someone asked me to question my own lies and my own limitations, I didn’t even realize I did the same thing to myself! So be skeptical – not just of other people, but even of yourself! Is it YOU, or your ego running your internal dialogue?
It’s almost impossible to separate the five agreements. They all bleed together. Each one builds upon and reinforces the other. I am not a perfect person. I don’t live by them 100% of the time, but I know that when I do honor the agreements, life is better. The lessons learned from the book, which simply give a name and context to the lessons my mentors teach, truly enlighten your life. Enlighten: to make lighter. When the agreements aren’t honored, confusion, misunderstanding and resentment are a heavy burden. When they are honored, there is less baggage.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this series. If you’ve received value, please comment and share. I’d love your feedback and I can’t stress enough that you should BUY THE BOOK. That links you right to the author’s storefront. Don Miguel first wrote “The Four Agreements,” then wrote “The Fifth Agreement” with his son. The value is so much more than the price of the book. Happy reading!