As part of my Power Project exploration, I’m doing lots of reading. One such book (which I am not finished with) is The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. This is another one of those books, like The Happiness Project that was super hot for a minute and everyone read it—but me.
Anyhoo, I am struck by a concept in this book that Ruiz calls “making an agreement”. Here is a good example from page 35-36:
“There was a woman, for example, who was intelligent and had a very good heart. She had a daughter whom she adored and loved very much. One night she came home from a very bad day at work, tired, full of emotional tension, and with a terrible headache. She wanted peace and quiet, but her daughter was singing and jumping happily. The daughter was unaware of how her mother was feeling; she was in her own world, in her own dream. She felt so wonderful, and was she jumping and singing louder and louder, expressing her joy and her love. She was singing so loud that it made her mother’s headache even worse, and at a certain moment, the mother lost control. Angrily she looked at her beautiful little girl and said, ‘Shut up! You have an ugly voice. Can you just shut up!’
The truth is that the mother’s tolerance for any noise was nonexistent; it was not that the little girl’s voice was ugly. But the daughter believed what her mother said, in that moment made an agreement with herself. After that she no longer sang, because she believed her voice was ugly and would bother anyone who heard it. She became shy at school, and if she was asked to sing, she refused. Even speaking to others became difficult for her. Everything changed in the little girl because of this new agreement: she believed she must repress her emotions in order to be accepted and loved.”
We receive information every day from friends, family, coworkers, loved ones, strangers, the news and media—they tell us things that may be true, but most likely is as untrue as the little girl having an ugly voice. We hear these things and believe them to be true. We uphold these “agreements” they are true and they change us entirely.
I can’t help but wonder: how much of my personal power is wrapped up in shoddy agreements that I’ve made? 15%? 45%? I have a terrible feeling the number is much much higher.
So one important step toward reclaiming my power would be to sniff out all of the little agreements I’ve made over the years, and break them one by one, setting myself free.
I made an agreement that I am too fat. And I should break that agreement and make a new one “I am beautiful”. Though I suspect it will take me a long time to work through the backlog of agreements I currently function with, it will be equally important to refrain from making any new agreements as I move forward. This doesn’t sound easy to do at all and I’m a little daunted by the task. But I can see truth in Ruiz’s advice. I am making an agreement that I must break all old unworthy agreements and focus on only one’s based on truth from now on.
What about you? What agreements have you made with yourself that are holding you back? Which ones should you let go of today?