In Don Miguel Ruiz’s classic self-help book, The Four Agreements, he offers four rules for living that he suggests will allow us to “escape hell” and live in a “heaven on earth” of our own making. The first agreement is more than a challenge to speak only the truth.
Be Impeccable with Your Word
On first reading, this agreement seems to echo a common value: “Tell the truth.” But Ruiz expands the concept to include what we tell ourselves. We can understand the social niceties that encourage us to speak kindly to others, to soften criticism with helpful suggestions, and to avoid sharing information that will only hurt, and not help. When it comes to our own self-talk, we are much less likely to be as selective. We may berate, shame, guilt and demean ourselves with an almost automatic frequency when we falter or misstep in our lives. And we can be just as quick to believe these false scripts. Ruiz maintains that telling the truth to ourselves requires that we acknowledge what is real: our goodness, the softness of our hearts, our boundless ability to love. Only in recalling our own beginnings from the stuff of stardust and unending energy can we live, and speak, our truth.