One of the most influential books I’ve read in the past decade that has never left me is The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz.
He talks about 4 fundamental truths to live by, and they’ve had a profound impact on me.
- Be impeccable with your word, say what you mean and mean what you say
- Don’t take anything personally
- Don’t make assumptions, and
- Always do your best.
The most liberating of them has been to not take anything personally. I used to get attached to certain outcomes, and when things didn’t go to plan I’d waste emotional energy worrying and ruminating on woulda coulda shoulda scenarios. It’s liberating to know that people’s actions and behaviours are not really about us at all, they are merely the story of their own struggles.
Be under no illusion that I learnt it all from reading a book, the real fruit has been about going through the pailful motions with my own self. I’ve observed my own behaviours and realised that the way I moved through the world was always serving the stories in my head, whether conscious on unconscious, often self-sabotaging, but really always about self, even in my most selfless acts.
That’s when it dawned on me that the majority of us have tapes playing in our heads that we are dealing with. And with that came the empathy, that we are all just learning to live with our demons inside.