By Sondra Whitt
There are a couple of things that every person I know struggles with in one way or another — self-limiting beliefs and self-defeating behaviors. Most of the time the things they’re struggling with aren’t obvious unless they tell you about them. On the other hand, sometimes the things they’re struggling with are obvious to everyone except the person who is struggling!
In my experience as a life coach, I’ve found that most of the time a person’s struggles are a result of underlying beliefs about themselves that are holding them back from really living the life they want to live. Their struggle is often because they’re searching for freedom from these self-limiting beliefs. Even when they’re just beginning to get free from these beliefs, they gain such clarity and perspective that they’re better able to deal logically with the more obvious issues and problems in their life.
There are a lot of reasons for self-limiting beliefs and self-defeating behaviors and the solutions aren’t simple, fast or easy. But a little book by Don Miguel Ruiz suggests four foundational ways of thinking and living that help people find the freedom they’re looking for. The Four Agreements, A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom offers some sound advice to anyone who is seeking freedom from what holds them back from a happier, more peaceful and meaningful life, regardless of the issue:
• Be impeccable in your word. Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.
• Don’t take anything personally. Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.
• Don’t make assumptions. Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstanding, sadness, and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.
• Do your best. Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse, and regret.
These four agreements are ones we make with ourselves, for ourselves. We can’t insist anyone else practice them since we have no control over others, only ourselves. None of them is automatically easy to live all the time until, through conscious and deliberate practice, we make them a way of life.
If we could truly be impeccable in our word, not take things personally, not make assumptions, and do our best, just think what a difference it would make in our lives and the lives of those with whom we interact every day!