Four Agreements

To be alive is the biggest fear humans have. Death is not the biggest fear we have; our biggest fear is taking the risk to be alive, the risk to be alive and express what we really are. Just being ourselves is the biggest fear of humans. — Don Miquel Ruiz

Before the holidays I had coffee with a friend of mine. We exchanged the standard back and forth conversation starters. How are things? What’s new? Any plans for the holidays?

As we dove further into the conversation we both began to open up and ask the deeper questions; mainly about the year ahead.

I got to speaking about the UYC project and my writing. I mentioned how one of my words for the upcoming new year is self integration, meaning, regardless of who I am with or which pockets of people I surround myself with, I am going to be me; my truth.

As much progress as I have made in rediscovering my truth, I still find it difficult sharing it with everyone.

I feel as though I wait for the other person to make the initiation into the space of who I’ve become before I entirely open up and share it. Like I am needing some kind of validation in order to own it. Specifically, my writing.

It’s something that bothers me to no end and something I continue to work on.

As the conversation morphed and evolved, she recommended I read, The Four Agreements by Don Miquel Ruiz.

It touches on the very fear I have in withholding my writing to the world that’s closest to me because of how they might perceive me differently.

Here are the four agreements that Don Miguel Ruiz outlines in his practical guide to personal freedom.

Be impeccable with your word.

The word is the most powerful tool we have. What we dream, what we feel, what we think is all manifested from the word. The dialoque we create, the conversations we have with ourselves manifests the reality in which we experience.

One fear or doubt in our mind can create an endless drama of events. Tweet this

We get trapped in our minds, of words, and we use that very power against us, and others. We have negative self talk. We judge those around us by the words that surface in our minds, our thoughts, without even knowing the other.

The word is powerful. It establishes our reality. Say what you mean and mean what you say. Have it stem from a place of love, of truth, of you.

Don’t take anything personally.

This is the very agreement that so many of us struggle with, me included. This agreement is the reason my friend had suggested I read this book.

The idea, or reality, is that we all live in our own worlds, our own dream, our own thinking. When you take something personally, you are taking something from someone else’s world and imposing it in your own.

You take it personally because you agree with whatever they said. The moment when you agree with what they said, poison surfaces and spreads throughout. You’re trapped.

Don’t take anything personally, because when you take things personally you set yourself up to suffer for nothing. Tweet this

There’s nothing that others say or do that’s directly because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality. Not yours.

When you become aware, and immune, of the opinions and actions of others, you no longer are the victim of needless suffering.

Don’t make assumptions.

This is an everyday occurrence for me. Prior to committing to traveling this journey of intentional self growth, I caused myself endless amounts of suffereing because of the assumptions I made.

Especially with technology and the evoloution of communication. My mind instantly would wonder.

The trouble with making assumptions is that thoughts become our word. The power of our word creates the reality in whcih we live. We believe these assumptions are the truth.

This journey has led me to become more mindful of this flaw.

The moment an assumption creeps in, I try to squash it knowing the pain and suffering it’s going to cause. Not only from my point of view, but from a relationship standpoint.

My assuming what the other is doing or thinking, I’ve just created the reality of that relationship, all with my word.

This has been by far one of the biggest transformations for me. This very notion of not making assumptions has catapulted relationships that were toxic to something enjoyable.

Always do your best.

This is a phrase we often here, with good intentions. But I think we consume it the wrong way and it gets misconstrued.

Your best is always going to change. It’s going to look different from when you are healthy to when you are sick to when you are injured. Each and every moment your best is going to change.

In any circumstance you are in, always do your best.

This is something I am communicating with my son, as he just started gymnastics. No matter what, have fun, work hard, and do your best.

Doing your best leaves no room for regrets. Tweet this

Without this last and final agreement, of always doing your best, the others don’t exist. This puts the wheels in motion.

These four agreements are practical and simple in theory but difficult to live by day-in and day-out.

When you commit to these agreements and become intentional in living them out, it’s not a flip of a switch and they are part of your being.

Instead, it exercises the mindfulness muscle in bringing awareness to you throughout your day to carry them out.

I write these four agreements in my journal everyday serving as those simple reminders.

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About Eric Ungs

Eric Ungs writes about a journey of intentional self growth, nudging you to let go; to give yourself permission to be vulnerable and honest with yourself so you can give your best self to others. Author of 10 Incredible Ways to Live a Fulfilling and Joyful Life ebook.


  1. Daniel

    I keep hearing this: “Don’t take anything personally.”, but absolutely no one is saying how to NOT do that. One day, I’m gonna punch someone in the face for saying that to me. How to not take anything personally? HOW?

    1. Eric Ungs

      Hey Daniel… On the surface, that line sounds simple, but it’s tremendously difficult. It takes constant effort and a level of awareness into self that’s accumulated and strengthened over time, on a daily basis through intentional self care actions. When you become aware and mindful of the space between stimulus and response, this is where “don’t take anything personally” occurs. It’s in this space where the discovery occurs in knowing that we each live in our own worlds. By taking something personally, as mentioned in the post, you are taking someone else’s words and imposing them into your own reality. They aren’t your words, those words aren’t you. They’ve come from someone else’s world, or dream, or thinking. Feel free to shoot me a note to chat further. Would love to explore this more. I appreciate the comment Daniel

    2. “The Anatomy of Peace” is a great book I’m reading right now. It’s a fictional story that walks through different ideas, specifically how to change how we see other people, and therefore changing how we see the world. One of the ideas talked about is your idea above, Daniel: How to not take something personally. From the book’s perspective, we get upset when we feel that we are justified in our feelings. We must see that other person as a person, not as an object. Here is a great little link that helps describe it in further detail:

      1. Eric Ungs

        Love the phrase “inviting change in others”. We can’t change others. How to change others, I believe, is to change ourselves. I think this sits in the “helping things go right”. Great resource John. I am going to check out that book. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Janet

    I’ve read the book The Four Agreements. Don Miquel Ruiz’s four agreements sound “logical”(maybe even easy) but all require being mindful and intentional about everything that we do. We are emotional beings. That makes those four agreements hard to do. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t work on those. I think that is our work in this life . To be who we are .. and to be the best we can be.

    How do not take things personally? What I’m learning is that you have to reach a point where you are really connected to and committed to who you are. You understand that you are not perfect and you do not have all the answers. There will be people who don’t agree with you or like you as an intimate friend, but that’s OK.

    Some examples: Who of our leaders has 100% approval rating from the people? Even 80 or 90% approval rating? It doesn’t stop anyone from running for public office or running major companies ..or should it. Jessie Ventura, former Governor of MN use to get upset if the media or the people of MN didn’t like what he was doing. He would storm out of interviews. Tim Pawlenty, the Governor of MN that followed Jessie was asked how he felt about the media pr public questioning or criticizing his decisions. He said that didn’t bother him because he didn’t expect everyone to like him or like what he does. I once saw an interview with Yanni, a new age musician of the 80’s. He wrote all his own music and said he was inspired to put on paper what was in his head .. and then present it to the public. The reporter told him that a lot of people didn’t like his music, thought it sounded like elevator music and wouldn’t buy his CDs. His response: That’s OK, there are plenty of people who do like my music, do come to my concerts, and do buy my CDs. That’s how you learn to not to take it personally. I haven’t mastered it yet, but that’s how some people have. They connect to their purpose and passion. Eric said it in a previous post. If you live your life authentically and with integrity, then what have you to fear?

  3. This has been my all time favorite book for years. I always keep it close by and keep the four agreements at the forefront of my thinking and being. Perhaps one of the most important books ever written. Hollis

    1. Eric Ungs

      I agree. This will be a book I keep close by as well. The layers of complexity we tend to add on are stripped out in this writing. Thanks for the comment and reading Hollis!

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