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How many times do we make up stories in our mind about what happens to us? John is upset with me at work because he ignored me today walking down the hall. Could it be that John was walking out of a difficult meeting with his boss and didn’t look at me because he was preoccupied with something that went on in the meeting? or My husband was angry at something that happened to me and came home from work very quiet. I interpreted that he was mad at me because the house was a mess and dinner wasn’t on the table. How many times do we falsely perceive someones’ intention toward us when we have no understanding of what they are really are thinking or feeling?
Many of us are seeking other’s approval and define our feelings of being ok by responses we get from others. This tends to create a lot of mental gyrations that limit our ability to feel good at any given moment. We spend time worrying why so and so didn’t call us back or why we didn’t get that promotion when there could be a number of reasons why. Usually after I have made some assumption I later find out I was dead wrong. What I had assumed was not at all what they were thinking about me.
In the book the Four Agreements by Don Miquel Ruiz he discussed 4 ways that we make agreements with ourselves.
Agreement 1 – Be Impeccable with Your Word: We can make ourselves miserable through the spoken word. We either speak negative thoughts toward ourselves or we speak out hurtful emotions toward others. The scriptures teach: “ Life and death is in the power of the tongue and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.” Many times we may use the word to spread personal poison—to express anger, jealousy, envy, and hate rather than love and acceptance.
We may have grown up hearing words spoken to us that greatly affected our self-image like ” You are stupid, or you aren’t attractive.” These words were deeply implanted in your mindset and can continue to be lived out as if they were true. One of the things I was told by my Dad when I was a young adolescent was I was really going to have trouble with men because I talked back to my Dad. I learned from this that I couldn’t have a voice and started shutting down from really voicing any of my needs. I learned to stuff things inside and not be assertive and share my opinion. Having a voice and being open with your feelings in constructive ways is so important.
Agreement 2 – Don’t Take Things Personally– Taking things personally can be the the maximum expression of selfishness because we make the assumption it is about “me”. As shared above, we react to how someone looks at us or responds to and we take it personally rather than just realize they may be having a bad day and it is not about us at all.
Agreement 3 Don’t Make Assumptions– It is the meaning or story that we attach to things that makes us feel bad. Most of the times, the assumptions are false and just something we have conceived in our mind. What I am aware of is that I tend to do is imagine the worst possible scenario that will happen in the future. I know that the biggest challenge I face is to stay in the present with not making assumptions about things that may never happen.
Agree To Always Do Your Best– If you always do your best, you can walk away from any situation or circumstance without self-judgments. Self-judgments are what really get us in trouble and into self-condemnation. Practicing these 4 agreements has changed my life. The one I had the hardest time with is believing that I had done my best. I used to self-evaluate myself after I did things. I place a judgment on whether I did things wrong or right according to my standards. I was such a harsh critic that I couldn’t let up on myself.
This is a time of year when things start getting stressful as we head into a busy year. Working with these inner agreements can be so valuable and being able to feel much more confident and peaceful. Start by practicing these every day!
Written by Suzanne B Simpson, The Emotional Liberator
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