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  • Writer's pictureNicole Herway

Literature Spotlight: "The Four Agreements"

The Four Agreements" by Don Miguel Ruiz



I've decided to share my notes from the books I read here, so clients can decide with my cliff notes if they'd like to take a deeper dive into the book for themselves. If you're too busy to take the deep dive now, here are my notes, thoughts, and reflections!


Before we look at the helpful agreements, we first have to understand that there are also individual unhelpful agreements we make with ourselves without knowing it. According to Ruiz, the choices we make are based on agreements with made with ourselves, with other people, with God, and with life itself. These agreements decide what we think is possible and what is impossible. Example: Michael has made an agreement with himself, with others, with God, and with life itself to "just never get mad again". He thinks it's not possible for him to feel anger without harming others, so he's just not going to do it anymore.


Now, these agreements we make can cause us issues if they come from a place of fear, insecurity, and doubt. It leads to decreased self-worth, mistrusting oneself. If Michael continues to believe his agreement, he will not develop trust that he can feel anger and express it safely by using it as motivation to change his circumstances for the better.


Thus, unhelpful agreements may seem helpful, but in the long run they harm us; whereas, helpful agreements lead us to change our life for the better, improves our feelings of inner peace and joy, increase our sense of well-being, and improves our relationship with ourself and others.


Onto the helpful, beneficial agreements!


Agreement 1: Be Impeccable With Your Word

"Impeccable" comes from the Latin: "im" (meaning "without") + "peccatus" (meaning "sin", or what Ruiz describes as anything that goes against yourself). So being impeccable with your word means that you take responsibility for what you say. When you speak, do so with integrity.


Agreement 2: Don't Take Anything Personally

We're all going to be put in situations where we feel we were treated poorly. If we live our life thinking that the actions of others have to do with us, we are perpetuating our own victimization unnecessarily. In truth, people's actions are a projection of their reality, so their actions have everything to do with them and nothing with us.


Agreement 3: Don't Make Assumptions

Until we know the clear truth, everything else is an assumption. Thinking we know what someone will say, why they do what they do, what they intended, etc. is only going to wear us out and waste our energy. If you want to know the truth, ask clear, direct questions. It will save a lot of misunderstanding!


Agreement 4: Always Do Your Best

Combine the first three agreements together and ultimately you'll be doing the best you can do at any given moment. Let go of judging, ridiculing, over-analyzing, and criticizing yourself. Just take the next moment you have and live it as best as you can.


Journaling Prompts:

  • What are some unhelpful agreements you have made with yourself without realizing it?

  • What emotions have led you to develop that unhelpful agreement? (e.g. anger, doubt, fear)

  • Which helpful agreement would you like to strengthen this week?

  • What emotions can give you guidance as you work toward building your helpful agreement? (e.g. hope, courage, patience)

  • What is one thing today that I can do my best at?

Here is a link to the book if you'd like to learn more:




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