The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom

The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom

After reading online reviews of this book, I decided to join the bandwagon and buy it. This book is literally, as it states, practical. It’s a great read about how and why we may relate to the world as we do.

As you know, I am forever curious about human behaviour, emotion and interaction. I find it fascinating that we can change our habits, perspectives and mindset once we are exposed to a new way of living!

The Four Agreements are as follows:

  1. Be impeccable with your word.
  2. Don’t take anything personally.
  3. Don’t make assumptions.
  4. Always do your best.

I read this book in chronological order. Surprisingly, it helped to read each practical guide in this way. To digest the information and apply it accordingly takes time and patience.

If you’re anything like me, curious about human behaviour and finding ways to improve the way we treat others, I’d definitely recommend this book. Below, we can look at each Agreement and how I personally used them to improve my life. I’ve also included a link to the book so you can try these out for yourself!

1. Be impeccable with your word.

This was an interesting agreement. Ruiz defines this simply as not gossiping about others.

When we’re so engrossed in other people’s lives, it doesn’t give us much space to practice self-awareness or empathy for others. We can get caught in a cycle of rumours about people we probably don’t know too well. What’s the point? Not only is this harmful for others, it sets a negative tone in our own minds.

Say what you mean and mean what you say.

As we are emotional beings, there are many moments that we can lose our cool or spit out the wrong thing at the wrong time. That’s normal. Paying attention to the way we think and speak can help alleviate awkward foot-mouth situations.

2. Don’t take anything personally.

This agreement really hit home for me. Ruiz explains this rule simply: what other people say and do are a projection of their own reality.

When someone would correct my mistakes, it felt like a personal attack. The story re-played in my head: “I don’t know anything, of course I made a mistake. I can’t do anything right.” I struggled with self-confidence and self-doubt. I was told often that I didn’t know anything, so I believed it.

If I could remove the attachment to another’s words, I wouldn’t find myself in this toxic cycle of pain and belittling.

I fought so hard, for so long to begin changing my mindset. Changing a story we’ve told ourselves for years is difficult to say the least. It’s confronting. It will always be a work in progress. But progress is still progress! That’s a win!

3. Don’t make assumptions

Yet another agreement that resonated deeply for me. I was beginning to think that this book could address universal social/personal problems with unbelievable ease.

The way my brain has been wired, unfortunately jumps straight to conclusions.

Although expecting the worst may prepare us for certain challenges, it doesn’t help in daily life.

Assuming the worst about others or ourselves is sabotaging. It can affect how we trust others and maintain relationships.

Instead of making assumptions, ask. Having difficult conversations have been a struggle for me. I will say after years of working through my fears and building up my confidence, asking to clarify something has improved my life exponentially.

It can be difficult to know the line between clarifying a topic/opinion and starting a fire. So tread lightly while putting this agreement in practice. Our laundry doesn’t need to be aired to the general public.

Change first starts with you. So instead of replaying an assumption in your head, remind yourself that there is no evidence for it. If that person/group of people have not expressed their dislike toward you, don’t assume they do. Of course, we can tell through behaviour and social settings how someone may feel toward us. If it is hurtful or toxic, then leave.

4. Always do your best

This agreement was the easiest to digest for me. Growing up, I knew that my best was the only option.

I learned that nobody is perfect. We make mistakes and we may hurt others in the process. I learned that our best may not ever be good enough to some people. That’s okay. Take the lesson and move forward.

Of course, being hard on ourselves isn’t the way to go about accomplishing all our goals. There must be balance between work and play.

Doing your best can look different when comparing to another person, so just focus on living life according to your best ability. Our best effort changes from moment to moment. For example, we cannot expect the same quality of work or productiveness when we’re sick. Be mindful of yourself and others.

At the end of the day, if you know you tried your best, you’re saving yourself from your own and even others’ judgement. No one can take that away from you. Stand tall in your accomplishments!

Have you read this book yet? If so, which agreement did you resonate with most? What did you find challenging?

Click here to purchase the book! (Paid Link)

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10 Lessons I Learned Moving Out at 18.

10 Lessons I Learned Moving Out at 18.

In Australia, 18 is the legal adult age. It is culturally appropriate to celebrate big – go hard or go home type of celebration. Yes I was excited to have a huge party, but I also thought often of moving out.

For those of you who know me personally, probably know how often I would get grounded throughout high school. Yes, I said high school.

I was stubborn, strong-willed and hated being controlled. I thought I knew everything. Seeing my younger brothers out late while I was not allowed out after a certain time drove me mad. Not only was it double-standards, it was expected that I obeyed (hint: of course I didn’t). I rebelled. A lot. And got grounded for it. A lot.

Because of this, I made my mind up about moving out as soon as I was a legal adult. I realised years later, my parents were just trying their best to raise a girl in a world where our safety is statistically threatened.

Although my first rental experience was with extended family, the amount of freedom I suddenly had was such a relief. Yes, I now had responsibility with rent and being more organised, but this responsibility meant that I was free.

Since then, I have lived in 5 different homes over the last 7 years. All with their own benefits and challenges. I share these with you below!

Here is a snapshot of the 10 things I learned:

1 – Prioritise financial responsibility. From ages 15-20, saving money wasn’t a huge priority in my life. What I earned, I spent – and quickly. However, moving from home to home, I soon realised that having savings was a smart decision. The kind of decision where past-Angela would always be grateful once I took this responsibility seriously.

2 – You never know what a person is like until you live with them. Life gets stressful for all of us. Some days are so difficult that we lash out at others – our friends, family or even housemates if we live in the same vicinity. Be aware of your own behaviour and respect your fellow housemates when times get tough.

3 – Communication skills. For the most part, I thought my communication skills were great. I’d be told by relatives and strangers alike how well I spoke and when I speak in front of groups/crowds, I could command attention. However, interpersonally, I struggled to let others know how I truly felt. After a few years of meeting new people, going through many ups and downs, my communication is becoming clearer. I’m better at saying what I mean and that is an accomplishment!

4 – I’m responsible for my own life, not anyone else. But if I need help, I have to ask. This is a work in progress. When I was younger, asking for help meant I “didn’t know anything” and the gesture of asking was a shameful thing. However, asking for help when it is needed has been a tremendous benefit. Taking responsibility for my life as an adult, means networking and finding resources when I can’t do things on my own.

5 – People make a home, not the items. Decluttering was a game changer for me. Realising that I could let go of items that no longer served its purpose was a lesson of freedom I will always cherish.

6 – Relationships are a two-way street. Early on, I was busy working 3 jobs and studying at uni that I didn’t make time for a my friends or family. We can’t expect others to be in our life if we never balance our time with other commitments. Spend time with the people you care about! The present is all we have!

7 – Acceptance of others and yourself. *Huge lesson alert!* Growing up in a family of 7, it wasn’t new being surrounded by people. However, what was new, were the differing personalities, clashing schedules and sharing a space with non-family members. I learned a lot about patience, compromise and communication.

8 – Do whatever it takes. Whether it be financially, emotionally or physically, just do it. Achieve the tasks that you set. Pave the way for others in your family of your social circle. Remind yourself why you do what you do. If you’re stressing about money, get a second job or sacrifice Netflix for a year so you have enough to live.

9 – Remember what you’ve been through. There would be many moments I was terrified of not being able to pay rent due to working casual jobs (obviously my choice). I forgot about the plans I put in place to offset my lack in income. I forgot about the reminders I used to set for deadlines. Remembering that I’ve tackled similar tasks in the past, is such a good encouragement!

10 – Stand up for yourself and don’t take anyone’s crap. People have told me in the past that I can be easily persuaded or that I put up with “too much”. I finally took their advice and started saying “no” to demands and people who seek to treat me with disrespect. We all get hurt by others, it is a condition of the human experience. That doesn’t mean we let people take advantage of us! If something isn’t right, stand up against it!

If you have ever thought of moving out of home or perhaps you need a new start, I hope these tips are helpful!

Thinking back on all the memories, joyful times and challenges, reminds me that if I ever find myself in a similar situation that I will make it through. I’ve been through it before, I will get through it again. You will too! Our experiences make us wiser and stronger!

What lessons did you learn when you started renting? Share your experiences below!

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Why I don’t believe in God.

Why I don’t believe in God.

There isn’t one particular reason why my belief faded. It’s a collection of big and small occurrences. So go grab a coffee, tea, snack or a full meal – this will be a long one!

{Please note that this is my personal experience and is not a way to shame others who are religious! We are free to believe what we want, and we have the ability to choose: if something becomes oppressive or harmful in our lives, we can let it go!}

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I’d been part of a youth group for a number of years. At that point in my life, I felt rather secure in my faith. As a teenager, I had curious questions, but they were met with “I don’t know” or “pray about it”. I would shrug it off. Deep down, I had this nagging feeling that something wasn’t right.

During my senior years of school, my personal life became absolute chaos: my grades began to slip, I was sad, anxious and angry. I was being manipulated by people around me. Trapped. I clung to the idea of a “loving God” because I felt that love was lacking so much in my life. I wanted protection, guidance and love.

God filled a void I had no capacity to fill for myself. Spoiler alert: not yet, anyway.

Then, under the pressure of school and toxic relationships, I started experiencing what some may call “spiritual warfare”. It began at a youth camp. At first, I heard a light whispering. After a few minutes, an unknown voice spoke to me. These voices could not be identified as male or female. I was terrified, sometimes numb and mostly sad. What was wrong with me? Was I losing my mind?

An adult in the community suggested I see a mental health professional, but this was a red-flag to me at the time. If this adult agrees I’m suffering from these experiences because of my “sin”, why would she then suggest I see a psychologist? What would the benefit be if this was in fact a spiritual matter? To say I was confused, would be a gross understatement. These voices haunted me for 6-9 months. I never saw a doctor. And my family never suggested I needed to.

This was the beginning of the end.

{I mentioned this experience to my psychologist recently and she agreed that under the enormous amount of mental pressure I was under during that time, it could have been auditory hallucinations.}

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After deliberation, I let my parents know that I was leaving the catholic church. I even had a short chat with a priest about it. He was surprisingly supportive of my plans to attend a new church.

I began attending a protestant church which was the opposite of the type of church I grew up in. There were no dark wooden pews, no statues and not as many windows. We didn’t have to be silent or hold our heads down. This is where I started to learn about community. The people were the church! <– my “aha” moment.

As life would have it, the insecurity returned. I felt I didn’t belong. I didn’t want this “responsibility” to evangelise. I didn’t want to stop same-sex couples marrying each other. I didn’t want to shame others for how they felt, because I knew what that was like. There was a deep conflict brewing between what I was taught to believe, versus what I wanted to believe.

I couldn’t believe it. I was a self-righteous wolf in sheep’s clothing.

I kept preaching “love all people” and yet I was shaming people for their “sins”, trying to scare people into believing. I would talk about how abortion was so harmful to the foetus, yet ignore the needs and wants of the woman bearing this difficult decision.

I was a complete hypocrite!

I needed to remove myself from this blanket of lies.

Title_04.jpgThe threatening voices were gone, but there was a new voice in my head: the voice of reflection and reason.

Where did I belong if it wasn’t with a church community? Could I accept myself as Angela without the identity of religion? Why did I think that saying hurtful things and scaring people would draw them to religion?  

By the age of 18, I moved out of home to a granny-flat with my relatives. I learned about budgeting expenses (although they were minimal), how to cook for myself, how to plan around uni classes and work. I also met new people! They have become some of my closest friends.

The world was different than I imagined! I thought it was a dark, sinful place. I thought that me leaving my faith behind meant that I would go to hell. Ironically, this belief was shed once I started seeing a mental-health counsellor.

By age 19 and in my early 20s, my worldview completely changed.

I didn’t need to feel guilty about speaking my mind, questioning beliefs or getting drunk on a Saturday night. What’s the point of me believing in something I didn’t agree with anyway? In my mind, I either conformed to religious beliefs (no drinking, dating with intention, voting against same-sex marriage, being against accessible abortion etc) or I was free. Guess what I chose?

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Freedom has always been a value of mine. Whether it be the freedom to choose, the freedom from manipulation, religion or a mindset, freedom has always been the goal.  I’m not afraid of what a book may say, or that a “believer” might tell me my life is full of sin.

I know in myself, that I am complete because I am. In my darkest moments, faith was comforting. But now, my darkest moments are an example of how strong I am because I fucking fight back. Not because someone tells me they’re praying for me.

I accept myself as I am, without religion: a woman who is trying to live her best life, despite the lows. A woman who is trying to bring light to her part of the world through encouraging compassion for oneself and others. A woman shedding light on societal pressures: what a woman should or shouldn’t do, wear, say and feel. A woman who is free.

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You can stay connected for updates, quotes and general life-happenings on my Facebook pageInstagramDepop and Twitter!