Loving relationships are an essential part of being healthy. Each year, I’m inspired by Valentine’s Day to write about the subject of love because of the questions I get from my patients throughout the year. Last year, my article was based on Dr. Gary Chapman’s book, The Five Languages of Love. This book guides people on how to communicate in various love languages to achieve loving relationships. However, before we are able to have loving relationships with others, we must first love and respect ourselves.
This year, I would like to share ancient Toltec wisdom to help empower us to love and respect ourselves. In The Four Agreements, Don Miguel Ruiz relates how we can do this by following four simple agreements. These agreements had been held and protected through time by the ancient Toltec people.
The Toltec recognized that many of the rules handed down to us from birth for the purpose of being obedient, or as they referred to it, as being domesticated. These rules cause us to form distorted images of who we are, who we should be, and how we need to behave in order to be accepted.
We are driven by the fear of punishment and the fear of not receiving rewards. Instead of being free and happy beings, we are victimized by our own internal judge. This judge has impossible standards that we can never quite achieve. We are afraid that others will judge us in the same harsh ways we judge ourselves, so we push ourselves to greater degrees of perfection.
The Toltec wisdom shared by Ruiz illustrates how to become free and happy beings able to love ourselves, therefore allowing us to love others. The first agreement is to “be impeccable with your word.” Words are so powerful that they can cause harm if misused. The word impeccable is derived from Latin and translates to “without sin.” This means to never speak against ourselves and others, and implies that we must always honor our word.
The second agreement is “don’t take anything personally.” Ruiz says, “Nothing other people do is because of you. It is because of themselves.” We have the choice to believe or not believe everything we hear. Even what we believe about ourselves may be right or wrong because these thoughts may be part of the information we heard in our mind since conception.
The third agreement is “don’t make assumptions.” The problem is that when we make assumptions, we believe they are true. Yet, assumptions always set us up for problems. We need to ask questions, gather facts, and make sure that we have clear communication rather than making assumptions.
This agreement is especially difficult to keep because we have deeply ingrained habits that keep us from fully communicating with others. When we don’t have a full understanding of a communication, we make assumptions to fill in the gaps.
The fourth agreement is to “always do your best.” Doing your best does not mean perfection. It means doing something to the best of your ability at the time you do it. This agreement allows us to live in the present and let go of the past, knowing that in the past we did our best at the time.
This fourth agreement is the most important of all the agreements. Incorporating these agreements into your life may be difficult, but as you realize the benefits, you will achieve happiness beyond your greatest expectations.
I believe that understanding and living according to these four agreements will help everyone experience more love, joy, and happiness in the world. As we love ourselves, it will become easier for others to love us.
Come to my workshop on February 13th where we will discuss these agreements in greater detail and how you can apply them to your life. We will also review Dr. Chapman’s, Five Love Languages. I have a limited number of, The Four Agreements available for purchase at my office so that you can read through it before the workshop.
This Valentine’s Day, take this tip from Cupid. Follow the four agreements to help you to gain a new love and respect for yourself. In turn, this will attract the love and respect of others for you!
Happy Valentine’s Day from Dr. Karl and staff!