Last week, I wrote a little about the fact that I have given up on making resolutions for the New Year because I never kept them in the past when I would make them, and when I found myself not keeping them, I just felt bad about myself. I decided a long time ago that I don't need the added pressure, so no more New Year's Resolutions for me.
That doesn't mean that I don't set new intentions or goals, however, whether it is the first of a new year or not. I am continually trying to improve my life and myself by engaging in practices and rituals that help me feel good about myself and enhance my ability to get along well with others.
One tool that has helped me in setting meaningful intentions is The Four Agreements by don Miguel Ruiz. As promised, I am going to elaborate a little on each of the four agreements in a series of four newsletters starting today.
The first agreement in The Four Agreements is "be impeccable with your word."
I really like the word, "impeccable." It means "Having no flaws; perfect," according to Wesbster's Dictionary. It also means, "Incapable of sin or wrongdoing."
In the context of The Four Agreements, don Miguel Ruiz writes that "Your word is the power that you have to create. Your word is the gift that comes from God....It is through your word that you manifest everything." (p.26)
Using your word impeccably means that you don't engage in the practice of thinking or speaking of yourself or anyone else with falsehoods or with ill will. It means that you forego self-flagellation in the form of self criticism, and it means that you forego gossip in all of its forms and permutations.
Ruiz contends that being impeccable with your word is the "correct use of your energy; it means to use your energy in the direction of truth and love for yourself." (p. 32) It also means to let go of words that curse, find fault, lay blame, or in any other way degrade or destroy yourself or anyone else.
My own practice with regard to being impeccable with my word is that I have given up negative self-talk. You know the self-talk that stems from our childhoods when we were filled with doubts about ourselves because of the things our parents said to us or about us within our hearing. In addition to our parents, our teachers often had a hand in creating the negative self-talk that ties us in knots and keeps us from trying the things we would otherwise be willing to try. And there are other adults and children from our youth who added to the arsenal of negative self-talk that we now mindlessly engage throughout the day every day. I'm not smart enough to do that; I'm not pretty enough...tall enough...short enough...thin enough...creative enough...organized enough...fill in the blank with YOUR own particular, "I'm not______."
We all have this negative self-talk swirling around in our heads. We were raised by people with negative self-talk of their own and they passed it on to us...but we can certainly break the cycle, and I have been working on that for years now. I employ positive affirmations, and I create a new set of self-talk tracks. I love one that Louise Hay has offered which goes, "I am perfect, whole and complete, just as I am." I also employ one that goes, "I have all that I need in this moment and everything that I need is provided for me through me right now."
Whenever I have a fear to pop up, I quickly turn it into a positive. Now, don't get me wrong. I am not saying that employing this practice means that I don't have problems or that those old insecurities don't pop up every once in a while. I am still human, after all. But I have gotten faster and faster about catching myself before I go down the rabbit hole of "Ain't it all awful?" I recognize what is happening and consciously turn it around.
I am much better about staying impeccable with my word regarding myself than I am about staying impeccable with my word regarding others, I hate to say. Ruiz admonishes us to undstand that being impeccable with your word also means not speaking ill of others and to eliminate the negativity of gossip in your life. Imagine if there were not gossip columnists. No gossip magazines. No gossip television shows. What in the world would we talk about after all?
Ruiz contends that we create a kind of living hell with our insistence upon engaging in gossip. He also points out that we often spread poison in order to make our opinion right. Your opinion is nothing other than your particular point of view, however, and it is not necessarily right or even true. Impeccability with your word will give you freedom from gossip and trying to convince anyone of anything. It can free you forever from having to engage in practices that ultimately hurt others as well as yourself.
"With the impeccability of the word you can transcend the dream of fear and live a different life," says Ruiz. (p. 45) I urge you to give it a try. It has changed my life. I urge you to consider the possibility of how it might change yours.