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4 Agreements That Will Change Your Life

4 Agreements That Will Change Your Life

Are you interested in changing your life? Are you craving more love and happiness? Well, there’s a ton of advice out there on how to make that happen. There is one book, though, that really hit home for me, and I want to share what I’ve learned with the hopes of spreading the love and happiness to more people around the world. The following agreements are based on the brilliant and inspiring book The Four Agreements, written by Don Miguel Ruiz. The idea is that if you commit to these four specific agreements, you will change your life and be a happier, more loving human being.

I have been doing my best to follow these agreements, and I can definitely say it’s working.The message in this book helped me reach a higher consciousness and bring more love and happiness into my life — I think it can do the same for you.

So without further ado, if you are ready to change your life and bring more love and happiness your way, repeat after me:

1. I am impeccable with my word.

impeccableword

    Gossip. Trash-talk. Slander. Chitchat. Rumors. Scuttlebutt. (Yes, that’s a real word!) You know what I’m talking about. If you’ve been through middle school, chances are you’ve been both a participant in and a victim of gossip. I’m willing to bet that almost everyone has spoken poorly about someone else at some point in their lives. If you work in an office setting, you can be sure it’s filled with whispers about co-workers. Here’s the thing: Even if you think you’ve never said a negative thing about someone else, it’s likely true that you’ve said a nasty thing about yourself. And that’s just as bad.

    Occasionally, thoughts pop into our minds that we don’t control. (We can work on that, but that’s for another article.) Thinking something, though, is truly different from saying it aloud. Committing a thought to word brings the thought to life. It makes it alive and real. When you use your words to speak poorly about someone else, including yourself, you are bringing negativity into the world. That’s not cool. You don’t want to be responsible for that, do you?

    Eliminate this kind of behavior immediately, and you will be on your way to transforming yourself into a happier, healthier, and more loving person. No more talking poorly about others or yourself! From now on, only speak about people as if they are standing right next to you. If you wouldn’t say it in front of them, then don’t say it at all.

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    Repeat after me.

    I am impeccable with my word.

    2. I do not take things personally.

    Screen Shot 2014-05-07 at 1.29.11 PM

      The things people say and do are direct projections of who they are, what they have experienced, what they believe, who they associate with, where they grew up, and so forth. Everyone has a unique way of looking at the world, and no two people see things the same exact way. Nope. That’s simply impossible.

      When people say and do things, they are doing so directly through their view of the world. This is the one and only way people can! This means that nothing anyone ever does or says is personal to anyone but themselves. It simply can’t be. You may be married to your best friend of 40 years and think you know every single thing about this person, but he/she still sees the world in his/her own unique way. There’s just no way around it. But this is a great thing! No matter what is going on in other people’s lives, what they say, what they do, how they act, you can bet that is has nothing to do with you and you don’t have to be hurt by their actions or words.

      Of course, when we think about not taking things personally, we usually associate this with negativity. But the same is true for positive things. Even when people say they love you, it’s still not personal to you. I do not mean they do not love you; they probably do! But even those words, directed at you, are being used to describe a feeling that was created within their world. Maybe you really rocked their world, and now they feel love. That’s wonderful! But, alas, it’s still not personal. Reel it in and feel the positive energy bouncing off each other as you share love, but remember: If one day it changes and they take their love away, that’s not personal either.

      No more taking things personally! Go on, now, say it.

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      I do not take things personally.  

      3. I do not make assumptions.

      noassume

        We all know that silly saying that goes with the word assume. You make an as — yeah, you know, that one. Also, this is important: Never assume the worst-case scenario in an unknown situation. If you don’t know the truth about something, assuming the worst is a one-way ticket to unhappiness.

        These both hold true, yes, but it doesn’t stop there. I want to delve even further into making assumptions. I want to talk about not making assumptions at all.

        Firstly, never assume you know and understand what people are saying all the time. Communication between people can be really tricky. Words can confuse things. If you are even the slightest bit unsure about what someone means, conjure up the courage to ask questions until you are confident you have a good understanding of their words. Positive or negative. It doesn’t matter. Always ask questions until you are certain you know what’s going on.

        Secondly, never assume people just know what you mean. How often do you hear “you know” when talking with someone? I know I say it all the time. But even if the person I am talking to responds with “oh, yeah!” that doesn’t necessarily mean we are on the same page. Be sure to communicate with people as clearly as you can. Do not assume they already know what you want or need. The best way to avoid misunderstandings is to be as clear as possible about your expectations and boundaries. You can always ask questions. Don’t be afraid to be open, honest, and clear. Be proud of you who are and speak up!

        So, no more assumptions about what other people want, need, say, think, or feel, and no more assuming people know what I want, need, say, think, or feel.

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        Let’s say it together this time.

        I do not make assumptions.

        4. I always do my best.

        dobest

          One of the biggest hurdles to jump when telling people to “do their best” is that they often confuse the word “best” with “perfect.” But perfection is not the goal. Doing your best means that you are giving it your all in any circumstances at any time.

          The truth is that your best changes from day to day. It even changes from moment to moment. While you are consistently doing your best, your best is not consistently staying the same. Your best looks different when you’re sick than when you’re healthy. You can bet it looks way different on a day you’ve experienced a loss than on a day you’ve exercised, done yoga or played a game of softball. No matter what, though, you’ve got to get in there, give it your all, and be the best version of yourself.

          So, ask yourself every once in a while: “Is this my absolute best self?” Then, see if there is anything more or different you could do. Keep in mind that as long as you can answer “yes, this is my best” to your question, then there is no reason for self-judgment, abuse, or criticism. Be your best friend instead. Support and encourage yourself just like you would a friend or a son/daughter. And don’t waste time with regret either. Just do your best. No matter what.

          Say it with me now.

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          I always do my best.

          Are you ready to make these four agreements? As soon as you do, you can begin to make them a part of your daily life. Too much time is wasted on beliefs that keep people unhappy. Let’s not waste anymore time suffering.

          Change yourself, change your life, and watch the people around you look at you with amazement and start to change as well. Then watch yourself transform into a happier, healthier, and more loving person.

          Namaste, ya’ll.

          Oh, if you’re interested, here’s the book I’ve been referring to: The Four Agreements.

          Featured photo credit: Close up portrait of a smiling woman looking outside through window via shutterstock.com

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          Last Updated on August 12, 2020

          When Should You Trust Your Gut and How?

          When Should You Trust Your Gut and How?

          Learning how to trust your gut, otherwise known as your intuition, can keep you safe. Your gut can guide you and help you build your confidence and resilience. My own gut instinct has saved me on more than one occasion. It has also guided me into making sound career choices and other exciting, big decisions. I’m also aware of the times when I’ve gone against my instincts and really regretted it later, wondering why I didn’t tune in to that valuable internal voice that we all have within us.

          In this article, we’re going to explore why and how you should listen to your gut, as well as some concrete tips on how to make sure you’re making the most out of your gut instincts.

          How to Listen to Your Gut

          The key when making any big decision is to always take a minute to listen well to yourself and your inner compass. If you hear your actual voice saying yes while inside you’re silently screaming no, my advice is to ask for some time to think, or simply take a breath and pause before the yes or no escapes your mouth.

          Use that moment to breathe, check in with yourself, and give the answer that feels congruent with who you are and what you want, not the one that always involves following the herd. Trusting your gut means having the courage to not simply go with the majority. It can be about holding your own. Here’s how to hone that skill for yourself and reap the rewards.

          1. Tune Into Your Body

          Your body gives you clues when you’re faced with a big decision. There are many visible and obvious symptoms that we feel in uncomfortable situations. Our body’s reaction is often something that we might try to hide, for example, blushing, being lost for words, or shaking. There are things we might do to try and hide that physical reaction, whether it’s wearing makeup, having a glass of wine or coffee to perk us up a bit, or learning to control our nerves.

          However, paying attention to your body when you experience these feelings of anxiety can teach you so much and help you to make sound choices. Some people will experience an actual “gut” feeling of stomach ache or indigestion in an uncomfortable situation.

          Ask yourself what’s really going on here, and explore what is happening behind your body’s response to the situation. What can your reaction or instinct teach you? Understanding that can be a clue and can help you either learn something about yourself, the situation, or other people. The answers are often within us.

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          Sometimes we’ll get this “something’s not right here” feeling and cannot quite put our finger on it or explain it. That can still be incredibly useful and really guide us away from danger, even if we don’t know the reason.

          In his book, Blink, Malcolm Gladwell also argues this, making the point that sometimes our subconscious is better at processing the answer we need, and that we don’t necessarily need to take time to collect hours and hours of information to come to a reliable conclusion[1].

          2. Ensure Your Head Is Clear Before Making a Decision

          Energy, sleep, and good nutrition are so vital to nourishing our minds, as well as our bodies. There are times when your instinct could lead you astray, and one of these is when you are hungry, “hangry” (angry because you’re hungry!), tired, or anxious. If this is the case–and it may sound obvious–do consider sleeping or eating on it before making an important choice.

          There is, in fact, a connection between our gut and our brain[2], which is where terms like “butterflies in the stomach” and “gut-wrenching” originate from. Stress and emotions can cause physical feelings, and ignoring them might do more harm than good.

          3. Don’t Be Afraid to Say What You Think and Feel

          Listening to your gut and really paying attention to it might involve standing up and being counted, calling something out, or taking a stand. As someone who works for myself, I’ve become used to following the less-travelled road, and that’s given me the chance to strike out on my own in other ways, too.

          As they tell you in the planes, “put your own oxygen mask on first,” and part of that self-reliance is knowing what you really want and like and what is safe and good for you, including what resonates with your personal and business values. Making good decisions with this in mind means making choices that do not go against your own beliefs, even when it may mean taking a stand. This is part of trusting yourself and trusting your instincts.

          This does not always mean taking the “safe” option, although keeping ourselves safe is an important part of the process. This is how we learn and grow, by following our own inner compass. When you do take risks, go outside of your comfort zone, or choose the less popular option, spending some time researching the facts can stand us in good stead, too.

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          4. Do Your Research If Something Feels Off

          As well as listening to our instincts, we can also back up the evidence for our chosen course of action before taking the leap. I had a gut feeling about the need for a learning and development network when I noticed my clients getting stuck with the same problems. I set up and now run such a network, but instead of simply going for it, without evidence, I followed up on my instinct with research.

          Having confidence in your gut instinct through these kinds of tests can help to minimize your risks, as well as spur you on. It will encourage you to trust your gut again in the future and trust that you are an expert with foresight and experience. You are!

          5. Challenge Your Assumptions

          When you look at the assumptions your making, this could be the clue to mistakes you are making.

          In order to check that our instincts are wise, we need to ask ourselves what blanks we might be filling in, either consciously or unconsciously. This is true not just when it comes to our own decision-making. It’s also true when we are listening to someone explain a problem or situation, and we’re about to jump in and give some advice. If we can learn to be aware of our own assumptions, we can become better listeners and better decision makers, too.

          A useful tool to become more aware of your assumptions before making a final decision is simply to ask yourself, “What assumptions am I making about this situation or person?”

          6. Educate Yourself on Unconscious Bias

          Unconscious bias is something we all have, and it can trip us up big time!

          There is a vital caveat to bear in mind when wondering about whether you can trust your gut and the feelings your body gives you, and that’s having an awareness of your unconscious bias. Understanding your own bias–which is hard to do because it literally does happen in our subconscious–can help you to make stronger, better, decisions instead of re-confirming your view of the world over and over again.

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          Bias exists, and it’s part of the human condition. All of us have it, and it colors our decisions and can impact on our performance without us realizing.

          Unconscious bias happens at a subconscious level in our brains. Our subconscious brain processes information so much faster than our conscious brain. Quick decisions we make in our subconscious are based on both our societal conditioning and how our families raised us.

          Our brains process hundreds of thousands of pieces of information daily. We unconsciously categorize and format that information into patterns that feel familiar to us. Aspects such as gender, disability, class, sexuality, body shape and size, ethnicity, and what someone does for a job can all quickly influence decisions we make about people and the relationships we choose to form. Our unconscious bias can be very subtle and go unnoticed..

          We naturally tend to gravitate towards people similar to ourselves, favoring people who we see as belonging to the same “group” as us. Being able to make a quick decision about whether someone is part of your group and distinguish friend from foe was what helped early humans to survive. Conversely, we don’t automatically favor people who we don’t immediately relate to or easily connect with.

          The downside of that human instinct to seek out similar people is the potential for prejudice, which seems to be hard-wired into human cognition, no matter how open-minded we believe ourselves to be. And these stereotypes we create can be wrong. If we only spend our time with and employ people similar to ourselves, it can create prejudices, as well as stifle fresh thinking and innovation.

          We may feel more natural or comfortable working with other people who share our own background and/or opinions than collaborating with people who don’t look, talk, or think like us. However, diversity is not just morally right; having a mix of different people and perspectives that can be genuinely heard is also a valuable way to counter groupthink. Diversity stretches us to think more critically and creatively.

          7. Trust Yourself

          It is possible to learn how to truly trust yourself[3]. Like any talent or skill, practicing trusting your gut is the best way to get really good at it. When people talk about having great intuition or being good decision-makers, it’s because they’ve worked at honing those skills, made mistakes, learned from them, and tried again.

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          Looking back at decisions you’ve made, what you did, what the outcome was, and what you’ve learned can help you become a stronger decision maker and develop solid self-trust and resilience. Making a mistake does not mean you are not great at decision-making; it’s a chance to grow and learn, and the only mistake is to ignore the lesson in that experience.

          If you are in the habit of asking others for their input, then the trick here is to choose your inner circle wisely. Having a sounding board of people who have your best interests at heart is a valuable asset, and, combined with your own excellent instincts, can make you a champion decision maker.

          The Bottom Line

          The above tips are all actionable and easy to start immediately. It’s simply about switching your thinking around, slowing down, and taking great care of this amazing machine that is your body and mind!

          Learning how to trust your gut is one of the most fundamental ways to make decisions that will help you lead the life you want and need. Tune into what your body is telling you and start making good decisions today.

          More Tips on How to Trust Your Gut

          Featured photo credit: Acy Varlan via unsplash.com

          Reference

          [1] Science of People: Learn to Trust Your Gut Instincts: The Science Behind Thin-slicing
          [2] Harvard Health Publishing: The gut-brain connection
          [3] Psych Central: 3 Ways to Develop Self-Trust

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