One of the most influential books in the recovery world and very commonly used in addiction recovery centers is The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. Many of our clinicians here at GateHouse Treatment suggest the book to supplement Twelve step work or following it to our clients. The main concept of the Four Agreements is that they work together to allow you to reshape your existing reality.
Your perception of reality determines the quality of your life in recovery starting with your time at an addiction recovery center. The Twelve steps give you the opportunity to lead a clean and sober life by cleaning up the wreckage of your past and develop a relationship with a Higher Power to carry you through life’s roller coaster. These concepts are highlighted in both the Alcoholics Anonymous Big Book and the Narcotics Anonymous Basic Text, the textbooks of the twelve step fellowships. Don Miguel Ruiz’s The Four Agreements works to supplement the fellowship literature to help you apply the concepts to your perception of life.
The Four Agreements explains how the way we think branches from our experiences as a child. The things we were told play a role in what we believe about ourselves and how we perceive others we associate with. These beliefs, Ruiz explains are agreements we make with ourselves. Many of us in recovery have previously made negative agreements with ourselves, believing we are worthless and failures. Your thoughts as child and what you are made to believe play a big role in your actions later on in life, which is why childhood experiences, traumas, family relationships are all topics processed in drug and alcohol rehabs.
When we are able to replace these negative agreements with new, more hopeful ones, we are able to create our own reality with the use of the Four Agreements in our daily lives.
First Agreement- Be Impeccable with Your Word
Don Ruiz says, “First and foremost, we must use our words for truth and love, not gossip and character assassination.”
The first agreement emphasizes the importance of our words and how they influence the world around us. It suggests we must speak honestly and with integrity, never making false promises or statements. Secondly, we must speak using loving words when speaking about others as well as yourself. The words you use to talk to yourself create your belief system and the agreements you have with yourself. If these are positive agreements, it allows you to have more self worth. Avoid gossip. Instead, always use your word towards truth and love.
Honest is a large part of recovery, which is why the non-judgmental environment at an addiction recovery center allows for honest growth and we can see our clients develop into contributing, functioning members of society.
Second Agreement- Don’t Take Anything Personally
Never allow someone else’s word to affect you in an ill manner.
Just as we make agreements with ourselves, others do that with themselves. Sometimes, these might not always be encouraging agreements they have, which can influence their words towards us. When someone else’s reality is negative, they can attempt to project that on us in order to insult or belittle us.
We must understand this projection of negativity has nothing to do with our own reality. By doing this we can avoid unnecessary internal suffering because of someone else’s internal struggles. Ruiz claims, “those who love themselves will not project a negative reality on others.”
When we can live life without worrying about others reality and perception of our character, we can more freely love ourselves and understand our personal self worth.
Third Agreement- Don’t Make Assumptions
Avoid misunderstandings by expressing yourself clearly and communicating your needs. Our 12-step programs and most drug and alcohol rehabs teach us that resentments can lead to relapse. To avoid developing resentments based solely on misunderstanding of other’s word, we must believe in the power of asking questions.
Clarify other’s motives and intentions in order to avoid feeling angry about the world around us. This is how we continue to develop our reality in a positive light. Learning to communicate openly and honestly will prove to be monumental in our pursuit of a happy life.
Fourth Agreement- Always Do Your Best
Learn that your best is enough.
Always put your best foot forward and whole heartedly participate in your life and your recovery. As long as you continue to do this honestly, every little pitfall and obstacle can be overcome. The 12-step program often says “always do the next right thing.” Doing your best and staying true to a good course of action will impact your life in ways beyond your perceived reality.
Doing your best allows you to increase your self worth and avoid self-abuse, self judgement, and most important regret regarding your actions. This ties in with the main concept of all four agreements of always creating positive agreements with yourself.
Create Your Serenity
Living life to the fullest and having gratitude for the gifts in your life will allow you to live free from fear and open your mind, body, and soul up to begin your healing process. Faltering in practicing the four agreements in our lives is a part of our growth and change process. We can reshape our reality for the better by practicing incorporating the agreements daily to eventually achieve a serene way of living.
Get started on reshaping your life with an addiction recovery center by getting help at GateHouse Treatment. Contact our admissions specialists today.