When The Grass Appears Greener Over There: Using The Four Agreements to Embrace Your Own Messy, Amazing Life

The lens through which we perceive our life means everything.

We can see it through color, or we can see it through darkness and despair.

Has this ever happened to you?

You wake up one day and see that most things are out of place: the coffee stain on your white shirt that happened yesterday isn’t coming out, your dog/child is sick for the umpteenth time, you snap at your partner and can’t really figure out why, and you look in the mirror and only focus on the bags underneath your eyes. Your mind might wander in its tired and overwhelmed state: “if only I had {this house}, {this career}, {this income} {this family}, then it wouldn’t feel so bad.”

 

Then you open your social media account and see photos of smiling faces peering out at you from the top of a snow-capped mountain, or trapezing through the streets of Barcelona and you can’t remember the last time you left the state for vacation. There are photos of a friend’s newborn child, which just seem to dig you deeper into a hole of sadness as you compare their family to yours.

 

The Slippery Slope of Comparison

 

You start to slip into the Comparison Monster coma, and can’t help yourself from scrolling and scrolling and just feeling worse and worse. “Their life must be so much easier, and so much more joyful than mine.”  In my office I’ve heard so many times: “I just need to lose those last ten pounds.  Then I’d love myself!

 

This is a recipe for despair, depression, and self-pity. I’ve been there, and you might have been too.

 

The truth is, we don’t know and can’t know what it’s like to be in anyone else’s shoes, and assuming that they must have a ‘perfect life’ just leads for us to suffer more. No one has a ‘perfect life’, everyone feels pain, loss, joy, and the plethora of emotions that we are capable of feeling and that is what makes us human. We grow and learn from these emotions.  We create connections and love from feeling ALL of the emotions.

As one of my favorite researchers, Brene Brown says: “We can’t select which emotions we want to feel.  If we don’t want to feel pain, we can’t feel love or joy either.”

 

How we cope with life’s ups and downs can have a significant impact on our mental health, and it is something we have a choice about!

 

The Four Agreements as a Guide to Self-Acceptance

 

Recently I had the opportunity to hear Don Miguel Ruiz and his sons speak. Don Miguel is the author of The Four Agreements, which is a reknowned book offering insight into “the source of self-limiting beliefs that rob us of joy and create needless suffering”. The gentleness and wisdom of his spirit reverberated throughout the room and it was easy to understand why he has become such a powerful force.

 

He outlines Four Agreements which can help us find more peace in our lives, even if they are messy and imperfect.

 

1st Agreement: Be Impeccable With Your Word

“When you are impeccable, you take responsibility for your actions, but you do not judge or blame yourself.”

 

2nd Agreement: Don’t Take Anything Personally

“Nothing other people do is because of you. It is because of themselves.”

 

3rd Agreement: Don’t Make Assumptions

“The way to keep yourself from making assumptions is to ask questions. Make sure the communication is clear. If you don’t understand, ask. Have the courage to ask questions until you are as clear as you can be.”

 

4th Agreement: Always Do Your Best

Under any circumstance, always do your best, no more and no less. But keep in mind that your best is never going to be the same from one moment to the next. Everything is alive and changing all the time, so your best will sometimes be high quality, and other times it will not be as good.”

(Source: The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz)

This does not mean never making a mistake or feeling pain, but living your life authentically, honestly, and mindfully. He states: “The first step toward personal freedom is awareness. We need to be aware that we are not free in order to be free. We need to be aware of what the problem is in order to solve the problem.”

 

How the Agreements Can Help You Find Self-Acceptance

 

Here are just a few of the ways that these Agreements have helped me as well as some of my clients:

 

Boundaries

Often times when we are not being mindful of our boundaries, we can become more reactive and less present, which can lead to feeling overwhelmed and suffering.

I know that when I take on others’ emotions too deeply, that I have some tending to do of my own needs and feelings. The 2nd Agreement has guided me to try to define what is mine and what is not mine and to not take things too personally.

 

Self-Care and Self-Assurance

The 4th agreement has encouraged my clients to learn about who they are, what matters to them, and to do their best to live their lives in alignment with those values. If I have a value of honesty and then I am dishonest with my partner, I am going to suffer and potentially my relationships will as well because of this. Doing my best means knowing and accepting who I am and knowing that I have a lot to offer. So do you!

 

Connection and Closeness

The 3rd Agreement offers the opportunity to ask questions from a place of openness. Assumptions only cut us off from the world, from support, and from creating close relationships.  When we make assumptions we are doing so from a place of deeper pain. Open and clear communication with ourselves and with our support system helps us stay present and non-judgmental.

 

How can you use the Four Agreements to help guide yourself to recognize the gifts and strengths you possess in your own life?