• Elton Cilliers

The Four Agreements – Don Miguel Ruiz

Updated: Jul 18



What’s this book nonsense about?


Basically, I’m trying to understand my own journey that bought me to this point in my life where I am undertaking such a big change in career direction, and relocation to a new country. Please do not expect any structure or reason to posts on this blog!


Several years ago, I started a journey of self-exploration. Read many many books on self-help, religion, spiritualism and Buddhism. I’m not a critique or book reviewer, so I won’t give a review of the book as such. This is simply one of many books that have had an influence on me as a person, and I believe have been a contributing factor to me reaching this point and mindset in my life.


I keep going back…


The Four Agreements was one of the first books I read and is now probably my most read book. The four agreements are pretty ‘common sense’ if you will. But Don explains each of these in a way that really resonated with me. The four agreements being:

  1. Be impeccable with your word: Basically, speak only truth. Do not take part in gossip. Now, I’ve tried since first reading this book to put in place a practice of these agreements. This particular one is the one I seem to offend the most people with. I’m South African, and anyone who has met one of us generally has this belief that we are ‘blunt’. Having spent the last 20 years in England, I can start understanding why this may be how we are perceived. We do have a tendency to ‘say it as we see it’. We call a turd a turd. The English, as a whole, seem overly polite (hence the love of queues) and will take several minutes or days even, to get to the point. Anyway, couple this natural ‘bluntness’ that I have apparently inherited, with ‘being impeccable with my word’ and we have a recipe for offending a LOT of people! Let me be clear, it is NOT my intention to offend anyone. And I have repeatedly had to remind my friends and family, that I am not that person you come to for a ‘, Oh it’s going to be fine, he/she was completely in the wrong. You are totally right and have nothing to be upset about’ pat on the back. If you’ve been an idiot, if you are wrong, I will tell you so. Suffice to say, my ‘friends’ circle has reduced in size somewhat over the years. But this is okay also. My tribe is small, but they are people I know I can be honest with, and more importantly, who I know will be honest with me!

  2. Don’t take anything personally: What this boils down to basically is that what anyone says to you is a reflection of their world and their perceived image of you. In most cases for examples, bullies generally have some issues of their own, whether that be being bullied themselves, abused at home etc. So when this bully lashes out at you, it really isn’t about you. It’s about deflection. Instead, try to get to know the bully, and if that isn’t possible, simply pay no attention. This rule is one that I was able to get accustomed to more quickly than the others. I think that’s mainly down to the fact that I’ve never really cared what people thought or said about me. It still required some work of course, but once you understand this agreement, and Don explains it far better than I, you will relieve yourself of so much unnecessary stress.

  3. Don’t make assumptions: Now this one is a pet peeve actually. Listen to those around you. Perhaps even yourself. When you are talking about a 3rd person with a mate. How many times do you say the words ‘I’m sure he/she’s ….’? I hear it a LOT. Two agreements are made with one simple sentence, “I think he’s cheating because he came home 2 hours late”. 1, you’re making an assumption, and 2, because it’s an assumption, it’s not the truth, therefore you’re not being impeccable with your word. Again, this agreement takes some self-training. By no means have I mastered it, but it’s certainly a rare occurrence these days.

  4. Always do your best: Cliche? Yup. But again, it’s not as simple as you think. Your best will vary from day to day. Having the flu will stop you running the marathon, so your best may be getting out of bed and getting dressed. Your mental health state at any point can alter what your ‘best’ is during that time. The take away for me on this agreement was pretty much, ‘never give up’.

It is, in my opinion, a very good book and one that I have recommended to all my friends, family and acquaintances. I think I’ve bought the book 6 times now, as keep loaning it to people to read and they never return home. If you’ve read it, I’d be very interested in hearing your views and also welcome any suggestions for other reading material 🙂


And finally (a prime example of assumption 🙂 )



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