We’re excited to offer the second in Eric Burnham’s five-part series based on “The Four Agreements,” by bestselling author Don Miguel Ruiz. In the book, Ruiz reveals the source of self-limiting beliefs that rob us of joy and create needless suffering. Based on ancient Toltec wisdom, The Four Agreements offer a powerful code of conduct that can rapidly transform our lives to a new experience of freedom, true happiness, and love.
Be Impeccable With Your Word
As I said before, the Four Agreements are a set of fundamentals in the form of a contract made with oneself. The purpose of the agreements is to grow into a more authentic and congruent person. When someone is genuine in his or her approach to life, and outward behaviors align with and flow from internalized values, that person will be more confident, self-assured, and capable of success, experiencing a significant reduction in anxiety and stress.
The first agreement that should be made with yourself is to be impeccable with your word. “Impeccable” means “flawless or incapable of sin,” and “sin” means “to transgress divine law” or “to miss the mark.” This, obviously, requires a little explanation, so let’s unfold it.
Words are gifts, and words matter. When words are formed into weapons and used to intentionally deceive or harm others, the divine principles of honesty and integrity are violated. These principles are intended to preserve the social attributes that distinguish humans from animals — human beings have a choice to uphold that distinction or to tear it down; while animals do not have that choice. The animal kingdom knows nothing of morality or immorality, only survival; whereas in the kingdom of humankind, survival of the species depends upon both individual and collective morality. Therefore, it’s not much of a leap to conclude the uniquely human ability to freely form and direct words must be counterbalanced against the responsibility to behave in ways that build others up, rather than tear them down. When words are used to deceive, harm, or inflate oneself at the expense of others, they miss the mark for which they were designed. Words were never intended to be tools of destruction.
To be impeccable with your word means choosing honesty, even when it hurts. It means avoiding gossip, even when its taste is pleasing to the tongue. It means readily admitting faults and taking immediate responsibility for mistakes and failures. It means being kind when you don’t have to be. It means respecting those who may not deserve it. It means speaking ill of none. It means knowing when to speak and when to remain quiet. It means keeping your promises and doing what you’ve said you’ll do — and not doing what you’ve said you won’t. It means being humble enough to apologize when you’re wrong. And it means speaking up for those who cannot speak for themselves.
However, being impeccable with your word does not mean being perfect, and it does not mean always being right. It means you have a dedication to the pursuit of the truth, wherever it leads, and it requires courage, perseverance, and humility. A person who measures his words, avoiding hyperbolic embellishment, confronting narcissistic self-interest, and resting in the authority of objectivity, is a soaring eagle howled at by chasing dogs — both out of reach and incomprehensible. Be impeccable with your word.