Have You Taught Your Children “The Four Agreements?”
To be a revolutionary parent, you must understand that your children are a blank slate. They have an equal capacity to be good and bad. Moral and immoral. Productive and destructive. It’s the inputs they receive from you and others that will determine which path they travel.
Ruiz says that all children are born perfectly loving, playful, and genuine. However, parents teach their children what Carl Rogers called conditions of worth–standards of behavior the children must follow to receive love and avoid criticism. Eventually these standards become internalized into what Eric Berne called a life script–an unconscious set of instructions for living life. According to Ruiz, most of these unconscious beliefs are perfectly arbitrary or downright false. Many of them are irrational and unnecessarily limiting.
An unfortunate fact of being a child is that you fail to question things. Children fail to question because they rely on trust. They take things at face value. Your words and assertions are heard and felt and then internalized. Everything you say and do is a form of indoctrination. CULTure is indoctrination. And this indoctrination becomes a script. A computer program. And it runs on a loop until awareness is brought to it.
In “The Four Agreements”, don Miguel Ruiz calls these indoctrination loops, “agreements.” It’s your child agreeing with the indoctrination because their only choice is to do so. Their very survival depends on it.
Ruiz says that children do not know any better than to agree with the adult realities into which they are indoctrinated. Children do not argue with the meanings of words or grammar as they are learning language. If my parents tell me I am smart and handsome, I believe them. If they tell me I am stupid and ugly, I believe them. Children have no choice but to agree. They are like Plato’s prisoners in the cave, shackled and forced into believing that shadows of artificial objects are real.
And worse, these scripts are much less like computer “programs” and more like computer “viruses.”
We are so well trained that we are our own domesticator. We are an autodomesticated animal. We can now domesticate ourselves according to the same belief system we were given, and using the same system of punishment and reward. We punish ourselves when we don’t follow the rules according to our belief system; we reward ourselves when we are the “good boy” or “good girl.”
“Self-Awareness” is one of the five pillars of revolutionary parenting because it’s critical, as a parent, that you identify the scripts running in your own life. If those scripts aren’t identified and canceled, they will be passed on to your children. Self-awareness is the realization that you are the author and control the script. This allows you to discard parts of the script that are not serving you and author in new scripts.
This, by the way, is antithetical to what CULTure wants from you. Religion, statism, schooling, media, and big business all want you and your children to succumb to their indoctrination loops. To question nothing. In fact, “school” was designed to afford more control over the specifics of the indoctrination narrative.
So the best thing that we can do for our children is to equip them with the capacity to identify indoctrination loops, question them, and overcome them. This will pave the way for living an authentic life. Of course, children learn best through modeling so it’s very helpful if they witness you doing the same in your own life.
Ruiz lays out a process for replacing destructive agreements with four distinct “healthy” agreements that, when implemented, allow for maximum freedom, happiness, and authenticity. And these are agreements that I believe all revolutionary parents should strongly consider adopting for themselves. And eventually inviting their children to adopt.
Agreement #1: Be Impeccable With Your Word
To be impeccable with your word means to speak truthfully about yourself and others. Where most people may take this at first glance to mean, “be honest with others,” it’s much more powerful than that. Being impeccable with your word is also a full-blown dismissal of your “inner-critic,” which we explained in Revolutionary Parenting Radio Ep21: How You Talk to Your Child Becomes Your Inner Voice, is just a programmed script.
Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use your power of your word in the direction of truth and love. You can measure the impeccability of your word by your level of self-love. How much you love yourself and how you feel about yourself are directly proportionate to the quality and integrity of your word. When you are impeccable with your word, you feel good; you feel happy and at peace.
Agreement #2: Don’t Take Anything Personally
The first agreement suggests that we should avoid treating others and ourselves hurtfully. The second agreement provides us with a way of dealing with potentially hurtful treatment from others. It’s an understanding that each person is being manipulated by their own history of trauma and indoctrination loops and that their treatment of you is not a reflection on your own worth or credibility. In fact, if you care what other people say about you, that’s an example of you making another faulty agreement.
Taking things personally makes you easy prey for these predators, the black magicians. They can hook you easily with one little opinion and feed you whatever poison they want, and because you take it personally, you eat it up. You eat all their emotional garbage, and now it becomes your garbage. But if you do not take it personally, you are immune in the middle of hell. Immunity to poison in the middle of hell is the gift of this agreement.
Agreement #3: Don’t Make Assumptions
Assuming that you know what other people are thinking or feeling about you is a limiting thought pattern. Often, you will be wrong and will choose words and behaviors that lead to destructive consequences. Assuming is a common pitfall of troubled relationships.
In any kind of relationship we can make the assumption that others know what we think, and we don’t have to say what we want. They are going to do what we want because they know us so well. If they don’t do what we want, what we assume they should do, we feel hurt and think, “How could you do that? You should know.” Again, we make the assumption that the other person knows what we want. A whole drama is created because we make this assumption and then put more assumptions on top of it.
Agreement #4: Always Do Your Best
If you do your best in all you do and are honest with yourself, then there is no capacity for shame or guilt. And how great would the lives of children be (and adults) if our best was accepted, even when we fall short of some arbitrary mark?
Just do your best — in any circumstance in your life. It doesn’t matter if you are sick or tired, if you always do your best there is no way you can judge yourself. And if you don’t judge yourself there is no way you are going to suffer from guilt, blame, and self-punishment. You can only be you when you do your best. When you don’t do your best you are denying yourself the right to be you. That’s a seed that you should really nurture in your mind. By always doing your best, you will break a big spell that you have been under.
While The Four Agreements are not the be-all, end-all of personal development, recovery, and freedom, they’re certainly a gigantic leap in the right direction. “If you are impeccable with your word, if you don’t take anything personally, if you don’t make assumptions, if you always do your best, then you are going to have a beautiful life. You are going to control your life one hundred percent.”
Pick up the book from Amazon and start incorporating it into your life. If you have older children, invite them to read it with you.