There is an abbreviated version of these four agreements that I have on my fridge and my smartphone. I visit these agreements everyday.
Briefly, The Four Agreements are:
1. Be Impeccable with Your Word: Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.
2. Don't Take Anything Personally: Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won't be the victim of needless suffering.
3. Don't Make Assumptions: Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness, and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.
4. Always Do Your Best: Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse, and regret. Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse, and regret.
Everyday one of these agreements seems to be the theme of the day. I hear or experience something that immerses me into the practical application of these agreements Today I’m living “Don’t make assumptions.” My Genius son always says, “don’t make assumptions; it makes an ass out of you and umption.” That’s for another column.
The technological progressive world we are living in is making us increasingly vulnerable to living from assumption. Take, for example, the almighty mobile phone and the power it wields over the insecure souls who rely on them. You call your mom. She doesn’t answer. You text your friend. It takes him days to get back. Oh, if I could count the times I’ve heard someone say, “MY mom!” Her phone is probably off again or lying in the bottom of the car.” Mom might be totally savvy with technology and boundaries and is sitting in her massage chair getting a pedi-mani. “Oh! Mom is ignoring me again.” Well…chances are it isn’t the first time! Afterall, every Mom has to go to the bathroom alone once in awhile. Mom may be busy, or have friends, or a LIFE. Or how about the times your friends do not answer your text immediately?? I hear things like, “She’s probably pissed again.” “He’s with the guys and ignoring me.” Ahhh! All assumptions, they are!!!
Then, there is the annoying action of texting itself. It’s annoying to me because after all my correcting of auto-correcting, my fat thumbs get really tired and decide it’s better to use one of those thumbs to speed dial and use my fat lips and my fat head to chew the fat and get the danged conversation over with. Besides, I have been profane, insane and a pain to understand when fat-fingering and am trying hard to rise out of the self-imposed humiliation of texting naughty words by mistake. It seems some of my friends wait in anticipation for the next fumble finger text from me to brighten their day. It’s not the message (it’s usually not understandable) it’s the thrill of trying to decipher it and then laughing in giddy glee when they figure out what I was really trying say. Oh happy day. May your dljljf vji on the top of your ajd -- is what I say to that!!!
Most of us don’t regularly think about the inflection we use when we talk. It’s hard enough not to read in to people’s words when they are speaking, let alone what they might be saying in a one dimensional text. Words not meant to be snarky can be read as snarky, depending on who’s reading it and what insanity may be going on in their brain at the time. If one assumes the text is negative rather than a joking comment, the assumptions again start flying, defensive walls go up and before you know it you’re texting something you usually only think. You’ve just banned your best friend to hell because she said, “I don’t think I can go shopping with you…” She thinks she’s texted in a bilious whiny voice because she’s sick and has PMS. You hear it as, “I wouldn’t be seen dead with you at the mall.” Before she texts her next line, “because I’m sick,” you defensively tell her to go to hell, unfriend her from StupidBook and turn off your phone. No assumptions there. (that was meant to be snarky and I’d use an emoticon but they are so little I would choose the wrong one and then you would assume I’m mad, wry or asleep) See how many words it takes to explain myself so you won’t assume I’m serious? Pffft!
Assumptions can be a good thing. If I am in a cast, on crutches and walk up to a grocery store door, I hope you can assume I could use some help opening the door. Sound basic? Sound like a life-DUH? Well no! Lately, in that very circumstance, I’ve experienced that most people assume I have an extra hand or a mutant paw that will pop out and get me through the door. It’s easier for me to assume they are blind, or have bad manners, but I’m trying not to assume. From there my assumptions make an ass out of me and…well you know the rest.
Don Miguel Ruiz writes:
When we make assumptions it is because we believe we know what others are thinking and feeling. We believe we know their point of view, their dream. We forget that our beliefs are just our point of view based on our belief system and personal experiences and have nothing to do with what others think and feel.
I try to remember that assuming someone is going to respond or react to today’s situation is based on their past and my experience in that past is as unproductive as building a brick wall between myself and them. It’s true that a person’s actions show who they are. It’s true what Maya Angelou says: “When someone shows you who they are, believe them.” But, never assume they haven’t changed – even if you just talked to them yesterday. Your assumptions can be barriers to another’s growth. I don’t mean you need to stay in the land of “enabling” either. One just needs to remember: You are not them. (my auto-correct says they. I’ll assume it’s wrong.) You do not have their facts. You do not live in in the moments of growth and awareness that help them to progress. We take in so much information in a day. You never know when one more drop of information will overflow the “Aha” bucket. You don’t know it for yourself and you certainly don’t know it for anyone else.
Assuming nothing makes you ask the questions before you speak out loud. Assuming nothing lets you be in the present with the person -- just as they are in that particular moment. Assuming nothing keeps the heart and brain a clean canvas to paint with the new information you receive. Simply remember that when you assume anything about anyone you have put up a hurdle that neither of you may want to jump. It’s a tall order to be automatic in this “no-assumption living.” Just be aware, live in the present and remember:
.You are not them. They are not you and I am not you. Thank God for that.