The First Agreement: Be Impeccable With Your Word
Thanks for joining my blog series based on one of my favorite books, “The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom” by Don Miguel Ruiz. We’re starting with the First Agreement: Be Impeccable With Your Word, and my version: Speaking your truth.
But before diving in, please read my introductory post which explains why I chose this book, and how I’m challenging you to become aware of how these four agreements present themselves in your daily life. Reading the book as we go along is best, but even if you just read these posts and reflect on your behaviors with the provided journal prompts, you will get something out of it.
Agreement #1: Be Impeccable With Your Word
“The first agreement is the most important one and also the most difficult one to honor.”
— The Four Agreements, Chapter 2
Why is your word so important? Because, according to Ruiz, it is your power to create. “What you dream, what you feel, and what you really are, will all be manifested through the word.”
It’s all connected, and what you say matters. This includes what we say to ourselves as well as what we say to others. Our inner voice is often the most destructive because it draws from our negative core beliefs: I’m not good enough, smart enough, worthy of love, deserving of happiness, etc.
So what does it mean to be impeccable with your word? From its Latin roots, it means “without sin,” which Ruiz goes on to explain:
“A sin is anything that you do which goes against yourself. Everything you feel or believe or say that goes against yourself is a sin. You go against yourself when you judge or blame yourself for anything. Being without sin is exactly the opposite. Being impeccable is not going against yourself. When you are impeccable, you take responsibility for your actions, but you do not judge or blame yourself.”
YES! Re-read that paragraph because it is SO, SO important.
Going Against The First Agreement
We go against ourselves all the time without realizing it. We say we want one thing, but then we do exactly the opposite. Because our subconscious wants to keep us safe, it will default to what is known and familiar, even if it’s painful and not at all what we want. Then we end up beating ourselves up, wondering why nothing works out. It’s because we created it with our own thoughts, words, and actions.
When you blame others, you are not impeccable with your word. Angry words directed at someone else (whether they hear them or not), are angry words you use against yourself. They are a reflection of how you feel inside. It comes from a place of believing you are owed by this person rather than looking at where you let yourself down. By contrast, real loving words directed at someone else come from a loving place inside. Angry words never come from a loving place or vice versa.
My Version Of The First Agreement: Speak Your Truth
I say it all the time… speak your truth. Instead of hiding who you are and how you feel, express it openly and honestly. This is terrifying for many of us because we’re afraid of being judged and rejected. However, it is THE KEY to emotional freedom. It is THE KEY to intimacy with another human. It is THE KEY to self-acceptance. It is THE KEY to a healthy relationship. It is THE KEY to living an authentic life.
I work on speaking my truth every single day. I’m done hiding and have no interest in it. I drop f-bombs on my podcast all the time and have gotten negative feedback for it. I get it–some people don’t like that. And that’s ok, they don’t have to. But I am not going to change who I am or how I express myself because of what others think. Doing so would be inauthentic.
I don’t use language to shock or manipulate; it’s simply who I am and how I naturally talk. I’m a little rough around the edges in that way, and I don’t want to change it. Can I clean it up when necessary? Of course! But my podcast is my arena for telling it like it is, so holding back would go against this agreement. And it would probably be uncomfortable to listen to!
The First Agreement and Healthy Relationships
I practice this every single day with my husband, and we have the most amazing relationship because of it. We talk vulnerably, sharing even the ugliest parts of ourselves. I’ve never felt more connected to a partner in my life.
I share it all. I share my old ideas and ways of acting in previous relationships. I have “told on myself” more than once. Out of all my core beliefs, I recently became aware of one that still exists: the “I am wrong” belief. Instead of getting mad at him, blaming him, or being nasty with my words when he asks a question which I interpret as “questioning whether or not I did something wrong,” now I immediately check my reaction. It may still take me a few minutes to admit that I was triggered, but I am never mean nor mistreat him even when I do react.
Whenever I’m emotionally triggered, I am always willing to take responsibility no matter what! No unnecessary drama, blame, or tirades. It is so much nicer not having an asshole voice in my head that requires doing repair work for saying something jerky.
Want to know how to have a healthy relationship? Start by being impeccable with your word. Speak your truth. Even when it’s uncomfortable. ESPECIALLY when it’s uncomfortable. That’s a sign you’re growing.
A famous quote from Gandhi draws from the same idea:
“Your beliefs become your thoughts. Your thoughts become your words. Your words become your actions. Your actions become your habits. Your habits become your values. Your values become your destiny.”
Again, it’s all connected. Choose your words carefully. They are more powerful than you think.
Grab your journal or download the printable pdf and answer the following questions:
- What is something you are hiding, which you may have shame around? What are your fears around expressing it to another person?
- When was the last time you said you would do something, but didn’t go through with it? Examples might include making plans to get together with someone, doing the dishes, sending a thank you note, calling a parent or friend, etc. How did/do you feel by going against what you said you would do? What is the benefit? Is it a pattern of letting yourself down that is on autopilot? Is it an opportunity to punish or berate yourself because that’s something you’re used to?
For the next week, pay attention to your words, both verbal and non-verbal (so yes, this also includes your thoughts!). In your journal, jot them down. Write down when you were impeccable with your word and spoke your truth, and when you didn’t.
I suggest making two columns: one for times you adhered to the agreement, and one for the occasions you didn’t. You can do this at the end of the day, or first thing in the morning, reflecting on the previous day. And if you catch yourself in the act, write it down in the moment! If you have trouble remembering to check in with yourself, set a reminder once or twice a day.
Remember NOT to judge yourself for the times you went against yourself. This is not an exercise in self-flagellation. It is simply to notice where you are truthful and where you still hide so you build that awareness. Some examples of what you may write:
- A friend invited me to her birthday dinner, but instead of telling her why I wasn’t going (I always feel inferior around her group of friends because they are all so successful), I said I had other plans.
- I looked at my partner this morning and said “I love waking up beside you.”
- I was triggered by an email at work and quickly replied, “If you don’t want my input, don’t ask for it.”
- I yelled at the driver in front of me for driving slow in the fast lane.
Keep your eyes focused on your words and record them. Do it every day and you’ll start to notice patterns.
ACTION EXERCISE: Tell at least one person you care about how you feel about them. This should feel uncomfortable, so say something you don’t normally say (i.e. I love you, I appreciate you, You make me happy, I’m grateful for you, I love your laugh, etc.). Take it a step further by picking someone you don’t usually express yourself to like a parent, sibling, friend, or colleague. Whatever you express, make sure it’s truthful and focus on feeling it when you say it.
Next up is the Second Agreement: Don’t Take Anything Personally. Oh yeah, that’s a fun one.