Suit of Armor
I have so much love and hope for our young people today. Getting the opportunity to substitute at Matagorda School, I see their knowledge and development grow exponentially as they work their way to the end of May. My only wish is that our school system would offer a course in self-preservation. Knowledge is key in academics, but conscious development of the self is the alloy needed in a suit of amour that each student must build and wear throughout junior high and high school. Learning to accept and embrace who they are rather than letting others define them is the difference between failure and success.
A powerful tool to offer our students today comes from author Don Miguel Ruiz. His book, The Four Agreements, should be on every student’s summer reading list. The Four Agreements came into my life over 25 years ago and is one of the top tools I’ve used in motivational work, retreats, workshops, team building, life coaching and Mighty Me for young girls. There is no age limit in its readership. It’s a one-size-fits-all book.
Ruiz’s book is a beautifully concise pearl of wisdom that will open your eyes to self-destructive tendencies you may be unaware of in your life. It’s a relatively small book that packs a powerful punch. The four agreements discussed in his book are as follows:
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.
Don’t Take Anything Personally-Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.
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.
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 when you are sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse, and regret.
Admittedly, we recognize some of the agreements from information we’ve assimilated from our parents, grandparents, teachers and ministers; yet, Don Miguel Ruiz offers it to us in a simple, concise checklist when we find ourselves frustrated by our inability to navigate roadblocks. It’s not a book to be read and put away on a bookshelf. Instead, it’s a reference book to review on a regular basis. (My original copy has every word highlighted multiple times and I’ve continually discovered fresh, new concepts after reading it multiple times.)
As an adult, reaching for The Four Agreementsis a wonderful idea, but can you imagine having this book at your disposal when you were just beginning your formative years? If you think the philosophy of this book is simple, think again. Secrets of the universe lie within those pages and should be taught in an academic setting.
Over the years my suit of armor has sustained me through disappointment, bullying, breakups, rejection, self-destructive tendencies and grief over the loss of my loved ones, all in the name of self-preservation. Ruiz’s book is a DIY instruction guide on how to build or renovate your suit of amour. Pass it on!
Originally published in the Bay City Tribune on Sunday, April 15, 2018