Don Miguel Ruiz offers us five agreements we can make with ourselves to live a wonderful life. He chose his first agreement wisely:
“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 & love.”
1. What does he mean by “impeccable,” “integrity,” “what you mean,” “speak against yourself,” “gossip,” “power,” “truth,” & “love?”
“Impeccable” can mean perfect, or guiltless, or unconditional, among other things. The clues to Don Miguel Ruiz’s meaning are in the four examples he gives. But that leaves us with even more words to define before we can grasp what he means well enough to fulfill the agreement.
“Integrity” can mean being consistent, honest, or ethical, for example.
“Say only what you mean” could mean tell the truth, reveal your motives, or stick to meaningful topics
The awkward phrases, “Avoid using the word.” & “to speak against yourself,” do not sound like familiar, casual expressions.
What constitutes “gossip about others?”
What is “the power of your word?”
Which is the “direction of truth & love?”
You know the intention of the agreement, so choose the definitions that work best for you.
2. What can you do to achieve all that this agreement implies?
What models & methods could you use to achieve consistently ethical, meaningful, positive, powerful, directed, truthful, loving language? How can you know when you are successful?
3. What can you expect from keeping this agreement?
What are the prices you would pay, & the rewards you would receive from living by this agreement?
Early in human development, our forebears discovered the power of drawn symbols, common gestures, & eventually words. This was the power that led to the ascent of man & the achievements of our race. Words were few & sometimes sacred or taboo. Drawing the symbols, making the gestures, or saying the words were thought to conjure & manifest the ideas into physical existence. The Bible describes God like this: “In the beginning there was the Word & the Word was with God & the Word was God.” That is how people regarded words.
We have developed extensive vocabularies, abstractions, metaphors, & nuances of meaning. We can explore & express the highest ideals & the most intimate feelings with our words. But do we?
Have you lost touch with how powerful & important language is among humans? Do you let your state of mind, cause you to blithely misuse language to boast, exaggerate, lie, blame, divert, deceive, deny, intimidate, & demean others & yourself?
Do you squander your power when you talk on & on about whatever comes to mind, including fictional people, games, & many other things that dilute & weaken the power of your words? Does the phrase, “wasting your time,” ring a bell?
Your life depends on your words. Think of how what you say affects your world. The fates of your families, communities, & nations depend on what & how you communicate. Most of all, your words & how you use them shape the image you have of yourself. Do you ever feel powerless? Have your words limited & trapped you into pretending to be what others expect? Have your words shaped the ways other people treat & trust you? Are you so anxious about who you really are that you talk about other people to feel good & distract attention away from yourself? Are you so far from being your true self that your life is not yours to live & enjoy?
Words can also work wonders in your life. You can learn, & dream, & love out of your words. You can achieve great things, have fun, find a life mate, do marvelous good deeds, build deep lasting friendships when you use your words powerfully, truthfully, & lovingly.
Suppose you choose to make this first agreement with yourself, what then? What exactly should you do? How will you know you have it right?
Clearly the answer lies within you. You can look at what others have done & the results they have gotten, or use trial & error until you find the ways that work for you.
Here is one way to learn to be impeccable with your word.
Look at the list of things to achieve. Start today with the easiest thing on the list for you. Which of the elements can you do starting right now? Stop putting yourself down? Stay out of conversations involving gossip? Do not pretend to agree with things when you do not? Think & speak honestly, generously & considerately? Save your words for real communications & intimacy? Tell the people you love that you love them? Pick one, & try it out.
If you work best with partners, choose a partner & make a game out of following the rules you set for yourselves. When you are satisfied with your new habits, choose the next easiest area. One by one, work on the parts of this vital, foundation agreement with yourself.
What can you expect? What do you think?