This section is all about emotions and learning about our mental health. Kimberly Elmore, an Identity Staff Writer, has dedicated her time to educate and discuss a particular emotion in each issue. It’s a great way for women to open up and become more aware of our emotions, feelings, and human behavior. All of these emotions help us understand how to Accept. Appreciate. Achieve.™ and to Feel Beautiful Everyday!™
Over the next several issues of Identity, let’s take a different approach to better understanding our emotions. I’d like to tell you about a book that really helped me get a grasp on how I feel and why. It’s called The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz.
In the last Emotion Commotion column, we discussed my favorite (and second) agreement in Don Miguel Ruiz’s book, The Four Agreements – “Don’t Take Anything Personally.” Now we are going to start at the beginning, with the first agreement, which is “Be Impeccable With Your Word.” That agreement sounds pretty straight forward, right? Basically, say what you mean, mean what you say. Is that part of what this agreement stands for? Yes. But, let’s take a deeper look at it.
Don Miguel Ruiz says this agreement “is the most important one and also the most difficult one to honor.” Ruiz also says, “Through the word you express your creative power. It is through the word that you manifest everything. What you dream, what you feel, and what you really are, will all be manifested through the word.”
Ruiz also believes that the word is not just a sound or a written symbol; it is a force and a power. Think about it. What we think (words) affects how we feel and how we feel affects our behavior (which really is our force and our power). Words are powerful and are more than just a sequence of vowels and consonants, verbs and nouns.
In The Four Agreements book, Ruiz uses Hitler as an extreme example of how powerful words are and how they can negatively influence and captivate others. By using his words, Hitler created fear and that fear manipulated an entire country and convinced people to commit the most appalling acts of violence.
Think of how the words of others have manipulated you and your beliefs. If, at a young age, someone told you that you were ugly or stupid, you believed them – accepted their opinion as your truth. So, you go through life thinking you are ugly and thinking you are stupid. Ruiz says, “By hooking our attention, the word can enter our mind and change a whole belief for better or for worse.”
This is why it’s important that we do our best to be impeccable with our word. Our word affects everyone – our self included. Impeccable means “without sin.” Although sin has religious connotation, a sin is also, according to Ruiz, anything you do which goes against yourself. In order to be impeccable with your word, you must not use your word – your power – against yourself and your beliefs (negative self talk). While it’s important to take responsibility for your actions, do so without blaming or judging yourself.
We misuse our word more so than not. We use our words to create chaos, to blame, to express anger and jealousy. Our words can divide families, people – even nations. Whenever we hear an opinion and we believe it, we make an agreement and it becomes part of our belief system. That’s why it’s important to recognize that the opinions of others are not necessarily your truth. They only become your truth if you let it.
If you tell yourself things like “I’m fat” or “I’m ugly” or “I’m not enough” you’re using your word to hurt yourself. If you change your self talk to being impeccable (not going against yourself), not only will how you treat yourself change, how you treat others will change as well.
If you feel negative about yourself, perhaps your ego propels you to speak negatively about someone you really care about (in order to make yourself – your ego – feel better). All you are doing is using your word to create unnecessary drama and hurt. If you choose to be impeccable with your word, you will cleanse your mind from the emotional poison that eats away at your soul and eventually gets projected onto your personal relationships.
Ruiz says, “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 is directly proportionate to the quality and integrity of your word.”
As children we all sang the tune, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.” As children, that was a creative and “fun” tactic to use to preserve our developing egos. As adults, we’ve learned all too well that words can and do hurt.
It takes a lot of practice and perseverance to not be affected by others’ words. And Ruiz believes that in order to do that, we must each be impeccable with our word. We each need to choose to use words based on love (positive, affirming words) and not on fear (negative, loathing words). If you are able to choose this for yourself, it will help you become immune to the fear-based words of others.
Impeccability and change start with you.
In the next issue, we’ll examine the third agreement: Don’t Make Assumptions.