Putting Don Miguel Ruiz’s The Four Agreements to work in a digital world

Journal.
Putting Don Miguel Ruiz’s The Four Agreements to work in a digital world

“Do you live your life freely and create without judging yourself or did you gradually lose the ability to be who you really are?”

The COVID-19 pandemic has redefined daily life for everyone. The post-pandemic world which we look forward to will be more digitalised than ever before. It will create opportunities for many of us to define new, more liveable daily routines. Published in 2008, The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz retains its relevance as a practical guide to self-mastery as a means of achieving happiness.

The book argues that self-limiting habits, whether inherited or constructed, prevent us from seeing the truth, starting with who we really are. The four agreements are tools designed to help regain power over our lives.

We have made a series of agreements with ourselves, with others and with life. We may think we need to be smart, skinny, to marry or become parents to be happy. None of these things are necessarily true. The book suggests that we can get rid of abstract notions of right and wrong and make new agreements with ourselves. We can thus re-empower ourselves and reclaim the right to make our most important decisions, rather than having society impose them on us.

The four agreements are also a channel to better communication, with ourselves and with others. Online interaction enters the equation as, at least for the moment, it is the main or even only method of communication for many. The four agreements are as critical in the digital world as they are in the physical one.

“Be Impeccable With Your Word”

This first agreement reminds us that words are a powerful creative tool. Our words can be constructive or destructive. When we charge our words with judgement, we create a negative power which can turn against us.

The first agreement shows how to use words better. In doing so we can avoid loading sadness onto others, while creating positive new narratives about ourselves. Words are still words if written anonymously on screen from the living-room sofa and then pushed out on social media. They have the same destructive power if the message is one of hate. We have great power and responsibility when exercising our choice to “send”, “share”, “comment” or “like”, yet too seldom examine this power.

For example, have you ever asked yourself about the source of information in a post before you shared it? The act of sharing makes you as legally responsible for the content as the author of the post. Yet research from 4P has shown that 59% of those who share information on social networks know that “the source is not perfectly reliable”. This doesn’t matter, until it matters. When it does, the repercussions are outside the control of those who take the chance.

Questions to ask before hitting the send button are whether the post is kind, necessary, or true, and whether it improves on the silence. These questions will help us avoid the blame-and-shame game on social media and put us on the way to being impeccable with our digital word.