I read The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz while I was going through the beginning of the end. My marriage of 15-years had ended and as usual I found solace in the pages of a book. So far, literature had helped me give up smoking, drinking, get out of debt, quit my job and so why wouldn’t it also help me get through the toughest test in my life so far.
The book is a very small one and I read it in one sitting, something I had never done before. I was flying to Vienna to work at a poker tournament when I started reading it, and the person seated next to me must have thought I was mad as I cried several times throughout.
People will draw all sorts of inspiration and healing from this book. I learned a great deal but one important point really helped me at a time I was desperately in need of some. The Four Agreements made me realise that as tough as it was for 15-years of my life to end, it was a necessary step that both my ex wife and I needed to take to move forward in our lives.
The third agreement is Don’t Make Assumptions and it is this part of the book that makes it so influential for me. Ruiz writes about how humans continually make assumptions and then convince themselves that they are real. One of the worse ways we do this is in our relationships. We make an assumption that our loved ones know how we feel and what we think. As we believe our assumptions there is therefore no need to ask our partner how they feel or what they think – we believe we already know. Because of this you then create a set of beliefs and behaviours around these false assumptions and it creates anarchy in a relationship.
We believe that because we have been with someone for a long time then our partner must understand us, otherwise there is a lack of love. Partners get angry at each other because they have different expectations about marriage and relationships. They don’t discuss these expectations because there is an assumption you already should know. If you already know and are still behaving in this fashion then you must not love this person. All of these false assumptions create arguments; fights and lines of stress that eventually lead to large cracks that bring the house down.
Ruiz explains that we make assumptions because we lack the courage to ask questions. The hammer that struck me between the eyes was the understanding that people assume that everyone sees the world as they do. This was something that continues to plague me to this day. I assume people can see the world through my eyes and this causes all sorts of problems in my relationships.
He also explains that real love is accepting people for who they are. If you are trying to change someone then that means you do not really like him or her. Quid pro quo if they are trying to change you then they don’t like you either.
What is the most influential book you have ever read? Please share it with us.
This book helped me understand that the way I behaved in my relationships was false. I was creating an illusion of who I really was and scared to death of asking for what I really wanted. Everything had gotten way out of control and when it came to relationships I had simply lost the plot.
I blamed everyone for my lack of love but had failed to take 100% responsibility for my life and instead had made too many assumptions. I cried on that plane because once again I was learning something very important once the gate had been bolted shut. I had been trying to change people to fit into my world for years. It was time to stop that behaviour, start asking for what I really wanted and wait and see what would happen next.