The last couple of weeks have felt like living in a shark tank. Everything that could go wrong has. All the most uncomfortable, unsettling things have come up. Every interaction has been anything but simple.
I launched a product last week that hadn’t properly gone through the editing process (my bad) and I had to pull it. I was not only counting on it to pay for itself but I also wanted to put it into the world. I need money to live, but the work I do is the packaging of my very own specific body of knowledge, experience, and education, channeled through my fucking soul or whatever, and when I put something into the world it isn’t a small deal to me. I did it because I wanted you to have it.
So I took it hard. Harder because twenty other things were going down in a simul blast of adulting in modern life… AKA shark tank.
I am likely going to fix it and re-launch it. It’s really good. But for now, I’m recovering.
After all of this time in the personal development field, as well as the addict-for-life field, I have a metric ton of tools ranging from those that make me feel calm and spacious and strong, to those that numb me out. This week has been all about the pizza and ice cream.
Which I don’t beat myself up for (too badly), don’t worry, but I do know that I feel worse, not better, in the long run when I go too far with the numbing stuff. My whole body hurts when I shove it full of flour and sugar and that doesn’t actually help me have ideas. Gratefully, I picked up my spring cleanse products yesterday (guided group cleanse coming in a couple of weeks!), and I remembered one of my old classic spiritual set of guidelines.
Remember The Four Agreements?
DON MIGUEL, YOU SON OF A BITCH.
That book has been around for a lifetime and is so freaking simple that for years I didn’t even pay attention. Now it’s one of the things that, if I practice for even an hour (or less), I start to feel instantly better, more filled with hope.
So, I figured I’d share with you, because I had things to say anyway and maybe you too are feeling like you’re dodging sharks at the moment and life is dangerous and painfully rigged to keep you between the proverbial rock and hard place versus being all vocal on the mountain top like Julie Freaking Andrews in the Sound of Music. Eh?
The Four Agreements (as interpreted by me):
1. Be Impeccable with your word.
Stop talking shit about people and yourself. You don’t have to stop thinking it right away because everyone is the worst – but also, everyone is trying really hard. The truth is that most people have suffered some kind of untreated trauma because trauma just isn’t properly treated in most cases, and modern life is a hot bed of triggers, like secondary traumas (being around untreated trauma, hearing stories, holding space, etcetera), and new trauma (bankruptcy, losing jobs, housing, healthcare…). So folks, we (including me and you) aren’t always acting or driving like, our best selves out there in the world. Talking about it can feel indulgent, can scratch the itch of angst that all of these experiences fills us with, but it isn’t doing anyone any good. In fact, it’s hurting everyone. So stop being a dick to yourself and others with your words. Just choose not to say them. Any of them. Say something else. Talk about ideas. Sing. Recite poetry. Say the alphabet. Anything else. For an hour, for a day, for all the days. Just keep coming back to being impeccable.
2. Don’t take anything personally.
It’s never about you. Ever. Even when it is. Even when someone looks right at you and says your stupid face is a stupidface. What they’re doing is projecting. You will only believe your face is stupid if you already think so. So, you’re going to react in one of two ways. You will think, “Oh my god, they’re right!” and then say a bunch of hurtful shit to yourself. Or you will think, “that person is a certifiable ass” and many hateful things will be thought or said towards them. I am not saying that if someone attacks you, you should do nothing. I think you should absolutely diffuse the situation and make it clear that treating you badly is a non-negotiable “no”. But it isn’t about you. Nothing anyone does from the individual level to the collective cultural governmental universal level is about YOU personally. There are changes that need making and roads that require walking and ways of living that, perhaps, could be more humane than some of the things that are happening now, but it’s paramount that you remember you are here, whole, good, okay, inside of it. Breathe and know that everyone is knee-jerking around. You don’t have to. Be impeccable with your word, don’t take anything personally.
3. Don’t make assumptions.
Whatever you think is happening is not necessarily what is happening. Maybe it is. I mean, you are pretty well versed in living and loving. You know a thing or two about a thing or two. Also, you don’t know anything. In the same vein that you can’t take anything personally, because nothing anyone does, even directly to you, is about you, you are incapable of not projecting your stories onto other people. Even if you do a ton of yoga. You can’t stop doing this thing, but you can stop the thought process that causes harm when you do this thing. You can choose to not make assumptions. You can watch your thoughts and when you start to tell a story about something or someone, you can remember that you don’t actually know. Then leave it at that. Don’t take it personally, and don’t talk shit about it. Move the fuck on. It’s not about you and not knowing is human. When stuff calms down, you can always ask directly. Then there’s a conversation, and listening, and true understanding.
4. Always do your best.
Best agreement ever. Especially since the first one has the word “impeccable” in it. Impeccable makes me feel like I need to do it all perfectly. But we don’t. We just need to do our best. And our best is going to change from moment to moment. Your best in traffic is different from your best after laughing with friends for a few hours. Your best on a Monday at work might be very different from your best on the beach in Palm Springs. You feel me. One of the most important things about this agreement is that it isn’t permission to be lazy. It’s a practice in and of itself. A practice of forgiveness. So you remember, “Oh I said some mean stuff, took it personally, and made a bunch of assumptions about what happened.” You can repeat the cycle with yourself by beating your good self up over it, or you can remember that you are doing your best. Forgive fast and recommit to the agreements moving forward. There’s a lot of stuff that’s hard. You really are doing your best.
I’m going to go ahead and just say that many of us (primarily white) people didn’t get many lessons in how to suffer gracefully, or at all. We were taught that ease and abundance could be ours if only we believed enough. This creates a profound fragility in our systems and a ton of self blame and shame when our lives aren’t like the Julie Andrews scenario. Like we didn’t believe enough. We have too much, GOD FORBID, resistance. (I’m so sick of hearing about “resistance”)
JOKES. It’s all natural and normal. Even the Four Agreements can be used against us if we try and categorize them as THE ANSWER. This isn’t. It’s just another tool. Another reminder. Another container to get us out of our own sad stories and into remembering that we are all connected. It can even be another tool to learn how to suffer.
Ease in life isn’t about not suffering. It’s about carrying the suffering you have with more ease.
We are in this together whether we like it or not.
Let us be kind.
Love your guts,