Have you read The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz? Wonderful book… I’ve read it twice. Here are the four agreements:
- Be impeccable with your word.
- Don’t take anything personally.
- Don’t make assumptions.
- Always do your best.
The one I’m thinking about most is: ‘Be impeccable with your word.’ In certain situations, it’s the one I find trickiest.
First of all, here’s what it means…
“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 and love.”Don Miguel Ruiz
I’m totally fine with saying only what I mean. I’m good about not gossiping – I actually have a policy that if I say something about someone behind their back, I have to feel comfortable saying the same thing (but with different phrasing) to their face. I am almost certain I use the power of my word in the direction of truth and love…
But integrity! Ah, integrity. What that means, at its core, is no white lies. No saying something to make someone else (or yourself) more comfortable. No spinning a story because it sounds better than the entirely true version. No using words to create things that aren’t there, in essence… I struggle with that. My dad always talks about ‘almost-true’ stories, and I completely inherited that from him. If something feels true, then isn’t it actually true? (The answer, surprisingly, is no.)
To me, the most important thing has always been: does it make someone else unhappy? If it does, then it’s obviously not the right thing to do or say. But if a white lie doesn’t hurt anyone, if it’s a win-win situation on both sides, then isn’t it okay?
Well, no. Not if you want to be impeccable with your word. Because you don’t always know if it’s a win-win – sometimes it just seems that way from your perspective. This is what happened to me last week: I told a story that seemed like a win-win but when the other person involved found out the story they disagreed with it. And now I feel awful! My intentions were good (I’ve checked, and double checked, with myself). I intended no harm to anyone and honestly didn’t think I was doing anything suspect. I thought I was doing the right thing. But I was definitely not being impeccable with my word.
So here’s my public announcement to the world: from now on I will be impeccable with my word. Let’s look at it as a fun little adventure… What does the world look like without white lies?
Also: I am currently completely obsessed with this song. Listening to it pretty much on repeat all day long… It’s such a winner!