If you read last week’s post, you know I’m embarking on a year of Self Discovery by studying a series of books recommended by people I respect. My first book was The Four Agreements by Ruiz. I don’t want to summarize these books because you can go over to Amazon and read the description. I’d rather spend my time with you delving into what I learned and then challenge you to consider your own life.
The first “agreement” proposed by Ruiz is to be “impeccable with my word”. Without judgment (not too much anyway), I tried to “hear” myself. Am I encouraging and honest? Do I respect other people? Do I offer opinions that are not solicited? Do I listen? Do I honor boundaries – mine and others? Are my words impeccable?
If our words have power, what power am I wielding – a power for evil or a power for good? Ruiz says that our words can either be white magic or black magic. What type of magician am I?
“The word is the most powerful tool you have as a human; it is a tool of magic.” ~ The Four Agreements
I took the last week to pay more attention to how I use my words – remember, this is a year of discovery. What did I discover about my magic?
“Your word is the power that you have to create. Your word is a gift that comes directly from God.” ~ The Four Agreements
As I paid more attention, I discovered that sometimes (too many times), I speak from a place of personal pride or fear rather than with a sincere desire for the edification of others. I want to look good or seem intelligent or present a false confidence. I want others to think, “Wow, that June really has it together and knows what she’s talking about.”
My heart is in the right place – I want to be encouraging and helpful. But, my heart is not wholly in the right place. I figure it’s 60/40.
When I revisited exactly what I said, it was clear I was often too harsh, too direct. It’s not that my comments weren’t “correct” but I didn’t consider the person or the project. What my daughter and friend needed was direction not correction. If I’d taken two minutes to think, I could have used my magic for growth and excitement. Instead, I used black magic and they were both discouraged.
“…we must understand what power comes out of our mouths. One fear or doubt planted in our mind can create an endless drama of events.” ~ The Four Agreements by Ruiz.
One of the most important lessons I learned in Ruiz’s book was the power of one misplaced comment to change others irrevocably. We all have an individual Book of Law about ourselves and our world. This Book is mostly wrong – or at the very least, most of us haven’t taken the time to open the Book and evaluate the false truths within. My father told me I was a disappointment – that statement went into my Book of Law – it was accepted as truth. One statement became a powerful, life changing, granite of black magic.
What did I add to my daughter’s Book of Law? To my friend’s?
Did I create fear or doubt in my friend? In my daughter? Probably.
Did my father mean to put such a harsh statement in my Book of Law? Did I mean to sow seeds of doubt or fear? No. No. No.
But even if it wasn’t intentional, it was preventable. If my father – or I – had taken time to consider the words, the other person, and our own Books of Law, we could have sowed seeds of hope and confidence.
When someone reaches out for help or advice, they are trusting me with something precious. They are putting their vulnerability in my hands. I could have built a relationship of trust. When someone asks for help, I have a brilliant chance – and an obligation – to hold that person in warmth and love. And yet, in order to be impeccable with my word, I must also be honest.
So, how could I be honest with others and still be tender? How can I give solicited advice and still encourage? (Hint: If the advice is unsolicited, then it’s not welcome!)
When I was in college, I had a professor teach the “Shit Sandwich”. Basically the “bad” is sandwiched between two pieces of “good”. While this is good advice, it’s too choreographed for close relationships. My daughter and my friend didn’t want, or expect, me to treat them like an employee. They expected me to treat them as family. But how do I do that?
First, I must get myself out of the way. I must remember at all times that I have a Book of Law – that I have false truths that color everything about me and the way I operate in the world. My Book is not their Book. I am not to add doubt and fear – ever.
Second, I must be willing to honestly assess my own motives. Do I want to look good? Sound smart? Pretend to be all that? If my motives are anything other than the other person’s edification, I need to stop and, again, get myself out of the way.
Third, I must stop and think before I open my mouth or get out my pen. What does the person want right now? Maybe they simply want me to be the cheerleader. Maybe they want direction instead of correction. Maybe they want me to help them dig deeper and come to their own conclusions. Maybe they want some correction covered in the cotton of love. Maybe they just want me to listen and keep my damn mouth shut. If I don’t know, I can ask. If I’m holding their vulnerability tenderly, they can be honest with their true need.
Fourth, I can consider each word I choose. I have this great thesaurus (actually, I have twelve different thesauruses). I can find better words – words that are more clear and more supportive. I can slow down. Slow way down.
Fifth, as I speak, I can pay attention to the reaction. It’s very easy to know we are hurting someone – it’s in the quiet between words. If my magic turns black, it’s time to stop.
“You need a very strong will in order to adopt The Four Agreements.” ~ The Four Agreements
Will I do better next time? Yes, I think I will. But not every time. As Ruiz says, “Everything is alive and changing all the time, so your best will sometimes be high quality, and other times will not be as good.”
It’s hard to stop and think. It’s hard to admit my own agenda. But it will be worth it. I imagine filling my daughter’s Book of Law with the truth of her value, of her beauty, of her stunning spirit. I imagine filling my friends’ Books with the truth of their strength and their importance in the world. Yes, I want to send white magic into the world.
Ah, but what type of magic do I send to myself? Ruiz says, “Use white magic, beginning with yourself. Tell yourself how wonderful you are, how great you are. Tell yourself how much you love yourself.”
I started with my words to others because it was easier than discovering how I treat myself. It will take courage to listen to how I speak to myself and I’ll have to be careful not to judge my judgments. But I can do it! Next week, I’ll share more about The Four Agreements and my own discoveries! Please share with me any discoveries you are making! There’s power in sharing good magic.
Next time: Am I A Gossip?
It's my hope you will purchase a beautiful journal and a favorite pen. Many of us struggle with what to write in a journal. Let these questions guide you.
Consider the conversations you've had today. White magic or black magic? How can you be more intentional with your words and ensure you are using white magic?
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