I have been sitting here for 10 weeks. My journey to Iraq has had its good and bad. Not a lot of fun and at times very lonely. The help from family and friends has been great. This blog has given me a way to think about things for the first time in a long time. I found some humor in me. I have found some pain. I have seen a lot of my faults. I see some good and the feedback from what I have written about has made me keep writing. There are times that I wonder how many people are actually reading and I still am convinced it is a small amount. If I find out otherwise it will make me feel cared about. If there are few then they just want to listen and I really appreciate you. I really do. I am coming into the final stages of what I want to say. As I have gone along I almost see this as a diary for my kids to look back upon. I have told my family things that they never knew. I have tried to make myself become a better person. To try to learn about the good and bad in me. This week I want to share with you a book about learning about yourself. I often have picked out these books before in airports and bookstores. Trying to find meaning in what I do. Trying to figure out why I make mistakes, hurt myself, or hurt others in my life. I want to be happy. Don't get me wrong. I am happy sometimes. I have every reason in the world to be happy. I have so many blessings to be thankful for. But you have to realize from things that I have talked about that I don't see things as all a bed of roses. There are struggles and pain in my life. This is not to make you feel sorry for me. This is to share. There are 2 reasons for it. The first is selfish. I hope that I will feel more days of happiness in my life. To put things on paper. To really see what I have inside of me again. The second is hopefully to make you few that are listening to take a look at yourself. Not that I am an expert by any means. My goal in life has been to take care of people. I love being a doctor and making people feel better. Can I do that for people in another way with this blog. I don't know but if I have succeeded a little bit then that is even a greater reward then what I can give myself.
The book is The Four Agreements. This written by Miguel Angel Ruiz, M.D. back in 1997. I will be discussing each of the four agreements in a day at a time. There be few if any pictures so those of you that need those to read I am sorry. If you want to tune me out for the next week b/c you like the humor and the pictures they will probably return on Monday. I will be showing you the clinic next week. I will be summarizing this book. I am saying that b/c I don't want anybody to think I came up with this wisdom all by myself. Most of you know that anyway but the few that think I'm smart I just wanted to remind you of otherwise. I am not perfect and these agreements I have not mastered be any means. Its a journey, not a one time victory with this.
The passage that caught my eye during the prologue and introduction was this by John Lennon. 'Living is easy with eyes closed, misunderstanding all you see .......' We must begin by recognizing that most of us live our lives like this. With our eyes closed. It really is easy. We see things only the way that we want to see it. Intolerant of others, racist, and biased. Often misunderstanding those that we love and care for. So lets open are eyes and see what we can learn.
The first agreement is BE IMPECCABLE WITH YOUR WORD. The author wants you to know that this is the most important one and by far the hardest one to honor. The first thing you need to know to understand is what is your word. Your word is your voice. The language you use and what you say. He describes it as a very powerful force that acts like a sword with two edges. One way can destroy everything around you and make life hell. The other side can create the most beautiful dream. The example he gave was of Hitler and how his world killed millions of people. Our words are like a magic spell. They can make a dream come true or be black and tear someone down. In general it is an opinion. When you speak about someone or something it is your opinion. That opinion can be devastating to them. Make them feel stupid or unloved. Reinforce there beliefs of themselves and create a deeper crater of shame and pain. That opinion can also be a life giver. Reinforce there belief that they are a good parent or person. I think you are getting my drift with the word thing. It is what you say that makes you who you are. Wow that is scary isn't it. That stuff that comes out of your mouth everyday defines you. Are you a dream giver or as Dean says "stealing my joy."
The next step of understanding this agreement is defining what impeccable means. If you look it up in the dictionary it means without flaw. Like an impeccable diamond. In his context, which this book is religious based, it is without sin. This is an important part from his book which I never have heard before so pay attention. Sin is anything that you do which goes against yourself. You go against yourself when you judge or blame yourself for anything. Being without sin is exactly the opposite. Being impeccable is not going against yourself. Therefore if you are impeccable you take responsibility for your actions, but you do not judge or blame yourself. That is really deep. This gets better though.
He wants you to be impeccable with your word b/c doing that means not using the word against yourself. Here is an example that will make sense. Hang in there. If I see you at the hospital and call you stupid, it appears that I am using that word against you. The reality is I'm using my word against myself, b/c you're going to hate me for this, and your hating me is not good for me. What I am doing is sending all this emotional crap to you, i'm using the word against myself. The opposite is true, also. If I love myself. (Sit in a mirror and say that over and over again like that skit off of Saturday night live). If you do that you will express that love in your interactions with others. You are being impeccable with your word and in turn that will produce a like reaction. Lets summarize that. If you want to be a s**thead then you will get it back. If you want to have gratitude for yourself, you need to give it to others. If I want to be a selfish butt then you will be selfish with me. In general be nice to someone and they will be nice to you. We all know that it is not how it always works out but you have to be the one to start it. If the other person is the one acting out they will get whats coming back to them either from you or someone else.
This agreement in my mind and he makes it perfectly clear goes so much to the heart of parenting. Can you imagine the affect that your words have on your kids. Bringing your poisons, biases, opinions, and imperfections onto them. You imprint all of those negative thoughts and feelings onto them and they mold them into there own. The opposite is so true. We have talked about it. The affirmations and nurturing. Being positive about just playing the sport and enjoying your friends. Realizing that your relationship with them is a huge influence. Being impeccable with your words and actions to them. Show them how you treat others. Set the example.
His other major point in the chapter is what he describes as the worst form of black magic - Gossip. He describes it as pure poison. We learn this as children and as a normal way to communicate b/c the adults in our lives are doing it. Here is the kicker that makes so much sense. He states that as adults it has become the way we fell close to each other, because it makes us fell better to see someone else feel as badly as we do. MISERY LOVES COMPANY. People who are suffering don't want to be alone. A great example he gives is a computer virus. Your brain is a computer and if you are fed one little virus into your computer it could make it dysfunctional. Gossip is the virus. Hear one thing of misinformation and this piece could cause you to change and therefore break down your communications with other people. The virus breaks you down and then you try to rectify it and clean up your own confusion. To get rid of this poison you gossip and therefore spread it to someone else. Makes you feel better.
The finally. What do we have to do? This is not easy. I find myself everyday agreeing with him that this is really, really hard. The first thing you have to do is be impeccable with yourself. We are so negative to who we are. We can't sit there day and day and put ourselves down. This agreement starts with you and only after you can do it with yourself can you deal with other people better. Once we get better with ourselves then we can get rid of the poison. We become less sensitive to those around you that want to put you down. If you start to believe in yourself whatever anybody says about you, you can put away and see them for who they are. You are not better then them but you don't have to let them tear you up.
My challenge to you, as he says also, is to make an agreement with yourself everyday to be impeccable with your word. Create a new agreement with yourself everyday. If you fail be forgiving of yourself. If you are not you are falling back into the trap that will make you miserable. Try to do it everyday and see how it goes. I am trying. It is really hard but I think I see changes or sometimes feel changes in myself. I have to work on being critical of others and my words and thoughts toward others. I see that in myself. I have to work on forgiving myself so that I can be happy again. I see that in my past and that when I give myself a break I often give those around me more of a break. I need to have more gratitude to those that help me. I need to be caring in my words. When I am miserable I spread it like a virus. It is so obvious it is scary isn't it. Someone pisses us off and what do we do. We say something bad about them. Humans are so scary in our capacity to hurt each other. We have to start with ourselves, try not to pass it onto our kids, and try not to infect others.