The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz

I stumbled upon this YouTube video, “Don’t Take Anything Personally,” through elephant journal. It’s unbearably New Age-y and self help-y, yet strangely compelling. It highlights one chapter of a book, The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz, that keeps popping into my life.

I’ve never owned or even read the book, but last year it caught my eye near the yoga section at the wonderful Green Apple Books in San Francisco. Reading the title, I suddenly recalled someone (a guy sitting next to me on a plane?) highly recommending it ages ago.

I skimmed the entire book, short and sweet, with just four main points. While it struck me as rather simplistic, I could relate to each of the “agreements.”

Here’s what’s written on the cover:

  • 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’t Take Anything Personally: Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.
  • Don’t Make Assumptions: Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness, and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.
  • Always Do Your Best: Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse, and regret.

The YouTube video covers the second agreement, which might be my biggest challenge among the four. Maybe Don Miguel Ruiz is popping up for good reason!


  1. Interesting stuff, YogaSpy.
    What occurs to me is that if I am not to take negative input personally, then I can’t take positive input personally either. Compliments, expressions of gratitude, love, and affection are all just as much products of other people’s minds as insults and hatred.
    If we distance ourselves from the negative, then we have to distance ourselves from the positive, too.
    I am in basic agreement that not taking things personally is a more healthy way to live. Then we aren’t victims and we aren’t grandiose.
    But it has to be both sides, or it’s a sham.


  2. Yes Eve, I agree. I believe it comes under Vairagya (detachment). As BKS Iyengar says, that’s not to say we shouldn’t be involved in life and smell the roses, but in this example, our personal ‘happiness’ should neither be dependent on either praise or criticism.


  3. Re ‘Not Taking Things Personally’, this rule reminds me that it’s not about me.

    If someone’s behaving like a fool, that’s their issue (not mine). They’re embarrassing themselves.

    Of course, this can be atomising, since we are feeling, interconnected human beings. We exist in relation to one another.


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