I recently shared my own struggles and joys with the process of being a friend. Additionally, I have reflected on the topic of friendship with my community via IG polls, chats over coffee, sessions with clients, in my therapist’s office, and so on. Through this process, I keep returning to Don Miguel Ruiz’ text The Four Agreements. The language and perspectives he shares provide a powerful lens for healing, particularly in the context of relationships.
In upcoming weekly blogs (did you know I publish nearly every Tuesday?!), I will explore how each of the four agreements can be applied to friendships. Thanks for being curious and vulnerable alongside me!
Be Impeccable with Your Word
When I first read The Four Agreements in 2017 and came across this phrase “Be impeccable with your word,” I figured I could skip ahead to the second agreement. I thought to myself, “I don’t lie. I’m honest and always tell the truth.” However, this agreement is much deeper than these concepts of lies, truths, and honesty.
“Through the word you express your creative power. It is through the word that you manifest everything. Regardless of what language you speak, your intent manifests through the word. What you dream, what you feel, and what you really are, will all be manifested through the word.” – Don Miguel Ruiz
This agreement invites us to speak with love and kindness to and about ourselves and others; in other words, we are called to align our words with the ultimate truth– love. So, while it is easy for me to refrain from blatant lying, I do not always speak to myself in compassionate ways. When it comes to friendship, I often find myself in spirals of harsh self-judgment. I say things like:
- I don’t belong. I don’t fit in.
- I guess they don’t like me.
- I am not _____ enough.
- I must not be worthy.
Ruiz’ words remind us that words carry power and quite literally become the truth of our experiences. So when I tell myself the phrases above, my reality is one of disconnection and unhappiness. Furthermore, if I am using these judgemental words, I am actively pushing acquaintances, friends, and potential friends away. The energy I bring to these relationships is uncertain, insecure, watchful, rather than generous and loving, when I use words that separate.
And, honestly, I don’t always use non-judgemental language about others. When I am saying unkind things about myself, I am more likely to criticize others or make assumptions about them. Essentially, I am distancing myself from myself, others, and love. (I know I’m not alone in this experience.)
Noticing My Words
Writing this, admitting to myself, and to you, dear readers, that I have not been telling the loving truth with consistency feels a little bit embarrassing, but also a lot empowering. The process of noticing my thoughts towards myself and others has been difficult, and, yet, I am grateful for this challenge, as it has helped me discover areas of misalignment.
Moreover, I understand that the words I tell myself, the words I use to describe and label my experiences of the world matter. This is a lot of pressure in a sense, but it’s also motivating to know that I have agency to make changes. Language is powerful; it influences our mindsets, our energy, our perspectives, our outlooks, and so on. We take all of this into each friendship. And THIS is why Ruiz invites us to be impeccable with our words. I am also ready to recommit to the first agreement, and I invite you to join me on this journey!
How to Apply The First Agreement to Friendships
- Create loving, compassionate affirmations. It will be easiest to access affirmations if you practice them on the regular, so let’s start here. Specifically, I recommend creating a phrase that is 5-7 beats. You might like to begin with the words “I am…” For instance, I use the following affirmations: “I am enough” and “I am loved.”
- Notice the inner dialogue. When you are with/near/observing your friends (either virtually or IRL), notice the types of thoughts and internal commentary you are experiencing. When (not if) it gets uncomfortable, invite yourself to keep breathing.
- Name the thoughts. After you experience a thought, categorize it as “loving,” “neutral,” or “unsupportive.” (Note: Refrain from using the words “good” and “bad,” as these are values judgments that can lead to guilt or shame.) If the labels I share here don’t resonate, I invite you to create your own. Again, keep breathing, and drink some water.
- Offer yourself a loving, compassionate affirmation. When you notice an “unsupportive” thought, offer yourself one of the affirmations you created in step #1. These words will support you in aligning with the truth.
- Give yourself a break. If or when it becomes challenging to get out of the cycle of “unsupportive” thoughts, consider a break. This may be stepping away from social media for a while, choosing not to go to the next house party, an afternoon nap, or making space to delve into your creative projects.
- With love, assess the health of the friendship. There may be relationships in which it feels impossible to say and believe kind things about yourself. If this is the case, hold yourself in the highest regard and consider whether this friendship is healthy for you. If not, remember that you always have the choice to express this to your friend. Additionally, in some cases, you may make the choice to leave the relationship.
- Talk about the power of words with your friends. When you feel called, talk to your friends about the deep, inner work you are doing to notice and name your thoughts. Share what this experience is like! Listen to your friends. Through this process, notice how human it is to have fear-based thoughts. AND notice that words can support you in growing. Together, you and your friends can practice using the most loving and truthful words, holding one another accountable to this first agreement.
Impeccable Words for Your Day
You are loved.
You are whole.
You are worthy.
This article is a starting point for a lifelong practice of turning in to the words you think and say. Remember, that even when being impeccable with your words is challenging, you are still loved, whole, and worthy. Finally, as you begin this reflective journey, you may enjoy documenting your support system, reminding yourself of the many people and places you can turn to for love and accountability.