Updated: Feb 25
On stormy days when the wind is high, simple nuggets of wisdom may be the rock we can anchor ourselves to. Although we often seek and receive advice to deal with our struggles and social conflicts, we don't usually stop and think about why they are challenging.
Are you fully aware of your feelings and the need for your body? Are they being ignored while you are too busy working? Do you keep playing your silly mistakes in your head and beat yourself up over them? When you are told that you cannot achieve something, do you believe in it? Do you expect others to read your mind and get disappointed when they don't?
If any of these questions ring true to you, you may enjoy reading a book entitled "The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom". Its title may sound boring, but this book far exceeded my expectations. I will first introduce you to the three action points suggested in this book and by others. Then, I will elaborate on each point to synthesize ideas from Don Miguel Ruiz and Janet Mills, who authored the book mentioned above, Rene Brown, and Alain de Botton.
1. Be kind to yourself. 2. Don't take things personally. 3. Don't make assumptions.
(Source of image: Media Assets Repository System)
Point #1. Be kind to yourself.
As God's creatures, we all represent greatness and everyone deserves respect. Even if you don't believe in God, you can agree with Rene Brown that imperfection is part of a shared human experience. No one deserves misfortunes more just because they make mistakes or don't perform certain tasks as well as others.
Things happen, but they don't define us. We need to separate our identity from events and the feelings associated with them. If you lose something you love, it will sadden you for sure. But there is no need to think that you deserve it somehow. Instead, we can tell ourselves "I see you. It is okay that you are feeling sad. You can cry over my shoulder until you feel better."
Rene Brown said that if we work from a place that says "I'm enough", we will be kinder to ourselves. By reminding ourselves that we are good people and that we do our best, we become less focused on our problems and more motivated to move on or do things better next time.
Once we learn to be kind to ourselves, we are likely to see others as they are and not as a collection of their actions. It makes it easier for us to forgive others' mistakes and to help them learn from their mistakes. When we give up perfection and acknowledge that we are a 'work in progress', it makes our relationships more meaningful because we then strive to become a better version of ourselves IN these relationships by learning from each other. Victor Frankl said that it is the act of love to help others actualize their potential. Alain de Botton said that the power of love enables us to accommodate both the strength and weaknesses of our significant other. Perhaps our kindness can extend meaningful relationships far beyond our friends and family, making our society more accommodating and thriving.
(Source of image: Pixabay)
Point #2. Don't take things personally.
I find this idea empowering once I make sense of it. People say and do things according to what THEY believe in based on their life experience, which has nothing to do with YOU. In this regard, we should always consider the possibility that others' words or actions may not reflect their true intentions faithfully, which brings us to the next point.
Point #3. Don't make assumptions.
Since we cannot read others' minds, we should always make a habit of asking questions without assuming that others are LIKE US. Clear communication would help us empathize with others better and reduce our anxiety caused by misunderstanding, helping us stay kind to both ourselves and others (point #1). Do you see that these three action points positively reinforce each other?
There you have it. I hope that these three reminders will help you become resilient and a life-long learner who courageously explores more. Do you have other reminders that are dear to your heart? Please share them in the comments below.