I’ve been struggling with my emotions this week.

The week started with a funeral for a member of our extended family, attended by hundreds of mourners paying their respects to the family. The father of two teenage boys, he had passed suddenly from a heart attack.   Funerals are always challenging, but this one really cracked me wide open, leaving me feeling emotionally vulnerable.

Then I had an intense series of email exchanges with the father of my son.  We were in disagreement about a decision I’d made which he thought had broken an agreement that I didn’t know we’d made.

We argued for days about assumptions, agreements and integrity.  Was I out of integrity spontaneously getting our son’s ear pierced?   The father thought he had made an agreement with our teen about it being a reward he was going to provide towards the end of the summer, for good behavior.  Our son didn’t think he’d made an agreement.  I didn’t think I’d made an agreement.  But the exploration of the issues raised had me reflecting further on assumptions, agreements and integrity.

Then I hosted an Authentic Leadership CircleÔ and had three last minute no-shows.  I pay for the venue and arrange for catering for these events.  Having several confirmed attendees cancel at the last minute or simply not show up was upsetting.  I found myself again questioning assumptions, agreements and integrity.

When I googled “assumptions, agreements, integrity” I landed on The Four Agreements, written by don Miguel Ruiz.

The Four Agreements are:

1. 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.

2. 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.

3. 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.

4. 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.

It has been awhile since I read Ruiz’s book, and I realized I’d forgotten how profound I had originally found them when I adopted them as a practice several years ago.   I’ve always found the first and the fourth agreement relatively easy to align with from a personal perspective, but I trip up on two and three.

Gary van Warmerdam, who studied for over 15 years with Ruiz, writes, “people who decide to adopt the Four Agreements and create love and happiness in their life Spiritual Warriors. It is Spiritual because it is about living your Life. It is also referred to as a war because you are challenging the old fear based beliefs in your mind. It will take more than a week and a half to break free of fear, the tyranny of the inner judge, and old emotional habits. There will be some battles lost along the way, but that is of minor concern in the longer term strategy of creating happiness in your life.”

This week challenged many of my old fear based beliefs, many of them about separation and loss, and my deep wound of ‘not being good enough’, and ‘doing it wrong’.  As a result, I went into reaction, self judgement, disappointment and anger.

Gary defines Integrity this way: the quality or state of being complete, undivided: spiritual, or aesthetic wholeness: organic unity: completeness.

He goes on to say that when we live from a place of integrity, we don’t doubt ourselves.

Please take the time to read his article on this topic.

I resonate deeply with this….

“When we are acting from our Integrity, what we could call our authentic self, we don’t try. We don’t have a need to try. We just take action. We don’t concern ourselves with whether what we are doing is the right thing. We also don’t have a need to justify or defend what we are doing to anybody. This includes ourselves. The action comes from the heart and is with love, that is how we know it is true. It also comes with humility because we are acting on behalf of love and not for ourselves or a sense of righteousness. Emotional Integrity Words don’t corrupt this authenticity with chatter in the mind.”

From a Parenting as a Leadership perspective, I want to instill these four agreements into my son’s ‘tool kit’ of life.  We’re constantly working on the first one, but until this week, I’d been neglecting to incorporate the other three on a more conscious level.

I’m still in process with my emotions around some of the issues that arose this week, so I don’t have any further insights to share quite yet.

I’d welcome your insights and reflections, and I’ll revisit this topic as I return to including these agreements as part of my daily practice.