Holiday season approaching and you don’t agree with everyone in your family?
We are in the midst of a very contentious election year and then the holidays season follows. This gives more time with family and friends, and possibly more conversation around the “dinner table.” (Of course we are still in a pandemic so holidays may look different this year, but if you connect to the message, you can generalize it to your experience.) Some may think of this and get happy and excited, others may have concern with divisiveness and conflict. I am asked regularly, “I love _____, but we don’t agree on _____. I just can’t talk to him/her. What should I do?”
The Four Agreements.
There are many ways to approach this very important question. I am going to use the teachings of Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz as my framework. The book is based on the concept of finding personal freedom and inner peace. Imagine that being the goal to round out 2020 and beyond? [Quick caveat: I know there are huge concerns and implications on so many issues in our society and world today. I am not taking any of it lightly. I am right there with you having my own strong beliefs, knowing my value system, how I dream our future to be and it does not align with everyone in my family or all my loved ones. I am offering a way for you to engage with loved ones and strive towards your inner peace.]
The First Agreement is be impeccable with your word.
“The word is a force; it is the power you have to express and communicate, to think, and thereby to create the events in your life.” This is the word spoken to yourself and the word spoken to others. You can build yourself and others up, or you can cause great harm based on just the power of your words. This is not to be taken lightly. Create an image in your head of a likely gathering and a possible conversation with someone with a differing view. “Your opinion is nothing but your point of view. It is not necessarily true. Your opinion comes from your beliefs, your own ego, and your own dream. We create all this poison and spread it to others just so we can feel right about our own point of view.” This may sound harsh. The point is for the focus to be on you since again, we are seeking personal inner peace.
The Second Agreement is don’t take anything personally.
“When you take things personally, then you feel offended, and your reaction is to defend your beliefs and create conflicts. You also try hard to be right by giving them your opinions.” With this image you previously created, is this part of it? People sharing opinions and getting defensive. Can you imagine the sensations in your body as consider this scenario? “Others are going to have their own opinion according to their belief system, so nothing they think about me is really about me, but it is about them.” Are you connecting with how you may increase your inner peace as you don’t take anything personally? “There is a huge amount of freedom that comes to you when you take nothing personally.”
The Third Agreement is don’t make assumptions.
“The problem with making assumptions is that we believe they are the truth. We could swear they are real. We make assumptions about what others are doing or thinking – we take it personally – then we blame them and react by sending emotional poison with our word.” We were all raised with the saying regarding assumptions…..if you have not heard it, ask a friend. The message is we should not make assumptions. This is hard. “All the sadness and drama you have lived in your life was rooted in making assumptions and taking things personally.” You see the focus on you and not what others are doing. We cannot control others, though we have control over ourselves, our impeccability with our word. “The way to keep yourself from making assumptions is to ask questions.” Why does my loved one believe as they do? I can assume that he/she is ignorant. Each side has their talking points, language, accusations, and assumptions. This is emotionally charged and polarizing. This affects our inner peace and has the potential to affect our relationships.
The Fourth Agreement is always do your best.
“Under any circumstance, always do your best, no more, and no less. But keep in mind that your best is never going to be the same from one moment to the next.” For example, “when you wake up refreshed and energized in the morning, your best will be better than when you are tired at night. Your best will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick, or sober as opposed to drunk.” This puts an emphasis on the importance of self-care. When you increase your self-care you increase your window of tolerance with your emotions. Be mindful of alcohol consumption if you have a goal of inner peace and anticipate being with loved ones with differing fundamental beliefs.
A challenge to practice.
All of this can sound easy in theory, though trust me, it is a challenge in practice. These are agreements to be mindful of and to be intentional with.
“The first three agreements will only work if you do your best. Don’t expect that you will always be able to be impeccable with your word. Your routine habits are too strong and firmly rooted in your mind. But you can do your best. Don’t expect that you will never take anything personally; just do your best. Don’t expect that you will never make another assumption, but you can certainly do your best.”
It will become easier.
If you choose to live by the Four Agreements, you will notice that the more you make it a practice, the easier it becomes. I truly wish you and your family love and peacefulness this holiday season. Stay well.