Ruiz, Don Miguel - The Four Agreements

The Structure of Concern Project compares many theoretical models from many disciplines to the Adizes PAEI model, arguing that they must all be reflecting the same underlying phenomenon. One concern structure model is described below.

The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz has been a spectacularly successful popularization of living wisdom from the Mexican Toltec tradition. It promulgates a virtue ethic of charitable consideration, against self-limiting patterns of enmeshment and reactivity (Ruiz, 1997). This gentle yet challenging message traces out the structure of concern through its fourfold path of effort, clarity, perspective and integrity. These are expanded on below in PAEI order, not the order of the Four Agreements.

P – Always Do Your Best (effort)
Making this promise to oneself in full acknowledgement of one’s fluctuating energies and limitations produce a life free from self-recrimination and regret. If we know that we did our best no matter what, self-blame loses its purchase on our thoughts.

A – Don’t Make Assumptions (clarity)
Much unnecessary interpersonal drama arises from assuming knowledge of people’s goals and motives, or expecting them to ‘just know’ what we are thinking and feeling. This heartache can be released when one has the courage to ask questions and express what one really wants, communicating as clearly as possible to avoid misunderstandings.

E – Don’t Take Anything Personally (perspective)
One must not get caught up in the to-and-fro of interactions. Nothing that others do is because of us. They act out of their own projections, their own dream of what life is about. Maintaining this perspective on interactions immunizes us to the opinions and actions of others, and prevents needless suffering.

I – Be Impeccable With Your Word (integrity)
Refrain from using language to attack yourself and others, spreading gossip and social dissention. Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean, and promote only those words which are guided by truth and love.

1. Ruiz, d. M. (1997). The Four Agreements: A practical guide to personal freedom (A Toltec Wisdom Book). San Rafael, California: Amber-Allen Publishing.
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