Help with Self-Help

I recently finished a self-help book on personal freedom. I found the book on Huffpo’s list of books that will lead to personal change, and the darkest part of my heart said, “Buy it or stare forever into the abyss.” So I purchased The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Change, and was disappointed to find that while the book presents some fluffy-sounding nice advice, it severely lacks in the “practical” area it claims to cover.  In hopes of saving you precious time reading the book, I have summarized each agreement, along with my interpretation (–___–) of how each agreement be realistically applied in our pathetic lives.

Agreement 1: Be Impeccable with Your Word. Before I launch into this fully, I’ll mention that Agreements, in this book’s context, are like a new set of beliefs. They are the pillars by which to aid our personal change. The first agreement is pretty much to be mindful of what you say, and say what you mean, avoiding gossip and all that basic be-a-good-person stuff. The Christians would call it, letting “your yes be yes and your no be no,” (Matt 5:37, eeeyhoooo!Thanks, Google). By remaining honest, we are being true to ourselves, and not stepping on others’ toes or tempted to manipulate people. The book really only suggests that the way we practice this is to “Say no more than what we need,” and “[dodge] emotional poison.”(gossip, lying, etc). I’m gonna take a stab and assume this means stop pretending you’re fine with beer when you’re really after that purple-passion drink. Maybe quit acting like you’re “just too crazy busy for friends,” when the truth is something more along the lines of how you “haven’t washed your hair in 3 days and still find your pillow more endearing than a friend’s smile”. And for fuck sake, stop pretending like Miley disgusts you, when you really wish you could do whatever it is she’s doing without judgement.

Agreement 2: Don’t Take Anything Personally. Hahaha, oh wait, they’re serious. Yup, turns out the second major belief in here purports that when your boyfriend says “My love for bacon will always be greater than my love for you,” you’re not to go batshit nuts and spend the next 4 days planning a slutty bacon costume for Halloween. Why? Well partly because pig can never be sexy, but also because his crack-like need to be with his “true love” has nothing to do with you. It’s not you, it’s him and his struggle with gluttony, so, don’t take it to heart.

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The wave kills it.

Interestingly enough, the book is careful to point out that we are not even to take compliments personally. If a new friend says, “You’re the most beautifullest, smartest, coolest, awesomest person I’ve ever met, it probably just means they haven’t known that many beautiful,smart,cool,awesome people in their run of the mill. Don’t be too flattered, you’re still average just like everyone else.

Agreement 3: Don’t Make Assumptions. This chunk of wisdom kinda crosses my personal beliefs. It suggests that we take a step back, and not assume that we know/understand people’s motivations. I dedicated more than a year of my life to trusting my gut and realizing that if you think someone is being an asshole, they probably are, so I struggle to swallow this one. Someday, when I’m 55 and reading Jane Eyre for the 8th time, I might have a sudden burst of enlightenment and realize, “Ah, so that’s what it means to let go enough to recognize that you can’t assume you know why people do what they do”. And then I’ll sip lemonade and smile at my obese cat.

Agreement 4:Always do Your Best. With everything, including these 4 belief/goals/agreements. Stop farting in public and then walking away.  Don’t say no, I’m just not ready for a relationship,” when you could’ve more honestly said, “I’m shallow and your spare tire bothers the heck out of me.” Don’t assume that a known man-whore just wants to be FwB, ask him…you can’t assume, and maybe you’ll be the firecracker that he marries. And next time your brother confides that you smell, don’t take it personally, realize that he’s the one who smells like cat poop, not you.

The four life-changers, take them or leave them. Happy Saturday.

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