“The Fifth Agreement” by Don Miguel Ruiz, Don Jose Ruiz and Janet Mills is presented as “A Practical Guide to Self-Mastery”. This book is a follow up to Don Miguel Ruiz’s 1997 book “The Four Agreements”.
From a young age, I have always sought to categorize all aspects of my life. I have achieved this through the implementation of certain attributes. These include objectiveness, perfectionism, officiousness, industriousness and decisiveness. I thrive upon structure, without which I experience excessive anxiety. Whether it is a mild form of obsessive compulsive disorder or my inner drive to seek perfection in everything I do, it has impacted my relationships with others as well as my relationship with myself. My impartial nature and my desire to classify all aspects of my life have led me to judge myself and others very critically. My striving for perfection and my strong work ethic, has allowed me to become the best I can be in almost any field I put my mind to. The purpose of this essay is to consider the precepts of the book within the context of certain stages of my own life. Through reflecting on personal experiences I hope to gain a better understanding of myself.
“Be impeccable with your word”. This is the first of the five agreements in the Toltec wisdom book. Although, it may seem ambiguous, the wisdom which these principles promote is invaluable. The symbols that we use to describe our environment, ourselves and other people are only “our interpretation of reality” (p36). These interpretations “are not the truth; they’re just a point of view” (p39). Reality exists indifferent of its interpretation; however the virtual reality that we create in our minds is subjective to our intent, “which manifests through our word”
(p36). Being impeccable with your word refers to using those symbols in a positive manner and not abusing their creative powers.
“Your happiness is up to you, and it depends on how you use the word” (p38). My critical disposition is an example of abusing the word. My view of the world was being filled with unchecked judgement and “emotional poison” (p38). I was “using the word against” myself, even when I was judging others (p38). This has caused a lot of “inner conflict” and has affected many of my relationships (p38). My happiness was affected by the way that I chose to view the world.
My abuse of the word has affected my physical and mental health, creating my own “personal hell” (p35). I have experienced anxiety, bouts of depression, lack of motivation and I have dealt with an eating disorder. Each of which can be attributed to my overly critical ways. My belief that I had to be or look a particular way in order to be valued by others led to a series of extreme diets and belief systems. These diets would form a cycle which was coordinated with periods of high and low anxiety. When I had little anxiety and a lot of motivation I would eat nothing but plant based foods;...