Be Impeccable with Your Word

be happy now Jan 20, 2021


Be Impeccable with Your Word

January 19, 2021

In this New Year 2021, I have been reflecting on the themes of transformation and freedom. Reflecting on how much I have learned and changed in the past 10 years -- and how much more I have yet to learn. 

There were several conversations with friends over the holidays which brought me back to the wisdom of don Miguel Ruiz’s internationally acclaimed book, “The Four Agreements.”  I love the exquisite simplicity of this book which I read many years ago and has a headline  “A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom. The Four Agreements are: 

  1. The First Agreement: Be Impeccable with Your Word.
  2. The Second Agreement: Don't Take Anything Personally.
  3. The Third Agreement: Don't Make Assumptions.
  4. The Fourth Agreement: Always Do Your Best. 

Many of you may have read this book. Perhaps you are like me – I savor revisiting this book every so often and refreshing and relearning the lessons at an even deeper level.  For those  who are new to “The Four Agreements: A Toltec Wisdom Book,” you are in for a joyful ride. 

Over the next several blogs I am inspired to share my personal notes on these simple and profound values – or Agreements -- which support our continuing transformation to a life lived more fully in joy, love and freedom.

The First Agreement: Be Impeccable with Your Word 

So, in don Miquel Ruiz’s own word, what does impeccable mean? 

" Being impeccable with your word is
 the correct use of your energy;
it means to use your energy
in the direction of truth and love for yourself." 

The chapter goes on to explore the impact of words, with historical political references, stories of parenting and imprints on children, as well as the damages of gossiping. Don Miquel Ruiz endorses – in a different way, with different words -- what many of us learned from the wonderful Louise Hay, the queen of positive affirmations. 

And now we know from the research of neuroscientists that we can build new neural networks in our brain. With positive affirmations, meditations, mantras and visualizations we can turn a single lane highway into a 4-lane super highway in our brain. Our Self-Talk really does matter. Words Matter. 

I encourage you to immerse yourself in this Toltec Wisdom Book. As Ruiz writes: 

“The first agreement is the most important one
and also the most difficult one to honor.
It is so important that with just this first agreement
you will be able to transcend to the level of existence I call heaven on earth.”

Now to the even more challenging point – how do we be impeccable with our word and make it real in our day-to-day lives?  

I have 3 ideas to offer for your consideration: 

  1. Adopt the practice of The Three Gates.
  2. Create your list of words and phrases you will stop using.
  3. Create positive affirmations and practices to say out loud every day.

Adopt the Practice of The Three Gates: 

In destressifying, davidji writes: “The premise of The Three Gates is that just because you think something, that doesn’t mean you have to say it. In fact, before you say something… anything… you should pass your words through three gates to see if those words are worthy of making it into the tangible world.” 

This is an age-old practice we can adopt to filter any thoughts that come to mind and to process them before we speak. The Three Gates are:   

  1. Is it true?
  2. Is it kind? 
  3. Is it necessary or useful? 

So, whatever thought may have popped into your mind, only allow the words to pop out of your mouth if they make it through the three gates/filters. If the thought does not meet any one of these tests, stay silent and move on. This process is not complicated and may take only a few seconds of quick reflection.  

For a fuller discussion of this practice and the history, please read “destressifying: The Real-World Guide to Personal Development, Lasting Fulfillment, and Peace of Mind, Chapter 9, destressifying by Mastering Your Communication,” (pages 182-184), by davidji, an internationally recognized stress-management expert, meditation master and author.     

Words Matter. Just think about how many times you have wished you had not said something or said it exactly that way or with that emotion and intent.  Practice and experience the power of The Three Gates. Imagine your feelings when you know the words you speak are True, Kind and Useful.

Create Your List of Words and Phrases You Will Stop Using 

Another idea is to identify the words which you most frequently use that are critical of yourself or others, and phases that reflect underlying limiting and negative beliefs. 

This is a selection from my personal list of words and phrases to eliminate. Also included are phrases which represent gentle amber lights of caution to slow down and reflect. It is wonderful if you can simply stop using any words on your list. More realistically for me, the first step was to raise my awareness, to catch myself mid-sentence or later. The next and most important step is to reframe the phrase.  I call it my list because I own it.  

  1. Hate. I commit to never use the word hate because I can feel the negative emotion in my body every time I use this word. It is important to stop attacking myself. I no longer say, “I hate to write.” I have reframed the thought, “It is my purpose to give, and there is great joy in sharing and writing my stories.” 
  1. Struggle, tough, and difficult. I catch and correct myself every time I use these words because I now understand that whatever I say and think becomes my reality. Rather than saying I am struggling, I reframe my mental self-talk to “I am working through a challenging situation.” “I may not know the answer yet, and I know I can figure it out. “ If you say something is difficult, it will be difficult. If you say something is challenging – you know you have successfully met challenges in the past and will do it again. 
  1. I am trying. I notice and correct these instances, at least most of the time. Starting a sentence with “I am trying” usually means I am tense and forcing something. For example, “I am trying so hard to make you understand."  "I am trying so hard to make sure that my dear Aunt Mary has the proper care in her assisted living apartment.” Can you feel the tension? Can you sense how I am trying to control people, their behavior, and the outcome? I realize it is very important to stop pressing and forcing. I take action and then step back and say to myself, “You are doing the very best you can.” “You have done everything possible.” 
  1. You couldn’t possibly understand. I stopped using this phrase because it is judgmental and disrespectful to the person I am talking with. When I say to someone, “You couldn’t possible understand what I was going through by commuting to NYC every week,” I now see the ego in that presumption. It is also a way of putting distance between that person and me. I have used words as an emotional shield in the past. No more.  
  1. You make me feel. I stop—or at least catch myself—when I think or say, “You make me feel,” because I now understand that my emotions are my choice. No one can make me feel sad. The only person who can hurt me … is me. When I hear myself react that way, I hit the pause button and process – process what is going on inside of me.  
  1. I can’t believe. I commit to never saying, “I can’t believe,” for a couple of reasons. First, sometimes the phrase focuses on a person. “I can’t believe he or she is doing this.” This is a thinly veiled excuse for saying, “I don’t like what the person is doing,” or for questioning the person’s motivation. This is the trap of judging and/or reacting rather than choosing my emotion. Second, sometimes the phrase is focused on an event. Of course, I can believe it is happening – it has just happened, good or not so good. This means accepting rather than resisting what I have just experienced. 

This is my short list! For a fuller discussion I refer you to “Chapter 12, Lessons on Self-Talk, Be Happy Now: From Wall Street Ambition and the Illusion of Success, My Path to Happiness," by Alison Lanza Falls and David S. Prudhomme. 

What are the words and phrases on your list which you will stop using and reframe?

Create Positive Affirmations and Practices to Say Out Loud Every Day

First thing every morning, I write in my Gratitude Journal and meditate for at least 20 minutes. I am reminding myself all the time to be grateful for all the blessings in my life. I am saying thank you, thank you, thank you – and looking for opportunities to say thank you to the people and pets in my life. The meditations vary --- and tend to focus on themes and intentions I am working on that day, or week, or month – all positively reinforcing my intentions and visualizing my best Self. 

I also have an incredibly special word and a personal mantra. 

  1. Splendiferous. At least once a week, I intentionally say or text SPLENDIFEROUS, to a friend or stranger because it resonates with my feeling of the joy of living. Simply saying to someone -- Have a splendiferous day -- is infectious. It always makes me smile and I hope it makes you smile. 

    As I wrote in "Be Happy Now" the word splendiferous just came somewhere from deep within me after a lesson with David Prudhomme over 10 years ago. This word captured my joy. I checked -- it is a real word. 

    It is MY word -- and shapes how I see my world. Please join me in spreading the joy.

   Have a splendiferous day!  

  1. "I deserve all Joy!" This is my personal mantra because it affirms and reinforces the respect and love I have for myself and every sentient being. When I remember the evening, now 10 years ago, I am transported to that moment in time. I am strolling with a glass of Chardonnay, on the top deck of the Hay House cruise, after 10 hours of classes with amazing teachers. The sun is setting, the sky is brilliant with oranges and yellows, and the Caribbean breeze is soft and warm. I breathe in the energy all around me and it comes to me: I deserve all Joy! I reframe my disbelief and questions like, "How can I be so lucky? I start to affirm I am worthy, I am good enough – I do indeed deserve all joy.

    Joy and happiness are there inside each and every one of us. Say this affirmation – even better, create your own personal mantra. I trust it will bring a smile to your face and great energy to your day. 

Just this week, I added a knew practice based on a meditation, “The Breath of Love.” by Sarah Blondin in her new book,” Heart Minded: How to Hold Yourself and Others in Love. In this meditation we are guided by Sarah’s gentle voice to put our hands on our heart and bow our heads and say, “I love you; I am listening.” How powerful is that? How often are we so kind and gentle and loving to ourselves?       

What are your words or phrases you choose for your personal list? Write them down, right now. 

Have a splendiferous day!  

Words Matter! I trust we have some new ideas and motivation on how we can and will be impeccable with our words in our day-to-day lives. It is a path to personal freedom.

Till next time, stay well.  

May you be happy now and always


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