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The Third Agreement

I have been revisiting don Miguel Ruiz’s great book The Four Agreements, I wrote about the first agreement here and the second agreement here.  Today I’m discussing the Third Agreement which is ‘Don’t make assumptions’. This seems like such a simple thing, something that each of us knows already. However, it is something that trips so many of us up. Sometimes the hardest thing to do is not let our presumptions get the better of us.

There are many aspects to not making assumptions. This means don’t judge a book by it’s cover. Always ask questions. Try not to take it for granted that someone else sees the world in the same way that you do. Don’t let your fantasy of what is happening supercede reality. Beauty is not the only thing that is in the eye of the beholder, understand that there are many concepts that shift and vary depending on the person.

The hardest part of this Agreement is that it required confidence to ask the questions necessary to alleviate the chance of assumption. Too often we lack the strength to speak up and say “I’m not understanding” because we think that it puts us in a position of weakness to admit we have a question. Many people have an agreement that someone that asks a lot of questions is not very smart. This is one agreement we all need to break. The only way for clear, conscious HEALTHY communication is to ask questions.

There is a passage in the third agreement chapter that I really like: “Also find your voice to ask for what you want. Everybody has the right to tell you no or yes, but you always have the right to ask. Likewise, everybody has the right to ask you, and you have the right to say yes or no.

I think a lot of people find hearing NO difficult and so they avoid asking questions. But this is because they are taking it personally. And because often they are not being clear about what it is that they want. If we take the time to be precise in our communications and don’t take offense to whatever the answer may be, then making sure we are not making assumptions becomes second nature. See how beautifully the agreements speak to each other?

One Response to “The Third Agreement”

  1. 1 Joseph Anthony says:

    Thank you for another insightful post. It inspired me to check into the roots of the word “assumption” (I’m a bit of a word nut). “Assumption” comes from the Latin and means “to take for oneself.” And therein lies the first key. Instead of taking whenever we’re in an encounter with someone, we could try giving. Your idea of asking questions is perfect. While on the surface it may seem like that’s another way of taking, it’s actually quite the opposite—it’s an act of giving—trusting, unfolding, being vulnerable, letting the other give of themselves. The taking for oneself comes in when we are, as you say, in a fantasy based on what else–ourselves. Your suggestion to be in reality is another way to give. To be here now helps everyone involved to be open to whatever is needed in the situation. Both can be open to asking and receiving, and this requires presence. The idea of the word “assumption” meaning “to take for granted” comes in the late 1500’s. And herein lies the other key—if we can remain in gratitude for everyone we meet—look at every person we meet as a gift, then we can infuse our interactions with a sense of thankfulness, thus encouraging a healing connection—whatever the context. Thank you again for the inspiration, Serafice.