Agreement #4: Follow Up

The past month of practicing the Fourth Agreement has, surprisingly, easier than I would have anticipated.  When you become aware of the present moment and your ability to control your own actions, or reactions, within that moment, it becomes easier to evaluate whether you have done your best in each and every moment.  For the most part, controlling my own behavior is easy.  But, what about when others’ behavior doesn’t fit with my expectations?  Better yet, how do you react when things don’t go your way?
There have been so many things that have not gone “my way” this past month which harvested convincing thoughts, stemming from old, ingrained self-defeating beliefs, that I have not done my best, or that I have somehow failed, or been less of a human being than I could be.  If you have experienced these types of thoughts, I urge you to take a moment to question the validity of those thoughts.  The answer inevitably comes back that they are simply not true.  The thoughts that pervade my mind when I perceivably fail at achieving a goal I had set for myself, are that I, as a human being, am a failure.  Rather, the truth is that I was clinging to an outcome because I believed that it validated my self-worth.
Now, if I take a step back to objectively evaluate the truth, then the reality is that failing doesn’t make me any less of a human being than succeeding does.  Success, nor failure, does not define me as a person.  The things I have or don’t have, the money I make or lose, the places I go, and the people I meet do not define me as a person.   My thoughts are not real, my fears are not valid, and my beliefs are fallible.  If that is the case, one can and will logically ask what, then, is real and who am I?  How am I to Always Do My Best when I allow myself to be defined by other people, thoughts or things?  What is left to strive for?
Then the question came…..“Now what?”  The work to let go of attachments initially brought me to a place of complacency.  If I didn’t need money or things or status or fame, then I concluded there was no reason to do anything well, nor “do my best”.  After all, my “best” did not seem to really matter.  This is where integrating the forth agreementhas proved beneficial to reintroduce balance to my daily life.  Through everything I have read, learned, experienced, and practiced, I have learned that “my best” is not equated with external gratification or validation.  Rather, to do my best, I need to show up for my life – in every moment and act from a place of love…..how very Eckhart Tolle……
In theory, this concept is easy to understand and agree with, but in practice, it is much more challenging to stay in the present moment.  Yet, being present is exactly the state of being in which we are at our best.  This is when we are aware of our negative thoughts, self-defeating attitudes, and moments of suffering.  This is when we give ourselves the opportunity to choose to promote life, rather than take from it.  It is the state of being in which we become more loving, more compassionate, more kind to ourselves and others.    This truly is the BEST we can ask of ourselves, but more often we spend time beating ourselves up for what we have not accomplished.  Why do we do this?  Why do I do this?  As Anne Lamont writes to remind us, in her fabulous book, Bird by Bird, “I don’t think you don’t really have that kind of time.”
Do you have the time to waste on kicking yourself in the A$$?  I know I don’t!  Do you really think that those negative thoughts are the best you can offer to your life?  Probably not.  What if you stopped in this moment and chose a different outlook?  In this moment, stop and say to your negative thinking “Hey, I deserve to talk to myself better than this.  I deserve to believe that I am better than what these thoughts are telling me.  I deserve to be my own best friend.  I deserve to do my best.”
Today, choose to do your best.  Your best always begins and ends with LOVE!
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