Be impeccable with your word. It’s an easy concept to understand but challenging to practice. If you have never read Don Miguel Ruiz’s The Four Agreements, you should. It will bring awareness to how our thoughts constantly tear us down and sabotage us.
In his book, Ruiz says impeccable means “without sin.” I have never thought of being impeccable in this context. To me, impeccable was perfect or without flaws. Merriam-Webster.com defines impeccable as a person that is “free from fault or blameless.” This definition is more in line with Ruiz’s “without sin.” He explains impeccable not in a religious sense, as most often thought of when the word “sin” is used. Ruiz says being impeccable with your word is no longer allowing the voice in our head to abuse us, tear us down, or sabotage us. All of us have this voice. The voice who criticizes our actions, tells us we are not good enough, or judges our looks and body. The voice makes us feel unjustified guilt, shame, fear, or doubt. The voice can terrorize us to a point, causing low self-esteem, anxiety, depression, or a more extreme mental illness.
The question: Is the voice true? Is it really who we are? Not to get too deep or esoteric, the voice is a collection of the expectations placed on us since we were old enough to understand words. The voice is our parents’ voice when we were young; it’s the voices of teachers, coaches, and friends. Later in life, it’s our co-workers, bosses, spouse, television, and the media. Our voice is based on the opinions of someone else’s expectations and standards. And here is the kicker: Their voices are not their own either. Their voice is a collection of other people’s voices. Ruiz calls this the dream or story. A world full of lies that each of us has bestowed upon ourselves over time.
If the “voice” in our head is a lie or the collection of others’ thoughts and opinions, then who are we? Our true self is who we are when we tame the voice and become authentic with ourselves. An authentic person recognizes the voice is a lie and lives life through joy and passion.
Why is it important to know this or be impeccable with our word? For one thing, it affects our happiness, joy, and overall quality of life. Secondly, so we can be free from the self-imposed inner abuse we live with each day. The voice that tells us we are less than, not good enough, and not deserving. Being impeccable with our word will break the chains of self-torment and allow us to be our true selves, not the collections of thoughts and opinions of others. You, me, and everybody have thoughts like “I am too old,” “I am not good at that,” ”I am not smart enough,” or “I am not thin enough.”
While far from reaching my own personal freedom from the voice, I believe the first step is being aware of the judgments and criticisms in your mind. Once you become aware, it begins the process of separating yourself from your “story” and what is true. We have adopted the voice as our own, and it will take time to recognize the “lies” compared to your true self.
How do we know which is the voice and our true self? When you are happy and engage in anything that brings you fulfillment and gives you a greater sense of purpose, you are listening to the thoughts of your true self. It could be your work, a hobby, or time with family. For me, my true self is when I write, inspire others, and help people be a little better by teaching, coaching sports, and helping others be more fit and healthy. Your true self is a time when you are working hard without self-judgment of performance, or a time when we are laughing with friends without the need to be right or have fear of being judged. Anytime we are engaged in a task without the voice, analyzing every move and action we are operating from our true self.
All of us have glimpses of the truth in life’s activities. Quickly, though, we revert back to the voice that we believe is who we are. The lies hidden in our thoughts about needing to be thinner, needing to make more money, and believing that once we do x, y, or z, we will be happy. We do not recognize that we are those glimpses, not the voice. To experience more of those fleeting moments of joy, love, and happiness, we need to become aware of our voice.
Similarly, in his book You Are Not Your Brain, Dr. Jeffrey Schwartz calls the voice deceptive brain messages or false messages stored in our subconscious from past traumas and events. The messages that seem so real that cause unnecessary fear, anxiety, and doubt in harmless daily occurrences. The voice or deceptive brain messages are the same. They are unasked for messages that hardly ever move us in the direction of contentment or pleasure.
I encourage you to read The Four Agreements. I will not make false claims that it will change your life. I have read hundreds, if not thousands, of self-help, personal development, and mindset books over the past 15 to 20 years searching for the answer to my own personal mission of feeling good about myself and life. I have taken a lot from all of these books. Enough that I have transformed my mindset into one of optimism, positive expectation, and gratitude. It has taken time, and I still have days that are more mentally challenging than others, but I am far from where I used to be. I also know that you can lead a horse to water, but not make it drink. To change your life, you need to drink the water daily and often and deliberately choose to live a joyful and happy life.