So, if you’re a regular Mothers Who Work reader, you’ll be accustomed with some of the self-help book reviews that we often share. It’s done with no commercial reasons behind it. Self-help is the way forward and without the time (and sometimes the money) to go to a life coach, counsellor or any empowerment expert, books and audiobooks are definitely the way forward.

One such book is the Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. I personally love this book because it’s so different. It covers offence, why we get offended, why other people offend us, and why it even exists in the world. It covers how to make sure you never take offence again and how to make sure you don’t. This may seem a little airy fairy when you read about it, but just think about it: how many people grate on us on an average day. Whether it’s that slow driver who just won’t go up a couple of miles an hour so you can get to your child’s school in the nick of time, or that irritating colleague who is always rubbing you up the wrong way…or your spouse, or your teenager, or the delivery guy, or… The truth is there are so many instances for someone to try to steal our joy.

Unlike a lot of impractical books that teach you about mindfulness (and I’m not knocking that – it has its place), not many books deal with this issue unless you go for an anger or behavioural management book. But what if you know you don’t have anger management issues per se, but you’d like to have some tools in your box to make sure no one ever rains on your parade – this is the one!

The book is so tiny, you can even fit it into your purse. That’s what makes it so accessible and not so daunting a prospect when you don’t have much time to put your feet up and read. It takes just over a couple of hours to listen to the audiobook – so a couple of days to and from work will do it.

So what are the four agreements? Without spoiling it for you, the four agreements are:

1. To be impeccable with your word
2. To not take anything personally
3. To not make assumptions
4. To always be your best

These seem simple enough, so there’s nothing revolutionary in that sense. But what is different about the way Miguel breaks down the required efforts in order to attain all of the four agreements and live that happy life is discussing in detail the impact of fear on our lives, our thoughts and our actions. He describes the battle we all have with our minds – sometimes in such subtly that we don’t even see that our words and thoughts are crushing us.

If you ever feel the burdened with guilt because of what you have said to someone in response to their behaviour towards you, or find yourself entangled with emotions you know have been put on you by someone else or any other negative thoughts that make you unhappy, this book will help you work through that in a way you didn’t think possible.

These days, I am able to say that someone insulting me (if they dared!) is also insulting themselves because what they project onto me is more about themselves than me. And added to that, if I decide to get into a tongue-bashing with them, then my words would also have a huge impact on me. So, instead of allowing their destruction to cause my own, I can use some positive tools to avoid that, one of those being to find the courage to ask the right questions of that person. Job done!

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