Recently, I was reading a book that explained the concept of agreements.*
The author explained that agreements are conscious or unconscious terms we set in our relationships, perspectives or self-perception. It is our way — intentional or unintentional — of determining roles, measuring success and making decisions.
It seemed like a lot of new age nonsense when I first read it, especially because the examples given were so extreme. But then I started noticing the agreements I had made in my life.
I’m the responsible one.
You’re in charge.
When I achieve X, I’ll allow myself to be / have Y.
These agreements have caused me anger, disappointment, guilt and frustration… and they’re all in my head. If they aren’t one-sided, they were often made in a moment that is long gone and the agreement has long outlived its usefulness.
We’ll be best friends forever.
She relies on me for support.
If I don’t take care of this, no one will.
In some cases, a conversation is due between me and the other person involved in the agreement. Perhaps sometimes I don’t have to be the designated driver. Maybe they would like someone else to run that meeting. Likely it is time to rethink decades-long partnership that functions completely differently today than when it started.
But more insidious are the agreements I’ve made with myself, the standards I’ve held myself and others to that were made in a moment of fear or doubt or hurt… some of them decades ago. It’s time to renegotiate terms. It’s time to figure out what I’m really upset about or fearful of or distraught over.
It’s time to disagree.
*No, not that one by Don Miguel Ruiz, although I’m sure it’s quite fine.