Updated: May 12, 2018
One day sophomore year in high school, I was in the girls’ downstairs bathroom. I put my right hand in my coat pocket and found a note. Remember those days of writing notes to your friends? I hadn’t remembered one being in my pocket so I curiously took it out to investigate. As I type this, my heart still races at the memory of what it said. The note was from my “best friend” to another girl we were friendly with. “Regina is so ugly, I don’t know why Todd even likes her. She walks so weirdly too.” There was more to the note but that’s what I remember. My "best friend" hadn’t intended for me to see the note; she had borrowed my jacket and must have accidentally left it in the pocket.
The book, The Four Agreements, would say I made an agreement that day to believe what she said. It was easy for me to believe I was ugly because I had never heard anything to the contrary and was made fun of by boys in my elementary school. The book describes negative words as black magic and as a spell that one is put under. This is to magnify the power of what our words can do to someone else and to ourselves.
Later in college during my freshman year orientation, I had a conversation with a new friend and was able to start to make a new agreement with myself. He told me about friends of his who had asked him who I was because they thought I was pretty and wanted to find out about me. I’ll never forget how shocked I was when he told me that. I had him repeat himself at least three times. He couldn’t believe I was so surprised. He said it seemed like I held myself with a ton of confidence. I guess I had done a pretty good job of faking it.
The Four Agreements says once we hear something positive we are able to release the old agreement and the black magic spell we are under.
In the book, gossip is also described as a form of black magic. I like the example Don Miguel Ruiz gives to describe how gossip can spread like a computer virus. Imagine you are starting a new class and have been excited for this class for months. Then you see a friend coming out of the class you are about to go into and they say that the teacher is an awful creep. What happens to your opinion of the class and the teacher? That friend could have been annoyed because they had just received a bad grade. But now that you believe the gossip, your opinion changes about the teacher.
I have seen this happen a million times with elementary school teachers. Parents openly share their personal opinions about their child’s negative experience with a teacher to warn other parents. But your experience is totally your own and unique to your personality and the personality of your child. The author would suggest to give people a chance to form their own opinions.
The last aspect of black magic is in my opinion the worst, and it is the one we do on ourselves. We tell ourselves horrible things. “I’m never going to be good enough. I’m fat. I’m ugly. No one really likes me. I’m stupid. I’m never going to get all of this done. I’m a bad mom. I’m a bad dad. I’m too sensitive. I’m too abrasive.”
The world of spirituality calls the voice in our head that tells us we aren’t good enough, the ego or self-critic. In coaching, we call it the gremlin voice. To be able to stop that gremlin voice we must first get clear on what it is saying. From there, we decide what message would we rather hear? Doing those two simple things, getting clear on what your worst gremlin message is, then choosing a positive message, can change your life in a way that you would never believe.
Can you remember a time when someone said something to you that was incredibly hurtful, and you believed it from that day? What message did it send to you? Do you still believe it? How much of your life does believing that message impact who you are today? What message or thought can replace it?
If you have ever even dipped your toe into personal development reading you already know that affirmations can be life changing. The reason being, our brain gets rewired when we hear a new message. Even if we don’t believe the new (positive) message yet. If the message you received as a child was that you were unaccepted for yourself and therefore unlovable, you would start to create an affirmation saying, “I love and approve of myself.” You would say the affirmation all the time to yourself, so it became an automatic background noise.
In the shower you say, “I love and approve of myself”, walking from the car to the grocery store you say, “I love and approve of myself.” Even if you don’t believe it, the brain starts to believe it. You will notice a shift in how you think of yourself once you are persistent with the affirmation. If you don’t believe this, just do a google search on the benefits of affirmation and the brain’s ability to change neuro pathways. It’s science and has been proven. And as a
personal case study of one, I can say it has worked for me.
Don Miguel Ruiz says being impeccable with your word is the hardest of the agreements to honor. He suggests we spread white magic instead, which is, of course, love. “Just imagine what you can create with the impeccability of the word. It can take away all fear and transform it into joy and love.”