The Four Agreements for Managing Depression

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Miguel Ruiz’s The Four Agreements is frequently considered a spiritual book, but it is also an excellent psychology manual. Anyone who practices the four agreements can enhance the quality of their life and relationships.

The four agreements are wise and effective recommendations that can be applied even when symptoms of depression are intense. They are an excellent depression management tool.

The Four Agreements and Depression

Not all symptom management tools work for everyone, yet the four agreements are primarily precepts for living a life of integrity. Even when depressed, we can choose to live with integrity. Doing this helps us get our needs met and shores up our self-respect.

#1 Don’t make assumptions. It is important to ask clarifying questions, and tell family, friends, or counselors specifically what we want. We should not assume others understand our needs, and we do not know for certain what others are thinking or planning unless we ask. Also, never assume negative self-talk is true.

By asking questions and making our needs clear, the misunderstandings, drama, and sadness that add stress to our life, and fuel depressive symptoms, can be kept to a minimum.

#2 Always do your best. Naturally, your best effort will change throughout the day, and it will be affected by the state of your physical and mental health. Yet, whatever our mood, energy level, or circumstances, we can simply do our best. Then, when we crawl into bed at night, we have nothing to judge or regret about our efforts.

If severely depressed, doing our best might be showering, getting dressed, and going to our doctor or counseling appointment. It could mean eating nutritious foods though we do not feel hungry. Sometimes, it is getting safely through another day, or asking someone for help.

#3 Be impeccable with your word. Talk to others with respect and tell people, as clearly as possible, exactly what you mean. Although negative thoughts can be intrusive when depressed, we do not have to use our speech to put our self or another down.

Using the power of spoken words to promote compassion and respect - for self and others - is a great self-worth booster. Being true to our word simplifies relationships, promotes trust, and makes therapy more effective.

#4 Don’t take anything personally. Sometimes it is hard to believe, but what others do is never because of you. People speak and act according to their own internal reality, or view of life. Other people’s sharp or critical words may continue to sting, but knowing it is “not because of you” helps people remain resilient, and become more immune to the behavior and opinions of others.

Photo credit: Chris Preen (@flickr)

 
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