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Don't Make Assumptions: The Third Agreement of Don Miguel Ruiz's "The Four Agreements"

In the transformative book "The Four Agreements," Don Miguel Ruiz introduces principles based on ancient Toltec wisdom. The third agreement, "Don't Make Assumptions," is a powerful guideline for fostering understanding and reducing unnecessary suffering in our lives. This blog post delves into the essence of this agreement and how its application can enhance our communication, relationships, and personal peace.

The Trap of Assumptions

Assumptions are beliefs or ideas we accept as true without proof. In our daily lives, we often make assumptions about what others are thinking or feeling, about their intentions, or about how they view us. While this might seem like a shortcut in communication, it often leads to misunderstandings, misinterpretations, and a whole cascade of emotional turmoil.

Why We Assume

Making assumptions is a natural cognitive process, helping us navigate the world without having to constantly seek new information. However, when it comes to interpersonal relationships, assumptions can be misleading and damaging. They are often based on our fears, insecurities, and past experiences rather than the present reality.

Implementing the Third Agreement

Understanding this agreement is a positive step, yet its true value lies in its application. To harness its wisdom, consider adopting the following behaviors:

  • Seek Clarity: Whenever you're unsure about a situation, have the courage to ask questions. Clear communication can dissolve misunderstandings and reveal the truth hidden beneath our assumptions.

  • Express Yourself Clearly: Just as you should not assume what others are thinking, don't expect them to know your thoughts and feelings. Be clear in expressing yourself to avoid being misunderstood.

  • Listen Actively: Active listening involves fully concentrating on what is being said rather than just passively hearing the message. It helps in understanding the context and the emotions behind the words, reducing the need to fill gaps with assumptions.

  • Be Open to Learning: Every interaction is an opportunity to learn something new about others and the world. Approach conversations with curiosity and an open mind, rather than preconceived notions.

  • Reflect on Your Assumptions: Become aware of your tendency to make assumptions. Reflect on their origins and question their validity. This self-awareness can be a significant step in changing the habit.

The Positive Impact of Not Making Assumptions

By consciously working to avoid assumptions, you can experience profound changes in your life:

  • Improved Relationships: Clear and honest communication fosters deeper, more authentic relationships.

  • Reduced Conflict: Many conflicts arise from misunderstandings. By not making assumptions, the frequency and intensity of conflicts can be significantly reduced.

  • Increased Understanding and Empathy: When you stop filling in the blanks with your own stories, you become more open to understanding others' perspectives.

  • Enhanced Self-esteem and Confidence: Clear communication can boost your self-esteem and confidence as it reduces the anxiety and stress of misunderstood words or actions.


"Don't Make Assumptions" is more than an agreement; it's a guideline for effective and compassionate communication. By embracing this principle, we open the door to a world where misunderstandings are reduced, relationships are strengthened, and our emotional wellbeing is enhanced. Remember, the clearer your communication, the more peaceful and fulfilling your relationships and life will be.

 Join us starting in April for a special four-part discussion series on the Four Agreements tailored for youth aged 14-20. Each month from April through July, we'll delve into one agreement in depth. Become a member today to learn more and participate at no cost!

Read our post about agreement #2: Don't Take Anything Personally

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