I am my worst enemy. As a self-proclaimed perfectionist, I have been known to wonder why I earned a "B" instead of that "A" I was hoping for, or to look over a paper many times to ensure absolutely no errors are detected. Throughout my entire life, I have been judgmental of one person and one person only: myself. I think many of us are our own biggest critics. Even worse, we believe what others say about us because we sometimes do not have the confidence and security to dismiss negative, hurtful comments immediately. Instead we internalize them, taking them with us and adding to emotional baggage--for some it's enough for an industrial forklift. Why? Why do we listen to that annoying voice in our head that doubts, criticizes, judges, demeans? Don Miguel Ruiz, in The Voice of Knowledge: A Practical Guide to Inner Peace, blames the voice of knowledge in all of us.
As children we are free. We are full of love and acceptance. According to Ruiz, we are "authentic". We are pure emotion, and we never pretend to be something or someone we are not. What happens to us then between childhood and adulthood for us to lose our "authenticity"? Knowledge. You may be asking, "Isn't knowledge good?" Well, it depends on how it is used.
Society, school, our parents, all teach us the values, customs, and traditions that will govern who we are for the rest of our lives. We are told how to act, speak and think--directly and indirectly. We even learn to qualify everything: wrong vs. right, good vs. bad, ugly vs. beautiful. Through rewards and punishments as children we learn that we are not good enough yet. When our parents say, "You need to do _______ to be a good boy/girl". We learn that we are not good. Or, "You need to work hard to become somebody" tells us we are nobody at that moment. The author identifies this moment as the point we receive the lie of our imperfection. It will be the lie that influences many of our decisions for the rest of our lives. It will force us to constantly seek perfection. A perfection we already have if we just open our eyes to it.
But how? He believes our life is a story, and we are the artists crafting the story. We need to recognize our role in shaping and determining our life outcomes, in order for us to find our integrity once again--something we lost as children. He also identifies "The Four Agreements" as essential tools during this process: be impeccable with your word; don't take anything personally; don't make assumptions; always do your best. Don Miguel Ruiz's national bestselling book The Four Agreements delves into each of the Agreements more thoroughly than The Voice of Knowledge, and serves as more of a practical guide for how to apply Ruiz's advice in your life; however, The Voice of Knowledge serves as an excellent foundation for reading The Four Agreements.
If you are looking for a way to change your perspective and to see the world and yourself more positively, then don Miguel Ruiz is the perfect guide. His writing is clear and concise, and he does an excellent job of describing aspects of the human psyche that we often do not recognize in ourselves.
Recommended by Kristin Tidaback