Four Rules for Life

Angeles Arrien says that there are “Four Rules for Life:  Show up.  Pay attention. Tell the Truth.  Don’t be attached to results.”  I think these are excellent rules indeed, and I do strive to follow them.  The showing up part has always been very hard for me as I tend to get fearful, bolt and run, abandoning myself in the process, which of course doesn’t help me or anyone else.  My therapist says that showing up means being fully present and speaking one’s own truth from the heart without judgement or blame, which captures the concept of showing up nicely, I think.

Paying attention can also be tricky if I have already had my fears triggered, but barring that, I think I am usually fairly attentive, but of course fully paying attention would mean being very mindful and totally present in the moment, and that is a rarity for most of us, I suspect.  And telling the truth seems simple on the surface as I feel, as probably most do, that lying is wrong.  But I don’t always tell the truth when I say what I think others want to hear or when I abandon my own needs by not speaking up for them or letting others know what my needs are.  There are many other ways not to tell the truth which are more subtle, such as keeping quiet because one doesn’t want to hurt someone else’s feelings.  I know a number of folks who have done this with me, not telling me their truth for fear of hurting me, and I guess that is meant kindly, at least I mean it so when I do it, but the truth will out and usually then is much more painful.

Finally, for me the fourth rule–don’t be attached to the results–is the hardest to keep.  I figure that if I do this, then that will happen, in a cause and effect sort of way, and so my actions are frequently done with a result in mind.  But in fact, most of the time there isn’t such a thing as cause and effect because other people are involved.  I need to remember that I am the only one I am in control of (and I am not always in control of me!), and so hopefully I can control what I do, but I have absolutely no control over how others will perceive what I do or react to what I do, so it is really important just to speak my own truth, walk my own path, from my heart without judgment or blame, and then not be attached to the idea that such actions will “do” anything outside of me.  Working on me is all I can do, all I need to do, and more than enough for anyone!

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