Finding Personal Freedom in Nursing
Rhonda G. Abernathy BSN, RN
Donald D. Kautz PhD, RN, CRRN, CNE

February 2012 
Volume 42  Number 2
Pages 59 - 61
  PDF Version Available!

WHILE TAKING a general-education elective course as part of her RN-to-BSN program, article author Rhonda G. Abernathy read The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom by Don Miguel Ruiz.1 She and her coauthor and nursing professor, Donald D. Kautz, realized the book had several lessons for us as nurses. We believe that you might find Ruiz's lessons helpful as well.This article will introduce you to concepts that may help you be more confident in your professional and daily life.Ruiz identifies four "agreements" that we can make with ourselves. These agreements are an inspirational code for life and principles for personal and professional development. While these agreements haven't been studied by nurses, each of them contains concepts that are central to nursing practice and research. These four agreements are: 1. be impeccable with your word 2. don't take anything personally 3. don't make assumptions 4. always do your best.1Now consider how these agreements impact your work as a nurse.This first agreement can be one of the most challenging to honor. Stop and think before speaking and take the time to complete a self-check on what, how, when, and why you say something.Words are more than sounds or messages; every word spoken has a power of its own. Words can have special connotations or cause devastation. Ruiz notes that when we use words, we should do so with integrity and truth. Relaying gossip and spreading rumors in the workplace are damaging uses of words.As a nurse, you communicate daily with colleagues, healthcare providers, patients, and families. When you take the time to think before you speak, consider how much more weight your words carry. For example, if a nurse from the previous shift has left you a task, you can say, "I can see what a tough shift you had. It must have been impossible for you to get everything done." This response is much better than saying, "Why didn't you do this?"Sometimes stress leads to short tempers, gossip, and even

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