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Iyanla Vanzant's 12 Tips For Setting Boundaries In Relationships

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Iyanla Vanzant's 12 Tips For Setting Boundaries In Relationships

Creating Limits That Serve You
Iyanla  Vanzant
Iyanla Vanzant More by this author
Nov 19, 2015 at 02:45 PM

Today in our technology-addicted culture, it's easy to feel ignored, dismissed, or unheard. My technology boundary request to my partner and children was simple, "I am asking that you not bring your telephone to the dinner table, and if you must answer the phone when you are talking to me, please excuse yourself."

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It took a few reminders, but eventually, everyone respected the newly defined boundary. The powerful thing about boundaries is that when you trust yourself and the people with whom you share your life, your boundaries can be flexible, and you will still feel safe. Boundaries are fixed limits, not walls. They are meant to keep you safe within them, not to prevent other people from coming in.

Learning How To Be A Good Friend

It is impossible to have a healthy relationship with someone who has no boundaries because boundaries are essential steps in learning how to be a friend, even when you are learning to befriend and trust yourself. It is equally impossible to learn how to trust and become loving to yourself without owning yourself and your rights and responsibilities as a creator of your experiences.

Boundaries can be flexible, changing contours that can and will accommodate the shifts and growth in self and relationships. Boundaries can also be inflexible, rigid, and overly controlling, thus making it impossible to accommodate growth or change in yourself or relationships.

On your journey to self-trust, I would encourage you to create the limits that serve you best. Even if you start with a less stringent comfort zone or a short wall, make it your intention to create boundaries that make both of these defenses unnecessary.

Boundary Etiquette

Consider the following supportive tips when you are in the process of establishing or maintaining your boundaries:

1.    Identify the parameters of your boundaries. Explain the “what and why” of your boundary. 

Example: “In my world, agreements and commitments are important. It’s how we know that we can trust each other and that we respect each other’s time. So it’s important to me that when I make an agreement, I keep the agreement. It’s also important to me that you keep your agreement. So let’s agree that we will both show up on time.”

2.    Let others know that the boundary exists, and inform them if and when they have violated it.

Example: “You know that I am a little crazy about punctuality, so I hope we can agree on a time to meet and that we will all honor our agreement to be on time.”

3.    Create a consistent means of broadcasting the presence of the boundaries.

Example: “I’m counting on your support so I don’t feel crazy. I want to remind us both that we have an agreement to be on time.”

4.    Announce to others as to how the boundary operates.

Example: “You know what, if we want other people to respect us, I believe we have to learn to respect ourselves. We have to honor our word and keep our agreements, if not, people will think they can treat us any old way. Let’s really make the effort to show up and start on time. That way we don’t have to make excuses and we will be less likely to accept excuses when other people don’t honor their word to us. Remember, what you give to yourself you can expect to receive from others.”

5.    Remain aware of the process/action required to maintain the boundaries.

Example: “Hey, I am just calling to verify that we are going to meet at such and such time.”

6.    Inform others of the consequences of violating a boundary.

Example: “Beloved, it does not make me feel good when I make the effort to honor our agreement to show up on time and you don’t do the same. I know that things happen, but I want to offer an amendment to our agreement; after 15 minutes, neither one of us has to wait for the other.”

7.    Warn others when they have violated, or are about to violate, the lines of a boundary.

Example: “I am glad you are here, but I remember that we had an agreement to be on time. Since I did not hear from you that you would be delayed, it doesn’t feel good that you have either forgotten or ignored our agreement. I want to remind you that after 15 minutes, we need not wait for each other.”

8.    Immediately activate the consequences when a boundary has been violated.

Example: Once 15 minutes have passed and your companion hasn’t arrived, leave. By doing so you honor your boundary and keep the agreement. It may be difficult at first, but in the long run it is better than waiting 25 minutes and complaining about it.

9.    Be willing to forgive when a boundary is innocently or unknowingly violated.

Example: There are those times when people forget or perhaps misunderstand the importance of the boundary. This can result in an innocent violation or breach. In these instances, explain the boundary again and be willing to forgive the violation. Trust that you will know when this is the case.

10.    Be willing to surrender the relationship for repeated violations of the boundaries.

Example: It is unfortunate but there are some people who cannot, do not, or will not honor boundaries—their own or those of anyone else. These people have no limits. As such you must be willing to surrender the relationship or risk the repeated heartache and heartbreak of being violated.

11.    Determine through practical experience whether or not the boundaries serve the intention for which they were established.

Example: If the boundary is intended to keep you safe physically or emotionally, you must be able to assess whether or not the request you make is yielding the result you desire. If not, be willing to relax or release the boundary and establish a new one. It is not helpful or productive to make a request or establish a boundary that is not getting the results you desire.

12.    When establishing boundaries, always pause to make certain that your efforts are really about what you need to feel safe rather than what you need to maintain control.

Example: It is important to know the distinction between being safe and exercising control. If your boundary is designed simply to give you an upper hand and get people to do what you want, it is not a valid boundary. Since control is the number one human addiction, the caution here is to be mindful of your true motives and intentions.

Timing can be an especially tricky boundary. Some people have a distorted internal clock and have great difficulty arriving on time. Others are simply defiant and disrespectful of time. The key is to discern whether or not the relationship is important to you and whether the behavior being demonstrated actually challenges your personal safety. 

Iyanla Vanzant’s compelling book, Trust, is filled with illuminating and heartrendingly powerful stories of broken trust, betrayal, and triumph. Iyanla demonstrates why the four essential trusts—Trust in Self, Trust in God, Trust in Others, and Trust in Life—are like oxygen: without them, none of us can survive.



About Author
Iyanla  Vanzant
Iyanla Vanzant is the founder and executive director of Inner Visions International and the Inner Visions Institute for Spiritual Development. She is a Yoruba priestess and an ordained minister in Christian New Thought. The author of 13 titles—inc Continue reading