It is through my boundaries (living in the centering questions) that I protect my love for you.

The following material is an invitation to meditate on how agreement 2, 3 and 4 can be a "whole new world" - a world of never being a victim, or being filled with resentment- a world of things feeling balanced and comfortable (albeit difficult at times), a world where your heart feels open and full of love.


Is how I approach agreement 3 and 4.  

How can I lead you and/or stand for you if I am insane?  (if I am a victim or in my story). 


Says, "I will see the love that is possible between us.  i will see the truth of the love I believe you at least want to give.  

AGREEMENT 2, 3 & 4 - The difference between our story and real danger

Agreement 2, 3 and 4 says "through the grace of God I will dissolve my story of powerlessness, personal danger, and distrust so that I can come through for you and assist you in coming through for me." 

Please note that sometimes you actually are in danger and need to do whatever it takes to get yourself out of harm's way.  A "story" however is your fear of powerlessness, detachment, worthlessness or not being lovable.  Our story is the fear of our very soul disintegrating.


Says "I will stand as a lighthouse in the possibility of bringing you home to the love I believe you want to give.  i will continue to notice where you are in your relationship with me.  i am willing to lead you into possibilities that could work for both of us.  i love you so much that I am willing to guide you toward how to love me.  i am willing to love my neighbor as myself."


Says "In standing for our relationship I am willing to love vs. control.  I am willing to show you the way back to my heart and to cheerlead you in your journey" i.e. boundary conversations, encouragement, probation, limits on privileges, opportunities for restitution, forgiveness, consequences (what gifts you feel inspired to give).   

More on Validation and listening just to understand                     

The all-purpose additive in all communication (but especially high stakes communication)

Gary and Joy Lundberg, authors of “I Don’t Have to Make Everything All Better” (an inspiring book) define “validation” as “walking emotionally beside someone, without trying to change their direction.”

In a communication that carries a potential for negative charge, remember that at any point you can infuse the warm and loving light of validation, e.g., “Honey I can see that you and I just can’t seem to get on the same page today. Tell me what’s going on. I just want to listen for a while. Tell me everything you’re feeling.”

Remember that you want to validate people’s feelings as a way of giving to them- as a way of loving—not as a way of giving in to them or of getting their approval.  One motive strengthens your boundaries. One weakens them. 

True validation is such a win/win. Number 1, it is one of the most loving gifts you can ever give. And number 2, because of this love, it tends to take you out of the conflict that is weakening your boundaries.  Now you can show up as the strong, self-respecting man or woman of dignity and boundaries that you truly are.  When someone feels your love and strength, they are inspired to respect your boundaries- not try to tear them down.  

Either way though- as you gain respect and love for yourself, through validation, you will not be as tempted to grovel and give up your boundaries to gain the self-esteem that you now already have.

Validation and listening just to understand (vs. so you can get a turn to give your point of view)  is the bedrock of peace and resolution.  Everything good will be built up from this ground.  And without it, everything will eventually fall apart.

The essential task of validation is to escape the dark prison of what you consider to be theobjective truth.  Validation is about honoring another person’s subjective experience. 

When it comes to finding your way to someone’s heart, it SO doesn’t matter what the objective truth is.  When seeking to understand, in fact, sometimes the objective truth can be your worst enemy.   

Here’s what matters:  What is your partner is experiencing, inside of him or her? You don’t really know what’s going on in there, so how can you possibly disagree?   And in reality, as much as you think he or she has missed the mark on how it “really is”, you’re probably missing it even more.  When it comes to a lot of your relationship drama, neither of you will ever actually ever know how it “really” is.  Let it go!  Let the objective “truth” go and let your sweetheart’s subjective experience fill your ears, your heart, and your soul. Listen to hear and to understand and to validate.

It sounds like this:  “So I think what I’m hearing you say is....”  “Have I got it?”  “Is that it?”   “Tell me more.”

Boundaries - My willingness to build a bridge between us

I notice when I’m not comfortable with something or when something isn’t working for me too. 

I am committed for it to work for both of us.

I spend time with God breaking through my stories of personal danger (fears about my personal worth, powerlessness or lovability) so that I can peacefully consider centering questions:

1) What am I willing to do?  
2) What am I not willing to do?   
3) What do I feel would be best for everyone involved?  This often includes a cost/benefit analysis
4) What am I not seeing?  What seeking to get through to me, even now, even in this very moment?  What is another way of looking at this that will assist me in answering the above 3 questions?
5) What do I want?  What is it I would like to see happen, in the final analysis?  What is it I'm trying to create in connection with this?  This is also a good question to start with.

My boundaries are the face of my love and my commitment, nothing else- not my story, not my upset, not my need to blame or project. 

I will do whatever it takes to make sure we are both feeling good about this relationship or situation.   I will show the real you how to love the real me.  I will stand for you and I will stand for me.  I will come through for you in a way that works for the real you- a way that works for both of us. 

I’m willing to do what you asked me to do when I traveled into the future and visited with you in my time machine. (i.e. to not let you go out with certain friends, to make sure you eat your vegetables, to do an intervention if you're on drugs etc.).  There in the future, you pleaded with me to come through for the real you.  I will.  I promise.  I will come through for you.  

I choose consequences, not punishment i.e. when A occurs, we both agree that B will be the consequence.  

Note: Punishment says "I'm angry."   Consequence says "I'm committed."

I create and refine my boundaries, incrementally (Defcom 4, Defcom 3, Defcom 2, Defcom 1).
Remember, even a deer in the headlights will move if you are coming at him slowly enough. At 80 miles an hour, he probably won't make it.


  • "Honey, would you be willing to start coming home earlier, like 10 PM?"

  • Sometime later  "Honey, can we sit down and figure out something that could work for both of us on this?"

  • Sometime later  "Honey, I can see coming home early isn't something you're feeling good about.  Tell me what's going on for you?" 

  • Sometime later " Honey, I'm still concerned about you being out so late, especially since you get off at 6.  I don't think it's the best for our family.  Would you be willing to go to a counselor with me and maybe we can both get some insights or help on this."

  • Sometime later  "Honey, I'm getting the feeling that you're not that interested in making sure things are working for both of us, and that isn't working for me.  I think we need to consider a separation.

None of this is to get your way.  
Boundaries and giving Love vs. Control (Agreements 3 & 4) is to stand for a relationship that works for everyone.  You're simply not comfortable with any other approach.  This kind of incremental (or "Defcom") communication isn't about controlling someone, it's about coming through for them.  "I will stand for us.  I will stand for you. I will stand for me.  I'm willing to do whatever it takes for this to work for both of us."

In connection with this, there are no surprises in my relationships- no running, bolting, disappearing etc.  You will always know where you are with me.  And if you are close to the edge of the cliff [i.e. to separation, divorce, being fired, going to the boy's ranch etc.), you will feel my love, yes, and you will know how close you are to the edge).

I am 100% clear about my boundaries. I communicate them, declare them, make requests like it’s the first time, create loving and supportive text and emails, have boundary conversations, even draw pictures if necessary (as inspired). 

I am the steward of my good feelings for you. If at any time I don't have good feelings for you, I created this (through not having boundaries).

I don't have to fix you.  I don't even have to completely understand your behavior.  I just have to make sure that I'm here for you, and how I'm here for you is continuing in whatever conversation and boundaries are necessary for us both to be happy.  By being here for me too, you can be assured that I'll always be here for you.  

I am 100% committed to experiencing a positive, loving and amazing relationship with you and I will do whatever it takes to create and to keep the love flowing between us. 

I am 100% committed to making sure this works for both of us. 

I am 100% committed to protecting the love we share. 

I am 100% committed to building a bridge to you your heart.    

My boundaries are to keep my love in- not to push you out!

We answer the centering questions from the basement (not the roof).
Our "stories" are like the "stories" in a large building of fears, lack of integrity and darkness that need our attention.  As we descend into the basement of all that we feel, all that we regret, all that we are hiding from, we find the comfort of God, who reaches for us as we reach for Him.
It is, therefore, in our total consciousness of all we fear and all we feel that we invoke the total love and healing of God.\
"Therefore, whosoever repenteth, and hardeneth not his heart, he shall have claim on mercy (and healing) through mine Only Begotten Son..." - Alma (Italics added)

In this, Agreement 2 (Trust) and Agreement 5 (Healing the Real Wounds) make us able and willing to discern the answer to the centering questions.


Agreement 2, 3 & 4 - "A Whole New World"

Boundary Worksheet 

Instructions: Think of an issue and/or situation you are uncomfortable with (a stretching rubber band) and work through the following:

“Sometimes, because of my personal fears and stories I try to get (name of person you’re thinking about) ______________ to _________________________________."

When he or she doesn’t cooperate, I tend to ______________________. 

Trying to control him/her (instead of healing my fears and minding my own business) creates a downward spiral of pressure, hurt, defensiveness and frustration which leaves me feeling dark and unhappy.”

(Pause for a moment and allow a natural sorrow to emerge. It’s painful to be in door #2 isn’t it? This sorrow carves out a space for hope- so now, feel the hope. God can make you a giver, not a taker- a lover instead of a controller.)

So, instead of trying to get __________________ (name of person) to (or to stop)_______________ what I am willing to do (or what I could do) is__________ .”  (See "Favorite Things Menu Options" below Julie Andrews)

Boundary Introspective - personal Interview

(Growing boundary molecules in your brain)

Ask yourself, or have a friend ask you these questions:
If you're having someone else ask you these questions, he or she doesn't need to know anything about the issue.  If you are working alone, just ask each question, as listed below, to yourself, making notes on answers that come up for you.

1) “With respect to this issue, what are you willing to do?  (Ask 3 times, leaving time to answer each time.)

2) “What are you not willing to do or to endure?” (Ask 3 times, leaving time to answer each time.)

3) “How would things need to be or what would need to happen for you to feel good about this?” (Ask 3 times, leaving time to answer each time.)

4) “What are you not seeing?” (Ask 2 times.  Leave time to answer each time).

5) “As you think about your answers to the questions above, what do you truly feel would be in the best interest of everyone involved?”  (Ask only once)

6) “Please go back and rethink your answers to 1 - 5.”  (Just a brief overview)

7) “What’s keeping you from doing whatever it takes to feel comfortable about this situation, or relationship?” (Ask 2 times.)

8) “What would you feel, or what would be the benefit to you, of living within your boundaries, or in other words of guiding your loved ones and associates toward mutual love, respect, and regard- of thinking in terms of what works for everyone- including you?!”


Boundary Conversation - Pre-flight Checklist:

1) Am I at peace?  If not, this will not be a boundary conversation.  It will be a war.  Am I experiencing enough unconditional trust to get on the same side of this issue?- to sit, so to speak, with my arm around him or her, looking at the issue together vs. looking at him or her as the issue!? 

2) What is this conversation about? Is it to insist that this person put you out of your misery- to convince this person to cooperate with your plan for his or life? etc.

Or, is it to stand for this person- to let him or her know where he or she is with you- or how close he or she is to the edge of the cliff and the road back to your heart (or back to your trust).

If in doubt go back to Pre-Flight Checklist question #1, “Am I at peace?”  If not, don’t talk. 

Four of the most important words anyone has ever spoken to me: “Stop talking. Start Breathing” (DoriAnn Stubbs).  

In other words, “Stop talking and start praying.  Stop talking and start doing breakthrough work. Stop talking and start walking in the forest to talk to God about what your life will stand for- love? or something else.

If you don’t feel that your boundary conversation will occur as a gift- if you are convinced this person is selfish, or thoughtless, or is out to get you- consider an Attraction Process and/or Breakthrough work before a Boundary Conversation.

3) Why are you wanting to talk?- To give or to get?  Of course, one of the greatest gifts you can give, often, is your boundary.  So is this conversation a gift?  Only you know.

The flow of a Boundary Conversation

1) Enrollment i.e. “Hey Bob [Please don’t say this unless his or her name is Bob], I wanted to talk with you about something.  Is there a good time? or would you have a few minutes right now?” etc.  (Note: Be careful not to explain what’s up before enrolling this person into a conversation with you.  If he or she says, “What is it about?” you could say, “It will take a few minutes- is there a good time? or could you talk right now?”).

Before you start the conversation, make sure he or she is settled i.e.., “Let’s sit over here for a minute.  Does this work for you?” “Thanks for talking with me” or “Can I get you something to drink?” etc.  Note: If this is a boundary conversation with a spouse, having a pie baked in advance is recommended (naturally sweetened of course vs. white sugar).

2) Explain what’s up (A brief description of the theme of this boundary conversation).  
“What’s been going on with me lately is ______________________________  e.g., I’m not feeling good about you coming home from work so late”, “I’m not comfortable with the way you talk to me sometimes”, “I’m really needing everyone to pitch in on chores”, “I’m not feeling good about going into any more debt.” etc.

3) Explain your boundary / Explore resolution / Choose your gifts (one of your "Favorite Things.")
The highlight of a boundary conversation is to share your feelings- an honest and humble description of what’s happening inside of you and why you’re even talking (because boundaries are about you, not him or her).

So let’s take a final look at why you are talking, or, what this conversation is about.  It’s about your willingness to have things work for you too.  It’s about your willingness to do whatever it takes to preserve your love for someone (set protect your love, hence the word “boundaries”).  It’s about your willingness to come through for (to stand for) this person’s real self.  It’s about your willingness to build and protect a bridge of mutually acceptable behavior between your lives and a bridge of love between your hearts. 

In all of this, you are responding to the centering questions, or, living in your boundaries.  You are living in love instead of sinking into the abyss of victim, passivity, helplessness, fear, fight, flight or resignation.  

Obviously, you may not want to say all of this (as I’ve put it), but you definitely want to hear this in your heart, in the background of any boundary conversation. 

Here are some phrases that naturally spring from living inside your boundaries  (living inside the centering questions):

"When this happens, where I go with it is ___________. it makes me feel ________________" 

“It’s getting really hard for me that (or “to”) _________________” “There’s a couple of things I’d like to invite you to consider, that could make this work for both of us”  and/or   “What are your thoughts?” or,

“Would you be willing to talk with me about this (whatever the issue is) until we can work out something that works for both of us?" 

“Here’s what I’m willing to do” and/or “I’m not willing to....” (What behaviors are putting this person at the edge of the cliff?) “But I am willing to...” (Ways you can support this person to resolve this issue)

"Would you be willing to ________________?”   

“What do you think would be best and fair for everyone?”   

“Here’s where this might be heading if it keeps going in this direction….      (What will be increasing? What will be diminishing?), or

“Bob, I just wanted to let you know that I completely forgive you for this” or

“Barb, I’ve rethought this and I’m content to go forward with what we’ve got” or   

“I know this is hard Jim.  I wish I could think of something else” or

“I’m not really sure what else to do.” (where little Jimmy is struggling with why he can’t go out to play until he’s cleaned his room etc.)   

“Honey, I’m not doing too well right now" (or “I’m feeling like I’m getting into my story”). "Could we pray right now?” 


Agreement 3 (Boundaries) leads to Agreement 4 (Love vs. Control)

Agreement 2 (Trust) makes it possible to escape our story of distrust and helplessness and to lovingly ask our self the centering questions i.e. "What am I willing to do?" etc.

Asking the "Centering Questions" (Agreement 3 - Boundaries) leads to answering the questions (Agreement 4 - Love vs. Control)

The Synergy of 2, 3 & 4.  In our journey from victim, fear, reactivity, fight, flight and a closed heart to living in love we bring our “boundary conversation” into an even larger picture of “Favorite Things” (of which a boundary conversation is only one of many options). 

The “Favorite Things” list is a menu of choices that support living in your boundaries (living inside the 4 centering questions) and giving love vs. being a victim or being controlling.  They are how you give vs. try to get.

The key to the list is the ground work of Agreements 2 & 3; Unconditional trust and living in breakthrough combined with an unwavering willingness to live in the centering questions.  

Only a heart that can see another for who he really is (rather than the filter of your disappointment or suspicion) can experience enough discernment to fully take advantage of this menu (The “Favorite Things”).  Additionally, as you are willing to love your neighbor as yourself you will experience the discipline and willingness to develop win-win solutions.

true love is...

True love = No surprises (letting you know where you are with me)

True love = Seeking clarification as a way of unraveling judgment and emotional divorce.

True love = Giving you a chance to come through (being patient, while at the same time being careful about how much trust and privileges to extend)

True love = Proactive vs. reactive.

True love = Guidance, invitation, encouragement and boundaries vs. pressure, guilt, force or check out.

True love is being clear about what you are willing to do, and then doing just what you said you’d do.

Agreement 3) “Boundaries,” says,  “I’m willing to ask the centering questions (I’m willing to live there).”

Agreement 4) “Love vs. Control” says “I’m willing to answer the questions.”

Agreement 4 - "Favorite Things" 

“These are a few of my favorite things”   
"When the spouse bites- When the child stings- When I’m in my story, I simply remember my favorite things and then I don’t feel so bad!"    

These are the ways I choose to stay in my body, protect my good feelings for you and live in love. These are my responses to the centering questions.  These are the ways I choose to love my neighbor as myself.   

Agreement 3 is to ask the centering questions.  

Agreement 4 is to answer them, or in other words to lead and to love someone toward something that can work for both of you.  

This process, asking, answering the centering questions and then acting on your answers is called living in your boundaries (Agreement 3) and Giving Love vs. Control (Agreement 4) 


Julie Andrews.jpg

What I'm willing to do

Breakthrough (always a good first option in answer to the centering questions)- I am willing to talk to you only when I’m at peace- only when I’ve collapsed the circle of my distrust. 

Seek understanding (knowledge creates love, patience & solutions)

Service -  one of the fastest ways to build a bridge between you and your loved one’s heart is service.  Just serve!  Just love!  See how this works in opening your heart.  

Request for clarification, or “checking in” with someone e.g., “Mary, I wanted to ask you something about what happened with Jim tonight.  Could I do that?” 

Forgiveness, completely- no other questions asked.  -  Always a sublime option.  Forgive his or her's trespasses against you.

Completely give up on getting this person to see the error of his or her ways in this situation. To create the best good, for everyone, overall, I'm willing to choose my battles carefully.  This will not be one I choose." 

Patience & Encouragement  - truly a premier face of love.
...Speak to the possibility, not the disappointment- cheer leading, watering the flowers etc.

Apology e.g. “I’m sorry (for ________). I do have a tendency to _____.  I was only thinking of myself.  Will you forgive me?”

Clarify boundaries i.e. "I'm not willing for this to happen again"  And I'm willing to let you know what I will do if it does."  

Enrollment into a "Real Conversation" 
To "enroll" is to invite you into a possibility of communication- a possibility that your partner will feel safe entering or not  i.e. to hear your feedback, feelings and/or request etc. "Bill, I have something I want to talk about.  Would you be willing to spend a few minutes with me?" i.e. "So what's happening for me right now is that I'm feeling really uneasy with this." etc.  (See "Path of Peace" Materials for the "Articles of Peace" and the full story on a "Real Conversation")

Listen  i.e. "Honey, it seems like you need to talk." (I'm willing to just listen, with no other motive other than to understand, regardless of any of the guidelines provided in the "Path of Peace" materials.)

Unloaded, specific, affirmative request i.e.  'Mary, Would you be willing to talk with me about what's going on with you?' or 'Jimmy, would you please clean up the kitchen?' or 'Bill, if you wouldn't mind, could you make sure you take off your shoes when you come in from gardening?'

Make a request like it's the first time (Unloaded, no story, specific, affirmative)."
i.e. "Jimmy would you be willing to start the dishes now?"  (Half hour later, Jimmy is still playing video games) "Jimmy, would you be willing to start on the dishes now?" etc.  By making requests like it's the first time, every time, the person you're talking to begins to actually hear what you're asking vs. hearing your upset, story or disappointment.

Enrollment on consequence, e.g., “What would you do if you were me?” or “What do you think would be an appropriate consequence?” or “What do you think I should do if ...”

Invitation to get specific: “When could you do this?”

Providing clarification e.g, “Would you be willing to let me give you another perspective on this?” or “I know it seemed like __________________________.  What was really going on with me was that ________________________.”   [Example: “I know it looked like I have was having lunch with my secretary, Barbara.  What was really going on was that my cousin, Jenny, had just shown up after 20 years.  I know she looks a lot like Barbara.”

Schedule issues management vs. RAIM (random access issues management) i.e. Sunday morning Issues meetings, Inventories, "Love Seats" and "Real Conversations).  See "Path of Peace"

Boundary conversation - a loving conversation to explore ways to make this relationship or situation work for both of us.  See "Boundary Conversation" in the section above.  

Request for Restitution:  “I may need a foot rub for that” (or a clean garage).  In other words "My trust in your commitment and/or love is a little wounded right now.  I could use some kind of a token of your love.  That would mean everything to me."  (Note: Talk is cheap.  So are your "I'm sorries")

Self Restitution "Harold, this has been really hard for me to see you like this.  One of the ways I'm going to recover is to go shopping with my girlfriends tonight.   Thanks for understanding."

Probation “It looks like we may need to take some time out.  I really hope you can figure out what you want. Because I know what I want.  I want to be with you.” etc.   Note: The “Path of Peace” workshop and/or couple coaching is an opportunity to fully Master the “Favorite Things”!

Clearing (“Clearing” is to honestly share what’s happening inside of you, vs. telling someone who they are, or blaming or implicating them in any way.)

Self enrollment in your loved one’s need to clear i.e. "Honey, I can tell you're upset.  I'm going to sit down here and listen.  Please just let it out.  (Just don't throw anything. {just kidding, don't say that}.)
Validation to bring peace to your boundaries:  End the war. Maintain peace about your boundaries! There are no boundaries without internal peace- only war. Validation replaces war with peace and control with love.  This is a powerful tool because boundaries are about being there for your loved one- standing for him, not separating yourself from him or her.  Let him or her understand, most importantly, that you understand what he or she is feeling. Your empathy and understanding strengthen each of your tendencies to live in a way that works for both of you.

Validating someone’s feelings says:  “I don’t go to war.  I go to understanding and empathy. I will stand strong in my choices, and, I will love you and support you in yours, even if it means I lose you." 

“Let me see if I understand what you are feeling?” (then, if you still feel the same way about what you're willing to or not willing to do etc., reassert your boundary). 

i.e. “I know this is hard.  I wish I could think of something else” and/or “I’m not really sure what else to do” (where the person you’re talking to is struggling to understand why the relationship can’t continue as it is, or, when Johnny is struggling with why he can’t go to a friend’s house until he’s cleaned his room) “I’d be happy to let you go to Billy's house (I could even take you) as soon as you’ve cleaned your room."