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“Good fences make good neighbors.”

-Robert Frost

“Love your neighbor; yet don’t pull down your hedge.”

-Benjamin Franklin

"You get what you tolerate."

-Henry Cloud

"Boundaries are a part of self-care. They are healthy, normal, and necessary.”

-Doreen Virtue

"Compassionate people ask for what they need. They say no when they need to, and when they say yes, they mean it. They’re compassionate because their boundaries keep them out of resentment."

-Brene Brown

"Daring to set boundaries is about having the courage to love ourselves even when we risk disappointing others."

-Brene Brown

"You have the right to say 'no' without feeling guilty." 

-Manual J. Smith

Applying the idea of good fences to the relationships between Now and Next, to Oneself and Others

The above quotes are ostensibly talking about keeping good boundaries with other people or between peoples. When considering the question of how to have good boundaries between and among the four inhabitants of "the temple of the body and mind" for each one of us, we cannot use the boundaries that are available in physical space to assist us. See You are Siamese twins. 

Nevertheless, good understandings and boundaries can be negotiated and created between our four inner neighbors.

The peaceful power of good fences between Now and Next

"Good fences make good neighbors." We're all familiar with this proverb. A fence clarifies what belongs to you and what belongs to me, making it easy to resolve any possible conflicts that may arise. Two types of fences are used in creating a peaceful relationship between Now and Next.

Time/task fences

The first type are time/task fences. These involve any activities which are allocated a time block or designated as a task. Examples are:

  • Spend an hour working on the taxes. This is a time block and is Next's property.

  • Plan the day before 7:00am. This is a task and is Next's property.

  • Take a coffee break. This is a task and is Now's property.

  • Watch TV from 7:00pm-9.30pm. This is a time block and is Now's property.

What/how fences

What/how fences allow Next to say what is going to be done and allows Now to say how it's going to get done. Examples are:

  • Drive to the office

    • Next requires that ​we start driving to the office each morning before 8:00am.

    • Now controls what route we take, what music we play, how fast we drive, and so on.

  • Exercise

    • Next requires that we exercise for at least 45 minutes​.

    • Now controls the type of exercise, how vigorous it is, whether or not we do it with a partner, and so on.

  • Study Spanish

    • Next requires that we study Spanish for 30 minutes each day.​

    • Now controls all the details of how and how fast we learn Spanish.

Fences are only needed for tasks and time blocks that are likely to be contentious

For example, with myself, I don't need any fences regarding my scheduled coaching sessions with my clients. Both Dwight-Now and Dwight-Next are always happy to cooperate on these tasks.

When Dwight-Next gets to be the CEO

In contrast, sometimes Dwight-Now will want to blow off or procrastinate on Dwight-Next's intentions like planning my day before 7:00am, taking my supplements, and even doing my short intense exercise sessions. While always making sure these intentions are prudent and I've got plenty of time to do them, I place these Dwight-Next intentions on his side of the fence so that Dwight-Next has complete power to ensure they're completed each day. Dwight-Now may make suggestions to Dwight-Next, but Dwight-Next has the final say.

When Dwight-Now gets to be the CEO

On the other side of the fence are Dwight-Now intentions, which include things like watching a few episodes of my favorite TV series or having a block of time set aside that's only for his indulgence. Dwight-Next is hands off. Dwight-Next may, if he likes, make suggestions, but Dwight-Now has absolute veto power.


Turnabouts is one tool at your disposal for creating Now-Next Integrity with localized, taking-turns, time "fences." Turnabouts are one-time agreements that Now and Next come to so that they can both be happy regarding a current conflict in how they want to spend their time.

The Constitution with amendments

Sit down and design the "Constitution of the United You," creating clear boundaries between what your Next has control over and when your Now is in charge. Both your Next and your Now will be happier for it.

From time from time, either Now or Next may feel that some article of their current Constitution is not working so well. They sit down and create an amendment that is more satisfactory.


Counterintuitively, you will experience a new sense of ease and freedom after you establish and maintain good fences between your Now and your Next. When Now is in charge, he or she feels free to do whatever without interference from Next. When Next takes the reins, Now doesn't try to interfere with his or her decisions.

But what about Oneself and Others?

The principles above can often be applied to creating good boundaries between your Oneself and your Others.  

Whose business are you in?

One simple question can assist us in creating the appropriate boundaries between our Oneself and our Others. Byron Katie says it best,

"I can find only three kinds of business in the universe: mine, yours, and God’s. For me, the word God means 'reality.' Reality is God, because it rules. Anything that’s out of my control, your control, and
everyone else’s control, I call that God’s business.

Much of our stress comes from mentally living out of our own business. When I think, 'You need to get a job, I want you to be happy, you should be on time, you need to take better care of yourself,' I am in your business. When I’m worried about earthquakes, floods, war, or when I will die, I am in God’s business. If I am mentally in your business or in God’s business, the effect is separation.

I noticed this early in 1986. When I mentally went into my mother’s business, for example, with a thought like, 'My mother should understand me,' I immediately experienced a feeling of loneliness. And I realized that every time in my life that I had felt hurt or lonely, I had been in someone else’s business.

If you are living your life and I am mentally living your life, who is here living mine? We’re both over there. Being mentally in your business keeps me from being present in my own. I am separate from myself, wondering why my life doesn’t work.To think that I know what’s best for anyone else is to be out of my business. Even in the name of love, it is pure arrogance, and the result is tension, anxiety, and fear. Do I know what’s right for me? That is my only business. Let me work with that before I try to solve your problems for you. If you understand the three kinds of business enough to stay in your own business, it could free your life in a way that you can’t even imagine.

The next time you’re feeling stress or discomfort, ask yourself whose business you’re in mentally, and you may burst out laughing! That question can bring you back to yourself. And you may come to see that you’ve never really been present, that you’ve been mentally living in other people’s business all your life. Just to notice that you’re in someone else’s business can bring you back to your own wonderful self."

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