Iyanla Vanzant's Two Cents On Whether To Leave It Alone or Fix It

Photo by Michael Rowe
ESSENCE Festival speaker, spiritual teacher, author and TV show host gives real and hilarious advice for hypothetical problems.

In person Iyanla Vanzant is just as vibrant and honest as she is on her TV show Iyanla: Fix My Life. The Iyanla who gave us infinite laughs by slapping the table with her hands while yelling, “Not on my watch!” is the same Iyanla who greets you with a hug. 

Iyanla knew she had a gift as early as 10-years-old, but she didn’t have the language on what to call it. By 25, she knew she had to walk in her calling as a spiritual teacher. Now, at 62, she’s a household name with over a dozen books, several TV appearances and has the stamp of approval from Oprah Winfrey herself. This year she’ll hit the ESSENCE Empowerment Experience stage that will leave attendees with sage advice that helps us all, as Kendrick Lamar says, levitate, levitate, levitate. So we asked Iyanla whether these hypothetical problems could be fixed or should they be left alone. Her answers were raw, hilarious and nothing like what you’d expect. 

The first scenario is someone is not fond of their in-laws. The in-laws are super disrespectful, and the hubby or wife doesn't check them on it. Leave it or fix it?
Fix it. Fix that. Fix it quick. Those people could come into your house and disrespect you. You can't sleep at night in the house where you're being disrespected. Your chicken will never brown on both sides when you have been disrespected in your own kitchen. It's just not going to work. That got to be fixed.

Okay. A partner with no boundaries. They allow people of the opposite sex to post inappropriate messages on social media. The friends of the opposite sex don't respect the relationship. Leave it alone or fix it?
Leave that mess alone because that's something wrong with that. That is a toxic disease, and it's going to put pustules on you. Not even worth fixing that. 

A cheating boyfriend or girlfriend — not husband or wife. Specifically asking for women dealing with a cheating boyfriend because I feel like women get the messaging that they should just expect a man to cheat and stay anyway.
Leave that alone. Leave that alone! Because everybody he sleeps with, you're sleeping with, and you might not like some of them people. That's number one. Number two, if you choose to be in a multiple partner relationship you need to have the opportunity to make that conscious choice, but if someone is bringing it to you, lying to you about it, that means they're dishonest, they're out of integrity and they're disloyal. Why would you...I just can't even imagine. They've been lying, cheating and looking you in your face and you got to wash their laundry? No, no, no. That's too much going on. Leave that alone.

A woman likes a man. He claims he likes her too, but he's hypercritical of her and critiques everything from her appearance to character traits. Leave it alone or fix it?
Fix that. You can fix that.

Absolutely. Some people just don't have good home training. You can't blame them. They just don't have good home training. You have to let them know. If the person isn't willing to fix it, then I say leave that alone. Some people criticize and are critical because of their own insecurities. If they put you down, it lifts them up. Poor creatures. They can be helped. That can be fixed. You can fix that. If they're not willing to be fixed, then leave that crazy mess alone too.

A person's mother is incredibly negative. Talking to the mom brings the person down. The mom is her 60s so she is who she is at this point and not likely to change. Leave it alone or fix it?
Don't be casting aspersions upon my age group! [Laughs] Get yourself together, mama. Can't be acting crazy. But you got to fix it. That's your mom. That's a lifetime relationship and you cannot walk away from a lifetime relationship. It's not the relationship that causes you the pain. It's the trying to throw it out of your heart and your mind, but here's the situation. What makes [the person] think that the mother can't be critical just because she's a mother? They're critical people all over the world. I think what's happening then is they expect the mother to be able to affirm, lift and boost them up. And that may not be who the mother is. This is not about what the mother is doing. This is about the person releasing their expectations.

That was a sermon! This one is real short and simple. Bad sex. Leave it alone or fix it?
What is bad sex? Is there such a thing as bad sex? What is that? I don't even know that is. Give me some details.

Bad sex can mean they have the right tools, but don't know how to use them.
That's instruction, baby. It's called show and tell. Lower, slower, a little to the left. That can be fixed.

What if they don't have the size that the person would like?
Size is not the matter; it's the method. I take nothing over size.

You can fix bad sex?
I ain't never had none, but I guess I'm up for the challenge. [Laughs]

You are very forgiving. You will work with somebody.
You got to love people just because they got small equipment. Small equipped people deserve to be loved too. Use instruction. You get instruction, you get toys. You get all sorts of marvelous wonderful things. Yeah, no. Keep that. Particularly if they've got some money, please.

I like how you think.
They'll take you on vacations so you can give them instructions.

Oh my god, Iyanla! Here's one for career. Career is not taking off as a person would like. They've tried everything. Maybe God is giving them a firm "no" that they’re on the wrong path. Should they leave it alone as in try something else or stay in their field and fix it? 
Well, I would say, what's your vision? I love when people say, "I've tried everything that I know." My question to them is always, "Well, what can you see? If you can't see it, you can't be it." People get caught up in the doing as opposed to the being. If this is something you love and this is something that you're good at and this is something that really serves and supports other people with you doing it then I say get clear about your vision. If you are clear about your vision, and you do love it, and it's still not moving forward...You see, God never gives you a vision without the provision. If you've got the vision and the provision isn't coming up then you need to check in with God.

Wow. Last one. Someone is still pining over a relationship that ended three years ago. They can’t stop thinking about the person. They think it may be their one person who got away. Leave it alone or fix it?
No more drama! Leave that mess alone. Leave what? He left you. He already left you. You by yourself doing drama. You ain't even doing drama with nobody else. That is what they call homegrown crazy right there. Three years and the person gone and you asking should you leave it? No more drama. That's my answer. It's gone.

Don't miss Iyanla Vanzant at ESSENCE Festival in New Orleans from June 30-July 3. Buy your tickets now! 

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