relationship boundaries

Boundaries: A Book Review

For many years, I have been impressed by the importance of boundaries and how a lack of boundaries is often at the root of many of the struggles in relationships and roles that I have faced and seen others face as well.  Recently I read the book, Boundaries: When to Say Yes When to Say No to Take Control of Your Life by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend.  


I was deeply impacted by reading the book, as I was again struck by the power of establishing healthy boundaries with others.  Boundaries affect so many aspects of our everyday lives from how we interact with our family members to the a store clerk, and how we fulfill our jobs and roles in life.  As I read, I was kind of  shocked that I had an immediate issue in my life that I needed tightening of boundaries.

Let me tell you a little about the authors and the book that they wrote.  The authors, Drs. Henry Cloud and John Townsend, are psychologists and coaches that have a number of books about personal growth and developing healthy relationships.  They are also speakers and work one on one with clients too.  I have found several of their books profound and so helpful in my own life and work.

As I was writing this post, I scanned through all of the quotes and sections of the book that I highlighted.  I actually felt a little overwhelmed with what to share because I had so many highlights.  You need to read this book!   I promise you that even if you consider yourself to be a person who knows about and implements healthy boundaries with people that you will find this book helpful and immediately find something you want to implement or share with someone else.

Let me share a few bits of information that I found to be especially meaningful.  The book talks about the fact that boundaries at their most basic form are a way for us to know where we end and another person begins.  Boundaries are necessary not only in relationships that we have, but also in roles that we embody in our jobs, churches, clubs, or volunteering.  

The authors talk about one of the most important aspects of boundaries being letting people know what we need and want and sticking to those boundaries.  They site how the Bible backs these principles by saying that we need to mean what we say and stick to it.  

Here are some of the arguments or roadblocks that people put up to forming healthy boundaries and saying no to people.  Here are some of those roadblocks and responses from the book:

Roadblock: It’s selfish to put up boundaries. Response: Boundaries are a way of providing the structure to respect and protect the relationship and the people involved.  Being fixated on others’ reactions, causes us to lose track of our own needs and health.

Roadblock: The person in my life needs my help. Response:  If we keep people from experiencing the “natural consequences” of their actions “we render them powerless.”  If they realize that their manipulative way of trying to get what they want no longer works, this may be the motivation they need to change.

Roadblock: The person won’t like me and may not be in a relationship with me anymore if I set up boundaries with them.  Response: If we hesitate to set up boundaries for this reason we take away the opportunity for the strengthening and positive impact that boundaries can have on a relationship and make ourselves a “prisoner” of the other person’s desires and expectations for us.

Roadblock: They are the one with the problem.  Why do I have to change the way I do things? Response: You cannot change others, you can only change yourself.

On reflection of this book, let me share the benefits that I think you will receive from reading this powerful book.

1)You will be given keys to establishing good boundaries in your everyday life.

2)You will be able to recognize areas of your life where boundaries need to be tightened.

3)You will be able to see steps that you can take to tighten those boundaries.

4)You will gain knowledge of the Biblical backing on establishing strong boundaries with others.

5)You will find some tidbit of information that will be an encouragement or learning opportunity for someone else.

“If we love and respect people that tell us no, they will love and respect our no.  Freedom begets freedom”


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