“Boundaries define us. They define what is me and what is not me. A boundary shows me where i end and someone else begins, leading me to a sense of ownership. Knowing what I am to own and take responsibility for gives me freedom. Taking responsibility for my life opens up many different options. Boundaries help us keep the good in and the bad out. Setting boundaries inevitably involves taking responsibility for your choices. You are the one who makes them. You are the one who must live with their consequences. And you are the one who may be keeping yourself from making the choices you could be happy with. We must own our own thoughts and clarify distorted thinking.”
― Henry Cloud, Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No, to Take Control of Your Life

Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No, to Take Control of Your Life is a self-help book by Henry Cloud and John Townsed. In the book, the author shares what boundaries mean and how boundaries will lead you to a more successful life.

Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life

Boundaries begins by chapter titled ‘A Day in the Boundaryless Life’. It describes Sherri. Sherri works in Human Resources. At work, she gets a call from Lois. Her friend and she is always there for her but Lois is always in trouble and never listens to Sherri. Then at work, Sherri’s boss asks her again to proofread something for him because she is so dependable and can take on a lot of extra tasks.

Later at home, Sherri is having dinner with her family and phone rings. Sherri wants to dismiss it but then answers the call because what if it is something important. On phone, her local church representative asks if she can become a volunteer coordinator for the weekend retreat. Now Sherri has been looking to the weekend retreat to get some alone time but then another thought crosses her mind. Is she a good Christian if she would not help her Christian community in need. At the same time, family dinner has been disrupted.

Later, in the book, Sherri receives a call from her mother. She insists coming over after work. Sherri tries to say that this is not convenient because she needs to prepare a Halloween costume for the kids. As a result of Sherri’s boundaryless life, she feels exhausted, unhappy, her family is falling apart and she cannot cope with all of the tasks at work.

“We can’t manipulate people into swallowing our boundaries by sugarcoating them. Boundaries are a “litmus test” for the quality of our relationships. Those people in our lives who can respect our boundaries will love our wills, our opinions, our separateness. Those who can’t respect our boundaries are telling us that they don’t love our nos. They only love our yeses, our compliance. “I only like it when you do what I want.”
― Henry Cloud, Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life

I think this is one of the best books I have ever read in my life. It describes 3 kinds of boundaries: physical, emotional and spiritual. Physical boundaries are simple. Think of where you live. You have your own apartment or a house and people would not enter your house without knocking and you allowing them in. Your neighbors or strangers would also not cross into your yard without a good reason because they know it is your physical territory.

Emotional boundaries are much harder. This is the ability to become emotionally attached to others without losing your own sense of freedom. It is for example, the ability to say no to others without fear of losing their affection and or the ability to be emotionally attached to others, yet without giving up a sense of self and one‘s freedom to be apart. Or accepting when other people say no to you. It might sounds easy in written but I struggle a lot with these and I know a lot of other people do too.

This book also describes spiritual boundaries. I am an atheist so for me it was something that made this book quite difficult to listen to because the author would constantly site the bible. However, I was able to put this aside and focus on the message. Religion too is a relationship to a higher entity. And even if I am not religious, many of our societies are and question daily what it means to be a good Christian. How much should you sacrifice to make other people happy. How much should you bear?  And I think it connects a lot with what it means to be a good person.

Boundaries makes it clear what boundaries are and how they work in family, with your friends, with your partner, your children, at work, with God and it even has a chapter focused on the Digital Age. How do you set apart your personal time and your work time. Or how much time did you spend today mindlessly looking at your screen? It also describes what healthy boundaries should look like and how you can develop them.

This was a great read. I have had some trouble with setting boundaries with my family because often my no was not respected or completely ignored. All the bible citations and author’s explanations almost caused me to want to become religious so I did not find it too troublesome. I would rate this book:

5/5 stars

“Boundaries help us to distinguish our property so that we can take care of it. They help us to “guard our heart with all diligence.” We need to keep things that will nurture us inside our fences and keep things that will harm us outside.”
― Henry Cloud, Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life

How-To Read Boundaries
1. I think this book will improve your life a lot.Christian or non-Christian, you should read this.
2. A lot of people do not know how to say no because we fear how other people would react. If you have healthy boundaries, this is not something to fear.
3. Outside this book, I recommend therapy if you struggle with your mental health, your relationships and boundaries.

What are you reading? Have you read this? Thoughts?

Image by Michael Schwarzenberger from Pixabay