Monday, September 26, 2011


Boundaries by Dr. Henry Cloud , Dr. John Townsend
Zondervan, 1992
Hardcover, 304 pages
ISBN-13: 9780310585909

Having clear boundaries is essential to a healthy, balanced lifestyle. A boundary is a personal property line that marks those things for which we are responsible. In other words, boundaries define who we are and who we are not. Boundaries impact all areas of our lives: Physical boundaries help us determine who may touch us and under what circumstances -- Mental boundaries give us the freedom to have our own thoughts and opinions -- Emotional boundaries help us to deal with our own emotions and disengage from the harmful, manipulative emotions of others -- Spiritual boundaries help us to distinguish God's will from our own and give us renewed awe for our Creator -- Often, Christians focus so much on being loving and unselfish that they forget their own limits and limitations. When confronted with their lack of boundaries, they ask: - Can I set limits and still be a loving person? - What are legitimate boundaries? - What if someone is upset or hurt by my boundaries? - How do I answer someone who wants my time, love, energy, or money? - Aren't boundaries selfish? - Why do I feel guilty or afraid when I consider setting boundaries? Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend offer biblically-based answers to these and other tough questions, showing us how to set healthy boundaries with our parents, spouses, children, friends, co-workers, and even ourselves.

My Thoughts:

I've been taking a class this summer on boundaries, based on the book Boundaries by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend. According to Wikipedia, "Personal Boundaries are guidelines, rules or limits that a person creates to identify for him- or herself what are reasonable, safe and permissible ways for other people to behave around him or her and how he or she will respond when someone steps outside those limits. Personal boundaries define you as an individual. They are statements of what you will or won't do, what you like and don't close someone can get to you."

Setting and communicating our personal boundaries to others allows us to protect ourselves. They allow us to separate who we are as unique individuals, including our thoughts and feelings, from others. They prohibit other people from manipulating, abusing, or using us. Boundaries allow us to preserve our individual integrity. 

Boundaries also prohibit us from taking responsibility for things that are not our responsibility. "No" is not a bad word. Other people need to understand that their actions have consequences. Setting our own personal boundaries can allow others to experience the consequences of their actions and their choices and prohibit them from blaming us for their actions and choices. 

For me, the class has been eye-opening and life-changing. At this point I'm a convert and would suggest that if you have the opportunity to take a class on boundaries, do so - and then start setting them. I'm hardly an expert and could probably benefit from taking the class again in a few months, but at this point I can say with conviction that any abuse, even "just" emotional or verbal, is not okay with me and that I am not responsible for the choices and actions of others. I am responsible for my actions and my choices. Boundaries are freeing.

very highly recommended - along with the classes on video 


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. pg. 29

No is a confrontational word. The Bible says that we are to confront people we love, saying, "No, that behavior is not okay. I will not participate in that." The word no is also important in setting limits on abuse. pg. 34

Sometimes physically removing yourself from a situation will help maintain boundaries.... you can remove yourself to get away from danger and put limits on evil. The Bible urges us to separate from those who continue to hurt us and to create a safe place for ourselves. pg. 35

Behaviors have consequences. As Paul says, "A man reaps what he sows" (Gal. 6:7-8). pg. 41

We need to take responsibility for our choices. This leads to the fruit of "self control" (Gal. 5:23). A common boundary problem is disowning our choices and trying to lay he responsibility for them on someone else.... We need to realize that we are in control of our choices....

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. pg. 42-43

Envy defines "good" as "what I do not possess," and hates the good that it has....what is so destructive about this particular sin is that it guarantees that we will not get what we want and keeps us perpetually insatiable and dissatisfied. pg. 97

To a boundary-injured person, people who can say a clear no sometimes seem curt and cold. But as the boundaries become more firm, curt and cold people change into caring, refreshingly honest people. pg. 273

You will begin to see that taking responsibility for yourself is healthy, and you will begin to understand that taking responsibility for other adults is destructive.

When people are treated as objects for long enough, they see themselves as someone else's property...

Grace must come from the outside for us to be able to develop it inside. The opposite side of this truth is that we can't love when we aren't loved. And, taking the thinking further, we can't value or treasure our souls when they haven't been valued or treasured.

This is a key principle. Our basic sense of ourselves, of what is real and true about us, comes from our significant, primary relationships. pg. 275

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