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

4.19  ·  Rating details ·  67,183 ratings  ·  4,331 reviews
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 ...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published March 18th 2002 by Zondervan (first published January 1st 1992)
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Catharine As a non-christian who experienced religious abuse from people who used the bible as a spiritual weapon when I was younger, I gotta say I completely d…moreAs a non-christian who experienced religious abuse from people who used the bible as a spiritual weapon when I was younger, I gotta say I completely disagree with everyone saying this book is fine for non-christians.. It was not easy at all to simply overlook the religious parts. I can do that when it comes up in other contexts in my life. But not when I'm trying to read a book to help me with healing vulnerable problems. I can't tell you what book would be better, but I can say it depends on a person's history and experience with the bible as to whether or not this book would be appropriate for them.(less)
Mark Some good, but with a deceptive title. If you want "Boundaries for Fundamentalist Christians" then I'd say yes, it's great reading. Many solid concept…moreSome good, but with a deceptive title. If you want "Boundaries for Fundamentalist Christians" then I'd say yes, it's great reading. Many solid concepts are here. But if you want Boundaries without bashing gays and other concepts directly from fundamental Christianity, it's a LOT OF WORK to get the concepts, and one may have to wade through anger of his highly specific fundamentalist values (when he did NOT make that clear in the title). For example, he lumped gays with all sexual deviants. WTH? It may match his values, but he should have called it Boundaries for Fundamentalist Christians... THEN I'd have no issue with it.(less)

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Mar 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
I'm not a huge fan of "Christian-lite" self-help writing because it so often feels formulaic, especially when the authors start each chapter with cheesy anecdotes from their own practice. However, I'm giving Cloud and Townsend a pass because the ideas put forth in Boundaries have so completely revolutionized my view on the subject. The authors give solid Biblical backing for why boundaries are important, how they are formed, and how to set them in your own life. I especially appreciated that the ...more
Dec 02, 2009 rated it did not like it
... Not what I expected. I decided to read this after seeing some glowing reviews. So I opened the book, read the introduction "A Day in a Boundaryless Life" describing a day of a lady who's unable to refuse anyone but feels resentful and guilty about her resentfulness, and a couple of pages on the book. Then skipped to the end, "A Day in a Life with Boundaries", describing the same person who has successfully set boundaries, and doesn't hesitate to say "no" anymore. Well, it's not for me. In my ...more
K.M. Weiland
Jun 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is life-changing. Turns out a discussion of boundaries is really a discussion about every single relationship in your life, your personal self-worth and discipline, your childhood, and your religion. The good doctors come at this from a Christian perspective, but they pull no punches in addressing the massive problem Christians, in particular, have with these issues. At every turn, they are brutally honest, logical, and biblical. The end result is the encouragement and empowerment to l ...more
Mar 25, 2009 rated it did not like it
Shelves: non-fiction
I'm not done reading the book yet, so I may update this later. The fact is, if I wasn't reading this book for a book group, I don't think I would go any further, or gotten as far as I have.

The thing I hate the most in this one is how much scripture is quoted. The authers feel like they have to back up every sentance they right with scripture in order to make what they just said okay. To accomplish this they often end up twisting the words of the orginal authors and take things out of context. I
Apr 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Not in my normal genre so I can't give this 5 Stars...SCREW THAT!!!! 5 Stars, 5 Stars, 5 Stars! 100 Stars if I could give 100 stars! *Sigh* Oh well, 5 Stars it is.

This is a book that every human being alive or dead should be required to read. Christian or Non-Christian alike. Yes, Cloud and Townsend relate the idea of Boundaries to God. However, this idea of boundaries and how we apply them to ourselves and other people is universal. And it blew my mind. I never thought about this idea of bound
Dec 09, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
It's too bad the most widely recommended book about setting healthy boundaries is so fanatically biblical. The biblical references and anecdotes are excessive, awkward, and feel forced. I was trying to wade through all the citations to get to the actual meat of the book and I couldn't do it, it was just too distracting. Not at all what I was looking for.

I like to keep my devotionals and self help separate, sorry.
Nathaniel Turner
Mar 31, 2015 rated it liked it
My wife asked me to read this book, so that she could get my insights on it. I ended up liking the book; I think that it includes valuable information about taking ownership of your own life and divesting yourself of the notion that you can control others, or that your life somehow depends on others. At the same time, the book wasn't without its problems.

Like (almost) everything I review, there were a few typos--mostly the sort of thing that can't be caught by spell-check software (a B instead o
Jan 14, 2008 rated it did not like it
This book is just a bunch of Christian psycho-babble about how to 'say no'. the author drones on and on with example situations about a working mom driving the kids to soccer practice, being asked to volunteer at church, all the while juggling her career with the needs of her jerk of a husband and bratty / whining kids. Really, it's not much more than a book created to give people excuses for making bad choices in the first place.

the book could be summed up in a few sentences:

1) if you want to h
Having issues with setting boundaries, I was really excited to start reading this book based on all the wonderful reviews on Imagine my disappointment when I did start and found it utterly ordinary. In fact, it was rather difficult to finish. I feel like half the book was about understanding the different ways you are not setting boundaries. OK, I get it: to find a solution, you need to know the problem. But that was a lot of background.

Then, there are chapters for each type of relat
Nola Tillman
Jun 17, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I listened to this on tape while driving, but I intend to go back and read it (probably more than once) so that it can more thoroughly seep into my head. This is a great book for anyone who has problems saying 'no' to family, friends, church assignments, coworkers, or themselves. It's really good for anyone who has a *RELATIONSHIP* with any of the aforementioned, which is essentially everyone.
FOLLOWUP: I had to return this to the library, without finishing it. I am having a very dif
Oct 19, 2011 rated it really liked it
I was hesitant at first to read this book because the synopsis referred to Christians and being that I am not Christian and not seeking to live a Christian lifestyle, I didn't think it would be for me. However, I did start to read the first chapter and soon discovered it was indeed for me. I may not be a Christian, however I was raised Christian therefore learned about boundaries the way Christian see them, a bit too loose and forgiving.

The book may make scripture references but not so much that
Feb 03, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: christian
This book really helped to clarify for me that it is not selfish or unChristian to get your own life in order using boundaries. Keep pushing forward with defining your boundaries, although others may react negatively. That is their problem with boundaries of others, not yours.
I think the authors secretly spied on me and all my interpersonal relationships to write this book! But seriously, reading this and using my bible as help...lots of scriptural references to how God wants us to set our boun
Jan 15, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: self-help
I took my time reading this one. It's got some pretty powerful questions about how you treat yourself and see yourself in relation to other people in your life. ...more
Aug 23, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: grief-work
This is an excellent book. I actually purchased and read a newer edition, with a white and red cover.
This book could apply to many different troublesome situations. If you're a people pleaser that tends to get stressed out, there are some really helpful things in here. Or if you are liable to be taken advantage of.
I like the Christian viewpoint, because it takes into account the fact that followers of Christ WANT to serve others and not be "selfish." Yet it also teaches why we must set boundari
Dec 15, 2008 rated it it was amazing
A five-star book for those of us who just san't say no to others. If you need to learn how to distance yourself and protect your family from needy people in a moving way, check it out. It's ok to say no. It's ok to take care of your own needs sometimes! ...more
Mar 22, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“You must learn how to say no to your friends” told me my beloved aunt a decade ago and gosh it was never easy:D

As a non-believer, I was disappointed when starting reading and honestly I wouldn’t have bought the book in the first place if I had noticed it had been about setting boundaries based on biblical ideology.

That said, the book became more intriguing as I progressed. What’s more, I’m utterly satisfied with its useful information and interestingly, now I wish I had read it earlier. Althou
Sincerely, Aine

this book was so longgg but it's worth it. It gives me new insights and instructions/tips.
Jun 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
A lot of really good advice justified by a lot of scripture.
I was raised in the church, not by choice. ;-) So, my biggest takeaways from reading this book are the verses of scripture I can respond with the next time someone attempts to use scripture to guilt me into allowing them to cross healthy boundaries. The holidays with the family are going to be so much more fun now!
Game on! ;-)

***I'm 6 months into establishing more healthy boundaries & I find myself referring to this passage each time
Mar 02, 2022 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My dear friend gave me this as a gift in a phenomenally difficult season and I knew then that I probably needed it – but it took more than a year for me to get the courage to open it up.

The scenario at the start about took my breath away. From there, I spent a lot of time thinking and learning, not just about myself as an individual (and adult child) but also as a parent. It wasn’t always easy and I wasn’t sure about a few things I read. For example, a couple of Bible verses seemed to be pulled
Lori L (She Treads Softly)
Sep 26, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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 w ...more
Lizzie Jones
Aug 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Incredible book. It has helped me so much to consider how to navigate situations at work, at home and in social situations. I highly recommend it, especially if you don't especially love confrontations, like myself.

This is from the book's description: "Often Christians focus so on being loving and unselfish that they forget their own limitations. Drs. Henry Cloud and John Townsend offer biblically based insights into how to set healthy boundaries with our parents, spouses, children, friends, co
Kathryn in FL
Most people will say their family of origin was dysfunctional. They struggle with healthy relationships in work, spouse/partner relationships and even with children. This is a book to learn how to be able to define what we missed growing up so we don't repeat our history...

I have probably read this at least 5 times and recommended it to many dozens of people in the last 30 years. This is one of the primary manuals that I think you need to define what a happy future looks like. It will amaze you
Sep 23, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This is a literal story of not judging a book by its cover...

Someone I trust very deeply about such issues recommended I read this book called "Boundaries." When I found it at the library, I was horrified! It looked like a cheesy self-help book, and worse, it had won the Gold Medallion Book Award - "in recognition of excellence in Evangelical Christian literature." Needless to say, I was terrified; in no way do I self-identify as an Evengelical. But like I said before, I trusted this person, so
Summer Meyers
The first chapter of the book was awful. It opens with a story about Sherri and she is guilt ridden at every turn, from her mother ("you never have time for a little old lady!"), to her boss ("Could you have these done by tonight?"), to her family ("Whats for dinner?" "You can't make me!" etc etc).

Its pretty much awful.

After reading through that agonizing beginning, the next few chapters for me were like, "YES! YES! YES!". I loved it. I thought this was it! I have this and this problem and this
Nora St Laurent
Apr 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

This book changed my life forever. This is a very powerful book that teaches you what boundaries are and how to set them. This book set me free and brought great healing to my life. Some of the principles were hard for me to implement just because of past hurts. But they have made me a happier and healthier person. The concepts are easy to understand and get. I just had to have the courage to let God move in this area of my life. When I did EVERYTHING changed for the good. I highly recommend thi
Conor Hughes
Feb 18, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: frisbeed
A wise friend talked to me about this book. It was a wonderful conversation, and as she explained the ideas in the book, we explored them together, understanding so many situations with a (for me) fresh set of insights. For that, I thank the authors mightily.
But it seems that I will need to develop my understanding at a remove. I listened to this as an audiobook from Audible, and for only the second time ever, I asked for a refund.
I am not a Christian, although I am very familiar with the New
C.J. Darlington
Oct 23, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I didn't think I needed this book. Boundaries? Sounded like a bad word to me. Boy, was I wrong. I've read this book twice now, and each time I got something new. I plan on reading it again, especially all the quotes I underlined. It's the type of book that everyone can benefit from at different points in their life. Don't be mislead, like I was, thinking this book was only for those in romantic relationships or married. It's just as beneficial for those who are single (maybe even more so). I lov ...more
Annie Monson
I’ve had difficulty with boundaries, because something in me has always felt they were selfish. Unloving, un-sacrificial, ungenerous. Evidently, I’m not the only one with a strained, critical conscience in this particular area, because the book speaks directly to this misconception.

The purpose of creating boundaries, establishing what is my responsibility and what is yours, is not to look out for #1, but to safeguard our capacities to love and give freely. To protect our gifts, time, values, re
Riley Sheehan
Interpersonally and professionally, this book is excellent. Theologically, not as much. Take the former.
Jun 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow!!! What a book. So many life changing points in here that as someone who loves to people please, I needed to hear!
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Dr. Cloud has written or co-written twenty-five books, including the two million-seller Boundaries. His most recent books are Boundaries for Leaders and Necessary Endings. He has earned three Gold Medallion awards, and was awarded the distinguished Retailers Choice award for God Will Make A Way.

As president of Cloud-Townsend Resources, Dr. Cloud has produced and conducted hundreds of public semina

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159 likes · 11 comments
“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.” 82 likes
“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.” 77 likes
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