Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No, to Take Control of Your Life” as Want to Read:
Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No, to Take Control of Your Life
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

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

4.20  ·  Rating details ·  44,200 ratings  ·  2,551 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)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Boundaries, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Paula I enjoy reading this but think if you would read all the Bible verses you would get more out of it, but I don't read them all either. Still learn a…moreI enjoy reading this but think if you would read all the Bible verses you would get more out of it, but I don't read them all either. Still learn a lot.(less)
Mere Christianity by C.S. LewisThe Shack by William Paul YoungThe Screwtape Letters by C.S. LewisThe Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. LewisThe Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren
Favorite Christian Books
1,552 books — 1,149 voters
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. CoveyHow to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale CarnegieThe Secret by Rhonda ByrneThink and Grow Rich by Napoleon HillThe Reframe by Brian Maddox
Best Self Help Books
1,452 books — 1,917 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.20  · 
Rating details
 ·  44,200 ratings  ·  2,551 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No, to Take Control of Your Life
One of the most life-changing books I have ever read.

Judgmental people BEWARE: Do not mock this review. No, not even in your head. If you have come here to gloat and feel superior to someone you think is an idiot for liking something so clearly beneath your Literature IQ, do me a favor and stop reading right now. I mean it. Go away.

Are you gone?

Ok, good.

As I was saying, this book is one of the greatest, most life-changing books I have ever read. People who are critical of that statement have
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 ...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 ...more
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
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
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
Nola Redd
Jun 17, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone with a relationship with another person
Recommended to Nola by: Dave Ramsey
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
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
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
Jan 14, 2008 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: no-one
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
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
Feb 03, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anybody who wants to improve their relationships
Recommended to Mary by: Mom (go figure)
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
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!
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.
Milad Gharebaghi
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.
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
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
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 ...more
Probably a very helpful book for someone else, but not for me. Too simplistic and too generic and too boring. Just not necessary and not useful for me. This feels too much like a self-help book.

This book keeps returning back to me recently, and I know other friends who have praised it. So I feel that I might return to this one some day.
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 ...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,
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
Angell Johnson
Nov 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book deserves more than five stars. My life has changed drastically from the moment I finished the book. It’s freeing to know there’s an easier approach to learning about boundaries, other than putting yourself in harms way. People who want what they want are unpredictable, and this book covers how to handle that as well. For quite some time I’ve read a lot on boundaries, and I’ve watched several YouTube videos. None have placed more focus on self growth and Biblical aspects on why it’s ...more
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
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.
Sarah Ruut
May 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: psychology
We are so quick to blame others for the difficulties we face, and yet often the problem lies with our own boundaries or lack of them. There is a reason this book has been a recommended resource for so many years -- it tackles truth in a clear and understandable way, empowering readers to take steps toward healthy relationships with others, with God, with technology, even with themselves. Definitely recommended!!
Aug 20, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I found it to be a very practical book. Its so easy to allow others to take advantage of me but if I set boundaries in a healthy Christian manner it makes for better relationships. As the sayinggoes; "Good fences make good neighbors."
Feb 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really love reading books where I get a new view of scripture applied to areas of life. While I may not agree with all interpretations of how certain scriptures are applied, there are always so many that completely break up my "concrete" understanding of how the christian is supposed to live. This book feels SO important to where I'm at in life, and greatly helped me understand WHY I have certain struggles.

- The opening of this book was pretty dreadful. I don't know why I keep
Sep 07, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really liked this book.This is a Christian outlook on how to create healthy boundaries and be Christ like. I have been doing a lot of work on myself to become a better mother, wife, friend and just all around person. It has not been an easy journey. I have come to really appreciate books like this that call you on your crap and don't beat around the bush. Saying no to people and standing up for myself have been very difficult things for me to learn. This book came when I was very ready to hear ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »

Readers also enjoyed

  • The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts
  • Love and Respect: The Love She Most Desires; The Respect He Desperately Needs
  • Beyond Boundaries: How To Know When It's Time To Risk Again
  • Jesus Calling: Enjoying Peace in His Presence
  • The Search for Significance: Seeing Your True Worth Through God's Eyes
  • The Love Dare
  • Uninvited: Living Loved When You Feel Less Than, Left Out, and Lonely
  • The Road Back to You: An Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery
  • Captivating: Unveiling the Mystery of a Woman's Soul
  • Battlefield Of The Mind: Winning The Battle In Your Mind
  • The Sacred Romance Drawing Closer To The Heart Of God
  • Get Out of That Pit!: Straight Talk about God's Deliverance
  • Love Does: Discover a Secretly Incredible Life in an Ordinary World
  • Sacred Marriage: What If God Designed Marriage to Make Us Holy More Than to Make Us Happy?
  • The Purpose Driven Life: What on Earth Am I Here for?
  • The Power of a Praying Wife
  • It's Not Supposed to Be This Way: Finding Unexpected Strength When Disappointments Leave You Shattered
  • Codependent No More: How to Stop Controlling Others and Start Caring for Yourself
See similar books…
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
“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.” 69 likes
“The Bible is clear about two principles: (1) We always need to forgive, but (2) we don’t always achieve reconciliation. Forgiveness is something that we do in our hearts; we release someone from a debt that they owe us. We write off the person’s debt, and she no longer owes us. We no longer condemn her. She is clean. Only one party is needed for forgiveness: me. The person who owes me a debt does not have to ask my forgiveness. It is a work of grace in my heart.” 60 likes
More quotes…