Boundaries Is An Essential Book To Read For Healthy Relationships
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The Messiness Of Boundaries In Relationships
Have you ever been in a place where you wouldn’t let people love you?
Maybe somebody hurt you very deeply and to protect yourself, you also ended up shutting out other people in your life who cared about you.
I find that setting good boundaries to create healthy relationships is an ongoing challenge.
You know, I can remember a time when I was so guarded that I wouldn’t even let my husband love me. He was there and he was ready to love me but I kept pushing him away.
It was like I had my arms straight out in front to keep him at a distance.
Thing is, boundaries are meant to keep the bad out but sometimes in the messiness of relationships, we end up keeping everyone out.
Boundaries (The Book) Is Still Relevant Almost 30 Years Later
Over the past 16 years, I’ve talked a fair bit about how to set boundaries for healthy relationships with the women and couples that I’ve been working with. And I find that even though the book, Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No To Take Control of Your Life, was written almost three decades ago, it’s just as relevant today as it was back then.
That’s because boundaries are constantly changing and shifting as our lives change.
As a result, we need to make sure that we occasionally take time to reevaluate our boundaries.
Back in 1992, when Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend wrote the original Boundaries book, they were pioneers of combining psychology and Biblical truths.
Many people, including me, have benefited from their work.
Are You Setting Boundaries Out Of Fear Or Love?
There are two things that I really like about this book…
First, I found the section on love particularly interesting because the authors talk about how some of us set boundaries out of fear rather than love to keep others out.
In other words, we might be surrounded by love and yet refuse to let love in.
I don’t know about you, but this was a new thought for me. So pause for a moment right now and ask yourself…
When you set boundaries with people in your own life, what’s the driving force behind them… are they meant to mostly keep people out or are you setting them out of love so your relationships can grow stronger?
What Boundaries Are And What They’re Not
Second, my favourite part of the book was the chapter on what boundaries look like as it gave me a full picture of what boundaries for healthy relationships are and what they’re not.
The authors write: “Boundaries define us. They define what is me and what is not me.”
In a nutshell, it explains what I’m responsible for and what I’m not. So, it makes sense then that I’m responsible FOR me but I’m responsible TO others.
Now, if developing good boundaries for healthy relationships is new for you then you might still be wondering… what’s the real purpose of boundaries? Here’s the bottom line — they help to keep the good things IN our lives and the bad things OUT.
Still not sure what you’re responsible for when it comes to yourself? Well, after reading this chapter, I felt like I had a really good grasp of the things that I’m responsible for about me. I’m responsible for MY…
(That’s a pretty comprehensive list!)
But I’m not responsible FOR my husband, friend, neighbour, business partner, etc.
When You’re Dealing With A Toxic Person
Although some people may find it challenging when you set new boundaries, if they’re a relatively healthy person, they will likely respect your boundaries.
BUT (and this is a BIG but) if you’re dealing with a toxic person (you know who they are) they will not respect your boundaries no matter what you do. Unfortunately, these kinds of toxic people will continue to keep coming at you and try to break your boundaries.
Regardless, I want to encourage you that although it may look like the boundary isn’t working, important growth is actually happening behind the boundary…
And if you persevere in maintaining strong boundaries with toxic people, you’ll grow in spite of them.
For example, your resilience to deal with difficult people will grow, you’ll find yourself in a brand new way and lastly, you’ll create space and time to nurture the healthy relationships you care most about.
So, regardless of the other person’s choices, you’ll discover that behind the boundary, it’s actually working.
Who Could Benefit From Reading This Book
I highly recommend the Boundaries book to anyone who is struggling to keep healthy boundaries, whether at home, work, with friends or in ministry or even with yourself! You may need a refresher or you may be learning how to set healthy boundaries for the first time.
Either way, this book will help you to understand how to strengthen your boundaries, how to let love in and how to keep toxic relationships out.
The practical applications in the book were really helpful. There are numerous examples of everyday situations of boundaries gone wrong and how to set healthy boundaries.
One Practical Takeaway From The Book
A really key principle to grasp about boundaries is that we’re responsible for ourselves but not other people (I’m not talking about parents being responsible for little kids).
So part of understanding boundaries is knowing what’s within our control and what’s outside of our control.
Once we have a better handle on this, then we can begin to set healthy boundaries without feeling guilty because we know what we’re truly responsible for and what is simply out of our control.
If you’ve found this post helpful and you’d like to dive a little deeper, then I’d encourage you to download the simple one-page exercise below that will help you to understand this principle at a very practical level.
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Need Help Communicating Your Boundaries?
If you’d like help to communicate your boundaries effectively, check out this simple yet powerful journal.
What book have you found really helpful for developing healthy relationships? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
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