Thursday, October 18, 2012

Book Review: "Boundaries" By Cloud & Townsend


To stay in line with our social media focus for October of "Boundaries: Our Emotional Property Lines", we will be reviewing Cloud & Townsend's book, "Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life". This book review was written by our masters level intern, Angela Mains. If you would like to learn more about her, check out her Counselor Spotlight on our Facebook page here


Society today is famous for violating boundaries, making it difficult for people to learn what healthy boundary setting looks like. Healthy boundary setting is a topic that tends to illicit a number of feelings in people. Many people feel guilty or selfish for setting healthy boundaries, or they are afraid that setting boundaries will open them to hurt or that they will hurt or damage their relationships with others. In “Boundaries” by Drs. Cloud and Townsend (1992), these topics are addressed, and it also deals with  relationships that conflict with boundaries, then closes with outlining what healthy boundaries are and gives a great picture of how that is lived out in the life of an individual. Cloud and Townsend (1992) outline the beautiful gift of boundaries that God has blessed us with and the freedom that can be found when healthy boundaries are in place in a person’s life.

What did you find helpful about this book?

Many times, I have had clients express to me how they feel depressed, anxious, or simply taken advantage of because of the way they have learned to interact with the people in their lives. It is not uncommon to see this result in dealing with anger in a passive-aggressive manner. Setting healthy actually frees people to be able to love and care for the people in their lives without feeling like a doormat. People are able to embrace the concept of serving out of love rather than obligation. “Boundaries” guides people toward taking responsibility for their own behavior, rather than trying to take ownership of other people’s feelings and decisions. It shows scripturally how God intended for us to have boundaries.

What do clients find most helpful about this book?

“Boundaries” has a number of narrative accounts throughout that make the book relatable, easy to read, and relevant. As clients read, they first come to feel like Cloud and Townsend truly understand their perspective and are more likely to continue to read for the tips on how to overcome. The chapters on healthy boundary setting are insightful and practical. While it is ultimately up to the client to put these principles into place, Cloud and Townsend anticipate many of the possible pitfalls in carrying this out and work to help clients troubleshoot whatever difficulties people may face in setting boundaries.

Favorite Quotes:

“Boundaries define us. They define what is me and what is not me. A boundary shows me where I end and where someone else begins, leading me to a sense of ownership.”
“People with boundary problems usually have distorted attitudes about responsibility. They feel to hold people responsible for their feelings, choices, and behaviors is mean. However, Proverbs repeatedly says that setting limits and accepting responsibility will save lives (Proverbs 13:18, 24).”
“…an internal no nullifies an eternal yes. God is more concerned with our hearts than he is with our outward compliance.”

If you would like to purchase this book, click here

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

What Are Healthy Boundaries?

Dear Anne, 
People are always telling me that I need to have healthier boundaries, but I don’t even know what that means! I mean I know I have a problem telling people no, which leads me to sacrifice myself to the point of exhaustion for others, and I get wrapped up in other people’s lives and problems a little too much, but isn't that normal for a sweet southern Christian women? Help! I just need to know what healthy boundaries are and how I can start to implement them in my life!

Dear Sweet Southern Lady,
You are not alone with having difficulties saying “no” to people.  Often time we don’t tell people “no” out of fear that we may hurt their feelings, or that we may lose out of other opportunities.  There is nothing wrong with saying “no”, in fact saying “no” can be much healthier for us than always saying “yes”.  When we are constantly saying “yes” to people we over extend ourselves, just like you have mentioned you do.  The problem with this is we get ourselves stretched so thin that we are unable to give our best.  Which is better, to do a great job on a few tasks or to do fair to poor work on many?  My mom always told me that “it’s not always what you say but how you say it”.  We need to learn how to say “no” is a way that it is acceptable to people.  
We can let people know that now is not a good time for us, or that we already have prior commitments.  As Christians we are to look to Christ as our example of how to live our lives.  Jesus often had to take time for Himself, and to get away from the crowds of people.  His days were full of teaching, healing, and serving people; but He always made time for Himself.  During this time He would rest and pray to God the Father (Mark 1:35, Mark 6:45-46, Mark 14:32-34, Luke 4:42, Luke 5:16, Luke 6:12).  But we also see in Mark 4:35-41 how Christ “said to His disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.”  Leaving the crowd behind…”  There was always someone else that was seeking help from Christ, but He knew there were times when He had to leave the crowd behind and say “no” to them.”

 *This column is not intended to substitute for an actual session with a licensed counselor.
If you have a question you would like to ask, EMAIL or leave a comment. We would love to answer one of your questions.