Book Review // Boundaries ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Book Depository | Goodreads

Book Name: Boundaries
Author: Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend
◐ Genre: Psychology, Self-Help
◐ Pages: 314

Many people experience boundary issues, leading to resentment, guilt, and emotional turmoil. This book details how to approach a lack of healthy boundaries through a Biblical perspective from two experienced psychologists.

Recommended for those looking for direction in how to set healthy boundaries with the people in their lives, who have trouble saying no

Content Warning:
brief mentions of trauma, assualt, sexual and physical abuse, alcoholism

I’m a bit torn on the four-star rating, because from a psychological/self-help perspective, this book is incredible. I have read it at different points in my life, and each reading proves eye opening. It shows me how much I still need to grow in this arena.

I’ll start with the good aspects.

The book is extremely well organised. It begins by showing to the reader the need for boundaries. It then details what that looks like in different areas of life, including family, friendships, work, and the self. It is informative and clear, while presenting helpful solutions.

Setting boundaries has been a lifelong struggle. I frequently relapse into my ingrained ways of relating to people, which is: give in against my wishes until resentment grows to the point that I no longer want to be in the relationship. Along with that, I am also often a hypocritical disrespecter of boundaries. Because I am bad at setting and enforcing healthy boundaries myself, I also fail to notice when I’m infringing on others’, because to me, that is simply the natural way of doing things.

I am aware of my own lapse in judgment, especially during the past two years, when life has gotten quite trying. Decreased ability to rein in my own emotions has led to a severe deterioration in limit-setting. As I read this book during this current stage, I found myself near tears at times, as the book both convicted me on ways I have failed to respect others, and also made me confront my hurt in having my own boundaries violated.

Boundaries are like muscles. They need to be built up in a safe support system and allowed to grow.

Dr. Henry Cloud & Dr. John Townsend

The authors say again and again that boundaries make clear what is our responsibility, and what is not. That can be a difficult line to see when such a thing has not been taught in a family of origin.

Re-reading this book has motivated me to implement its principles once again. I will have to relearn what I know intellectually, but have difficulty applying to real life these days.

Now what I didn’t enjoy. Primarily, I did not like how the authors inserted Bible verses into nearly every point. Even as a Christian, it was too much, and seemed like a shoddy and shady marketing strategy to pass it off as a “Christian” book.

The majority of verses were also taken completely out of context to fit whatever they were trying to say. It’s not that the points they made were wrong, but it grated on me that they used verses inappropriately. This did not give them more credibility. I ended up skipping much of the quoted verses, as I knew they would not actually apply to the principle being made. They did not add to the book, and were simply irritating.

Overall, I would still recommend this book, not only to Christians, but to anyone who has relational issues, or is looking to grow their relationships to greater mutuality and respect.

↠ Get your copy of Boundaries ↞
Book Depository | Goodreads


Many people are too quick to trust someone in the name of forgiveness and not make sure that the other is producting “fruit in keeping with repentance” (Luke 3:8). To continue to open yourself up emotionally to an abusive or addicted person without seeing true change is foolish. Forgive, but guard your heart until you see sustained change.

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.

Triangulation is the failure to resolve a conflict between two persons and the pulling in of a third to take sides. This is a boundary problem because the third person has no business in the conflict, but is used for comfort and validation by the ones who are afraid to confront each other. This is how conflicts persist, people don’t change, and enemies are made unnecessarily. ….

Gossip gets between people. It affects our opinions of the people being gossiped about without their having a chance to defend themselves. Many times what we hear from a third person is inaccurate.

Boundary conflicts in friendships are difficult to deal with because the only cord tying the relationship together is the attachment itself. There’s no wedding ring. There’s no job connection. There’s just the friendship–and it often seems all too fragile and in danger of being severed.

Warning: Forgiveness and opening up to more abuse are not the same thing. Forgiveness has to do with the past. Reconciliation and boundaries have to do with the future. Limits guard my property until someone has repented and can be trusted to visit again. And if they sin, I will forgive again, seventy times seven. But I want to be around people who honestly fail me, not dishonestly deny that they have hurt me and have no intent to do better. That is destructive for me and for them. If people are owning their sin, they are learning through failure. We can ride that out. They want to be better, and forgiveness will help. But if someone is in denial, or only giving lip service to getting better, without trying to make changes, or seeking help, I need to keep my boundaries, even though I have forgiven them.

When people are treated as objects for long enough, they see themselves as someone else’s property. They don’t value self-stewardship because they relate to themselves the same way that significant others have related to them. Many people are told over and over again that nurturing and maintaining their souls is selfish and wrong. After a while, they develop a deep conviction that this is true. And at that point, they place little value on taking care of the feelings, talents, thoughts, attitudes, behaviour, body, and resources God entrusted to them.


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