Book Review: Boundaries

Just finished up Boundaries by Cloud and Townsend. From the psychology section. Here’s the review…The Summary: The subtitle is, “When to say Yes, When to say No, and Take Control of Your Life”, but that’s a marketing ploy and only accounts for half the book. The book covers both sides of the boundary idea very nicely. The first is taking care that your emotional, mental, physical and spiritual spaces are not being violated or trespassed and the second, that you are not violating the space of others. The primary function of a boundary is definition. Our boundaries define us.  Through them, we see where we start and others begin. They help us understand the difference between our wants and needs and the wants and needs of others. The responsibility for each parties needs and wants belong to each party- not to the other. Cloud and Townsend reference Galatians 6:1-5 to define the difference and use the analogy of knapsacks and boulders. A knapsack is our own responsibility and boulders are the things we need help carrying. The problem, they point out, is when we assign the responsibility of our own knapsack to others or leave the boulders to just one person.

The Good: The boundaries they describe are strong and definitive. I didn’t end any chapter wondering what they were talking about or left curious as to whether they made this up or not. They gave good explanation as to the understanding of needs and responsibility. What surprised me was that boundaries aren’t just defensive mechanisms, but are helpful, practical, healthy ways of thinking and organizing one’s life.

The Bad: I felt like there were a couple points where more exploration of personality types would have been beneficial- it would have made the book twice as long, but some direction in terms of how the different personalities process and heal would have been helpful. Unfortunately, if your experiences don’t match the situations laid out in the book it can feel a bit like a dead end at times if you’re not clever enough to reapply the principle to your own situations. Basically, i felt like they probably needed to hold the reader’s hand a little tighter.

The Payoff: “Problems arise when we make someone else responsible for our needs and wants, and when we blame them them for our disappointments.” We are in control of our own choices. Often, we don’t know what our boundaries actually are and are unsure of where our responsibility ends and the others begin. Great insight into everyday actions here and immediately applicable- often within minutes of reading.

The Bottom Line: Boundaries are not just safeguards for unhealthy relationships,but they are also strong principles for healthy relationships. The exercise and discipline of healthy boundaries is totally worth the price of actually owning this book and underlining most of it.

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