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Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life Paperback – April 1, 1992
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Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend have great insights and practical wisdom into the God-given gift of boundaries. As they discuss how to take responsibility for and ownership of our lives, they give hope that we cannot just survive -- but thrive! --Josh McDowell, Author, Author and Speaker
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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 give us the freedom to have our own thoughts and opinions -- Emotional boundaries help us to deal with our own emotions and disengage from the harmful, manipulative emotions of others -- Spiritual boundaries help us to distinguish God's will from our own and give us renewed awe for our Creator -- Often, Christians focus so much on being loving and unselfish that they forget their own limits and limitations. When confronted with their lack of boundaries, they ask: - Can I set limits and still be a loving person? - What are legitimate boundaries? - What if someone is upset or hurt by my boundaries? - How do I answer someone who wants my time, love, energy, or money? - Aren't boundaries selfish? - Why do I feel guilty or afraid when I consider setting boundaries? Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend offer biblically-based answers to these and other tough questions, showing us how to set healthy boundaries with our parents, spouses, children, friends, co-workers, and even ourselves.
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The other issue is one of an abusive marriage. He talks about putting up boundaries and leaving for the night if these boundaries are violated. This is always done for a short period of time and then the abused spouse returns home. There are situations where this is effective. But in a true abusive situation (physical or mental) it is playing with fire to leave and return over and over. The physical abuser can be deadly. A mental abuser will learn how to better manipulate her victim without his realizing that his boundaries have been violated and thereby twisting reality even further. Any abusive person is not to be trifled with, and without genuine repentance and clear signs of change one is foolish to continue to expose themselves to that risk regardless of history, children, or feelings. For all of his insight, I am shocked that this is not made more clear.
Cloud and Townsend do a great job of using boundaries to illustrate why we grew up certain ways. For example, you probably know someone who has a money problem. He spends recklessly and doesn't really think about the consequences of his actions. This can be traced back to his parents never establishing their own boundaries. They would always bail the son out whenever he ran out of money and tell him to be better next time. They never let him "feel" the consequences. And so he never learned.
There's so many other brilliant examples of the importance of boundaries and how they affect the people around us.
I learned a lot about myself through the sections that detail boundaries with friends, family, and work. The one that impacted me the most was the section on Boundaries with Myself. I grew up with parents who while loving, also created situations for me where I was not able to feel the consequences, and so I behave in certain ways that I'm trying to fix.
When I was first referred to this book, I wasn't told this book had a heavy religious undertone (the conflict of setting boundaries and being a good person in the eye of God). I'm not religious, so the biblical references didn't really matter to me much, but that doesn't mean I can't learn from them. The concepts themselves made sense to me and I would recommend this book to anyone who believes they have boundary problems.