Setting Boundaries

Boundaries: What They Are and Why Don't Need Them

When I was in college, I read the book Boundaries by Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend to help me handle a troubling relationship with a family member in which I regularly felt frustrated, hurt, and angry. As the subtitle of the book indicates, Boundaries teaches you “when to say yes, and how to say no to take control of your life.”

The word boundary is defined as “something that indicates bounds or limits; a limiting or bounding line.” When you set a boundary, you’re essentially drawing a line in the sand and saying, “Do not cross this line.”

It was a very powerful book for me then, and I was able to apply its principles to reduce the anxiety and frustration I felt in my relationship with the family member.

In the years that followed, I applied the principles to other relationships in my life as well. In fact, I became a master boundary setter.

The problem with setting boundaries to take control of your life is that the bounds they set are, by definition, limiting. And not just for the people with whom you set them; they limit you as well.

When you declare, either out loud or simply in your mind, that you’re setting a boundary, what you’re saying is, “For ME to feel in control, I need YOU to behave a certain way.”

If you think about that, it doesn’t make sense.

How can making the way you feel dependent on someone else’s behavior give you any sense of control? (In case you haven’t noticed, NO ONE will behave the way you want them to one hundred percent of the time.)

When clients tell me they need to set better boundaries, or they ask for my help setting boundaries, I understand what they’re really asking for is to have more control over the way they feel. And that, I can teach them.

Instead of building walls, drawing lines, and setting limits on other people’s behavior, learning how to think differently to feel differently is a more effective way to go about it.

It’s more freeing for you and the people in your life and is a skill you can use in every situation and circumstance life brings you.

Knowing that you are the one who gets to decide how you will feel, regardless of what others do…now that’s taking control of your life!

If you’re ready to take control, you can schedule time with me to learn how.


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