Boundaries: When To Say Yes, How To Say No- Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend


I finally finished the book “Boundaries”. I’ve only been working on it since before we got married, but I sat down and finished it this last week while I was sick, and boy was it good and encouraging. I’ll share some of my favorite quotes from it and some of my thoughts about them.

“When we say no to people and activities that are hurtful to us, we are protecting God’s investment.”

It’s kind like how if you know that someone you spend time with is always saying hurtful things, or is often over stepping boundaries, you don’t have to spend time with them. While God requires respect and kindness from you, that doesn’t mean you have to cave to their every wish when it will just put you in a place that makes you struggle with anger, unforgiveness, and bitterness. God doesn’t want you to put yourself in a place where you know will cause you to sin. 

“Those people in our lives who can respect our boundaries will love our wills, opinions, our separateness. Those who can’t respect our boundaries are telling us they don’t love our no. They only love our yes-our compliance.”

It’s not my job to always say yes-especially as a person with chronic illness. The people who respect boundaries and respect Josiah and I as an individual couple won’t have any problem with us taking some time to ourselves or choosing to do something together instead of with a group or family. Saying no to an activity shouldn’t cause anyone to get their ‘panties in a wad’ and pout about it. If it does, boundaries are definitely needed. Without boundaries the relationship with that person becomes more like slavery.

“Do not explain or try to justify.”

You don’t owe anyone an explanation. You don’t have to give a reason. You don’t have to explain yourself. It will be easier for the other person to get you to give in if you start giving reasons and excuses. Just set your boundaries and leave it be. 

This next part is kinda long but so so good to remember.

“When people are angry at you for setting boundaries remember:

  1. The angry person is the one with a problem, not you. (That’s simple enough)
  2. You must view their angry realistically. (Don’t let it escalate in your mind and dwell on it too much. See point 1)
  3. Do not let your anger be a cue for you to do something (Try to avoid those knee jerk reactions like snotty comments or physical anger. It won’t help anything. Remain calm. Don’t do anything you’ll regret.)
  4. Make sure your support system is in place. (When you start making boundaries, make sure that there is a person or people whom you can call or go to if the boundary setting doesn’t go well.)
  5. Do not allow the angry person to get you angry. Be loving, yet still speak the truth. (You don’t have to be mean, but don’t let the angry person make you back down from dealing with the issue you are there to deal with.)
  6. Be prepared to use physical distance and other limits that enforce consequences.” (If the person figures out that you won’t follow through with the boundaries you’re setting, they will continue to push until the boundaries are pretty much gone again.)

This is just a very small portion of all the good stuff in that book and some of my thoughts on it. I’m excited to put some of it into practice, and to begin to set more healthy boundaries in our relationships.

Works Cited:

Cloud, H., & Townsend, J. S. (1992). Boundaries: when to say yes, when to say no to take control of your life. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Pub. House.


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