These Books Taught Me How to Set Healthy Boundaries

Read them to learn to say “No” to others and yourself.

These Books Taught Me How to Set Healthy Boundaries
Photo by Matthew Moloney on Unsplash

Read them to learn to say “No” to others and yourself.

“Being in control of your life is a privilege.”

I wrote this line in my journal while sitting in a cafe by myself in a foreign country. I was crying uncontrollably. The other tourists in the cafe stared at me like I was crazy, but I couldn’t stop sobbing.

I’d been having the worst day, only because I couldn’t say no to my client. They expected me to be working during vacation. Even though I’d mentioned I’d be mostly away, I had some deadlines to meet.

The work toll and the fear of missing out on beautiful places and experiences during my vacation got to me. That’s when I rushed into a cafe, took out my journal, and set some intentions.

A wave of mixed emotions overwhelmed me, and I ended up crying.

But I also learned I needed to draw better boundaries: with myself, with my work, and with the people who have expectations from me in a personal and professional sense.

My quest for setting better boundaries led me to read a few books, and of all that I read and researched, three books stood out.

In this article, I’m sharing the top three books on how to set boundaries that cleared several misconceptions in my head and helped me create a safe space for myself.

1. Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life by Henry Cloud & John Townsend

Image: Goodreads

Have you ever felt that talking with some people drains your energy but you still can’t say no to them? Or do you keep hanging out with a group of friends who always insult you through jokes but you can’t speak up? 

If yes, then it’s time to make your boundaries clear. Boundaries by Henry Cloud and John Townsend is an actionable guide to help you establish boundaries, protect your emotional well-being, and take control of your life.

Boundaries are the invisible lines between you and others that define who you are, and what’s acceptable to you. The book defines three types of boundaries: 

  • Physical boundaries that help you determine who can touch you, who can’t, and under what circumstances. 
  • Mental boundaries that give you the freedom to express your thoughts and opinions. 
  • Emotional boundaries that help you understand your triggers, recognize manipulative behavior, and cut off connections that continuously cross these boundaries.

The authors establish that setting boundaries clear is a form of self-care not to be compromised with. They also discuss the most important form of boundary: boundary with oneself. 

It’s difficult to set boundaries when you don’t understand yourself. When you don’t respect yourself and your time, others won’t respect you either. With the help of this book, I’ve experienced that setting boundaries is a journey to discover yourself and your needs. I became more respectful towards the boundaries set by others when I started setting clearer boundaries for myself.

My favorite quotes from Boundaries by Henry Cloud & John Townsend

“We have our own thoughts, and if we want others to know them, we must tell them.”
“To rescue people from the natural consequences of their behavior is to render them powerless.”
“Forgiveness gives me boundaries because it unhooks me from the hurtful person, and then I can act responsibly, and wisely. If I am not forgiving them, I am still in a destructive relationship with them.”

2. Set Boundaries, Find Peace by Nedra Glover Tawwab

Image: Goodreads

Setting boundaries might be easy, but maintaining them is the real struggle. Most people don’t know how to assert their boundaries and take control of their lives. Set Boundaries, Find Peace by Nedra Glover Tawwab provides practical strategies for setting and maintaining boundaries in various aspects of your life. By the end of this book, you’ll have the tools to prioritize self-care and a clear road map on how to set boundaries.

Setting boundaries is easy if you do it the right way. But sometimes, we don’t recognize when our boundaries are violated. I struggled with the same and kept saying yes even after getting an uneasy feeling. This book reinforces that if anything makes you feel uneasy, you have the right to say no even if it doesn’t make sense to others.

My key learning from the book is that clear and assertive communication is important for effective boundary setting. Set Boundaries, Find Peace also has practical examples to express your boundaries in different situations. By establishing healthy boundaries I feel more peaceful and less drained out. I’ve noticed positive changes in my relationships and overall well-being.

The book talks about constantly self-reflecting and assessing your boundaries. You can adjust these boundaries as and when needed. Set Boundaries, Find Peace is a journey of self-discovery, self-compassion, and self-love. Grab this book and apply its wisdom in your daily life, and your future self will thank you.

My favorite quotes from Set Boundaries, Find Peace by Nedra Glover Tawwab

“We can’t create more time, but we can do less, delegate, or ask for help.”
“Anxiety. It’s often triggered by setting unrealistic expectations, the inability to say no, people-pleasing, and the inability to be assertive.”

3. Boundaries: Where You End And I Begin: How To Recognize And Set Healthy Boundaries by Anne Katherine

Image: Goodreads

Our boundaries are often crossed subtly by friends, colleagues, or family members. This affects us deeply but we choose to remain silent. This is because we don’t know the right way to deal with it or don’t even realize the insult. We tend to hold resentment and disconnect from others.

Boundaries: Where You End And I Begin by Anne Katherine is an eye-opening book for those who feel suffocated in their relationships but can’t stand up for themselves. It teaches how to cut off toxicity from your life when your boundaries are constantly violated.

The book compares boundaries with the lines on a tennis court where others end and you begin. Boundaries are not the walls but the guidelines on how others should treat you. Before setting boundaries, start by listing what behaviors in people trigger you and identify any type of physical, emotional, or mental violations. Pay attention when you feel uncomfortable or resentful. e assertive and communicate your needs.

The best thing I liked about this book is that it tells how to express your feelings without aggression or guilt. I learned that to have healthy boundaries with others, I need to set boundaries with myself first. Everything changed when I started taking myself seriously, keeping promises to myself, and validating my feelings.

Start that change with yourself and never compromise with your non-negotiables. Remember that setting boundaries doesn’t mean shutting people out. It means building a safer place for everyone. 

My favorite quotes from Boundaries by Anne Katherine

“When a person neither knows his feelings nor has healthy ways to handle them, he is vulnerable to whatever will keep his feelings contained — alcohol or other drugs, food, excessive work, stress, compulsive acquiring, compulsive hobbying.”
“We have spiritual boundaries. You are the only one who knows the right spiritual path for yourself. If someone tries to tell you he knows the only way you can believe, he’s out of line.”
“A wife is not the best person to teach her husband how to feel.”

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