• Safe People
  • The Power of the Other
  • The Entitlement Cure
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Boundaries in Dating is the most helpful dating resource we have read in years. It is sure to become a classic. If you are looking for practical tools for finding the love of your life, you can’t afford to miss this outstanding book.”
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Feedback Is the “Breakfast of Champions”

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Business management expert Ken Blanchard says that feedback is the “breakfast of champions.” Indeed, learning how we are doing and how to do better are keys to great performance. In fact, the best performance situations are when we are getting the most immediate feedback, which is from the task itself, as flow researcher Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi has found. The problem tends to occur at the moment when we actually get the feedback, either from other people or from the outcomes themselves. That is when our leadership character shows itself. While Blanchard gets it exactly right about the kind of breakfast we need, truth is that not everyone has the same appetite for breakfast. Some people wake up and really want it, while it makes others sick to their stomachs. Some are allergic to feedback. They set boundaries against constructive criticism. Brain research shows that feedback can do funny things to us if we see it as a danger or a put-down. We go into the “moving away” or “moving against” mode of fight-or-flight. The brain gets biochemically goofy. That is why you see people get so defensive and go to great lengths to fight any feedback. But remember, fight-or-flight only comes when... Continue Reading »

The Disease of Self-Sufficiency

Safe People

My (John) three-year-old son, Benny, is now firmly ensconced in the “I can do it!” stage of life. The other day we were getting ready to go out to dinner, and everybody was ready but Benny. He’d gotten all ready except for his pesky Velcro-strapped tennis shoes. They just wouldn’t cooperate. Being the helpful father (actually, the hurried father), I bent down to fasten his shoes for him. He quickly pushed my hands away, protesting, “I’ll do it! I’ll do it!” And he meant it. So we negotiated. I put him in the car and let him put the shoes on while we were driving to the restaurant. It was win-win. Now, Benny is in love with autonomy, task mastery, individuation, and a lot of other developmental aspects of his growth. He is working on self-sufficiency, especially in the functional, “doing” parts of life. But Benny’s self-sufficiency is a little different in the relational, “loving” areas of life. Instead of task mastery exhilaration (“Look, Ma! No hands!”), he is still dependent on attachment. He needs snuggles, holding, soothing, and comforting. He certainly disagrees a lot more, and he likes to spend more time away from his parents, but the need for... Continue Reading »

Where Are the Safe People?

Safe People

I (Henry) got an emergency call, and the office relayed to me that I had a suicidal client. I called Theresa on the phone. She was distraught. “Tell me what happened,” I said. “It’s not going to work,” Theresa replied, sobbing. “What isn’t going to work?” “Telling other people about my problems,” she said. “I went to my fellowship group tonight and told them about the depression and the problems with Joey, and they really came down on me for being depressed and for all the other stuff that has been going on.” “What did they say?” “Well, they said that I shouldn’t feel that way and that if I was still having all those problems then I probably wasn’t walking with the Lord. I don’t know what to do anymore. I’ve tried all this ‘safe relationship’ stuff, sharing and all that, and now it doesn’t work.” “What would you say if I told you that you still haven’t found safe relationships?” I asked. “What do you mean?” Theresa asked. “They are all Christians and in my church.” “Well, Christian doesn’t automatically mean ‘safe,’ ” I told her. “Safe is defined by helpful. It doesn’t sound like tonight was too... Continue Reading »