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Boundaries part 2

Hi Everyone - I'm going to start with an apology for this update being so long after my original part 1. I took a temporary job that took a lot more energy than I expected and left me none for writing the blog. The job has now finished and I am taking my counselling practice full time meaning I can refocus on this blog and start doing what I originally set out to do.

Can I remind you that the below is taken from the book Boundaries by Henry Cloud and John Townsend. either direct wording or paraphrased and is not my own words or study.

I'm sharing this to give an overview of a book that is useful in understanding boundaries and if you find this helpful then it is worth reading the book - it is not the only book on the subject but I have not read the other books in the same detail as this one. - other books are set Boundaries find peace by Nedra Glover Tawwab and Boundaries where you end and I begin by Anne Katherine amongst others.

How boundaries are created and implemented.

Boundaries aren’t inherited they are built. To be honest, responsible, free loving people we need to set the limits on ourselves and others demands of us. Boundary development is an ongoing process. We develop them as we pass through the different stages in life. Little children, young people, young adults, adults and mature adults. Each phase distinct from the previous or next with distinct tasks to fulfil.

The foundation of building boundaries is bonding – good relationships that you feel safe in. Relationships that you know that you are loved no matter what. At our core we are made to be in relationship, to bond with others to trust in them and them in you and for support. When this foundation is broken, cracked or faulty, boundaries become difficult if not impossible to create. Because we have no safe place/relationship to turn to when we are in conflict. We find we have 2 options set limits and risk losing the relationship or don’t set limits and become under another’s wishes.

We need to have a relationship that we feel secure in, that creates a sense of belonging. A place where we can explore what we are not, to enable us to know who we are. When babies begin to gain some independence – moving around on their own they gain autonomy – they learn they can do new things and hit the can-do phase, everything seems possible. But as they learn the world is bigger than they thought then their can do everything changes to the need for reassurance from parents that they are in fact safe – this is the point boundaries begin to be built. Not an easy phase for parents. Anger is a sign to the toddler that their experience is different to someone else’s. it distinguishes between self and others. This is one of the first boundaries they learn. This is used in later life as an indicator that something isn’t right. An indicator when someone tries to hurt or control them.

The second boundary a child learns is ownership – often looked on by adults as selfishness but is in fact understanding what is mine and what is not. Learning what is ours and what is not is important – to be good stewards of what we have. Not everything should be shared. We need to learn to be good stewards of our time, energy, talents values, feelings, behaviours and money. Without a sense of mine we have no sense of responsibility, to develop, mature and protect these resources.

The third is “no”. The one word boundary and the first verbal boundary learnt. It gives them the power to make choices and it protects them. Having this boundary stops them feeling powerless and helpless. Not all of a child’s no’s can be adhered to for safety reasons but it’s important that they are listened too. And that they learn a “no” is just as lovable as a “yes”. It is at this stage that a child learns that they not only can give a “no” but they must learn to respect other’s “no” too.

This boundary development leads to the ability to emotionally attach to others, without giving up the sense of self and freedom to be apart. The ability to say appropriate “no’s” to others without the fear of loss of love The ability to take appropriate “no’s” from others without withdrawing emotionally.

These boundaries are further developed in adolescent years when they learn to apply these boundaries to more mature issues. Sexuality, gender identity, competition and identity. Then again in young adulthood when structure is changed. Careers are started along with families. New found freedom and responsibilities along with the demands of intimacy and commitments.

Our ability to create boundaries is rooted in the thousand of encounters we have with others, as well as in our own nature and personality. It’s not surprising we sometimes experience boundary injuries.

Hear are a few mistakes made when people are setting boundaries.


When a child says “no” and a parent pulls away in hurt, disappointment or passive rage and detaches emotionally, A child learns that I am loved when I am good and when I’m bad I’m cut off. The child either learns to be compliant/pretend to agree to keep the relationship. Or keep trying to separate and loose the most important relationships they have. This behaviour teaches children to accentuate and develop the compliant, loving and sensitive parts and learn to fear, distrust and hate their aggressive, truth-telling separate parts. And they try to hide them. Telling a child that their behaviour hurts you puts the responsibility of parents emotional health on the child – this erases the boundary of your emotions are your responsibility. Instead, it’s better for them know you recognise their anger but it doesn’t change the situation. – their feelings are their responsibility and they don’t manipulate the situation – the parents emotions on the situation are kept to themselves.


Adults find they can’t say no if they have experienced hostility as children when they have tried to use it. Here’s some examples.

Parents word is law if you question it beware of the consequences

You’ll do it and you’ll like doing it. – laying down the law to do something is a parent right but adding you’ll like it undermines/is the denial of the separate soul/autonomy – it pressures a child into becoming a people pleaser.

Criticizing of boundaries.

“If you disagree with me, I’ll…..”, “You’ll do it my way or else” “You need an attitude adjustment”, “you’ve got no reason to feel bad”

Children need to be under the authority of their parents, but they shouldn’t be punished for their growing independence otherwise they retreat into hurt and resentment. Children need to learn to be honest open and responsible. The above words teach secretive behaviour, that you need to hide who you are. Pretend to be something you are not. They are no longer learning how to manage their feelings, and behaviours, they are not learning that responsibility and delayed gratifications have benefits. So, when adulthood comes, they struggle with relationships, anxiety, depression and addictions. Hostility can cause problems with saying and hearing “no”! Different personalities react differently. Some will become pliable while others will become controlling. Neither work well in adult relationships.

Over control/overprotective – parents have the responsibility to protect and control children that they may learn safely, but if a child is overprotected and doesn’t experience things they don’t learn or mature. Staying in a childlike mentality even in adulthood.

Lack of Limits

A Lack of limits put the child at the centre of everything. They are in control; they don’t learn responsibility. They leave others to pick up the things they don’t do and they don’t learn self-control. As an adult they struggle to recognise others boundaries or needs and when others set limits they react negatively.

Inconsistent limits - A mixture of strict and lax limits cause confusion and feelings of insecurity that follow through into adulthood where they never feel safe, unsure if saying no will bring respect or rage.

Trauma – specific traumas can injure boundary development. A trauma being an intensely painful emotional experience rather than a character pattern. Examples are Emotional, physical and sexual. Accidents and debilitating illnesses, severe losses e.g. death of a parent, divorce or extreme financial difficulty. This is because a child’s foundations are shaken. This develops uncertainty over safety and protection, with a feeling of having no control in any danger that approaches them.

Our own personality contributes to the way we set up boundaries, our tendencies affect how we respond and react. If we are prone to aggression we will react more confrontationally to boundaries. If we our quitter and have less aggression we may shy away from boundaries.

Ten laws of boundaries

1. The law of sowing and reaping – you get out of life what you put in – unless someone else steps in and takes the responsibility. Then you are not learning the consequences of your actions and their effects.

2. The law of responsibility. – be responsible for yourself – self-care, love yourself – no-one else can work through your disappointment or feel you exhilaration at your achievement, they can’t think for you or behave for you. They can’t grow for you. Nor you for them. You are responsible for yourself and you are responsible for setting limits on others behaviour towards you. – not their behaviour.

3. The Law of power. – you have power to admit truth. You have power to submit your inability to take control over an addiction. You have the power to search for help and to understand what is within your boundaries. You have the power to repent and change. You have the power to humble yourself and ask for help. You have the power to seek out those you have injured and make amends.

Your boundaries help define what you do not have power over. – everything outside yourself.

4. The Law of respect. – we need to respect ourselves and others – not make boundaries based on others reactions – we need to respect others boundaries so that our own will be respected.

5. The Law of motivation – what is motivating you – fear or love – are you saying yes to things because you fear you will be rejected, others anger, loosing the good part of yourself if you say no. are you motivated by guilt – to make you feel good – Payback – they did something for me I need to do this in return. – Approval – for the person to be pleased with you – overidentification with the persons losses – unable to cope with their disappointments or sadness so have to say yes to their request.

Or is it out of overflowing gratitude – you have so much to give it’s just overflowing – bringing freedom to give bountifully not duty.

6. The Law of Evaluation – you need to evaluate the effects of setting boundaries and be responsible to the other person. This doesn’t mean you should avoid setting boundaries just be aware of the consequence and sometimes the need to explain and teach/learn.

7. The Law of proactivity – for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Emotions can be used as a catalyst to set boundaries but not to set them. To be proactive rather than reactive.

8. The Law of Envy – desiring what we do not have – focusing on what others have and we don’t – focusing outside our boundaries at what others have and neglecting our own boundaries leads to an empty heart. Envy is self – perpetuating it leaves you feeling empty and unfulfilled so you look to what others have making you feel more envious. This time could be better spent taking responsibility for the lack and doing something about it. Prompting you to spend time questing if you truly desire it, and finding out what you need to do to get it.

9. The law of Activity – Humans are responders and initiators. We sometimes have boundary issues because we lack initiative. The best boundaries are formed when a child pushes against the world naturally and the world sets its limits on the child. We look and see that the people who succeed are active and assertive. They initiate and push. Those who struggle are passive and inactive. It’s good to try and fail as we learn but to not try will yield no good results.

10. The Law of Exposure – A boundary is a property line. It defines where you begin and end. We do not exist in a vacuum but in relationships. Our boundaries define our relationships. Our boundaries need to be made visible and communicated to others within these relationships. We have boundary problems because we fear not having relationships with people. That they will reject our boundaries and therefore be rejecting us. So, we try to have secret boundaries. But that doesn’t work. we are no longer being honest and in hiding you are not loving and are no longer being accountable to each other. And the relationship suffers.

Boundaries are not ….



Hurtful to others

A Sign I’m angry

The cause of mental injury

The cause of guilt

The cause of burnt bridges.

Boundaries create healthy relationships built on love and mutual respect. Opening channels of communications and accountability.

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Boundaries part 3

Boundary issues stemming from family - Taken from part 2 of the book Hello everyone - I hope you are enjoying the overview of this book and finding it helpful. Just a reminder this is the third update


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