Where to Draw the Line: How to Set Healthy Boundaries Every Day

Where to Draw the Line: How to Set Healthy Boundaries Every Day

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by Anne Katherine

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From the acclaimed author of the perennial favorite Boundaries, Where to Draw the Line is a practical guide to establishing and maintaining healthy boundaries in many different situations.

With every encounter, we either demonstrate that we’ll protect what we value or that we’ll give ourselves away. Healthy boundaries preserve our integrity.


From the acclaimed author of the perennial favorite Boundaries, Where to Draw the Line is a practical guide to establishing and maintaining healthy boundaries in many different situations.

With every encounter, we either demonstrate that we’ll protect what we value or that we’ll give ourselves away. Healthy boundaries preserve our integrity. Unlike defenses, which isolate us from our true selves and from those we love, boundaries filter out harm.

This book provides the tools and insights needed to create boundaries so that we can allow time and energy for the things that matter—and helps break down limiting defenses that stunt personal growth. Focusing on every facet of daily life—from friendships and sexual relationships to dress and appearance to money, food, and psychotherapy—Katherine presents case studies highlighting the ways in which individuals violate their own boundaries or let other people breach them. Using real-life examples, from self-sacrificing mothers to obsessive neat freaks, she offers specific advice on making choices that balance one’s own needs with the needs of others.

Boundaries are the unseen structures that support healthy, productive lives. Where to Draw the Line shows readers how to strengthen them and hold them in place every day.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
The premise here is that people all have many demands on their time and that by setting boundaries they may protect their time and energy for the things that matter most. Being in complete agreement with this idea, the first thing this reviewer should say is that she doesn't have the time to read a whole book about setting boundaries. Although important, this topic could have been adequately covered as a couple of chapters in a larger book on life management. Mental health counselor Katherine (Boundaries) discusses setting boundaries with friends, relatives, lovers, and exes. Other reasonable topics include anger, intimacy, sex, and divorce. Among the more frivolous chapters are those covering tidiness, food, Internet, and therapist boundaries. The author does give helpful examples of each type of boundary, with advice on where to draw the line. The topics seem so specialized, though, that audience appeal is limited. Purchase is warranted only for extensive self-help collections.--Kathy Ingels Helmond, Indianapolis-Marion Cty. P.L. Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.\

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Chapter 1: What Are Boundaries?

Pause a moment. Stand on the earth and sense the spiral of your life. You have not come to this place by chance. All your choices have brought you here.

You created this life by the people you let in and the people you shut out, by giving your time to the quests that matter and by letting hours trickle toward lesser goals, through the pursuits to which you gave your energy, by the pressures to which you gave heed.

Every decision you've ever made, step by step, brought you to this pass. In short, your boundaries — or your defenses — created a corridor through which your life moved.

What is a boundary? A boundary is a limit that promotes integrity. At the most elemental level, your skin marks your physical limits. If it is ripped, the integrity of your body is threatened. Your cells hold their shape because a membrane contains them. Your nerves are sheathed. Your brain is protected by blood and bone.

Thousands of other boundaries might also be yours, protecting every treasured aspect of your life — your relationships, your time, your home, the way you do things, your children, your priorities, your health, and your money. These boundaries are unseen, held in place by your decisions and actions.

A boundary is a limit. By the limits you set, you protect the integrity of your day, your energy and spirit, the health of your relationships, the pursuits of your heart. Each day is shaped by your choices. When you violate your own boundaries or let another violate them, stuffing spills out of your life.

A boundary is like a membrane that keeps an organism intact. It lets positive things through. It keeps harmful things out. In this way it operates quite differently from a defense, which indiscriminately keeps things out.

Boundaries provide a clear moral compass. They keep us on track. They protect the important, tender parts of ourselves.

Look at the parts of your life that work, that have integrity. This wholeness comes from the limits you have set to protect them.

Any part of your life that is not working can be improved by boundaries. Whether the organism is you, your body, your health, a friendship, your marriage, your work, or your energy, its integrity can be strengthened by boundaries.

This book is a boundary handbook. It can help you discover the walls that are missing as well as rules or customs that confine you to one place, preventing you from occupying the wider spaces. It will also expose defenses that you may have erected in place of healthy boundaries — defenses that may do a lot of harm to you and your relationships.

We all make constant decisions about how to use this minute and that minute, whether to say yes or no to that request, whether to respond to a friend's need or rest a bit. It's the little decisions that can use up our lives, that can either support or sabotage our larger mission.

This book is about how to handle the daily demands of life in a way that protects your time and energy for the things that matter. It can help you to be clearer about what to include and what to leave out, so that you can fill the spaces of your life with the people, activities, and pursuits that are truly yours.

You are the only one who can change your life.

Copyright © 2000 by Anne Katherine, M.A.

Meet the Author

Anne Katherine, M.A., is a certified mental health counselor, speaker, and the author of Boundaries: Where You End and I Begin and Anatomy of a Food Addiction. She lives near Seattle, Washington, where she leads programs for recovery and healing.

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Where to Draw the Line: How to Set Healthy Boundaries Every Day 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Where to Draw the Line makes Anne Katherine the Emily Post of today's appropriate behaviors in all situations. Written in clear, rich, simple language, the book is a must for all, because even those who think they are drawing the line, probably are not. This is a book that has been needed . It definitely picks up where Boundaries left off
MissKerri More than 1 year ago
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. For those individuals who have trouble standing up for themselves, being more assertive and speaking their minds... this book gives clear cut examples and suggestions on what creating boundaries can do to improve relationships and most importantly improve and protect your own self-esteem and self-respect. It is truly enlightening and I have already recommended this book to many of my friends.
Guest More than 1 year ago
When my counselor recommended me to read this book, I had no clue what I was in for. This book opened my eyes to all of the unhealthy patterns we have in our relationships and where they come from. It has literally changed my life. Thanks to this book, I am more in touch with myself and have more fulfilling relationships with others in which we truly care about one another. If you'd like to learn about yourself and are really ready for some positive change (it will be painful at first but it is definitely worth it), try this book. The other book I highly recommend on this topic is 'The Ever-Transcending Spirit' by Toru Sato. Sato has an unbelievable ability to show us how complex things like internal conflict and relationships work in the simplest ways. Good luck on your transformation!
Beverly_D More than 1 year ago
Everyone Has at least One Boundary That Needs Work We all have challenges dealing with boundaries, and often have boundaries that are excellent in some areas, weak in others. I might be great at setting boundaries with my friends, yet struggle to do it with my boss or lover. This book delineates the difference between defense and a boundary, and best of all, gives practical scenarios and examples of what bad boundaries, look like in action, and how an unhappy situation might play out if good boundaries were used instead. I only had a few quibbles with this book, and for a book published 15 years ago, it is remarkably broad, and still easy to read. 1) While the bulk of the book does not take an overly religious slant, by the dedication and the contents of the chapter on Spiritual Boundaries, it is evident that the author holds belief in a singular, male deity referred to as God or The Lord, and seems to presume that so does everyone else, which may be triggering or non-applicable to some readers.  2) I also felt that parental boundary violations could have been emphasized more strongly, the so-called "helicopter parents" who do everything for their children even after they reach the legal age of adulthood. 3) And while clutter was briefly touched upon, the boundary violation that is the mental illness of hoarding, could also have used some expansion. But at least I now know how to turn down Aunt Mabel's candied sweet potatoes, in a loving yet firm way.  And I love the early emphasis on time boundaries, on not squandering our time by giving it away to anyone who asks for it. This book is an excellent resource and I highly recommend it for everyone.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
roxie59 More than 1 year ago
i didn't have the best family dynamic growing up and thus entered adulthood ill prepared. THIS BOOK teaches me what i should have learned from mom and dad. Thank You Anne Katherine!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book covers it all! Addressed issues I was searching help for and hit upon subjects that hadn't occurred to me. My book is highlighted and dogeared, I will definitely be referring back to it and rereading it again.