boundaries: a list of books

The first session of Toward Better Boundaries: A Thirty Day Practice kicks off March 4.

I’ve created daily videos and journaling prompts exclusive to the group, and I’ve also curated resources that address boundaries in various ways.

Even if you aren’t able to sign up for this session of Toward Better Boundaries (we’ll catch you later!), here are some books you might appreciate in the meantime.

A formidable boundary: the ancient walls of Dubrovnik, Croatia

A formidable boundary: the ancient walls of Dubrovnik, Croatia

The poet Mary Oliver left us with so many, many profound words about self-definition and authentic living.

The Journey may articulate the sheer necessity of boundaries best:

“…But little by little,

as you left their voice behind,

the stars began to burn

through the sheets of clouds,

and there was a new voice

which you slowly

recognized as your own,

that kept you company

as you strode deeper and deeper

into the world,

determined to do

the only thing you could do

--determined to save

the only life that you could


As we set off on a journey of boundaries, Mary Oliver is the companion of our souls.

Dream Work
By Mary Oliver

The Language of Letting Go is daily encouragement for all of us who need to let go of old patterns in order to make space for healthy new ways of being.

Healthy boundaries are built on an underlying shift from control to lovingkindness—for ourselves first of all. Short meditations from Buddhist teacher Pema Chodron.

“I began these pages for myself, in order to think out my own particular pattern of living, my own individual balance of life, work, and human relationships.”

These opening lines are a beautiful, deeply personal defintion of boundaries, written by Anne Morrow Lindbergh in 1955. This book is like a weekend at the beach with your grandmother, learning that she struggled to define her own life, just as you do yours.

For all of us who are maybe just a teeny tiny bit frustrated with everybody, but we’re not 100% sure why? The Dance of Anger is a great, great place for enlightenment.

Like a stern but loving mentor, Harriet Lerner hands out painful truths:

“Wherever you find a wife and mother-in-law slugging it out, you'll find a son who's not speaking up to either his mother or his wife.”

Boundaries ouch, anybody?

Fortunately, her wonderful, specific ideas for building a better set of intimate relationships more than make up for those moments when we see ourselves all too clearly.

Healthy boundaries are not about perfection; they are all about authenticity. The basis of healthy boundaries is the ability to define ourselves and to create a life that’s all about what is okay with us. For those of us needing to live more fully into our true selves, Brene Brown is a gift, and The Gifts of Imperfection is a beauty.

Jeff VanVonderen’s classic, Tired of Trying to Measure Up, spoke sanity into my life early in my boundaries journey. Its optimistically kind subtitle still makes me smile every time.

Next up is the same author again with a book that builds on many of the themes from Tired of Trying to Measure Up: grace, freedom from shame, and staying in your own emotional space.

The Christian classic that first brought awareness of healthy boundaries into my life over 20 years ago is Cloud and Townsend’s Boundaries. If you need to know that God approves of your healthy boundaries, this is the book to start with.

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