The Better Boundaries Workbook by Sharon Martin uses a cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) approach, incorporating mindfulness and self-compassion, to help readers establish boundaries to function better in relationships. The author is a psychotherapist, and if you’re into mental health on Pinterest, you’ve probably come across some of her pins.
The book begins with a look at what boundaries are, as well as common misconceptions about them, e.g. that they’re selfish. It then explores factors that can contribute to difficulties with boundary-setting, including dysfunctional families and feelings of fear and guilt.
In part 2, the author describes a 4-step process for boundary-setting, which consists of clarifying, identifying, implementing, and fine-tuning. There are also tips for effective communication, like using I statements and making clear requests, as well as a range of different suggestions on how to say no. There’s clarification around areas that might get confused, like compromise vs. conceding when it comes to negotiating boundaries.
Part 3 covers boundary issues in specific contexts, including at work, with your partner, with children, and with difficult people. Part 4 looks at boundaries with yourself, and the author gives lots of good tips for managing boundaries with technology.
I’ve reviewed a number of self-help workbooks from New Harbinger Publishers, and on the book-workbook spectrum, this was one of the more workbook-leaning ones. There are lots of prompt questions and room to write.
The book is more about prompting you to think things through for yourself rather than guiding you by the hand, which may be a good thing or a bad thing depending on what you’re looking for. In the chapter on boundary violations, for example, some examples of challenging scenarios were given as a lead-in to prompt questions, but the scenarios themselves weren’t worked through. I thought it might have been helpful to give example answers for some of the prompt questions based on the scenarios.
I think if you’re looking mostly for a book to read about boundaries, you might find yourself wanting more than what this book gives you. However, if you’re wanting to put in the effort and reflection to go through all of the exercises, I think this book would be a really good choice. This is certainly an important topic that tends to be challenging for a lot of people. The author’s approach is warm and supportive, and she does a really good job of clarifying what boundaries are and what they aren’t. Overall, I would say it’s a good book, and whether it’s right for you or not just depends on what you’re looking for.
One thing the book didn’t address that’s come up for me is what I would call boundary creep. By that, I mean boundary-pushing that’s minor enough that it’s tolerable, but it keeps happening until it gets to the point where the cumulative boundary-pushing is just way too much, and none of it is tolerable anymore. At that point, I tend to fall back to my “I’m done, I can’t do this” boundary.
Do you have any particular type of boundary situations that you tend to struggle with?
The Better Boundaries Workbook is available on Amazon (affiliate link).
I received a reviewer copy from the publisher through Netgalley.