The Book of Boundaries

Set the Limits That Will Set You Free

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October 11, 2022 | ISBN 9780593612699

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About the Book

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER FROM THE CO-FOUNDER OF THE WHOLE30 • End resentment, burnout, and anxiety—and reclaim your time, energy, health, and relationships. New bonus “Parenting Boundaries” chapter included!

“Melissa Urban shows the way forward with clarity, vulnerability, and humor.”—Gretchen Rubin, author of Life in Five Senses

Melissa Urban has helped millions of people transform their relationship with food. Now, in this powerful and practical guide, she shows how boundaries—clear limits you set to protect your energy, time, and health—are the key to feelings of security, confidence, and freedom in every area of your life.

In her famously direct and compassionate style, Urban offers:

• 130+ scripts with language you can use to set boundaries with bosses and co-workers, romantic partners, parents and in-laws, co-parents, friends, family, neighbors, strangers—and yourself
• Actionable advice to help you communicate your needs with clarity and compassion
• Tips for successfully navigating boundary guilt, pushback, pressure, and oversteps
• Techniques to create healthy habits around food, drink, technology, and more

User-friendly and approachable, The Book of Boundaries will give you the tools you need to stop justifying, minimizing, and apologizing, leading you to more rewarding relationships and a life that feels bigger, healthier, and freer.

ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR: Mindful
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Praise for The Book of Boundaries

“I always tell my therapy patients that boundaries create trust, comfort, and safety in a relationship, but many people struggle with how to effectively communicate what they need. In The Book of Boundaries, Melissa Urban helps you identify your boundary needs, offers actionable scripts on what to say, and shares proven tips based on a decade of experience helping people live more freely by holding their limits with confidence.”—Lori Gottlieb, New York Times bestselling author of Maybe You Should Talk To Someone

The Book of Boundaries is funny, direct, and smart, bringing you actionable tools and science-backed strategies for setting boundaries using language that feels kind, natural, and empowering. Melissa’s straightforward scripts and practical tips makes it easy to identify your limits and communicate them with confidence, so you can start putting yourself first and create a life that feels bigger, freer, and more authentically YOU.”—Mel Robbins, New York Times bestselling author of The 5 Second Rule

“Helpful as hell and lovingly direct, Melissa Urban is the boundaries big sister we all so desperately need. Through her insightful advice and easy-to-follow scripts, Urban teaches you how to stand up for yourself without walling yourself off from the people you love.”—Tara Schuster, author of Buy Yourself the F*cking Lilies

“Setting healthy boundaries is good for your relationships, your business, and your finances. The Book of Boundaries shows you how to stand up for yourself, say no, and communicate your needs in a way that leaves you feeling confident and empowered. Through her stories, personal experiences, and research, Melissa Urban gives you the tools, affirmations, and language you need to reclaim your time, energy, and health.”—Tiffany Aliche, New York Times bestselling author of Get Good with Money

“Melissa Urban has written the playbook for creating connection, protecting our peace, and expanding our lives. At once insightful, personal, funny, and direct, The Book of Boundaries should be required reading for anyone who has relationships with other humans.”—Ellen Vora, MD, psychiatrist and bestselling author of The Anatomy of Anxiety

“Urban’s encouraging tone and detailed ‘scripts,’ which provide examples of what one might say in common situations to establish boundaries, make for an empathetic and pragmatic outing. This helpful manual is a boon for those unsure of how to set limits.”Publishers Weekly
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Excerpt

The Book of Boundaries

Chapter 1

A Crash Course on Boundaries



Boundaries aren’t mean

A woman named Nancy recently sent me a message on social media: “I take a walk by myself every morning, for my own mental health. Lately, my elderly neighbor has been inviting herself along, waiting for me to come outside, then joining me. She’s very nice, and it’s clear she likes the company, but this is the only alone time I get in my day. How can I say no to her without feeling mean?”

I get where Nancy is coming from. We (especially women) are often told that it’s selfish to put our own feelings and needs first. This is a common objection to boundaries: that setting them feels cold or punitive, like you’re building a wall between people and creating division. But remember, boundaries aren’t walls, they’re fences. And good fences make for good neighbors.

Boundaries allow those who care about us to support us in the way we want to be supported. They provide a clear line between what we find helpful and harmful, so people don’t have to try to read our minds. They let us engage in relationships fully and openly, knowing we’ve clearly expressed our limits and made it easier for others to respect our needs. In fact, the best way to preserve a relationship often includes setting boundaries within it.

Nancy liked her neighbor and wanted to have a good relationship with her. If this neighbor kept crashing her morning walks, Nancy was going to become resentful, then angry, and perhaps even lash out one morning out of sheer frustration. Setting a boundary here would be an act of kindness, allowing Nancy to care for her neighbor without putting her own needs on hold to do so.

I asked Nancy how many mornings she might be willing to spend in her neighbor’s company—from zero days to every morning of the week. She replied that she’d enjoy walking with her once a week on the weekend, so I sent Nancy a script for her to use the following day: “Good morning! Hey, I’m going to start walking by myself again during the week. This is the only alone time I get, and I really need it for my mental health. Would you like to join me on Saturday morning when things are more relaxed?” Nancy loved the suggestion. This allowed them both to get what they wanted—some quality time when they’re both feeling relaxed, and the alone time Nancy needed to recharge during the busy work week.

You’re not being mean when you set boundaries, you’re being kind—to yourself and your relationships. But that doesn’t mean they’re not uncomfortable. Any conflict can be uncomfortable—if your burger comes out rare instead of medium-well, I’m betting at least some of you would just eat it rather than speak up. Setting boundaries can be uncomfortable because when we set a boundary, we’re expressing a limit that hasn’t yet been established (while perhaps pointing out someone else’s inconsiderate behavior), and asking if the other person is willing to make an adjustment for the good of the relationship.

If that just made you throw up in your mouth a little bit, you’re not alone. My research shows that the main reason people don’t set boundaries where they need them is that it’s so damn uncomfortable. I won’t try to pretend otherwise—I feel it, too. It’s not always easy for me to say no to an esteemed work colleague, to ask my husband for alone time, or to tell my parents, “I won’t discuss this with you further.” Speaking up in the moment, advocating for yourself, and asking for what you need is uncomfortable. But what’s both uncomfortable and damaging is reaffirming the story that someone else’s feelings are more important or worthy than your own—which is what you do every time you swallow your healthy boundary in an effort to keep the peace.

The truth is, when someone oversteps your limit, there is no comfortable solution. But one path is paved with short-term discomfort that leads to major long-term improvements in your health and happiness . . . and the other path is just an endless circle that leaves you feeling unworthy, anxious, angry, and resentful.

One of those sucks way more. And for those of you stuck on the sucky path, I have to ask . . . how’s that been working out for you, really? How has it felt to honor everyone’s needs but your own? To sell yourself out to keep other people happy? To take on too much whenever people demand it? To spend all that energy on people, conversations, or behaviors that never give you anything back? Said with so much love: I bet the reason you’re reading this book is that it’s not going very well at all. What I’m giving you here is a better way—one that leads to more fulfilling relationships, improved self-confidence, better health, and more time and energy for the things that are important to you. It may be uncomfortable, but I guarantee it will be worth it. Boundaries are how we care, stay supportive, and give to those we love without sacrificing our own health and happiness in the process.

About the Author

Melissa Urban
Melissa Urban is the co-founder and CEO of Whole30 and an authority on helping people create lifelong healthy habits. She is a seven-time New York Times bestselling author, and her books have sold millions of copies in twenty languages. She lives in Salt Lake City, Utah, with her husband, son, and a poodle named Henry. More by Melissa Urban
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