Rebel Uprising Podcast

Reclaiming Selfishness & Becoming a Boundary Badass with Nancy Levin

Raise your hand if you suck at setting boundaries AND sticking to them? I'm so excited to have Nancy Levin on the Rebel Rising Podcast today because she's a complete boundary bad ass.

In her previous career, Nancy spent 200 days out of the year touring the world with best-selling authors. It wasn't until after she left what she thought was her dream job, that she realized she had been suffering from being a constant people pleaser. Seriously, she went as far as hopping on a plan back to a different city to pick up a briefcase that was left behind by a client so that he could have it ASAP.

Now, Nancy works to help overachieving people pleasers create boundaries that stick in order to make themselves a priority again, or maybe even for the first time. She has found over and over that when we can learn to be a bit selfish and put ourselves first we can finally find value in our own achievements while unabashedly chasing our own desires to find true alignment.

In this episode, you'll here:

  • Why she's rebelling against putting others' needs before our own
  • What setting boundaries looks like in our business and our personal lives
  • How we can reclaim selfishness in a healthy way
  • What the world would look like if we all had healthy boundaries

If you're feeling burnt out and disconnected from your own desires, this episode is a must.

Listen in or read through the transcript below

Resources mentioned in this episode

Nancy Levin's Website

Hay House Publishing

Setting Boundaries Will Set You Free

Wayne Dyer

Michelle Mazur:    Well, welcome Nancy to the Rebel Rising Podcast. I'm so thrilled that you'rehere.

Nancy Levin:    Thanks, Michelle. I am really excited to be here with you too.

Michelle Mazur:    Yes.

So why don't you tell people a little bit about yourself before we dive in?

Nancy Levin:    Sure. So after over a decade of being the event director at Hay House Publishing, which essentially meant that I was touring our authors around the world, producing many events a year, sometimes spending over 200 days on the road a year, and it was really my dream job. I went through my own earth shattering crisis that turned out to be blowing up my marriage. And I then discovered that I actually have a whole other purpose for being here.

And so I went on an inner journey that turned into embarking upon a coaching certification and training that led me to then leave my job at Hay House, leave my corporate job, to go out on my own and become a master coach, teacher, trainer, speaker. I've now written five books. My latest book is called Setting Boundaries Will Set You Free. And I am really all about helping overachieving people pleasers make themselves a priority and set boundaries that stick.

Michelle Mazur:    Yes. And the reason I wanted to have you on the show is because there are so many people in my audience, including myself, I'm going to raise my hand here and say, yes, this is me because I am an over achieving people pleaser who have issues with setting boundaries.

What I loved about your book is you opened with this amazing story about Wayne Dyer and how you flew back to Atlanta to get his briefcase because he left it in a van so that he can have it for an event. And it was just this insane thing you did, like he didn't even ask you to do it.

Nancy Levin:    Yeah. And I really was, at that time in my life, I was a couple of things. I was first of all presenting and projecting an image of perfection to the world. I was managing the perceptions of others. So I really only wanted to be seen through the lens that I gave people to see me through. And I was all about external validation. So I spent my life chasing gold stars. And the truth of the matter is that no gold stars will ever be enough to fill the void that we're feeling inside of ourselves because every single thing we're seeking externally needs to be resolved internally first.

So I was priding myself on being this super human, super woman. I can do anything, I will do anything. And I was the kind of person who would really do whatever it takes. But the truth of the matter is when we do whatever it takes, it takes a really high toll.

Michelle Mazur:    Yes. So this sets us up really well for our first question.

So tell me what are you rebelling against?

Nancy Levin:    I am rebelling against putting everyone else's needs ahead of ours.

Michelle Mazur:    Tell me why.

Nancy Levin:    Yeah. In my own personal situation, especially coming from an abusive marriage where I essentially sublimated all my wants and needs and desires in order to serve all of his, and in order to keep the peace, this is the other thing about the people pleasing and the overachieving is that we're peacekeepers, and we are conflict avoiders, and we are not rock the boaters. And so what happens is we have this idea that harmony in relationship is the goal. And we want harmony at all costs. And like I was saying before, when we do whatever it takes at any cost, it takes a high toll on us and it takes a lot. It costs a lot when we do whatever it takes.

Nancy Levin:    And so this idea of living in other reference life and abandoning ourselves for the sake of others, I actually, this is what I'm rebelling against. So I'm really... The invitation here is to begin considering ourselves as much as, and really ultimately more than, we consider others.

Michelle Mazur:    Yeah. And so right before we started recording this, you mentioned that you did a Facebook Live around this for business owners.

So how do you see the showing up in business owners' lives?

Nancy Levin:    Yeah, I mean I really see that it shows up with, first of all, not being clear in agreements with clients, taking on clients who are not a good fit. So in other words, it's really, at the baseline, saying yes when you want to say noAnd that's a really core element of people pleasing and a really core element of boundary setting, recognizing where your yeses are coming from and where your no's are coming from because ultimately you have to find your honest, authentic no in order to free your true yes.

Most of us are saying yes from that knee jerk place of responsibility or obligation, or we want to be needed, or we don't want someone else to be disappointed. And the truth of the matter is that if we're saying yes from any of those places, it's really a no. Yes is about desire.

Nancy Levin:    And the other thing about us people pleasers and peacekeepers is we're really disconnected from our own desire because we are getting off on pleasing other people. So we have essentially put our worth and value in our achievements, our productivity and what we do. And so we're essentially hitching our worthiness to someone else's wagon.

Michelle Mazur:    Wow.

Nancy Levin:    Yeah, right?

Michelle Mazur:    There's a lot to unpack there because we don't know what we desire, and there's a worthiness issue. We're not worthy of our desires. Right?

Nancy Levin:    Exactly. Exactly. And so when we're looking at this from the way that we run our businesses, like I was saying, it's like we say yes to clients we want to say no to. We work outside the bounds of time and space. Or we don't even set any bound boundaries around time and space. And we essentially teach people how to treat us. And so if I say I'm not going to work on Fridays, and then I start answering the phone or responding to emails, I'm just teaching people that I'm full of BS.

And so I'm really a big advocate of getting really clear about the agreements we make with ourselves and with each other, and then adhering to those agreements and always looking at what does it take. Because as we're talking about boundaries, I think I should just insert here that I define a boundary as a limit that I set around what I will or will not do, will or will not accept, will or will not tolerate. So it's my clarification around what's okay and what's not okay for me.

Michelle Mazur:    Yes. I know for me, when I first started my business especially, that I had to set a boundary around that I can't want a result more than my client wanted a result. Because I think when you are that super woman willing to do what it takes, that overachiever, that it's easy to want to do the work for your client, which by the way never works for anyone listening who is doing that. Trying to get a result for your client, that never ever works. But I think you're like, oh, they paid me this money, and oh, I can't possibly say no so I'm going to do this work for them. And it's like, no, that's not what you're paying me for.

Nancy Levin:    Exactly. And that's the piece too, getting really clear as we're running our business around being realistic about what we are charging. Most people undercharge, and most people underestimate the time it will take to complete a task or a project. So getting really realistic around how long something's going to take and then charging accordingly because when we don't do this, when we don't charge enough, and when it takes more time than we originally anticipate, it is a breeding ground for resentment. And resentment is the number one telltale sign that a boundary needs to be put into place.

Michelle Mazur:    That is very true. Yes, yes. Because as soon as you start seeing a client's name on your roster, and you're like, ugh, I don't want to talk to so-and-so today or this week or this month.

Nancy Levin:    Right. And what's happening is, ultimately, and this is really an important point I want to make, what's really happening is you're dreading something because you have crossed your own boundaries by even taking this on. And the biggest myth around boundaries is that other people cross our boundaries.

So I can't tell you how many times a client has come to me and said some version of, I tried to set a boundary, but he or she kept crossing it. And what I really want to get across is that if our boundaries are being crossed, we are the ones crossing them. So we are enabling or allowing others to cross our boundary, or we are blatantly crossing our own boundary by not maintaining it.

Michelle Mazur:    Yes. Yes. And one of the things that I've learned about myself is when I work with clients, I tend to be very generous with my time because I'll be in conversation with them around their messaging and, yeah, we might be at the top of the hour, and the session needs to end, but we're in the middle of something. And I don't want to necessarily stop. So I had to learn, I need to price my sessions appropriately and give myself enough time in between sessions so that if we go over, it's okay. And that was the way I had to manage the boundary of time because those were the things I knew about myself. And so that way I didn't feel like a boundary was getting crossed because I knew I could be generous and still be compensated.

And I think learning that about yourself, it helps in setting the boundaries so that if you're like, no, my sessions are 60 minutes, then you're responsible for enforcing that. But if you want to be generous with your time, then if your sessions are 60 minutes, but if it's okay for you to go over, then create the buffer, price appropriately so that you can allow that generosity.

Nancy Levin:    Exactly. Precisely.

Michelle Mazur:    All right.

So what change do you want to create in the world with your boundary work?

Nancy Levin:    I'm really on a bandwagon to create the change around reclaiming selfishness because most of us have disowned this quality, and we would rather die than own up to being selfish or be called selfish. And I really look at selfish, self care, and self love as three sisters whose job it is to support us in honoring ourselves. So again, back to this idea of how do we start considering ourselves first instead of considering someone else first.

Michelle Mazur:    And we are so not trained to do that, especially women.

Nancy Levin:    We are not trained to do this. This is really turning a ship around. And this is something that... I mean I lived my life the opposite way, other referenced, taking everyone else into account first, doing for everyone else, depriving myself for decades. And it's really only been in the last 10 years of my life, and then I would even go so far as to say maybe in the last five years of my life, that I've really been able to shift this.

Michelle Mazur:    Wow. So how do you begin to shift this and reclaim selfishness?

Because honestly I was hoping somebody would claim this as a rebellion for ages. Something that, well, it's funny because I dance around this idea a lot in the work I do with clients. It's a recurring theme that comes up with a lot of my clients, but nobody wants to be so bold as to reclaim selfishness.

Nancy Levin:    Yeah. I know I wrote this blog a couple of years ago, I think, that said, I'm the most selfish woman in the world. That was the title of the blog.

Michelle Mazur:    I love it.

Nancy Levin:    I love it too.

Michelle Mazur:    So how can we start? Like what are some of the first steps that we can initially take?

Nancy Levin:    Great. So the first, this all begins with preference and desire. And as I was saying before, most of us really don't even know what we want. And so we just immediately default to what someone else wants. We acquiesce. We compromise. And again, all of that is brooding ground for resentment. So if we start even with something small, I mean, think about what happens. This is sort of the natural response when someone says, hey, what do you want for dinner tonight? And then we respond, I don't care. What do you want? Right?

Michelle Mazur:    Yes.

Nancy Levin:    It's the natural response. Very rarely do we pipe in with, I want sushi. But that's actually the direction I'm wanting to point us in. So instead of the knee jerk responses, or instead of the acquiescing, or instead of the default to actually start building in some space, build in a pause, so that I can reflect, and I can actually ask myself the question, huh, what do I really want tonight for dinner?

Nancy Levin:    Okay, I want sushi. So then I'm going to say, hey, I want sushi tonight. I know you might want Italian, but at least we're going to be able to come to a collaborative conversation. And maybe we decide to go for sushi tonight and Italian next week or vice versa. Or maybe you hate sushi. But I will feel far less resentful if I express my desire.

Nancy Levin:    And so this can show up, we can take really, and I purposefully in the book and in my coaching around this, I really want to start with low stakes. It even be around being in a restaurant, and the music's too loud and asking the waiter, hey, we're trying to have a conversation. Can you see if the music can get lowered? Or it's freezing in the restaurant. Can you see about putting the heat up? Or one of my favorites is like being in a waiting room, and the TV's blaring and asking can we turn the TV down or off? Little, even just tiny things like that where the stakes are so low. But you'd be surprised how many times we don't, even in that regard, we don't want to rock the boat.

Michelle Mazur:    Yeah. It's like, oh, I don't want to inconvenience anyone by asking.

Nancy Levin:    Right, exactly. Or even like, I'm the queen of this, but it was funny. I had a friend the other day text me to tell me she did it finally. She sat down at a restaurant, had already got the waters, they got the menus, and then she was like, you know what? There's nothing on this menu I want. And she had the battle in her head of, oh my god, am I really going to get up, or am I really going to sit here and eat something I don't want? And she said she had three rounds of this in her brain before she finally got up and went to the hostess and said, you know what? Basically, this is not my jam. Here's what I'm really wanting. And the hostess ended up giving her a suggestion of a restaurant nearby.

Nancy Levin:    But these are the kinds of ways where we actually are overstepping our boundaries. We're overstepping our needs, we're overstepping our desires. And we're stuffing it down, we're sucking it up. And again, these are low stakes, but it's a place to begin.

Michelle Mazur:    I love that because I do think there are so many times where I'm just like, oh, I mean, mine is always on the airplane if I'm stuck in the window seat. I always like the aisle. If I have to use the restroom, I don't want to bother the people next to me to get up even though it's not really that much of a bother. They kind of expect that you're going to have to go on a four hour flight, you're going to have to get up to go to the bathroom at some point. But we go through that in our head like, ooh, can I wait a little bit longer because what if I have to go again?

Nancy Levin:    It's so true. And it's really funny cause I always sit in an aisle, and inevitably the window seat or the middle seat person will have to get up to go to the bathroom, and then they'll apologize profusely.

Michelle Mazur:    Yes.

Nancy Levin:    And that's another thing. Our boundaries and our limits and our needs don't need apology wrapped around them. And even our no, I mean this is a whole... The conversation about saying no, to be able to say no with grace and gratitude and not from a place of guilt and excuses.

Michelle Mazur:    Yes. And that is so hard of saying no. And I mean, for me, I get invited to do a lot of virtual online summits, and I have a lot of ethical issues with how they're done, like the list size, and sometimes it doesn't have the diversity that I would like to see in it. And so I pretty much, unless I know the person running it, I'm a no. I'm just a no. And I get one of those, and I'm just like, ugh, but it's just a no. And I just write back, and I say, no, I'm not interested.

Nancy Levin:    That's it.

Michelle Mazur:    Took me a long time to get there.

Nancy Levin:    Yeah. But that's the thing. That's the point that I want to make is that it can be that clean. It doesn't need to be a song and a dance. It doesn't need to be a story. It doesn't even need to be an apology. It doesn't need to be an excuse or reason. It can simply be, no, I'm not interested. No, I'm not available. Whatever it is.

Michelle Mazur:    Yes, yes to saying no simply and cleanly.

Nancy Levin:    Yes to saying no. I'm all about saying no.

Michelle Mazur:    Well, and I even think when you have a potential client that's not a good fit, and you're in the sales process, and you realize that, oh, I thought this person was going to be a good fit, and they're not.

Nancy Levin:    Right. Because so many times... It's so interesting, and especially again as women, we forget that we get to pick and choose. We want to be chosen and picked.

Michelle Mazur:    Yes.

Nancy Levin:    So even when we're in a conversation with a potential client, we can get so caught up in they want me, they chose me, that we forget that it's a two way conversation. I'm seeing if I want to choose you also.

Michelle Mazur:    Yes. And then I think we also get caught up in the scarcity like, oh, what if I never get another client again? And it's like, that's probably not true.

Nancy Levin:    Right. But it's what drives so many, that poverty mindset is what drives so many to say yes when we should say no. And then there's the saying, give up good for great. Sometimes we need to do that. We need to give up what might just be good for what will be great.

Michelle Mazur:    Exactly. Exactly. And I think that's so important for everyone to hear. It's like if they don't feel like the right fit for your work, and you're starting to have some real, even just yellow flags, not even the red flags, it can be a no. And I think sometimes we forget that we're also auditioning people to work with us as much as they are auditioning us.

Nancy Levin:    That's right.

Michelle Mazur:    So, all right, one last question for you. And this one's always a doozy.

If everyone acted on your message, if they started to reclaim selfishness, what would the world be like?

Nancy Levin:    I love this. The world would be full of people feeling free, not feeling worried, not feeling anxious, not feeling obsessive. The world would be a collective of us all living in alignment with our truth and expressing ourselves from that place.

Michelle Mazur:    Yes. And business would be less stressful.

Nancy Levin:    It would because we would no longer be wearing the mask and the cape, and we would no longer be doing things to buy love or to buy attention or to ingratiate ourselves. We would simply be able to have connection and intimacy and trust because we're living in alignment with our truth.

Michelle Mazur:    Yes. I love it. I love it. So Nancy, tell everyone where they can find you online.

Nancy Levin:    My website is Everything is there, so everything about my coaching programs, my coach training program, my books, all the things, my social media. 

Michelle Mazur:    Yes. And do check out Nancy's latest book on boundaries. It is amazing. So you can stop chasing gold stars. Stop trying to get your clients results when they don't want to go after those results themselves because that's the biggest lesson you can ever learn in your business.

Michelle Mazur:    I am so glad you are here on the Rebel Rising Podcast to give us some of these lessons because this is some of the most important stuff that people can ever do in their business.

Nancy Levin:    Yes.

Michelle Mazur:    So thank you Nancy.

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