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Author Nancy Levin: “It’s important to remember that your boundaries are yours to uphold”

In order to set healthy and effective boundaries we must be willing to make ourselves a priority and know our limits around what we will or will not do, accept or tolerate. It’s important to remember that your boundaries are yours to uphold. Others may or may not respect a boundary you set, it’s yours to honor so if gets crossed, you’re the one crossing it.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Nancy Levin. Nancy Levin is the best-selling author of Worthy, Jump . . . And Your Life Will Appear, and Writing for My Life. She is a Master Integrative Coach and the creator of the Jump Coaching, Worthy Coaching, and New Relationship Blueprint Coaching programs, working with clients — privately and in groups — to design lives in alignment with their own truth and desires. She was the Event Director at Hay House for 12 years and hosts her own weekly call-in show, Jump Start Your Life, on Hay House Radio. Nancy received her MFA in Creative Writing and Poetics from Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado, and she continues to live in the Rocky Mountains.

Nancy is the author of Permission to Put Yourself First: Questions, Exercises, and Advice to Transform All Your Relationships which publishes in August.

Thank you so much for joining us Nancy! Can you share the “backstory” about how you grew up?

My Superwoman complex started when I was two years old. That year, my six-year-old brother died. Severely mentally disabled from birth, he had lived his life utterly incapacitated — broken — until he caught pneumonia, and his immune system could no longer fight. I’m told that even as a small child, I took great pride in my independence. I think I somehow sensed that my parents had their hands full. They were lost in grief, so I learned to take care of myself.

Several beliefs became imprinted within me during that time:

• My wants and needs are insignificant, and no one will be able to meet them anyway.

• I must be perfect in order to make up for my parents’ loss and grief.

• Since I’m the one who survived, I am undeserving of joy, yet at the same time, responsible for the happiness of my parents and other people.

• Maybe if I’m perfect and indispensable, then I can fix everything, all will be okay, and I will be loved.

• And the kicker: If I am imperfect — like my poor, sweet brother — I will be disposable and die.

Thus began the quest to become Superwoman from Perfectionville.

These beliefs, of course, were not formed consciously. As a two-year-old, I was hardly aware that I felt the need to be perfect in order to feel safe. Attempting to be perfect was simply an unconscious survival strategy. Like all children, I was trying to figure out who I needed to be and what I needed to do to get the most love possible, while avoiding trouble and pain as much as I could.

As kids, we are trained to ask permission in order to better understand boundaries. Why is it as adults that we are often still asking for permission, even though it’s often not necessary? Do you think that “asking for permission” signifies something deeper, such as we don’t trust ourselves or our judgement enough?

Most people don’t learn how to trust their own inner-voice and instead look outside of themselves for answers. We think other people know what’s best for us, but the truth is that you are the only expert on you. When you defer to another, you put your own worthiness in their hands. You stay small, silent, invisible and don’t have to take risks. But, when you stop hiding and give yourself permission to live boldly, you own your own voice and value. Also, we tend to give a higher regard to something we can get a gold star for, validation, approval, applause, and are less likely to feel motivated to do something just for ourselves.

What impact did you hope to make when you wrote this book?

That people would stop putting themselves and their needs on the back burner and start making themselves a priority. It’s time to stop losing yourself in love, reclaim healthy selfishness and set boundaries that stick.

What moment let you know that your book had started a movement?

Seeing the concept catch on of one’s relationship with oneself being of the utmost importance and what has become possible when we stop packaging ourselves to be digestible to anyone else.

What kinds of things did you hear right away from readers? What are the most frequent things you hear from readers about your book now? Are they the same? Different?

People initially responded, and still do, to the pieces around setting and maintaining boundaries, knowing your non-negotiables, cozying up to conflict, reclaiming selfishness and the concept that if you honor yourself and do what’s best for you, it’s actually best for everyone else around you too.

What is the most moving or fulfilling experience you’ve had as a result of writing this book? Can you share a story?

On a personal note, shortly before this book came out the shit hit the fan in my relationship and I was so grateful to have this book as a guide to ground me and bring me back to myself. They say we teach what we need to learn… well I write the books I need to read that I cannot find.

How can others set healthy boundaries and let themselves say no?

In order to set healthy and effective boundaries we must be willing to make ourselves a priority and know our limits around what we will or will not do, accept or tolerate. It’s important to remember that your boundaries are yours to uphold. Others may or may not respect a boundary you set, it’s yours to honor so if gets crossed, you’re the one crossing it.
Try this: “I feel X, when you do Y, so if you choose to continue, in order to honor myself, I am going to do Z.”
While much is said about initiating boundaries to protect, preserve, or keep something out, your boundaries are also the way you can carefully choose and consciously curate what you want to bring in.
Try this: The next time a request comes in that you’d normally answer with a knee-jerk “Yes”, say either “No” or “I’ll let you know tomorrow.” Build in a buffer of time to consider if your yes would be coming from not wanting someone to be disappointed, upset or angry with you, or if you want to look like the rescuer, or if you’re avoiding conflict. If your yes is any of those, or anything other than deep desire, it’s a no! Your willingness to feel the short-term discomfort of setting boundaries is the gateway to having everything you’re longing for in your life. Truth, connection, and freedom become available to you when you make your preferences your priority, with courage and grace. Each time you set a healthy boundary, you’re saying Yes! to you.

Can you articulate why you think books in particular have the power to create movements, revolutions, and true change?

When we read, we can find ourselves inside the story of someone else. We feel seen, understood, a sense of belonging.

When we’re living an other-referenced life, we tend to get stuck in a thought loop of what do I need to do or say to make everything ok. People-pleasing, peace-keeping, conflict avoidance, not rocking the boat and trying to maintain harmony are all ways we abandon ourselves for the sake of another. We create chaos to avoid the truth and when we do whatever it takes, it takes a toll and comes at a high cost to us.

What challenge or failure did you learn the most from in your writing career? Can you share the lesson(s) that you learned?

There’s a big difference between writing and writing a book! I’ve written since I was 12 years old and have an MFA in Creative Writing and Poetics, however writing a book was an entirely different animal — have a clear outline and hire an editor!

Many aspiring authors would love to make an impact similar to what you have done. What are the 5 things writers needs to know if they want to spark a movement with a book? (please include a story or example for each)

1. Do your healing work

Before I wrote my book Jump . . . And Your Life Will Appear I had to do a lot of deep healing around many different aspects of my life, including the shame I felt about having an affair. Writing can be cathartic, publishing is not.

2. Tell the truth and share what’s most alive for you, not what you think will sell

After my divorce mediation ended with my agreeing to give far beyond what felt good or right, I was so compelled to explore the self-worth/net worth connection in my book Worthy. My passion came through and this book, and companion coaching program, has gone on to help so many.

3. Test-drive your material before publishing

For each of my books, I create a coaching group to work through the steps and exercises and this way I get real-time confirmation and also great stories to use!

4. Write a word-of-mouth worthy book
Most people buy books on recommendation from someone else. It happens all the time that someone lets me know they picked up one of my books because a friend thought it would resonate and it turns out it was the exact book they needed at the time.

5. Connect with your readers via email and social media

We are so fortunate to have immediate and accessible communication and engagement with our audience. The powerful exchanges on all my social media platforms, including my online private coaching membership and groups is invaluable.

The world, of course, needs progress in many areas. What movement do you hope someone (or you!) starts next? Can you explain why that is so important?

Global Freedom. I believe freedom is our birthright. I am doing my part in helping others get free.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

Instagram: @nancy_levin

Thank you for all of these great insights!



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