Episode #129:
How to Set & Maintain Boundaries with Mary Brown

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Do you need help setting boundaries? We can all use some support in this area, especially women in business. In this empowering and educational episode, Caterina is joined by Mary Brown, “The Boundaries Coach,” who shares her guiding principles on how to feel confident setting boundaries with others. Don’t miss this great talk about making choices, finding work-life balance, and the importance of remembering your inherent value!

 

Mary Brown, also known as The Boundaries Coach, specializes in helping others overcome busyness and people-pleasing and learn healthy boundaries. With a professional background in social work, she helped thousands of families through challenges such as mental illness, addiction, abuse, and neglect. In doing so, she noticed the impact these issues have on women, especially when someone they love is struggling. Having grown up in a big family without boundaries, Mary could relate to these women because of her own journey of overcoming people-pleasing. She became a coach so that she could help women build confidence, set healthy boundaries, and practice meaningful self-care. She helps busy women stop searching that elusive work-life balance and start choosing their work-life boundaries! Mary teaches boundaries centered in compassion, and her superpower is coaching women how to have real conversations from a place of love.

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Expand Your Fempire Podcast #129 Transcript

 

How to Set & Maintain Boundaries with Mary Brown

Welcome to Expand your Fempire with Caterina Rando, the podcast for women in business on a mission. Sharing ideas to support you to grow and thrive. Now here’s your host, Caterina Rando.

[00:00:00] Caterina Rando: Welcome back to another episode of the Expand Your Fempire Podcast. I am blissing because today I have a very important guest, Mary Brown. She is a boundaries coach. Now, she’s gonna tell us in a little bit what a boundaries coach is. We can all use some support in this area, especially women in business. That’s why I asked Mary to come and join us today. So listen attentively so we can uplift and move you more towards mastery with your boundaries.

[00:01:02] Hi Mary, I know we’re gonna get into the boundaries. Before we do that, I wanna take a minute. I want to hear from you. How did you get from young, amazing gal to a thriving entrepreneur?

[00:01:14] Mary Brown: Yes. So my professional background is in social work. I was actually a social work manager for the child protection field about 10 years ago before I started my entrepreneurial journey. And what I noticed was that the caseworkers that I was supervising were burning out.

[00:01:37] And that’s actually what’s really hard about the child protection field is that it takes a couple years to learn how to do the job proficiently. And they were well- intended and they were really stressed and they would often leave before they were fully trained.

[00:01:56] And so I helped create a coaching program for the social workers to teach them how to say no and feel good about it, to teach them how to practice real self-care, to build their confidence, to teach ‘ em easy ways, to have hard conversations.

[00:02:12] And then I hired a bunch of coaches and I had to be an administrator and I gave away all the good parts of my job. And then I realized, wait a minute, I wanted to be a coach.

[00:02:22] So I took some time off when I had my last child and I asked the universe, what is my work to do in the world? And it was a boundaries coach. And so I googled boundaries coach, and there were no jobs available. Because it didn’t exist. And then I argued with the universe like, “I’m trying to do what I’m supposed to do down here, but I don’t think you understand how it works. this is not a real job and no one will pay me to do this.”

[00:02:50] And the universe said, “this is your work to do.” And so I kind of made it up and it’s been amazing. It’s the best job I’ve ever had, and I love it so much every day.

[00:03:02] Caterina Rando: Mary, I’m blissing that you forged your own path. I’m sure you have found that when you say, “I’m a boundaries coach,” a lot of people are like, “that sounds really great. I need that.”

[00:03:16] I know you’re doing a lot of amazing work now. You and I met at a women’s networking luncheon, which is always a great place to meet great gals. And the reason why I wanted to have you on this show, now that I’m a little more seasoned in my business than I used to be, way back when, I feel like I’m pretty good with the boundaries. However, your business will show you where you’re good with boundaries and where you could use some improvement.

[00:03:47] For our women in business listeners, what are some things that you found we could really use support with? And what are your boundaries solutions so that we can maintain boundaries without blaming, shaming, making anybody wrong, and of course keeping our clients and our team members?

[00:04:10] What are your thoughts?

[00:04:11] Mary Brown: Yes, so one of the struggles that I see with women in business is busyness. We are so busy, we are running around trying to do everything for everybody, right? We are looking for this like elusive work-life balance that I don’t actually think exists. I think that –

[00:04:37] Caterina Rando: I agree. I agree. Balance is a myth.

[00:04:41] Mary Brown: Yeah. I say work-life balance is bs. What you need is work-life boundaries.

[00:04:48] Caterina Rando: My friend. That’s so good. Okay. Let’s say that work-life balance is BS. What you want is work-life boundaries. I love it.

[00:05:00] Mary Brown: Yes. And so a lot of us, especially women business owners, we are like trying to walk on a balance beam. In one hand, we’re holding a briefcase with everything work-related, right? Our clients, and our business growth, and our finances and our schedule, all the things. And the other hand, we’re carrying a laundry basket with all the things related to our lives, right? Our personal relationships, and our homes, and our vacations, and it’s like we’re balancing back and forth on a tightrope.

[00:05:34] Caterina Rando: Okay. My friend, I have to, I have to say right here, so about three days ago I took my laundry from the upstairs to the downstairs in the garage where my washing machine is. Took me another half day to get it into the washing machine. Took me another day to get it into the dryer. Then after the dryer, I put it in the basket. I took it upstairs. It’s now still sitting on my bedroom floor. My laundry basket is on my bedroom floor. And the reason is because I don’t have a nice chunk of time finish my laundry, but it probably also is because it’s not the highest and best use of my time and it doesn’t make me bliss, okay?

[00:06:22] But yes, and I like to say, rather than busy, I like to say my life is full. However, I see what you’re saying. I think because I think full is more like we get to choose. Mm-hmm. And busyness is like, we’re not choosing. So I would say that with some boundaries support your gals, your clients, women who are listening, can go from busy, which kind of feels like too much to my life is full and it’s like where we want. What do you think, Mary?

[00:06:53] Mary Brown: Absolutely. That’s exactly what I do. So a couple things you said in there that are standing out to me is you get to decide. When you have boundaries, you get to decide what you are willing to participate in and what you’re not willing to participate in. And you get to decide how you spend your time and your resources. You get to decide who you wanna be in a relationship with and who you don’t wanna be in a relationship with, and it’s an empowered decision-making stance.

[00:07:26] The other thing that I teach people is that you’re valuable. You’re born valuable. And so sometimes as women especially, we’re like running around hustling for our worth, and that is optional. You’re already valuable. And so the value that you give to other people and the way that you contribute to the world becomes more meaningful when it’s from a place of already established value.

[00:07:55] Caterina Rando: And, you know I think Mary, that rather than hustling with all this stuff, let’s hustle where we’re supposed to be hustling. Let’s hustle to get more clients. Let’s hustle to serve our clients well, let’s hustle to pursue new exciting opportunities. Let’s not hustle to do things where we said yes, when we really wanted to say no.

[00:08:21] Which is what you’re referring to when like and when you talk about choice. Like as you say that I’m thinking, “I bet some gals don’t even know that they have a choice.” And that’s part of what you’re teaching them. So how do we make sure that all gals know that they have a choice? Every day, in every moment with everything. They have a choice. How can we instill that?

[00:08:48] Mary Brown: Yes. We teach them that they’re valuable and we teach them that the way they build self-confidence is by making and keeping choices and commitments to themselves. Right?

[00:09:01] And so boundaries, there’s really four pillars. The first one is that foundation of self-esteem. So it’s self-worth, plus self-confidence, equals self-esteem.

[00:09:12] Caterina Rando: Self-confidence plus self-worth, equals self-esteem. Self-confidence plus self-worth equals self-esteem. Now, I’m gonna say to you, Mary. The, the self-worth, that’s what you were saying, knowing that you’re valuable, right?

[00:09:30] And the self-confidence, I think that comes from taking action. From having some success, from standing up for yourself, from maintaining your boundaries. That’s what I think. What do you think about how do we build self-confidence? Because the other thing about self-confidence, it’s not like you get some and then you’re done. It’s like there’s always 25 more levels of being self-confident. What do you think?

[00:09:57] Mary Brown: Right. So self-confidence is my ability to rely on myself. It is, can I trust myself to do what I say I’m gonna do? Can I make a commitment and count on me to keep that commitment to myself, right? So I agree with you. It comes over time and we can build it, which is really good news.

[00:10:23] Sometimes we think either this person has self-confidence or they don’t have self-confidence, and that’s not true. It’s not a character trait that some people just have and some people don’t have. It’s something that we can develop over time as we show ourselves I’m capable of doing this. I have reached this goal, and I’m gonna celebrate my win, and I trust myself to do what I say I’m going to do.

[00:10:51] Caterina Rando: I love this Mary. Now Mary, as you’re sharing this, I’m thinking of something very important related to this, and I’m gonna tell you a secret, okay? I’m a speaker. I like to speak, right? And you know what my secret is? I didn’t realize this for many, many years. I think I became a speaker because when you’re a speaker, you have permission to speak.

[00:11:13] And I’m sharing this with you because I think that a big part of all of this, boundaries and confidence is about women, us, having the ability to use our voice.

[00:11:30] And many times earlier in life, not so much these days, earlier in life, I didn’t always use my voice. Maybe to, to maintain a boundary or to speak up to ask for what I wanted or to say, that doesn’t work for me. Or to say, I can do that. What are your thoughts about boundaries and your voice and women? Using our voice to build confidence, maintain boundaries, and uplift our lives and our businesses.

[00:12:04] Mary Brown: I love it. I love this discussion and I agree with you. I also speak a lot about boundaries and it’s easier for me to speak publicly when I am designated as the speaker, right?

[00:12:17] So it’s like I’ve been given permission, I’ve been, there’s an understanding that this is my platform and this is my topic, and I am expected to speak during 20 minutes or whatever it is about this topic, right? So that brings me back to the first pillar is the self-esteem, self-confidence, and self-worth.

[00:12:41] The second pillar is actually our decision-making. So that’s like how we decide our boundaries, right? And you get to decide.

[00:12:48] And then the third pillar is communicating our boundaries. And that’s where we kind of figure out where do we wanna speak up? When do we not wanna speak up? How do we speak up?

[00:13:00] And communication, all of this is a learned skill. And so I teach people how to communicate their boundaries and not in a harsh way. I teach people to communicate boundaries with love and compassion. We say, “I love you and no”, or “I respect you, and I have decided this.” Right?

[00:13:20] Caterina Rando: I love you and no! Yes, I love you and no, I respect you and no!

[00:13:27] Mary Brown: Yeah, I have a sign that says I love you and no, and I keep one in my office and one in my kitchen and, and one upstairs, and I refer back to it because “I Love you and no” is a tool that works really well because it shows love, compassion, kindness, appreciation, respect for a person, and honors the connection that we have with the person.

[00:13:52] And in the very same sentence says no to the request and clearly articulates our boundary. And so “I love you and no,” might sound like “I respect the work you’re doing and I’ve decided not to participate.”

[00:14:06] Caterina Rando: Right? I think you’re awesome and amazing and No. I love it, my friend. This is so fun. I think you’re phenomenal and no, you’re fabulous and No. I like it.

[00:14:18] Mary Brown: Exactly. Okay. So the fourth pillar is following through with our boundaries. So then once we’ve set it, whose job is it to follow through and uphold the boundary? It’s ours!

[00:14:30] Whoever sets the boundary is also responsible for following through with the boundary. Cuz my boundaries are for me, it’s not the way that I’m gonna control or manipulate other people, it’s the way I’m gonna honor myself.

[00:14:43] So if I say, I’m not gonna participate in conversations that include name calling and someone calls a name, it’s my job to exit that conversation and the way that I follow through is my own self-care, and that’s where real self-care comes into play.

[00:15:03] Caterina Rando: I love that, Mary, and you know, you’re making me think of this scene that I saw once on television. There was this man and this woman, this couple, they had gotten out of bed in the morning and he read a text or something and he started to scream at the phone and he was really upset.

[00:15:31] And then he turned around and he said something like about his frustration to her and she got up and she said to him, “by the way, I don’t do screaming. I don’t have to participate in your upset with someone else. You have been warned.” And she walked out the room.

[00:15:56] And I thought, “That is awesome, because she communicated her boundary.” Now she didn’t scream at him. And here’s the thing, I think sometimes when we’re learning this stuff, we’re not as elegant or eloquent as Mary, I imagine you would be. Right?

[00:16:16] So how do we get from where we are now to the elegant, eloquent way? Because we wanna make sure people hear us. We don’t wanna say it too quiet. We wanna say with, with power at the same time, we don’t want to have people feel rejected or we don’t want to push them away, et cetera. What are your thoughts?

[00:16:41] Mary Brown: Yes. So what I wanna say to listeners is that boundaries is a learned skill, and what that means is that wherever you’re at on the journey to learning boundaries, it’s okay.

[00:16:54] It is okay if you didn’t learn boundaries in your family growing up, that’s okay. You can choose to learn it as an adult. And we’re all on a journey and there’s no shame, there’s no judgment. You just get to decide if it’s something that you wanna learn.

[00:17:10] And a tool that I offer people in terms of following through with their boundaries is what we call an “if-then statement,” right?

[00:17:20] And remember, your boundaries are for you. It’s how you’re gonna honor yourself. It’s not a punishment for another person. But the if-then statement sounds like “if this were to happen” and that’s the boundary violation, “then I will, I can, and I will…” and that’s your empowerment part of the statement. And this is what I’m gonna do to honor myself.

[00:17:44] So if you call me a name, then I will leave the conversation. And I’m gonna go practice some self-care. I’m gonna probably go for a walk or maybe journal about how I know that I’m not that name right? Or I might move my body and kind of just get that energy out a little bit, right?

[00:18:05] So if this happens, this is what I’m going to do to honor myself, how I’m going to respect myself, not punish you, respect myself.

[00:18:15] Caterina Rando: Okay, great. Now, here’s my question. Before that, for example, if I said “It’s not okay for you to scream at me. If you did, then I want you to know that I will leave the conversation.

[00:18:31] And go take care of myself.” And then would I ask for agreement? Would I say, will you honor my request?

[00:18:40] Mary Brown: Yes. So we do ask for a request, right? The way that we communicate and boundary language is in the form of requests. But one thing that you did say that I wanna just offer a little bit of a difference on so it’s not that it’s not okay for you to scream at me, it’s that it’s not okay for me to be screamed at.

[00:18:58] Caterina Rando: Okay. So it’s not okay for me to be screamed at.

[00:19:02] Mary Brown: Mm-hmm. Because my boundaries are about me. Right. What I’m willing to participate in and what I’m not willing to participate in.

[00:19:08] Caterina Rando: Okay. So I would say “It’s not okay for me to be screamed at. If that happens, I will leave the conversation. Can you honor my request?”

[00:19:19] Mary Brown: Yes, absolutely. Yes. Perfect. So I’m requesting that when we communicate there’s no screaming.

[00:19:26] Caterina Rando: Great. Okay. Bing, bing, bing, bing, bing, bing. This is great.

[00:19:30] Mary, you are so awesome. You are making me bliss. You are teaching me. You’re teaching our listeners. Because you know, I really value communication one of my highest values. Mm. And I also value communication that honors both parties and that doesn’t make anybody wrong. That doesn’t diminish or demean them or make them feel rejected.

[00:19:54] And I do feel that, as you say, it’s a skill, Mary. How do we communicate in a way that creates connection and trust and intimacy rather than pushes people away? And also maintains our boundaries or puts them in place.

[00:20:11] Mary, I know many people are gonna wanna connect with you because it’s not just about learning this, it’s about mastering it, right?

[00:20:19] So in those difficult, emotionally charged situations how do we graciously and eloquently and elegantly navigate the conversation? Because it’s easy to do it, you know, when we’re practicing. Mm-hmm. But in real life, right? But we have to master this. How can people connect with you, Mary?

[00:20:42] Mary Brown: So a couple of different ways. One is my website. My website is www.boundariescoach.com. They can email me directly, mary@boundariescoach.com. Another way to connect with me would be my podcast. So I have a podcast called Let’s Talk Boundaries with Mary Brown, and it’s on all the podcasting platforms. So if you’re a podcast listener, that’s one way that you can connect with me there and I would love to continue the conversation.

[00:21:11] Caterina Rando: Mary, this is so exciting. I am gonna spend some more time with you because, you know, I feel that in my own family and my family history and I went to Catholic schools also, where, you know, being a, a confident, loud and proud woman wasn’t always encouraged that I feel like I do good. I, I’m good at this, but I feel like I do wanna be more masterful.

[00:21:37] And that’s the thing that I know our listeners know, is that when we wanna master something, we gotta put a lot of time into that. Malcolm Gladwell would tell us 10,000 hours. Now that’s a kind of depresso number: 10,000 hours. At the same time, the more hours we put in, the better and better we get.

[00:21:57] Mary, thank you. You have inspired me. You have educated me and hopefully you have encouraged not only me, but all of our listeners to put more attention on mastering their boundaries to uplift their lives and uplift their businesses.

[00:22:17] Everybody, thank you for being with us at the Expand Your Fempire Podcast.

[00:22:22] Wherever you listen to this episode, there’s a hundred more for you to listen to, to bring you massive value. Please connect with me, Caterina Rando, at caterinarando.com. Also, we have free workshops every month. Come and hang out with us on Zoom. Join us for one of our virtual free events, and we are here to support you to thrive and bliss in your business.

[00:22:49] Bing, bing, bing.

We hope you enjoyed this episode of Expand Your Fempire with Caterina Rando.

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