Attuned Leadership for Women Podcast

Episode 030

Setting Boundaries and Making Decisions Using Body Wisdom


Would you like decision-making to feel more clear and easy? Do you often prioritize others’ needs over your own? How much time and energy could you save if you set healthier boundaries? This episode guides you to listen to subtle cues from your body and leverage them to make better decisions and establish boundaries without self-doubt. 

A picture of me with text surrounding describing episode 006 and the importance of authentic personal branding to help women stand out in a male-dominant world.


Quotes from the Episode 

“The social standards are unachievable. And this feeds a cycle of women expending energy, focus, and time that really can distract them from fulfilling their most basic needs.

Dr. Crystal Frazee

“You can almost always come back and say yes after you say no. But, you cannot always say no after you’ve said yes.”

Dr. Crystal Frazee 

“If we’re going to change the inequities that women face, we do need society and organizations to create new structures of support for women. Yes, 100%. I do not believe that the work is all on us as individuals. It can’t be. We need society to change. And at the individual level, becoming skilled with body wisdom and discerning our own needs and limits is how we can expedite change ourselves. That is how we can take authority and agency in our own individual lives more so than we have in the past.

Dr. Crystal Frazee 


00:02:00 – The Perfection Paradox’s impact on women’s decision-making. 
00:04:16 – Why it’s counter-culture to tune into your body’s wisdom. 
00:06:06 – How using Body Wisdom can contribute to social change and gender equity. 
00:07:01 – Practical steps to building body wisdom
00:10:11 – Crystal Frazee’s example of using Body Wisdom for decision-making
00:14:24 – Homework Assignment: Do daily body check-ins
00:18:08 – Applying Body Wisdom to understand your personal limits
00:20:18 – Linking Body Wisdom to Boundaries
00:21:46 – Announcement of The Well Training Experience: A free virtual training June 6th
00:23:00 – Deep dive into understanding and setting boundaries
A deeper dive into what boundaries are and how to effectively set and maintain them.
00:28:27 – Applying Embodied Practices to Daily Life

Mentioned in this Episode: 

FREE Experiential Training

Sign up for The Well a free virtual training led by Dr. Crystal Frazee, Thursday, June 6th 12:00 – 1:00 pm EST. You’ll learn immediately applicable powerful techniques to build body wisdom, feel more grounded, make confident decisions, and set healthier boundaries at work and home. Don’t miss this hands on training opportunity with Dr. Crystal Frazee! Click here to reserve your spot today.

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Prefer to Read? Here’s the transcript!

*Just a heads up – the provided transcript is likely to not be 100% accurate.



Dr. Crystal Frazee: 

When you’re making decisions or setting boundaries, do you lead with your thinking, analytical mind, or do you check in with your body first? Hmm. I’m also wondering, do you find yourself prioritizing other people’s needs over your own? And have you ever hesitated to set boundaries, fearing it might upset someone else? In episode 30 of Attuned Leadership for Women, we’re diving into something really important, how to deepen our body wisdom and embody our boundaries for decision-making and communication without that pesky self-doubt or worrying about what others might think. By the end of this show, you’ll learn my favorite practical ways to listen to your body’s messages and set better boundaries using body wisdom. 


Dr. Crystal Frazee: 

Where do established and aspiring women leaders go to get answers to their biggest challenges, like how to deal with double standards, break free from hustle and burnout, drive change without being bossy, and how to raise visibility by doing less, not more? I’m Dr. Crystal Frazee, your host and a women’s health and leadership expert and author. I’ve spent the past 15 years developing the answers to those questions. I believe that your body has all the wisdom you need and that without much effort, you can leverage it for things like faster, better decision-making, creating a magnetic presence for influence, and even navigating perimenopause so your performance goes up instead of down. In this show, I will teach you what traditional leadership approaches overlook, how to leverage your body wisdom to break free from time and energy traps, shatter barriers, dissolve the good woman programming that stops you from living on your terms, Level the playing field at home and work and be the most powerful leader you can be. Get ready to rewrite the rules of success and satisfaction using the practical strategies of attuned leadership for women. Let’s dive in. 

Main Content: 

Dr. Crystal Frazee: 

Hey there. So today I’m focusing on sharing a fascinating discovery I’ve made about being a woman and managing career, personal satisfaction, and sustainability. For most of my life, it’s been really hard for me to know what I wanted related to any given topic, whether that’s something simple like what to order for lunch at the restaurant, or more complex, like what part of the country I wanted to live in. And this challenge of really discerning what I wanted and needed would flow over, as you can imagine, into all kinds of decisions I needed to make and in setting boundaries. 

As I’ve really dug into this over the past couple of decades, Number one, I know I’m not alone. And number two, I blame the perfection paradox. That’s the term I’ve coined for the gendered conditioning and social pressures for women to fulfill a specific standard in each role they play, whether that’s leader, neighbor, mother, sister, daughter, friend, etc. It’s a certain standard that is unconsciously interpreted as what needs to be executed in order to be accepted and validated, except the game is rigged. The standards are unachievable. And this feeds a cycle of women expending energy, focus, and time that really can distract them from fulfilling their most basic needs. It explains how 50% of professional women right now are reporting burnout. 

And this is part of the reason I’ve been learning embodiment and somatics for the past 20 years, including education at the doctoral level, and endless certifications and deep dives into different modalities. I believe it’s the cultural expectation that we will prioritize other people’s needs over our own, that keeps us in our heads and tuning out of our body’s intelligence, those messages that our body is giving us of physical and emotional sensations that are really guideposts. 

I mean, have you ever felt like you had to push through things like hunger, feeling pain or exhaustion in order to prove your strength or capability? Those are just a couple of examples of the perfection paradox and how it can show up. Another might be if you’ve ever stayed silent, even when your body was screaming for you to speak up. if you’ve ever said yes to something only to resent it later and feel furious at how much energy it took to push through something that your body was boycotting the whole time. That’s the power the perfection paradox has had over us. And it’s also how we deny ourselves agency and authority over our own lives. 

On the contrary, though, and this is the exciting part, have you experienced listening to your gut instincts, that intuition? And when you did, it turned out that it was spot on. Even in those moments when you’re thinking mind said something different, but your body told you something with a clear message that you understood. That’s using body wisdom. 

If we’re going to change the inequities that women face, we do need society and organizations to create new structures of support for women. Yes, 100%. I do not believe that the work is all on us as individuals. It can’t be. We need society to change. And at the individual level, becoming skilled with body wisdom and discerning our own needs and limits is how we can expedite change ourselves. That is how we can take authority and agency in our own individual lives more so than we have in the past. 

In my personal journey and in my coaching with women clients, I know that body wisdom is a superpower. When you tune into your body’s messages, you can use that knowledge to make decisions and establish boundaries so you can manage your focus and energy, but also your joy and fulfillment. So let’s get into this here. What’s the first step to building body wisdom? 

It starts with listening and tuning in to subtle cues that your body is giving you. Some of those messages may come in the form of emotions. Other times it’s just physical sensations. And you don’t even have to be able to label them or dissect, is it this or is it that? You just need to be able to notice what happens, observe it, and this is the key here, without judgment or wanting it to be different, but actually paying attention to it, not brushing it off, not pushing through, not stuffing it down, not silencing it, but going, huh, that’s curious. and it can change your life in so many ways. Learning body wisdom is as simple as shifting your focus to scan your body. Notice what’s happening. You could be sitting still or laying down. But you don’t have to be. If your nervous system feels revved up and you’re feeling a lot of charge in your body, then go for a walk and tune in that way. You can be in movement. And as you get more skilled with it, then you can do it anywhere, anytime. what you’ll find as you start checking in with your body on a daily basis is that there are patterns. 

For example, for me personally, I tend to have a low level of baseline anxiety, I always have, it shows up, I’ve noticed as attention, nothing huge, but there’s just a tension in my throat and my upper chest. And sometimes it also feels like pressure on top of my head and in my eyes. It’s always there, you know, to some degree, it can go down to as low as a one out of 10 on a zero to 10 scale. However, when I’ve ignored my body’s messages, and over committed, or I’m over functioning and feeling resentful, when I’m pushing past my limits, that physical sensation of tension goes up to eight out of 10. Now on top of that, I have a vocal cord dysfunction, vocal cord dystonia, where I get physical symptoms of tightness in my throat where I feel like I have to constantly clear my throat. Also, I have bruxism where I’m clenching my teeth together and when my tension goes up then of course I’m clenching more and that can create pain in my jaw and neck. So it’s like a cascade that happens and if I just pay attention to it I can catch where I am in that pattern knowing that that tension is always there but it varies from a level of one to a level of about an eight. And I can do things to listen to that signal to be curious about, hmm, what is my body telling me right now. So when I do the check in, I’ll just kind of scan my body all over. But I’m definitely checking in here. Because this is a particular area in my throat and chest, in my jaw, where I know that my body is communicating to me. Here’s an example of how that could play out. 

So I’m officiating a very dear friend’s wedding this month. I’ll be in Colorado for a week for all of the events. I was asked to schedule a client meeting while I was out of town. And I was also trying to decide if I have the capacity to meet up with some other friends in the area while I’m there because I used to live in Denver and, you know, have a whole network there. Now, of course, my thinking mind said, Yes, you can do that. Of course, you should, you’ll have the time. This is basically a vacation, do whatever you want. The thinking mind always overestimates what I’m capable of. But knowing I wouldn’t use that strategy to make my choices, I stopped and listened to my body. I visualized the week using what specific activities I know are going to be scheduled. To guide that, I envisioned how I want to feel throughout the week, what I want my energy and capacity to be, and how I want to feel when I return home to Michigan. Without engaging in an internal dialogue with myself, you know, no debating, my body responded to the idea of adding more travel, more social gatherings, as I was considering it, by increasing this tension in my throat, to the point that my tongue felt stiff and swallowing felt suddenly harder, and my back teeth started touching and pressing and clenching, and my breathing got more shallow. And so just in asking my body, it responded. And that took place in less than 60 seconds, maybe 20 seconds. 

I took that as a clear answer. Mentally, I said, I’m not adding more things. I’m not planning more things while I’m in Colorado. And then lo and behold, my body tension eased up. My breathing felt spacious. All of that went away. And this is the power of how we can use body wisdom for decision making and boundaries. It can be applied to anything from your workload, to social commitments, making financial choices, and so much more. 

And just a quick note, because I know not everyone’s as visually oriented as I am. I’m a highly visual person. But Dr. Shirzad, a psychologist in MBA, recently shared a story in his positive intelligence training that I’m doing about a study with three groups of basketball players. And I want to share it with you because I think it’s really powerful. So one group physically practiced basketball drills every day for a specific amount of time. They had a coach and someone was, you know, blowing the whistle and putting them through the drills. There was a second group that did not physically do the drills. They visualized their bodies doing the drills, and they did it every day for the same amount of time as group one. There was a third group as well, and those were basketball players that did not physically practice the drills, and they did not visualize the drills. And what blows my mind is that there’s no significant difference in the skill development and performance between group one and group two. So the group that physically did it and the group that visualized it ended up performing the skills very similarly. And they both improved an average of 25% in the skills where the third group made no change, of course, over the course of the study. So when you can visualize something, your body centers are activated differently. You can actually feel your body doing those activities, which is why you can visualize something. and then have an experience inside of yourself. 

So your first homework assignment is to set aside at least one, but I recommend three because you’re really learning something new times a day to check in with your body and simply ask, what do I notice right now? I love to ask clients to write that down in a little notebook, the date and what you noticed, so that you can start to pick up patterns. It takes a little while to understand, oh, I felt that thing four times this week. Hmm. Maybe that’s there more than I realize. Because when you can zero in on a specific pattern in your body, then you can use that basically as you’re asking yourself questions, as you’re trying to make decisions, as you’re leaning in to understand where you need to set a boundary. And there’s no fancy process or breathing technique or body position you need to be in. You just set the intention to listen to sensations in your body. You just notice. Maybe something comes up and there’s something there for you to observe, or maybe not, and that’s fine too. And the list of what you could notice is infinite. It could be tension, like I described. It can be softness, tingling, cramping, aching, or lightness, heaviness, spaciousness, or temperature, like warmth, coolness, swirling, and so on. Just don’t judge or try to figure out what the sensation means necessarily. Just observe what’s there and be curious. 

Once you do that and feel comfortable, the next step is asking your body the question, what does blank and fill in the blank with your name need? So I would ask, what does Crystal need? And I always do this in the third person. So let’s say I’m trying to make a decision about my itinerary for my trip to Colorado. I’m trying to decide if I should say yes to this client to have a call while I’m there. I had stopped I just scan my body I would notice what my body is communicating what sensations are there. And then I can ask what does crystal mean? I can also ask that question anytime throughout the day, during a transition especially, before a meeting, after a meeting, especially if something didn’t feel good during that meeting, after I get home, when I’m feeling tired, before bed, when I get up in the morning, right? That question is so pivotal. What does blank and fill in the blank with your name need? And I’m just curious, how often do you actually ask that question, because that’s attuning to yourself. And that’s centering your needs in how you spend your energy. 

Now when you ask that question, what do you need? Just notice if anything arises because it’s probably going to be subtle like a whisper. Now, when I did this earlier today, an inner voice said, close your eyes for just a minute. They’re dry, and you’re getting cognitively mentally tired. Sometimes that voice says lie down. Sometimes it just says, you know, put your hand on your heart. Sometimes it says ask for support or take a break. It can say all kinds of things. Sometimes it’s as simple as go to the bathroom. You need to pee. It’s so pivotal. It sounds so easy and simple, but don’t skip over it. That’s a for real homework assignment. 

And you can use this as a visualization combined with this body check-in when you need to make a decision. Let’s say that you’ve been invited to join a committee at work. You start to imagine blocking your calendar off for the dates and the timeframes to do it. What does your body say? You envision driving to the meeting or being in a Zoom meeting. How does that feel? What comes up? You envision the work you’ll contribute to the committee’s goals. What sensations are there? Where do you feel conflict in your body? Sometimes there’s conflicting information. In one way, you feel spacious and energized. In the other, you feel tense, and there’s like a swirling sensation. So you’re just curious, and you’re just sitting with it, and you’re just noticing. Because in this moment, what’s happening is you’re negotiating between the expectations and desires of other people and your own. 

Now in the best case scenario, they match. And that’s great. That’s when you want to say yes. So let’s say in that example of visualizing you joining this committee, you notice in your check in feeling excitement and energized, your body is like zinging a yes. What if your body is actually contracting, and you notice tension and a shift in your breathing, and you start to feel apprehensive in your body? It doesn’t necessarily mean it’s an automatic no, right? We’re just, I’m going to pay attention to that. 

That’s a sign that you can ask to wait 48 hours to make that decision. a sign you want to just sit with it. You can say, Oh, I’d love to consider that I’ll get back to you at this date and time, and then keep exploring what’s happening at the sensation level. Or you can go ahead and say now. Because remember this, You can almost always come back and say yes after you say no. But, you cannot always say no after you’ve said yes. That can be so hard to unwind. 

So Attuned Leadership, embodied leadership, is valuing your body’s wisdom, these signals and using it and how you budget your energy and attention so that you maintain your capacity to do what’s most valuable to you. 

Now I want to talk to you about how that ties into your boundaries because they’re completely related. What we’ve talked about so far is foundational. And embodied boundaries are about honoring and respecting your own needs and limits. Allowing yourself to divest from the gender conditioning that says that first you have to prioritize other people’s expectations and needs. It’s knowing where I end and you begin. For you, it’s knowing where you end and someone else begins. It’s knowing what’s yours to carry and what’s not. It’s being in partnership with your body to create and maintain boundaries. that don’t compromise your values and needs. It’s completely an embodied experience. It’s not a cognitive experience to understand how to set, communicate, maintain your boundaries. When it comes to reaching your goals and self motivating yourself or setting limits to others. It’s the embodiment that’s key. 

Before I go any further, I’m thrilled to announce that I’m bringing back a free virtual experience training called The Well. It’s something I started at the beginning of COVID, but haven’t led in a couple of years. And this training is called The Well because I want us to recognize that we can’t pour from an empty cup or continue leading in a way that ignores our body wisdom and that there’s a wellspring of tools and strategies and resources that we can learn and implement that can make all the difference. This experience coming up will teach you the simple but powerful embodiment skills that translate into better stress resilience, capacity building, communication, and boundaries. If you’ve been wanting to learn more about attune leadership, or to work with me, not just from a theoretical perspective, but in a hands on developing the skills that really move the needle in your career and personal life satisfaction, don’t miss this chance. It’s going to be Thursday, June 6, from noon to 1pm Eastern Time, sign up and get the details and hold your spot at 

You know, it’s kind of funny when you think about it. Boundaries. They’re not exactly on the curriculum at school, are they? And our families? Well, they might teach us a lot, but setting a boundary? Not exactly the strong suit either. Not in my family or many others that I’m familiar with. It’s like this whole topic is a big secret that no one talks about, right? But here’s the thing. Once you start getting the hang of listening to your body and Knowing your boundaries, you unlock this whole new level of being and thriving. Seriously, it’s like discovering this superpower you never knew you had. Suddenly, you’re more creative and resilient. And the best part? You start to connect with others in this whole new way. They feel more safe in relationship to you because they know where you stand. You feel more safe with others because you know you can keep your boundaries intact. And in a world that’s changing faster than we can keep up with, having solid boundaries, it’s like having your own personal compass. It keeps you grounded, helps you navigate whatever comes your way. 

So, what are boundaries, anyways? I thought it would be interesting to look at a dictionary definition of the word boundary to help me clarify that for you. Here’s two that I found. Definition number one, a boundary is a line that marks the limits of an area, a dividing line. Definition two of boundary, something that indicates or fixes a limit or extent. And I agree with those. I think they are spot on. 

As a body focused women’s leadership coach, I believe that having boundaries is having a strong sense of self. To help develop that sense of self, I like to have you orient to your literal boundary, which is the outline of your body or your skin. For those of us who are highly empathic, or sensitive, or in some cases just really stretchy, like really hypermobile, that sense of my outline and my physical boundary can be hard to experience. it’s really helpful to move kind of from the outside of the body in, especially if you’re not used to paying attention to the fact that you have a body and that it’s communicating to you. 

So I’d love to guide you through a very simple way to experience that right now. If you’re not driving, and you’re not in the middle of working, go ahead and stand up. Although you can totally do this while you’re sitting or laying down. So take a hand and brush the palm and your fingertips along your physical outline of your body in long sweeping motions. It doesn’t need to be deep pressure, you just at a pace like brush, brush, brush, brush. Maybe you start on your arms doing the outside of your arms. Then you come to your neck and your chest, ribs. If you can reach your upper, the back part of your shoulders and shoulder blades, go there. Then along your kind of middle back, lower back. And then keep brushing down the front of your hips and pelvis to your thighs. And then down your shins and feet, then the back of your legs, you can stomp your feet on the ground. Just notice what you feel, you know, you’re just taking 30 seconds here. You can also touch your face the top and back of your head. So this is helping your brain map where your body is, where you are in space, it wakes up all your sensory processing centers. Now close your eyes and imagine your whole body at once, because if you can see the outline of your body, even though your eyes are closed, since your body as if you’re looking from the outside in or from an aerial view, looking from the top down, you are one integrated, whole, complete self. Now imagine that this boundary of your body is an impenetrable barrier. Nothing gets in or out without your conscious permission. Even with your breathing, become aware of the fact that you’re breathing in and out through the nose. In this moment, consciously choose when you take the next breath. You can choose to soften as you exhale and slow it down or not. As you do that, sense the temperature, the sound and the speed that air is moving in and out of the boundary of your nose. Amazing job. Thank you for playing along with me and doing something experiential. 

Now let’s take this and apply it to something really practical in your day. embodiment practices like this help you attune to what’s happening in the present moment, into your real time body wisdom, being present and recognizing these physical and emotional cues from your body helps you in every decision you need to make over the course of the day. helps you sense with confidence what your needs and preferences and limits are, so that you can set limits that align with your authentic self in that moment. 

Now let’s apply this to your life. Let’s think about it in terms of time management. from this grounded place, aware of your body’s outline and all the current sensations that you’re feeling. Think of something that came at you recently, an email, a call, a request, something asking you to do more. Maybe it’s a project, scheduling additional meetings, adding a social event, just come up with something that’s happened recently that you’re still pending making that decision? What do you notice as you envision yourself saying yes, in implementing this request? So we have emotions like anger and resentment, and joy and excitement, but that’s not how we experience them. We experience emotions by sensations. So you’re noticing is there tension or constriction or change in your breathing or lightness or energy. And it’s not always black and white. Remember, things can be a mixed state, like I said earlier. Maybe I’m can be excited and exhausted by the idea. And that’s when discernment is key. Having embodied boundaries gives you a sense of agency where you know you’re in control, how you can move towards a feeling of the excitement, but not the exhaustion. 

So when you notice feeling conflicting sensations, then that’s when I want you to shift from just trying to discern what am I feeling into thinking, how do I communicate my needs and my limits? For example, I could say to someone requesting a change of me where I felt excited and exhausted by the idea, I’m thrilled to consider doing this and it’s not an ideal time for me right now. So I can start in three weeks or fill in the blank for yourself. So I can honor my limit while saying yes to what lights me up and being able to do that is a key skill that will help you advance your career and create more satisfying relationships while protecting you from burnout. Too often, our body is giving us a signal, we completely ignore it. We say yes, even though our body said no. And then we feel all kinds of things that lead to depletion. So think of how you can prevent that type of depletion and exhaustion and resentment, and just being over busy, overworked, overtired, and not performing at your best or feeling thrilled and excited about what you’re doing by using attune leadership by practicing body wisdom and embodied boundaries and then communicating. 

I want to keep this short and sweet. I hope that you’ve enjoyed thinking about boundaries differently and that it’s emboldened you to realize the value of body centered leadership practices. I would love to know what you think about today’s show and here if you’d like more experiential little practices like this little tidbits from attuned leadership to start to build more body wisdom throughout your days. 

Don’t forget to sign up for The Well it’s going to be a free virtual experiential training for one hour on Thursday June 6 from noon to one EST. Sign up at

I’m so excited to have this time with you to give you not just the heady sort of theoretical knowledge like I do in the podcast, but to really show you to move our bodies and show you some of these skills. It’s going to be incredible. And I don’t want you to miss it. Thank you for listening to the show. It’s a pleasure to create a tune leadership for women for you. 

Remember to rate and review the podcast on Apple podcast or Spotify, or whatever player you like to listen. And if you’ve enjoyed the show and know of a friend or colleague who could really benefit from hearing this shift in paradigm on women’s leadership and resilience, please go ahead and forward them this show. I can’t wait to be back with you in two weeks for our next show. Until then, be well and stay attuned.