How to Break Barriers: Overcoming Addiction, Racism, and Perfectionism with Laura Cathcart Robbins | EU22110 min read

May 10, 2024

Laura Cathcart Robbins prioritizes well-being, breaks barriers, and inspires authentic living for high-achieving women.

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I am a licensed marriage and family therapist, marriage coach, course creator, retreat host, mother of 3, married for 23 years and host of the Empowered and Unapologetic podcast. 


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Picture this: growing up in an environment where being true to yourself felt like stepping into a lion’s den. Laura Carthcart Robbins, best-selling author of “Stash: My Life in Hiding,” learned the art of adapting and blending in, even if it meant sacrificing her own identity to fit the mold. Fast forward to her adult years, where she’s juggling a high-profile life like a pro, but secretly wrestling with her own demons – addiction. It’s like living a double life, with one side polished and public, and the other shadowed by secrecy and shame. But hey, life has this funny way of pushing us to our limits, and Laura hit hers. That breaking point led her to seek treatment and, spoiler alert, it was a game-changer.

Now, let’s talk walls – not the ones you see in your house, but the emotional and psychological barriers that we build around ourselves. Laura’s been there, done that, and got the T-shirt. She knows firsthand how these walls can hold us back from living authentically. But here’s the kicker: she’s not just preaching from a pedestal; she’s walking the walk. Laura’s journey of tearing down those walls is like a masterclass in self-awareness and vulnerability. She’s all about ditching the autopilot reactions and embracing intentional responses, paving the way for true authenticity and connection.

Laura’s story isn’t just inspiring – it’s a wake-up call. It’s about saying, “Hey, it’s okay not to have it all figured out,” and giving yourself permission to prioritize your own well-being and happiness. She’s like your personal cheerleader, urging you to embrace imperfection and rewrite your own rulebook. With her down-to-earth wisdom and relatable insights, Laura’s empowering high-achieving women everywhere to join her on this journey of self-discovery and fulfillment. So, grab your metaphorical toolbox and get ready to break down those walls – because your best life is waiting on the other side.

In this episode, Laura talks about prioritizing well-being and happiness, and breaking down your walls to live authentically.

Meet Laura Carthcart Robins

Laura Cathcart Robbins is a powerhouse in the world of literature and podcasting. As the best-selling author of the memoir “Stash: My Life in Hiding,” published by Atria Books, a division of Simon and Schuster, Laura has captivated audiences with her raw and courageous storytelling.

In addition to her literary achievements, Laura is the host of the acclaimed podcast “The Only One in the Room,” where she amplifies diverse voices and shares powerful stories of resilience and authenticity. With her unique blend of empathy and insight, Laura has garnered a devoted following and earned praise from listeners around the globe.

Beyond her work in media, Laura is a respected speaker and advocate for diversity, equity, and inclusion. She has served as a school trustee and is credited with creating the Buckley School’s nationally recognized committee on diversity. Her thought-provoking articles on race, recovery, and divorce have earned her worldwide acclaim and solidified her as a leading voice in the conversation on social justice and personal growth.

In recognition of her literary contributions, Laura was named the Memoirist of the Year by the San Diego Writers Festival in 2024. She is also a TEDx speaker and an L.A. Moth Story Slam winner, captivating audiences with her powerful storytelling and unwavering authenticity.

Currently, Laura sits on the advisory board of the San Diego Writers Festival and the Outliers HQ Podcast Festival, where she continues to champion emerging voices and foster connections within the literary community.

To learn more about Laura Cathcart Robbins and her work, visit her website at lauracathcartrobbins.com.


  • Choose the possibility of happiness when faced with choices.
  • Break down the walls that prevent you from living authentically.
  • Celebrate your personal wins and accomplishments.
  • Overcoming addiction and internalized racism is a journey worth sharing.
  • Prioritize your own well-being and happiness.

Prioritizing Well-Being and Happiness

Growing up in an environment where being true to herself felt unsafe, Laura learned to adapt and conform, sacrificing her identity for the sake of fitting in. “Survival for me meant not sticking out, even though I was black in all white spaces most of my life,” Laura shares, highlighting the profound impact of her upbringing on her sense of self.

As Laura navigated the complexities of her high-profile life – juggling responsibilities as a parent association president and a board of trustees member – she grappled with a private battle: addiction. Despite the public facade, Laura’s addiction remained hidden, shrouded in secrecy and shame. It wasn’t until she reached a breaking point, acknowledging her inability to hold it together any longer, that she sought treatment. The decision to confront her addiction marked a pivotal moment in Laura’s journey toward prioritizing her well-being and happiness.

In the house where I grew up, it was not safe to be myself. It rubbed my stepfather the wrong way and then my home became violent. So I learned to be, to adapt, to edit, to alter myself so that I could blend in wherever I was. Survival for me meant not sticking out even though I was black in all white spaces most of my life, figuring out a way to blend in. (Laura Cathcart Robbins)

For Laura, sobriety became a catalyst for self-discovery and personal growth. Freed from the grip of addiction, she embarked on a quest to reclaim her authenticity and redefine her sense of self. “I had no idea who I was really. I just knew who I was to everyone,” Laura reflects. This journey of rediscovery was not without its challenges, as Laura confronted deeply ingrained beliefs and behaviors. She recognized the detrimental impact of her “superwoman complex,” fueled by the relentless pursuit of perfection and the need to fulfill countless obligations.

In hindsight, Laura acknowledges the profound lessons gleaned from her journey. She recognizes the value of mindfulness and self-awareness, understanding the importance of listening to her body and honoring her limits. “The truth was I shouldn’t have been showing up for 6,000 things,” Laura admits, highlighting the necessity of prioritizing self-care and authenticity. Through introspection and resilience, Laura has learned to embrace her imperfections and prioritize her well-being and happiness above all else. Her journey serves as a testament to the transformative power of self-love and authenticity, inspiring others to embark on their own paths toward fulfillment and inner peace.

Living Authentically: Breaking Down Walls

Laura Cathcart Robbins talks about the critical importance of tearing down the walls we’ve constructed around ourselves. These barriers, whether they stem from addiction, trauma, or societal pressures, can often stand between us and our true selves. When asked about advice for women struggling to break down their own barriers, Laura’s response is both insightful and empathetic.

Drawing from her own experiences, Laura acknowledges the complexity of dismantling these walls. For her, it’s a skill honed over decades, beginning in childhood as a means of self-protection. As she candidly shares, her journey has been marked by years of navigating these barriers, learning to navigate the delicate balance between self-preservation and self-expression.

Laura’s perspective offers a powerful reminder that breaking down walls isn’t just about tearing down physical barriers – it’s about unraveling the emotional and psychological constructs that hold us back. It’s about confronting the patterns and behaviors that no longer serve us and learning to embrace vulnerability as a path to healing and growth.

One of the key insights Laura shares is the importance of awareness in this process. Often, we’re so accustomed to operating within the confines of our walls that we fail to recognize their existence. It’s only through cultivating mindfulness and self-reflection that we can begin to identify and dismantle these barriers, paving the way for a more authentic and fulfilling life.

And the minute we’re able to identify that, everything starts to change. Everything starts to change. And I love the example you gave with knowing the difference between reacting and responding. Because a lot of us think, well, it’s fine. I handled it. And it’s like, well, yes, but was that emotionally driven? And if it’s emotionally driven, there’s not a lot of rationale. (Veronica Cisneros)

Laura’s emphasis on the distinction between reacting and responding resonates deeply in this context. By developing greater emotional intelligence and self-awareness, we can break free from the cycle of automatic reactions and choose intentional responses that align with our values and aspirations. In doing so, we reclaim agency over our lives and create space for true authenticity and connection to flourish.

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Meet Veronica Cisneros

As a leading authority in women’s empowerment and a fierce advocate for building strong networks, Veronica is your go-to guru for turning fears into victories, struggles into strengths, and doubts into boundless opportunities.
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist for 10 plus years; empowering high-achieving women in business to conquer both professional heights and personal fulfillment. She doesn’t do bandaids!
Veronica has a unique approach to overcoming obstacles and smashing through the glass ceilings that loom over ambitious women. With her arsenal of practical tools, actionable strategies, and unwavering support, Veronica doesn’t just help women succeed in their careers – she helps them thrive in every facet of their lives.

But Veronica’s expertise isn’t just theoretical – it’s personal. With over 24 years of marriage, three daughters, and a soaring career, Veronica embodies the resilience and determination needed to navigate life’s challenges. As a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, Group Private Practice Owner, of Outside The Norm Counseling, Marriage Coach, and the voice behind the Empowered and Unapologetic podcast, Veronica effortlessly guides women to challenge themselves beyond their comfort zones.

Veronica is more than an expert – she’s a partner in transformation, turning mundane relationships into true connections. With her relatable charm and infectious humor, Veronica illuminates the path for women who refuse to settle for anything less than success in both business and relationships. Through practical tips, heartfelt anecdotes, and her trademark wit, Veronica empowers every woman to cultivate unbreakable bonds without sacrificing their ambitions.

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I’m Veronica, your new Boss MOM Mentor with no filter and no BS. 

I'm a licensed marriage and family therapist, women’s coach, course creator, and retreat host. Married for OVER 20 years, raising three girls, and the host of the Empowered and Unapologetic podcast. 

Enough about me… 

My jam? Helping high-achieving women thrive both at home and in the hustle of work.

I've been there.

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