The Balance Code

How Beliefs Create Perfectionism with Cadence Robertson

January 31, 2024 Katie Rössler Season 2 Episode 13
The Balance Code
How Beliefs Create Perfectionism with Cadence Robertson
Show Notes Transcript

Wondering whether your pursuit of perfection is just a mask to hide a deeper issue?  

 Today, I sit down with life and confidence coach Cadence Robertson to delve into the intriguing topic of how beliefs create perfectionism. 

Cadence mainly works with perfectionists to help them beat the inner bully so that they grow in love, make more money, and feel more relaxed. 

Together, we embark on a profound exploration of perfectionism and its underlying layers, questioning the very beliefs that steer our relentless pursuit of success. Join us as we unravel the reasons behind the perfectionism trap and consider how these ingrained notions may be impacting your journey to balance. It's a conversation that goes beyond the surface, offering insights that might just redefine the way you approach perfectionism.

What we talked about:

  • How perfectionism prevents people from taking risks and pursuing things that could make them happier.
  • Why fear contributes to perfectionism, from societal influences to childhood experiences.
  • The relationship between embarrassment, shame, and perfectionism. The importance of exposing and addressing these emotions.
  • How perfectionism can hinder personal relationships because of the fear of potential failure and rejection.
  • Practical strategies for regulating the nervous system to cope with perfectionist tendencies.
  • The importance of self-awareness and shifting perspectives.
  • The significance of building self-confidence and self-awareness as essential components in managing perfectionism.


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 Katie Rössler 0:09 Welcome to the balanced code podcast, a place where you have permission to step outside the hamster wheel day to day life and learn tools to create more balance. My name is Katie Rössler. I'm a licensed therapist and burnout and hidden grief specialist. I support ambitious, goal driven people who are ready to get off the one way train to burnout start to enjoy life to the fullest. Oh, by the way, I'm American living in Germany, who's still learning the language mama three in an entrepreneur. Living my balance code is what keeps me able to work in a credible way without burning out. Welcome back to the podcast today. I have cadence Robertson and we're gonna be talking about how beliefs create perfectionism. Now, some of you who are listening are like Oh, perfectionism. I'm really familiar with that. Some of you you're like, No, I don't have those qualities. We'll just wait. I feel like cadence and I are going to have an amazing conversation. What's going to help you see the you probably had some tendencies if you're listening to this episode. So Cadence. Welcome to the podcast. Please share with us a little bit about yourself. Where you are and who you serve. Awesome. 

Cadence Robertson 1:15 Nice. Thank you for having me on. Katie, it's great to meet you. And so I've cadence I am the coach for five year cadence coaching and I help people who are perfectionist with life and confidence. So people don't often realize that perfectionism can get in the way of your confidence because you have this kind of idealized version of everything that you should be and accomplish. And so we kind of break that down and are able to help each person find the confidence within them that is already exists. As the person that they are in the body that they are and the things that they're already wearing. So I'm in actually Hamilton, Ontario. If anybody is Canadian, then hey, how you doing? 

Katie Rössler 1:58 There are good listeners for sure. Yep. Excellent. So no, okay, let's get to the beginning. You know, things is a are basically perfectionism. How they see it shows up in how people act, how people think, and really how they're interacting with others. 

Cadence Robertson 2:20 Well, I find that perfectionism prevents people from doing a lot of things, that's what I would say is the number one marker so also, I apologize, everybody, I'm still getting over illness. So I might sound a little bit nasally so that might look like not going on the dates that you want to go on or not applying for the big projects that you think you're actually probably capable of. But you don't want to risk like messing up so it stems from a lot of fear. And this can this can originate in a lot of different ways. Whether it's just because you've been socialized as a woman, or the way the your educators have treated you or the way that your parents have treated you or the just the way that your family system works. Not to blame any one person necessarily in your life or anything like that. But just like different situations in your childhood or adolescence can influence the way that you grow up and that's fine. That's just the way it is. But that doesn't mean that you're necessarily stuck like that. So it's a lot of fear that's kind of pointed in different directions. Like I'm afraid this person is going to judge me. I'm afraid I'm gonna embarrass myself. I'm afraid I'm gonna mess up. I'm afraid I'm gonna get rejected. And so it prevents people from doing things that would probably make them a lot happier.

 Katie Rössler 3:38 Yeah, embarrassment. I'm so glad you brought that up. That tends to be a word. I work with the clients and like what's your relationship with embarrassment? Because what's behind that is usually shame, right? Like weight embarrassment is like I weighed in the person and realized that's not really the person I thought it was. But shame is like, Oh my God, if they ever figured us out about me, I like I have to move I can never go back to that place again. And ultimately prefer perfectionist, it plays more it feels like embarrassment, but at the core, it feels like shade. So how do you help your clients deal with that relationship with embarrassment or shame or having they've identified it? 

Cadence Robertson 4:20 That's a really good question. I think that exposing it at first is what kind of makes people realize that that's what even there because I think shame loves to hide in other in other feelings like embarrassment or like in I have to do this perfectly. I have to do this project perfectly. And so it has to look exactly like this and it has to be done. Exactly at this time. Otherwise, I was viral. And so it's like hiding over there in that project, for example. And so I find that solving a lot of these problems. Oh, and I say solving. But for the perfectionist listening that doesn't mean it's all forever and that it's perfectly never gonna come back. I find that a lot of the time that we talked about, like fixing perfectionism. Like, girl, I am a perfectionist. That's why I'm here. That's why I'm helping you as a perfectionist. That doesn't mean I'm never a perfectionist anymore. You have to be okay with the imperfect pneus of of handling things one at a time, and that you're not going to handle every single situation perfectly imperfectly, but anyway, so that's a beside. So it's a case by case situation where a client will bring their situation to the call for example, and we kind of like gently massage it. I was talking to somebody yesterday about heart exteriors. And I realized in that conversation, you can't chip away at a hard exterior of a person. You have to like soak it in a nice warm bath and then like massage it and you might get to the the media, the person or the media the problem, right? If you chip away at it, it just doesn't feel good. And then they just feel exposed and broken. So that's 

Katie Rössler 6:09 so true. That's actually really make sure if you try to chip away you might hurt yourself in the process, but you can't play up there. But you're right you soften it like Go slowly. I like some of your like, partner that's my best friend or 

Cadence Robertson 6:27 Yeah, exactly like oh no, I would never do like Oh trust me when you're like loved and held in a safe place and then you know slowly let things out. We talk about maybe an easier situation first and then a more complicated situation that can ease your situation can be handled wherever you can expose the perfectionist thoughts that are pretending to be helpful. And then when you see them you're like Oh, okay. Every time I procrastinate, it's because I'm telling myself I'm not good enough. And so when we expose that thought in the call, and you notice that you're like, oh, that's what's happening. Then you go out into the world and you see yourself procrastinating, you're like, Hmm, am I telling myself that I'm not good enough? And then we can start replacing those thoughts with other things that you believe but that just are a little bit more helpful. Like, instead of maybe I'm not good enough. It'll turn to I'm still learning how to do this or something a little bit more. Yeah. 

Katie Rössler 7:24 Yeah, this is a great segue. Like, let's go a little bit deeper into what are the belief systems that create perfection so the first is I'm not good enough. And that can go into the world of failure or rejection, right? Like I'll be alone. I'm not gonna know if I won't get the love I need or if I'm not good enough, I'm not worthy. I'm allowed to be here. But what are some of the what's the craziest beliefs you've heard? And this is no no negative to any client you've ever had or any I've ever had. We all have them. Like, let's be honest, like I could share some my own crazy beliefs. But like, what are some of the crazy beliefs you've had or clients have had that you're like you both have been like, well, that's pretty exceeded. We're gonna work on that. 

Cadence Robertson 8:10 I think it ends up being more of a spiral that's surprising that the person realizes it starts as my ideas are stupid. But then it's the spiraling thoughts that come afterwards like my ideas are stupid. That means my boss is going to hate this. That means they're actually going to fire me and I'm going to lose my job I'm gonna lose my house and I'm going to live on the streets and I'm going to die alone. And there's just like, all the way and then they they don't realize that they're making their brain is automatically making the jump from my ideas are stupid to I'm going to die alone. Like in a matter of a millisecond. And that's why no one or they don't want to do the thing. Because they think if they do the thing, they're gonna die alone. That's reasonable. That's scary. 

Katie Rössler 8:49 Yep, lambda is always and I've done a lot of work around this, like, what will they think of me? What will they think of me? And then I when I take it back, and I looked at like my hidden grief timeline, I see times where I was bullied. I see times where like, girls in school with makeup secrets about like spread secrets about me that were you know, weren't true and make up stories and things. And I was always like, the really sweet one. He was like, I don't know what's happening. Why is this happening to me, right? So I had to realize that all of those things plus being the gold star child that's what I like to call it if you were the one who like did well in school and your parents like I can't believe he did that one small slip up, but maybe your sibling because like we got to the house and not getting the trouble. Sorry. But that's that's one of those scenarios where you play it out, play it out, play it out. And then the bullying I experienced was like now I'm just afraid of what people will think of me and I even if I like put a email out there and it was like, Oh God, I mistake Oh, no, what are they going to think of the I typed it wrong and it's like, they're gonna think I'm human. Like, it's okay. Yeah, you shipped us loose, but it does spiral You're right. There's this thing and it usually picks up memories. And then all of a sudden, you're like, you're not going to like me. I'm gonna get rejected again. I'm gonna get made fun of again. Oh my god. I'm a 39 year old woman share even though Yeah. So I love that you brought up the spiral isn't so so true.

 Cadence Robertson 10:21 Yeah, and I think maybe some people might be intimidated by coaching because they don't necessarily want to explore all of those things. And I like to put out there and this isn't like harder, true facts. But this is my idea of what coaching is compared to therapy is that those kinds of like stories and things that have happened to your past can come up if you want them to, and we can acknowledge like, Oh, that makes sense. No wonder you know your brain has this pattern because bla bla bla happened, but at the same time, it's not a requirement to like go back in time and re expose you to old traumas or anything like that, because, in my opinion, coaching is so forward facing, and so it's great to acknowledge those things if they're if they expose themselves or if you feel comfortable and whatever. But we can totally just look forward and notice patterns, acknowledge patterns and start to shift patterns without necessarily knowing where they come from, if you don't want to, so that's that's what made 

Katie Rössler 11:23 me think of, yeah, no, and that's what I mean, the difference between coaching and therapy really is where you're orienting yourself towards Absolutely. And the end goal is always exactly the same shift the beliefs, we live at healthier and happier life. Okay, so we've looked at some beliefs. What are the things that people have avoided or just decided to not even attempt that? Like when you work with me starting to say like, Did you realize like you really just didn't even try for this thing that you like, either. Maybe it's their biggest goal in life. And they like self sabotage, right? Because they don't want to be faced with the struggles that perfectionism brain like what are some of those stories? 

Cadence Robertson 12:03 I would say the number one thing that jumps out to me when you say that is love, feel like love and dating? Is the ultimately the most scary thing a person seems to do, because you expose yourself so deeply. And it's not like someone will outright say I want to fall in love I want to date but I definitely don't actually want you because I'm really scared. What they'll do is say I want to fall in love. I want to date okay, we make a plan together. What are some things you could try that might expose you to more people in general? Okay, fine. I'm gonna go to a pottery class. And then the next week, it's like, I mean, I didn't go to the pottery class because I had this thing and then I wanted to do this other thing and then I just and then I just didn't have time here like, Aha, okay. Yeah, let's talk about that. Right. And so it's a lot of avoiding. And then you get into the thoughts of like, what was really scary about going to a pottery class and it's not even necessarily talking to anybody on that one class. It's like the potential of being successful and finding someone and then dating them and then potentially getting hurt. And so it's like, they want to do the first couple of steps but then they're really afraid of like, all the awful things that could potentially come with falling 

Katie Rössler 13:19 in love. Right, right. And in the reality of falling in love and like they're all tied in that right there if you're gonna get hurt, and then there's also the growth and the beauty of it. So it's, it's like going in and going like I know what will picture looks like and then don't want the full picture. Like okay, yeah, you could try for the Disney castle, but I don't think that yeah, so I would I would love to hear from you is how people can start, like regulating their nervous system. When they noticed the belief systems and the spiraling coming like what are the tools you tend to teach with that? 

Cadence Robertson 13:54 I would say the very first and most simple thing that someone can do on their own is classic, but it's journaling and it's having this awareness around the beliefs that you have. So I like to use the example of the belief in Santa. So your beliefs are just practiced thoughts all put together. So if you believe in Santa, you have thoughts like as kid or whatever people even send it out to you. But if you believe in Santa, then you're thinking, Santa is coming. It comes on this day, he brings gifts he brings gifts, some good all of these thoughts and all put together. That's the belief in Santa. And then at some point in your life, somebody shatters that belief by telling you a bunch of other stuff. Neither story actually has, like, for sure evidence. There's no real evidence that Santa exists or doesn't exist, because it's both just things people tell you. And at some point, you start believing some other sentences instead of the previous sentences. And so when it comes to shifting your belief, then you will notice the beliefs that are coming up a lot for you like, Okay, I believe that I'm not good enough. Why do I believe I'm not good enough? What sentences am I telling myself? Am I telling myself you know, somebody's gonna look at my work and tell me I'm bad or someone's gonna, whatever it is, like what kinds of things am I telling myself over and over again, to create this belief that I'm not good enough? And so as you expose those thoughts that are repeating themselves over and over again, especially page after page and like, oh, there it is. Again. I think my boss is gonna yell at me even though he's literally never yelled at me in my life. Okay, there it is. Again, I think somebody's gonna yell at me. Where somebody yelled at me before like, just like seeing it on paper. Makes you start just to be able to question like, no one's telling you, you have to necessarily change anything like that. But having the awareness and the ability to question things in the moment can change everything for you. 

Katie Rössler 15:59 Oh, absolutely. I love that. And just the way you just did, it was very guided. So it's not just like, let me that's free, right, whatever. In the moment. It's like, what is the belief system around this moment where I don't want to do something get scared to do something, what is the ultimate fear there? And then where does that come from? And that can help because often when we say like during the lit like, what? Like wow, what 

Cadence Robertson 16:24 am I say again? What is the point exactly 

Katie Rössler 16:26 that your it is very focused, it is what what is the desire to be perfect or have it done perfect about you know, is it about your looks, is it about what you do? Is it about I will only apply for a job if I have half or over half of the the qualifications or do you need 90% of the qualifications, like all of these things, 

Cadence Robertson 16:50 we have to sort of 

Katie Rössler 16:52 start to take apart so we better understand. But being able to stop and figure that out, I think is key and knowing that your body is still going to be like, no, no, no, this is bad. This is bad. And recognizing that there's a reason why he's doing it is to protect you, but it's protecting you from something probably a long time ago. And I love the analogy of it's like, it's like looking at a caterpillar in your brain like it's a snake. It's a snake and you're like, it's a caterpillar, and it's okay, you've seen snakes before. Right like to have dealt with Navia like the caterpillar is now scary, but it's just the caterpillar. And the journaling helps your brain start to figure that out. Oh, I'm not gonna get yelled at by my boss because he's never yelled at me. And he's not the type that would yell. If he did. I would report it to HR. So you're like, hey, yeah, yeah, logical plan here. Excellent. Yes, yes. Yes. What's your own perfectionism? What are some things that you have had to really face more regularly than you've done a lot of work on yourself? But one of the things that still come up you said it perfectionism doesn't go away. It is ingrained in who we are. And if we look at nature and nurture, you talked about awkward stuff in your childhood, but some people have a temperament that goes towards being more orderly being more like a certain way higher anxiety. So they want things to be perfect because it creates harmony and balance in common system, though, yes, it will not always go away for you and I and many others, but one of the things you still find coming up. 

Cadence Robertson 18:28 For me, I like to call it like my brains favorite thoughts. It's like a more loving way. To say like, an annoying stuff. The hate your brain loves to repeat even though you know like, Okay, I've exposed this already like okay, I'm familiar with this, and it's not so jarring each time. But I have to I do also have anxiety and I think anxiety and perfectionism not that I know for sure because I'm not a doctor but anxiety. And perfectionism tend to often be connected in that friend. That makes sense. Yeah. And so for me, one of my brains favorite thoughts is that people are going to leave me and so I love to find new and exciting ways to find reasons why people might leave me or why people have left me or whatever, whatever. But now I can be like, Oh, that's that's what I receive your thoughts. And there's actually no reason to believe that that's true. And I have actually lots of reasons to believe that they won't and that's another thing too is that life is like a living contradiction and there will always be reasons for both. You will always be able to find reasons on both sides of anything. And so when people say like shift your perspective and Lola in like a really funky kind of sense. It sounds but there is some truth to shifting your focus to something else. That's true. Not just being like, Oh, I'm great and everything's fine. But finding something like Okay, I think my partner's gonna leave me for no actual reason but because I don't know because I didn't pick up the dishwasher and clean up the dishwasher. So he's gonna leave me like the jump my brain made. And so then it's like okay, shifting the perspective that's one of my brain stupid thoughts exposure. Okay. What's on the other side? What are like 10 reasons I know he's not going to leave me because that's actually absurd, right? And then you can kind of like, go through that process and be like, okay, yes, there. I'm good. I should be good. And then worst case, I'm just going to talk to him, right? 

Katie Rössler 20:37 Right. Like, Hey, are you going to leave because I didn't have to disrupt No. Okay. Yeah. I think it's a combination of the self talk. And like combining it with some breath work right to calm the anxiety because often we start holding our breath and like, shorter breath as the spiral happen. It's our mind and body so super connected. So as you're talking about that spiral, the breath is shortening. You're getting a little like clammy and you're like, Oh, my God, I feel and how do I I know I was speaking 

Cadence Robertson 21:07 clearly. I'm like, this isn't even a real situation at all. Like, 

Katie Rössler 21:12 like, how do we focus back on that breath as you're doing what you said like my mind saver thoughts. Okay. Here's what I do. Here's the net. Okay, here's I disproved this, here's a logical reason for this. Okay. And that combined with breathing and you really like, I think that's one of the best tools you can give somebody. When we are at the height of our panic of perfectionism. I'm going to get signed up found out I'm gonna do it wrong. Oh my god. I'm so nervous. That might not always work well, because logical thought is very hard to do. So my recommendation would be do the breath work first and then do it cadence just add into like, now like calm myself down. Let me do the thought process. Is your brains not like yeah, let me logically think it's like a tantruming child. Don't sit down with them and be like flex talk it out. I'm sorry. First you want to regulate their nervous system, calm down, grab, rub the back. And then let's talk about what you're really upset about. And that you have to treat your brain the same way. I find with perfectionism often. It's what you've alluded to. It's an inner child that has something it's here to prove or do and it gets really worked up. Like Love on it. As you said the hardshell rub on it. It's okay. Everything will be fine. And then you get to the root of like, okay, here's the logical thought. So, combine those two, and the dishwasher won't bother you anymore. And 

Cadence Robertson 22:40 yeah, it's so funny you say that. My experience is in childcare before I started coaching and so the experience of being with young children and it's like experiencing their nervous system experiencing how they they deal with emotions and how they deal with conflict and things like that is what kind of led me in this direction down this path of seeing how lots of VCs don't know, is the early childhood educator. I don't know how to handle those things, especially at the beginning of their career. And this is kind of a new within the past 10 years or so, a new realization that we need to be focusing on their self regulation and on their conflict. Resolution and things like that, which means adults our age didn't get that teaching. Right. And so I have all this information from the kids to be like, All right, who has who has an anxious child inside, support and my ability or emotions 

Katie Rössler 23:41 like I've seen it when you get frustrated, that anxious sound comes out. Well, before we wrap up, let's talk about something that it's easy to laugh about. But in the moment, it's challenging, the defensiveness that we have perfectionist, put up that hard wall when someone tries to tell us to simplify to do less. Maybe think a bit differently, you know when when we are faced with possibly good advice that it's from someone we don't want to your weekend super defensive. So what are some strategies when we noticed that in ourselves that we can start to like lower those walls? If if that person doesn't know how to take the time to massage, massage slowly? How can we do that for ourselves? That is a good question. 

Cadence Robertson 24:30 Because I don't know if that is something that would work very well for somebody who tends to get a lot of advice from their family, or, you know, has friends who just love to stick their nose in your business or whatever. I think that having somebody like a coach or a therapist or whoever it is that you choose to have somebody who's neutral, to show you where your thoughts tend to lead you really is valuable in that situation because you'll get used to hearing things that aren't your own thoughts in a way that isn't like, oh, this person literally hates me, or doesn't want to be my friend anymore or something like that. And then you know, when you're able to talk to that person about your relationships or you know, experiences that you have within relationships, then that person can show you Oh, do you see how maybe you know what this thought influenced the conversation in some kind of way you can be like, Okay, maybe fine, a little bit. Right, and then you can start to have that awareness like I've with clients of mine I've witnessed them Beck's relationships, even though that wasn't even necessarily what we were focusing on, fix relationships with their parents or with their boss because they are more self loving. And they are more accepting of the person that they are in the values that they hold. And so when they show up to a relationship, who tends to have a lot of opinions about them, which tends to spark a lot of conflict, then the person doesn't feel like they need to defend themselves so hard because they have a stronger like sense of self. Yeah, that's 

Katie Rössler 26:17 a great point. So it's really working on our own self confidence and awareness of ourselves through whether it be coaching therapy, finding a guide, someone who can be there with you, that's more neutral, right? Like as a friend or family member, you kind of send them things like this is just about you. Like, oh, this person just wants the, you know, the best for me. And then you can explore it a lot more safely. And I think often when we hear people give us advice, that means we need to change something about ourselves to do something more or less. It feels like an attack on our identity. But when you work with a coach or therapist, you realize that isn't about your identity. It's about simplifying life, right and shifting like you said the belief system so that you're not spiraling and having all that emotional energy kind of just wipe you out before you know something. So I love the things you've shared. I love the tool to help people will go back and listen to this and especially like the journaling exercise and and that brains favorite thoughts, right? Like this is really good stuff for people to start to use this vocabulary for themselves and in their relationships. So make sure to share this episode if you know someone in your life who struggles with this too, because this needs to be more of an open conversation in the world. Many of us are perfectionist, many of us, and some of it shows up in the ways of we just won't even try something because we know it might fail and some of us overdue overcompensates, and nobody thinks that they're failed. So it shows in different ways don't think that it's only the Type A personality type who's a perfectionist? No. I've known many type bees. Inside it was about perfectionism that kept them from doing stuff. Even thank you so so much for coming on here and giving us some great tools and advice and sharing some stories and your own experiences and what goes on in your mind and the holding space for what the listeners are chewing on right now, as they deal with their own perfectionism. 

Cadence Robertson 28:20 Thank you so much for having me. I hope it was helpful for everyone and I appreciate 

Katie Rössler 28:24 it. Yeah, if they would like to connect with you and find you on make sure the links in the show notes but if they're listening they're like I want to find a right now. Where can they do that? 

Cadence Robertson 28:32 Absolutely. So I have the most on Instagram. You can find me at Find your cadence coaching. You can also email me directly info at Find your and we can chat. Perfect 

Katie Rössler 28:45 again. Thank you so much and make sure to check the shownotes people connect with her follow her on Instagram. And here's to finding your balance code.