If you call yourself a perfectionist, it’s likely you are constantly striving to be the best at everything and avoid making mistakes at all costs.
While this tenacity may help you become and stay successful, it can often be an exhausting and difficult way to live. Perfectionists can be overly self-critical and get down on themselves for making minor mistakes. When a perfectionist fails, they can often experience depression and burnout.
In a recent study published in the open-access journal PLOS ONE, researchers from Australian Catholic University found that relating to oneself in a healthy way can help disrupt the link between perfectionism and depression. In the study, led by Madeleine Ferrari, the researchers assessed whether self-compassion – a way to positively relate to oneself – might help weaken the association between depression and perfectionist tendencies.
The study involved 541 adolescents and 515 adults answering questions in an anonymous survey that assessed perfectionism, depression, and self-compassion. Detailed analysis of these questionnaires determined that self-compassion might help perfectionists avoid falling into the trap of depression when they experience failure. This finding was consistent across both groups of differently-aged people, suggesting that self-compassion could help moderate the link between perfectionism and depression across a wide range of ages.
“Self-compassion, the practice of self-kindness, consistently reduces the strength of the relationship between maladaptive perfectionism and depression for both adolescents and adults,” says Ferrari. The authors believe that self-compassion interventions may help moderate the negative effects of perfectionism, but further research is needed to determine if this is the case.