Perfectionistic people often push themselves harder than others to succeed, but can also fall into the trap of being self-critical and overly concerned about making mistakes. When the perfectionist fails, they often experience depression and burnout. How can someone with perfectionist tendencies avoid these pitfalls?
In a study recently published in PLOS ONE, a team of researchers led by Madeleine Ferrari from Australian Catholic University considered whether self-compassion, a kind way of relating to oneself, might help temper the link between perfectionist tendencies and depression.
The researchers administered anonymous questionnaires to assess perfectionism, depression, and self-compassion in 541 adolescents and 515 adults. Analysis of these self-assessments revealed that self-compassion may help uncouple perfectionism and depression. The graph below is a visual depiction of these results for the adult group; the adolescent group showed similar results.
That similar results emerged for both groups of differently aged people suggests that self-compassion may help moderate the link between perfectionism and depression throughout life. The researchers suggest that strategies to improve self-compassion could be a useful way to undermine the effects of perfectionism, but more research is needed to fully assess this possibility.
As lead author Madeleine Ferrari summarizes, “Self-compassion, the practice of self-kindness, consistently reduces the strength of the relationship between maladaptive perfectionism and depression for both adolescents and adults.”
Reference: Ferrari M, Yap K, Scott N, Einstein DA, Ciarrochi J (2018) Self-compassion moderates the perfectionism and depression link in both adolescence and adulthood. PLoS ONE 13(2): e0192022.https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0192022
Image Credit: KellyB., Flickr; Ferrari et al (2018)