Being self-compassionate is one of the best remedies for a perfectionist personality, research finds.
Learning self-acceptance helps protect the type of perfectionists who are highly self-critical from depression.
Some perfectionists are very worried about making mistakes and push themselves too hard to succeed.
When a perfectionist slips up, they criticise themselves too much and can experience burnout and depression.
However, perfectionists who are self-compassionate and self-accepting are less likely to get depressed.
- A practical approach to boosting self-compassion is explained in my ebook “Accept Yourself“.
The conclusion comes from a study of 541 adolescents and 515 adults.
All were given tests of perfectionism, depression and self-compassion.
Dr Madeleine Ferrari, the study’s first author, explained the results:
“Self-compassion, the practice of self-kindness, consistently reduces the strength of the relationship between maladaptive perfectionism and depression for both adolescents and adults.”
The study’s authors explain how self-compassion is helpful:
“…self-compassion is ‘a useful emotion regulation strategy, in which painful or distressing feelings are not avoided but are instead held in awareness with kindness, understanding, and a sense of shared humanity’.
Thus, instead of avoiding social comparisons or overcompensating for negative feelings about the self through futile attempts to attain a higher social rank, the cultivation of self-compassion might help individuals to unconditionally accept ones’ failings.”
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2003) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
The study was published in the journal PLoS ONE (Ferrari et al., 2018).