Self-Compassion May Weaken Perfectionism/Depression Link

a man swinging on ropes is practicing self compassion


You likely already know that a little self-compassion can go a long way in helping your recovery, but it can also offset the negative effects of perfectionism, including depression, according to a new study published in the journal PLos One.

“We know that perfectionism can often lead to people pushing themselves too far in the pursuit of an unobtainable excellence, and as a result experience burn-out and depression symptoms,” lead author Madeline Ferrari, a clinical psychologist at Australian Catholic University in Strathfield, New South Wales, told Reuters Health. “However self-compassion seems to offer the opportunity to manage these perfectionism beliefs and not fall into the depression trap.”

Certainly striving to attain high personal standards isn’t always a bad thing. However, the authors wrote that there is a “maladaptive” form of perfectionism – that includes self-criticism, fear of making mistakes and worry about negative evaluations by others – that is linked with depression.

“Individuals with high levels of maladaptive perfectionism are less likely to experience depressive symptoms in the context of high self-compassion,” wrote the authors. “These findings suggest that treatments that help patients cultivate self-compassion might lead to improvements in treatment outcomes for depression, particularly among perfectionistic individuals and further research into these interventions is warranted.”

Do your self-compassion skills need a boost? Try one of these tips:

  • Treat yourself like a friend. What would tell a good friend if he or she was facing a difficult or stressful situation? Direct these compassionate responses toward yourself the next time you’re in a similar situation.
  • Practice mindfulness. Meditating for a few minutes can help you nurture and accept yourself, mistakes and all.
  • Write yourself a letter. Think of a situation that caused you to feel guilt or shame or emotional pain and then write a letter to yourself describing the situation. And here’s the tricky part: Be sure to avoid blaming anyone, including yourself.

Professionals, Perfectionism and Addiction
It’s the propensity of many professionals to be perfectionists and we’re here to help ensure that it doesn’t get in the way of your lasting sobriety. At Providence Treatment, it’s our goal to provide professionals (and their families) with the tools and strategies needed for early recovery and when they return to the workplace. To learn more, call (866) 247-3307.

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