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Perfectionism Linked with Anxiety, Depression, Worry, & Rumination

·345 words·2 mins
Psyched for the Weekend

I’m a recovering perfectionist. Like many other areas, I don’t think I will ever be fully recovered. It will always be a process of recovering. It’ll never be perfect, recovery. And that’s part of it, too.

Does this mean I’m a total hot mess? No, not at all. That kind of all or nothing thinking is what led me to perfectionism in the first place. It doesn’t actually work like that. Nobody’s perfect. Pretty much everyone is somewhere in between almost perfect and completely messy. It’s just a matter of location at that point.

And so my quest has involved becoming an optimizer, instead of a perfectionist. (A specific kind of optimizer actually — a ruthful pragmatist.)

I’ve never once regretted it. Not only is my mental health better since I stopped being a perfectionist, I also get _a lot _more done.

And it turns out that my experience might not be an isolated one at all — and it might have a lot to do with worry and rumination (thinking of the same thoughts over and over again, and typically used in the context to mean dark or sad thoughts).

It’s often said that you shouldn’t let perfect be the enemy of the good. Well, as it turns out it’s entirely possible to let perfect be the enemy of yourself.

In today’s study, researchers found a strong link between perfectionism and anxiety and depression. The team in this study drilled down and looked at the way metacognition — or thinking about thinking — played a part in this relationship. They found that worry and rumination seemed to be what drove the link between perfectionism and anxiety and depression. And specifically, when looking at perfectionism-based anxiety, they found that worry played a greater part. Conversely, rumination was more closely related to perfectionism-based depression.


This post is part of an ongoing Poly Land feature called Psyched for the Weekend, in which I geek out with brief takes about some of my favorite psychological studies and concepts. For the entire series, please see this link.



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