By Amelia Harnish for Health.com
Everyone has a friend or loved one obsessed with perfection. The one who works constantly because they’re utterly terrified of letting their boss down, or the mom who won’t let anyone help around the house because no one else does it “right.” Or perhaps you’re the perfectionist in your life? It’s okay. Just admit it. Because the sooner you do, the sooner you can let go of it—and all of its hefty side effects.
Case in point: Earlier this week, a new analysis in the Review of General Psychology found that perfectionism can literally ruin your life. Perfectionists are more likely to struggle with depression or anxiety, and sadly, they’re more likely to commit suicide, the paper argues.
While we tend to hold up perfectionism as a sign of being a high-achiever, “the average person has very little understanding or awareness of how destructive perfectionism can be,” the paper’s lead author Gordon Flett, PhD, told New York magazine’s Science of Us blog. For many perfectionists, underneath the outward appearance of having it together, they feel like total imposters, which can be really draining, he added.
“Perfectionists have an all-or-nothing mindset that’s propelled by a crippling fear of failure. They also have what’s called conditional self-worth. They think ‘I am only a good person if I can achieve these things,’” explains Elizabeth Lombardo, PhD, a clinical psychologist and author of Better Than Perfect: 7 Strategies to Crush Your Inner Critic and Create a Life You Love. Since true perfection is impossible, “you can see how someone with that mindset could get to a dark place.”