Anxiety and Regret

October 12, 2023 Rizza Bermio-Gonzalez

Regret and anxiety often go together for me. One of the challenging aspects of anxiety is the focus on past events. The difficulty with this is that it often prompts you to focus on past events that were stressful, troubling, and uncomfortable instead of positive experiences that brought about good feelings. Accompanying those memories of past events are feelings of regret and anxiety.

This can make anxiety worse because that regret leads to rumination about those anxious feelings. So, this becomes a cycle of remembering the event, the anxiety it triggered, feelings of regret, and then increased anxiety.

On the nights that I have trouble sleeping, it's often this cycle that is the cause. As I've learned more about how to cope with anxiety, the nights that this happens have lessened significantly. But I still need to be aware of how this can sometimes affect me, my sleep, and how I feel the next day. Moreover, sometimes, it triggers latent feelings that I have about the event that can last for some time.

Regret that Causes Anxiety

I've learned that this type of focus leads to me dwelling on the past, which is not a good place to be when you struggle with anxiety. When I feel anxious and dwell on the past, I find myself thinking that there was something I could have done or a different choice I could have made that could have led to a different outcome that wouldn't have led to negative feelings.

This becomes a cycle of anxiety, regret, self-blame, and feeling guilty about the choices I made. The problem with this is that what has happened in the past is in the past, and it is something I can't change.

So, how do I overcome this and cope with the regret that causes anxiety and the resulting cycle that follows?

Dealing with Anxiety and Regret

First of all, it's important to exercise self-compassion. I remind myself that I am human and that, as a human, it is natural to have made mistakes in the past. So, it is important that I try to forgive myself for those mistakes. Instead of focusing on beating myself up for the choices that I made, I try to be compassionate with myself, just as I would be towards a friend or family member.

Second, I try to focus on leaving the past in the past. This requires using mindfulness to focus on the current moment. Grounding myself and bringing myself back to the present is sometimes critical for reducing my physical symptoms of anxiety.

Lastly, I try to reframe the thoughts I have. I try to work on changing those negative statements that I hear in my mind to something that is more helpful, such as the lessons I learned from the situation or the things that I am grateful for that resulted from it.

Using these strategies is helpful for me when I experience regret associated with anxiety.

Are there strategies you use to deal with anxiety and regret? If so, please share them in the comments below.

APA Reference
Bermio-Gonzalez, R. (2023, October 12). Anxiety and Regret, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 22 from

Author: Rizza Bermio-Gonzalez

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