When Anxiety Makes You Focus on Your Mistakes

March 29, 2022 Rizza Bermio-Gonzalez

As someone who has experienced anxiety for a long time, I’ve become aware of specific situations that trigger feeling anxious. One situation that can trigger my anxiety is when I make a mistake, and then anxiety makes me focus on that mistake. The problem with this is that, as we know, mistakes happen often. There, this can sometimes be something that’s continuously troubling.

I tend to set certain standards for myself, and I think this stems from a desire to be able to have some control over things that might cause anxiety. Also, I think these standards have developed over time, as I've tried to reach certain levels to feel less anxious when working on something. Unfortunately, what can happen is that I might end up overthinking about something to the point that I'm no longer clear when enough is enough.

Then, when I perceive that I've made a mistake, I feel anxious, and I worry about the mistake, to the point that I might keep working on a task or stay up late at night, overwhelmed with worry. The more I think about it, the more my anxiety increases. It can sometimes get to the point that I've convinced myself that I've failed miserably, even though I know, logically, that this isn't true. As a result, the standards that I tend to set for myself get higher and higher as I continuously find something wrong with any task that I work on.

How to Stop Focusing on Your Mistakes

So how can you stop focusing on your mistakes to the point that it causes anxiety? The short answer to this question is that I think it's much easier said than done to stop yourself from focusing on your mistakes. But, I do think that what you can do is choose to focus on other things that will help you feel calmer and less anxious. In other words, I think it is helpful to change your mindset. Here are some mindset changes that I find helpful:

  1. Practice self-compassion. This is something that I think is so important, but it also eluded me for years. Practicing self-compassion means that you recognize you are human and that you make mistakes because that's what humans do. It took me a long time to realize that it is okay for me to make errors and learn from them realistically rather than punish myself for making them in the first place. 
  2. Remember that mistakes are inevitable. This goes right along with practicing self-compassion, as you realize that mistakes are something that we all make. Recognizing your humanity can sometimes be helpful.
  3. Focus on what you have learned from your mistakes. Lastly, focus on the lessons that you learn. I try to view mistakes as something strategic, something that I can take away useful information from for the future. Truth be told, this doesn't always work, but it is a work in progress for me, and it is something I am mindful of. I think it is helpful to take these situations and try to turn them into something positive instead of beating yourself up; you might be surprised how calming this can be. 

Are there things you do to help you reframe situations when you make mistakes to help reduce your anxiety? If so, please share them in the comments below.

APA Reference
Bermio-Gonzalez, R. (2022, March 29). When Anxiety Makes You Focus on Your Mistakes, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 22 from

Author: Rizza Bermio-Gonzalez

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