Anxiety and Dealing with Regret Over Lost Opportunities

April 5, 2022 Shubhechha Dhar

Has your anxiety ever made you say "no" to an opportunity that you wanted to say "yes" to? You are not alone if you have ever done that. More often than not, my anxiety holds me back from saying "yes" to opportunities that I'm interested in. While I feel a sense of relief when I say "no," I start experiencing feelings of regret soon. 

Dealing with regret over lost professional, academic, and romantic opportunities can be hard. Regret is extremely painful and can hinder you from being happy in the present moment. It is normal to feel regret, and there are plenty of coping techniques for dealing with it. 

Coping with Feelings of Regret Caused by Anxiety

Back in high school, I was chosen to give a farewell speech for my high school graduation. While I said "yes" when asked, I backed out at the very last minute before my name was going to be announced on stage. My fear had gotten the best of me. For the longest time, I regretted turning down this opportunity. Here's how I coped with the regret:

  1. I learned to forgive myself. I'm usually extremely hard on myself for saying "no" to opportunities. This causes a lot of inner turmoil that makes me hate myself. To cope with this, I try to forgive myself. Knowing that suppressing my feelings is harmful in the long run, I let myself feel the grief, disappointment, and guilt. I then actively think about why I avoided the opportunity to identify my root fear. This helps me know the things I need to work on, so I can move forward instead of dwelling on the past for too long. 
  2. I talked to myself with the same compassion I gave others. The bully in my mind, my anxiety, tells me that I'm good-for-nothing and that I'm weak for letting go of opportunities. However, if my friends are dealing with similar situations, I'm more compassionate with them. For example, if my friend is upset over missed opportunities, I would tell them, "One lost opportunity doesn't define you. You're incredible, and I know plenty of opportunities will be coming your way in the future." I try to talk to myself the way I would talk to a friend.
  3. I reminded myself that more opportunities were in store. I remind myself that losing one opportunity doesn't mean it is the end of the world. When one door closes, another always opens. While I did lose the opportunity to give a farewell speech in high school, I ended up with plenty of public speaking opportunities when I was at university. 

If you have ever lost out on opportunities because of your anxiety, know that it doesn't define you. 

APA Reference
Dhar, S. (2022, April 5). Anxiety and Dealing with Regret Over Lost Opportunities , HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 15 from

Author: Shubhechha Dhar

Leave a reply