Worrying after you did something wrong is a common and natural reaction. In fact, if you didn’t worry after you did something wrong, it would be a bad thing. Not worrying after being in the wrong would be quite concerning, as your sense of morals may be non-existent.
However, there are some people who worry excessively…obsessively…after they did something wrong. They worry so much that they spend most of their time worrying, at the expense of their job, school, relationships, and self-care. If you spend excessive amounts of time worrying, then not only will you worry after you did something wrong- you will also worry about many other things in your life. Excessive worrying, combined with muscle tension, restlessness, irritability, difficulty sleeping, problems concentrating, low energy, nausea, headaches, sweating, and being easily startled are symptoms that are found in generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), an anxiety disorder.
Excessive worrying can also be found in other anxiety disorders such as adjustment disorder with anxiety. Adjustment disorder with anxiety has a similar clinical presentation to GAD, but the main difference is that adjustment disorder starts after significant stressors.
Another possibility for your excessive worrying could just be a symptom of being stressed-out by the thing you did wrong, and it does not really fall into the category of an anxiety disorder. Most people with excessive worrying would fit into this category of being stressed-out, as does not reach the intensity and duration of an anxiety disorder.
Regardless of having an anxiety disorder or being stressed-out, there are common ways to address the worrying in both. Look at the following flowchart:
This is a flowchart to stop the worrying. First you ask yourself about the content of the worry. If you can do something about it, then you can make an action plan to address it. If you can’t do anything about it, then you must simply let the worry go, as nothing you do will change what you did. You just have to let it go and change your focus of attention. If you can do something about it, then you ask yourself if you can do an action plan now. If you can do an action plan now, then do the action plan…then let the worry go and change your focus of attention. If you can’t do an action plan now, then you schedule it for the future, then you let the worry go until you have to carry out the action plan in the future. Then you change your focus of attention.
Using this “Worry No More Flowchart” will help you be decisive, allow you to take action (or not), and allow you to let the worry go. You let the worry go as you are given options- you can do nothing about the worry; you can do something about the worry now; or you can do something about the worry in the future. After going through these progressions, it allows you to change your focus of attention, so you are not worrying constantly.