What to do when you just feel overwhelmed by everything

Updated: Apr 10, 2021

"Take life day by day and be grateful for the little things. Don`t get stressed over what you can`t control."

After an intense experience and reflection yesterday, I gave myself a break today, from my emotions, from what is going in my life, from everything. Moreover, because it is my mum`s birthday, so it helps to focus on someone else. But also I somehow grew a perspective, building on my continuous personal development work (yay, the inner work is hopefully paying off!), that sometimes what is going on in your mind, often trying to bring you down and convince you that life is miserable, is what you can just acknowledge and put aside, without too much of an attachment.

In the past, when several things came together, I would immediately feel stressed, lonely, and living a victim`s and failure`s life. It was painful and unbearable, a negative spiral that just leads you to rock bottom. While you seem to fix some things here, other things emerge over there, leaving you with no room and time to even think of yourself (or even if, then mostly in a negative tone). So the longer I was fighting the battle(s), physically and mentally, the more I felt depleted and negative. It seems every fix I chose resolved the issue only for a moment, until it exploded again. There were days when I would (pre-Covid) isolate myself from everything, work, friends, books, and just cry, not knowing what to do next.

I would slowly climb out of rock bottom with the support of my coach, spiritual friends, and with time that I gave to myself to just breathe. And this is what I have learned, that sometimes you just need a break to just be, breathe, and let it be. Even if your mind is scared and judges that everything is falling apart, even if your emotions are unbearable to be with, even if you feel like the biggest loser and failure - sometimes rather than escaping to "doing", we can just try out "being" without the need to find a solution or quick fix for anything.

In practice, it could look like watching Netflix, sleeping during the day, lying in bed and watching random YouTube videos, scrolling through social media, crying, venting in our journal book, or going for a run. I know that sometimes we may even judge ourselves more for doing these mundane activity, so we may even feel worse. But don`t estimate your strength in this first step. Whatever we do, this first channel is crucial to help release your tensions and negative emotions, even if we don`t know or anticipate it. Nowadays, we may think we can only really transform a topic if we actively do something or do the usual tools of personal development, such as meditation, gratitude, mindfulness. But already deciding to do something else, even if small or not directly related, to relieve our pain can be a magical next step - to then help achieve a greater impact when ultimately choosing meditation or talking to a trusted person.

What I have learned today, adding to my past automatic reaction to fall into victim quickly, is that I can actually choose the thoughts I want to believe in and the emotions I want to feel. For example, I was exhausted after this last week, annoyed by a study group, impatiently waiting for someone`s reply, and generally feeling all over the place during my period. I also noticed fears coming up in anticipation of an important meeting - I noticed my Judge Saboteurs with its accomplice Saboteur, the Victim. All of this was going on, with not so pleasant emotions. While I knew that during the period, the "winter season", your emotions may tick differently, I still was aware that the power of my life remained in my hands.

In the past, I would follow and believe all the negative and judgmental stories in my life, such as "You still have to finish this, Linh! Why are the others so weird? This meeting could have been better. Why is he not replying to me?! I am afraid of this meeting, it will be hurtful, mean, and unfair ..." As a result, I would feel like a victim, convinced that the entire world is against me, that I am unworthy, unloved, and not good enough. But today, thanks also to the current Positive Intelligence training, I was like a calm observer, noticing the thoughts as a theatre play that was happening in front of my eyes, but choosing to see the good things in my surrounding, e.g. the passion expressed in the actors, the scenery, or just the possibility that I can enjoy this theatre play. Similar to this metaphor, I acknowdged the present moment with all that was happening, but chose perspectives, thoughts, and emotions that would serve me more.

This act of kindness and self-care would look like this: "I am grateful for my mother`s birthday, her health, her love, her value in my life. Even though the weather looks so dull and brings me down, I feel alive breathing the fresh air and moving my body. I am grateful for the time I have for my morning routine, before my mum and I headed to the Asian supermarket to buy food for the New Year of the Ox next week. I am grateful to spend time with my little brother and we could finish his homework on time. I am grateful for my mum`s friend who surprised her today on her birthday. I am grateful for the many Vietnamese fellows we met at the Asian supermarket - this brought me back to my childhood and connected me with my Vietnamese values. I am grateful my hazelnut-cherry-cake for my mum turned out well. I am grateful for this free, precious time I can spend with my family. I am grateful for the Positive Intelligence training, for my communities and friends, who help me daily with my personal growth mastering today my mind and changing my day and life!".

How do you deal with mixed days? Let me know by sending an email to hello@vietlinhle.com – I very look forward to hearing from you! :) PS: Subscribe to my #mindfulmagic Newsletter to stay in touch for upcoming posts, free offers, and news :)


This week`s ...

  • Inspiration: William H. McRaven - Make Your Bed

  • Reflection: What other perspective can I choose in this moment?

  • Intention: I choose thoughts and emotions that serve me - I acknowledge those that don`t and treat myself kindly.