The Mindful Midlife Crisis

Episode 96--Managing Overwhelming Emotions

May 03, 2023 Billy Lahr
The Mindful Midlife Crisis
Episode 96--Managing Overwhelming Emotions
Show Notes Transcript

In this week's solo episode, I get vulnerable and share my current emotional and mental state. Although my two months in Japan have been incredibly meaningful, I've been experiencing a multitude of challenging emotions that stem from feeling completely overwhelmed with the wide range of life changes I'm currently going through, but I feel that I am now ready to reintroduce some structure into my life once I get back to Seoul this week. Additionally, I describe how my mindfulness practice and therapy have given me the tools to navigate this transitional period with more curiosity, openness, compassion, and awareness. 

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Billy: Coming up on The Mindful Midlife Crisis

Coming up on The Mindful Midlife Crisis. So most of these are all new problems for me, and I wouldn't trade these new problems for any of my old problems at all. But part of the trade-off for me when it comes to mindfulness is that even though I've become more self-aware and more curious about what opportunities are out there for me to explore, it overwhelms someone like me, who is prone to overthinking and overanalyzing.

And I'm not looking for your sympathy because I know that I've done this to myself. I made the decisions that have led me here, and it's been a mix of challenging moments and isolating moments and emotional moments. But I've also had meaningful moments and breakthrough moments and inspiring moments and joyful moments. And that's the essence of the human existence.

But I don't even know how I would be able to process and sort through all these complexities and possibilities if I wasn't practicing mindfulness and if I wasn't going to therapy. Welcome to The Mindful Midlife Crisis, a podcast for people navigating the complexities and possibilities of life's second half. I'm your host, Billy Lahr and educator, personal trainer, meditation teacher and Overthinker who talks to experts who specialize in social and emotional learning, mindfulness, physical and emotional wellness, cultural awareness, finances, communication, relationships, dating and parenting all in an effort to help us better reflect, learn and grow.

So we can live a more purpose-filled life. Take a deep breath, embrace the present and journey with me through The Mindful Midlife Crisis. Welcome to The Mindful Midlife Crisis. I'm your host, Billy Lahr. Thank you for tuning in wherever you are. The purpose of the show is to help others navigate the complexities and possibilities of life's second half with more curiosity, openness, compassion and awareness so that you can take inspired and intentional action to jumpstart your life.

One way I do this is by providing a platform that gives people the space and permission to share their expertise and life experiences so you can use that information to enhance your life with whatever you find relatable, applicable and practical. I also share how cultivating my own daily mindfulness practice over the last ten years has helped me navigate the trials, tribulations and successes of my own midlife pivot.

And I'm teaching you how to navigate life more mindfully through my virtual mindfulness sessions. So if you're interested in learning more about how to cultivate your own regular mindfulness practice, visit For all of my resources there, including a free Introduction to Mindfulness Workbook, I'm looking forward to welcoming you to our mindful midlife community where we welcome people of all ages and backgrounds.

Because wisdom is not about one's age. Wisdom comes from our ability to reflect, learn and grow from our own life experiences, while also learning from the experiences of others, regardless of what stage of life we are in. Because you just never know what life is going to throw at you. Just remember that you are not alone in your experience.

So if you're looking for a community to help you better navigate whatever you've got going on in your life more mindfully, be sure to visit and access the resources there so you can jumpstart your life. I'm recording this on Wednesday, April 26, and I fly back to Seoul on Friday, the 28th, which means I'm done on my last two days here in Japan.

Sadly, it's going to rain here all day today. But all in all, I've had some really incredible experiences here. From yakitori restaurants to exploring yocca shows and sitting down with locals at various Izakaya around town by a lot. But if I'm being honest, I've spent most of the last month inside of my Airbnb working on projects for the podcast and my mindfulness coaching, and lately my mental health has taken a dip, so I thought I would share with you today what's going on with me and how I'm using mindfulness and therapy to manage that dip so that it doesn't escalate into something more serious, like a full-blown anxiety attack.

And you might hear it in my voice throughout this episode because I can feel how low my energy levels are right now. And they've been that way for the past week. But I think it's important for people to communicate honestly about their mental health so that those of you out there listening who may be experiencing something similar know that you are not alone.

But I also want to discuss what I'm doing to manage those emotions. And I want to provide you with some tools that I'm using to keep my foundation intact, despite some small cracks starting to seep in. And you might be thinking, Well, if you're practicing mindfulness and going to therapy and you're traveling the world, why are you struggling with your mental health?

I'm asking myself that every single day, and I'll talk about that in the episode as well. But first and foremost, I want to start by extending gratitude to all of the friends, all the new that I've hung out with in the past two months since I got to Japan. It's been nice to have visitors. Whether those were planned or coincidental.

I've met up with people who follow me on Instagram or who were introduced to me by a mutual friend, and it's also just been nice making new friends along the way, too. It will be refreshing, though, to be around people I already know once I get back to Seoul, because meeting new people so regularly is mentally exhausting, even for an extrovert like me.

And it reminds me of what Stephen English said in last week's episode about not being able to be your authentic self when you're in those situations. Because when I first meet people, I'm usually on my best behavior and I don't dial up the belief until I get to know them a little better, which, to be honest, I think is normal and probably more socially appropriate.

I think it's hard to be your authentic self when you first meet someone, and I think repetitively sharing this midlife journey that I'm on right now is keeping me from being able to let my freak flag fly, so to speak. So I'm looking forward to getting back to Seoul because the first week and I'm back, I'm emceeing a Johnny Bird's show at Studio B, C, and then I'm going hiking with the Soul Share group because it's the one year anniversary of joining that community.

And of course, my guest from Summer Session six, Peggy Lee and I have something planned to commemorate that day. I'm just really looking forward to it. What nonsense and ridiculous illness he has in store. And even if it's just a simple hiking excursion, nothing will make me happier than seeing the community that has embraced and allowed me to be my authentic self more than any community I've been a part of outside of my good friend and former co-host Brian on the bass.

Am I good friend and show regular Matt Hazzard? But there's also been something bubbling up inside of me lately, and when I put it all together, it basically can be summed up in one word. And that word is overwhelm. So here's what's been on my mind lately. The biggest stressor I've been thinking about lately is where I'm going to live once I leave Korea.

That has actually weighed on me the most. It's weighed on me considerably, but fortunately I've been able to figure out a place to stay until Thanksgiving and after Thanksgiving, I'll have to reexamine my options again. My other primary concern is how I'm going to make money during the startup phase of my mindfulness coaching business. Do I need a side gig?

Probably. I got to have a steady flow of cash coming in somehow. And where can I find one of those when I'm moving around so much? Does that mean I need to just commit to one location and find a job that does not involve teaching high school students? Or am I going to have to suck it up and be open to working at a school?

Even though in my heart of hearts that chapter of my life is completed and I have no desire to go back to that profession? Or can I figure out a remote position of some sort? Do I have enough in my savings for my condo sale to keep me afloat for a few more months while I build this business?

How much am I willing to invest in my mindfulness coaching practice while also keeping an eye on my emergency fund in case the ship starts to take on water? And when it comes to this mindfulness coaching practice I'm trying to build, what's the most effective way to market? Because this is all brand new to me and I'm, in a sense, flying the plane while it's being built.

I'm mixing a lot of metaphors here to just go with it. I used to teach English. I got metaphors all over the place. When it comes to my personal life, how do I maintain the relationships and friendships I've made while traveling over the past year? Which means I'm still wrestling with the people pleaser that send me because I'm finding it really difficult to say goodbye to the people who continue to enhance my experiences through their friendship and their stories.

So it feels like I'm meeting these amazing people, but only getting to know them just long enough to know I want to spend more time with them. Even though my time here is limited. I'm not even talking about romantic relationships. I just mean the people I meet and make friends with along the way. I don't even think it's possible or responsible for me to be in a relationship with someone if there's so much uncertainty When it comes to my living situation into my finances, does that mean I have to get more comfortable with being alone?

Is that motivation for buckling down and keeping my eyes on the prize? And then finally, the always present thought that takes up space in my mind is this lack of stability and routine, which means I've fallen back into some unhealthy habits or I've just ignored healthier habits. So most of these are all new problems for me, and I wouldn't trade these new problems for any of my old problems at all.

But part of the trade off for me when it comes to mindfulness is that even though I've become more self-aware and more curious about what opportunities are out there for me to explore, it overwhelms someone like me who is prone to overthinking and overanalyzing. And I'm not looking for your sympathy because I know that I've done this to myself.

I made the decision that have led me here, and it's been a mix of challenging moments and isolating moments and emotional moments. But I've also had meaningful moments and breakthrough moments and inspiring moments and joyful moments, and that's the essence of the human existence. But I don't even know how I would be able to process and sort through all these complexities and possibilities if I wasn't practicing mindfulness and if I wasn't going to therapy.

And I've had it pretty good my whole life, I haven't experienced the same level of trauma that someone like Dr. Sherry Walker from Episode 71 has experienced. Side note I'm excited to share with you that she's coming back on the show in a few weeks to talk about ACES, which means adverse childhood experiences, and her ACES score is off the charts and she just has a remarkable story and she's accomplished so much in her life.

And what she's accomplished in her life is absolutely incredible. So I'm really looking forward to having her back on the show to share her story because I just think she's such an incredible human being. But do you see what I just did there? I started to compare my inner anguish with the trauma she and others have experienced. Now, if I'm in a good headspace, it reminds me to be grateful for all that I have in my life.

But if I'm in a negative headspace, I feel this great sense of shame. Like, what do you have to be so overwhelmed about? And she even says in episode 71 that we need to be careful not to compare our stories and situations to others. And of course I know that, But I'm also human, so I find myself sulking in that shame that started out as sadness or loneliness or whatever.

Negative emotion was bubbling up at that time. And it manifests into something that becomes all consuming and overwhelming. So how do I and how do those of you out there who relate to this way of thinking manage this? Well, what I'm always reminded of when I lead mindfulness sessions is that we are not our thoughts. I am not an anxious person and I need to stop referring to myself as an anxious person.

Instead, I am feeling anxious. And if I were to tally up which emotions I've been feeling the most lately, they would likely come up from the overwhelmed department. But that doesn't mean that I'm overwhelmed. It just means that I'm feeling overwhelmed. But like any other feeling that to shall pass. If we go back to this idea of impermanence that I talked about in episode 92, our thoughts, feelings and emotions, all of these come and go.

And yes, I felt overwhelmed the last week or so, but I have not let it deter me from doing some things that I've really enjoyed. I went to Mt. Fuji and lucked out with Clear Skies so I can see the top. I went out to eat with three new friends in the past week. I went to Teamlab, which was easily one of the best experiences I've had in Japan, and I got a private idol lesson from a badass samurai.

So yeah, even though I'm feeling overwhelmed and I'm tumbling around and this uncertainty about the future, just like I talked about way back in episode 53 when I was struggling with the gray areas of my life, I'm able to recognize that, yeah, I may be in a funk right now, but when I compare how I'm handling this funk I'm in now to the way I was handling that funk a year ago.

Oh my God, I am in a much healthier headspace and I can hang my hat on knowing that I have made some significant progress when it comes to managing my emotions because of my mindfulness practice and because I've been going to therapy. And another thing that keeps coming up for me when I'm doing my mindfulness practice is that I recognize that when the time comes to pack up and move on to another city or another country, I start feeling more and more anxious and more and more overwhelmed.

And I don't think I did myself any favors the first three months of this year because I was packing up and moving to another city or another country every week or so. So I'm wondering if this feeling of overwhelm that's bubbling up is actually impatience, because I'm sort of in this hurry up and wait mode because once I get back to Seoul, I'll have a little bit more stability in my life for two months, and I already have this clearer idea of what I need to do to provide value to potential clients and how I can become more visible to attract more clients, which will lead to more financial freedom, which leads to more opportunities

and flexibility. But as you can see, that's what happens when I start time traveling to the future. And when I do that, it robs me of all that's good and possible in happening in the present. Yes, we need to think about the future, but what I've been doing lately is letting my thoughts about my uncertain future become so overwhelming that it's left me in this funk again without my mindfulness practice.

I don't think I'd be able to process these emotions and be as self aware of how these emotions are impacting me. Look, I'm not saying that mindfulness is the cure all for what's ailing you mentally and emotionally, but if we take an experiment mindset, like Jason Robinson talked about in episode 84, then we can figure out if mindfulness is something that may help us manage whatever anxiety or stress or feelings are ruminations or lack of focus we may be experiencing at this time.

Another excellent resource for me has been my better help therapist Lacey. The other day I shared everything I'm sharing with you with her, except what's much more, much more disregulated today. It was an emotional conversation because those feelings of overwhelm and impatience and uncertainty just got the best of me. But Lacey listened. We processed through it and she gave me some really great advice.

She said, What can you leave for soul so you can be present and enjoy your last week in Tokyo. And when she gave me that permission to just let go of some of these things that were occupying my mind, I actually was able to unlock some creativity and I created some minimally viable content because my good friend Lori Sites from episode 43, I just had a conversation with her recently.

She told me, Look, dude, it doesn't need to be perfect, which is really difficult for someone like me who feels like a perfectionist, who feels like things need to be perfect. But she said it doesn't have to be perfect. You just need to get it out there for people to see. And then you can use their feedback to make improvements.

And the thing is, that's usually my approach to things. What I'm feeling confident. But these other feelings have been blocking confidences way to the table and my confidence is starving a bit. But when Lacey gave me that permission to leave it for soul, I felt this huge weight being lifted off my chest and I was able to channel that energy into something.

I feel comfortable putting my name on for now. So let's do this. Let's take a quick break. And when we come back, I'm going to lead you through a helpful mindfulness practice in which we use the image of a snow globe to bring our focus back to our breath. Thank you for listening to The Mindful Midlife Crisis. Thank you for listening to The Mindful Midlife Crisis.

If you're enjoying what you've heard so far, please do me a favor and hit the subscribe button. Also giving the show a quick five star review with a few kind words helps others find a benefit from this podcast just like you are. Finally, please spread the wealth of free knowledge and advice in this episode by sharing it with the people in your life who may find this information and my mission to help others live a more purpose filled life valuable.

My hope is that these conversations resonate with others and inspire people to live their best lives. Thanks again. And now back to the show. Welcome back to The Mindful Midlife Crisis. I shared with you some of the overwhelming thoughts that have been bubbling up for me. And I share with you how mindfulness and therapy have helped me keep those feelings of overwhelm in check.

So what I want to do now is show you how a guided meditation may be able to help you manage those moments when your ruminating about something, or when you're feeling anxious, depressed, overwhelmed, insecure, or when you're struggling with focus. And we're going to do that today with a meditation that will guide us through bringing our mind back to the focus on our breath.

When we get carried away by our thoughts. And remember that thoughts are part of everyone's human experience. You don't need to push them away in order to practice mindfulness. Actually learning how to bring your mind back from its thoughts is the practice. But the question is how do you let go of the thoughts once they've pulled you in?

So this practice will offer one way to unhook yourself from those thoughts and simply let them be without pushing the thoughts away or denying their presence. You can be aware of the thinking mind while remaining unattached. So during this meditation practice you can choose to be seated or lying down. But if you're going to follow along with this practice, please make sure you are somewhere safe.

If you are driving, please wait until you are off the road to do this practice. If you're doing something that requires your full attention, please wait to do this practice until you find a time where you can be fully present with it. Okay. Okay. So let us begin by getting into a comfortable position, either lying on the floor with your feet uncrossed, falling away from each other, arms at your side, or if you prefer to be in a chair, sit in a dignified posture with your back away from the back of the chair, chest, proud feet flat on the floor and hands wherever they're most comfortable.

And now that you've found a comfortable position, I invite you to close your eyes. Or if it's more comfortable, simply lower your gaze. Now let's take a moment to settle in using our breath with a long, slow, but even inhale through the nose and then slowly letting that air back out through the nostrils on the exhale with each inhale, slow, even breaths, focusing on filling your belly with air, and then slowly and evenly exhaling the air, gently letting your belly fall on the out breath.

Now finding the natural rhythm of your breath with each inhale still taking in the air through your nose and filling your belly with that air. And on each exhale, letting the air pass through the nostrils gently while softening your belly, using these breaths, the quiet, the mind, allowing yourself to simply just be now as you breathe, please bring kind of awareness to why you chose this meditation, how your belly, chest and head each feel during this meditation.

The emotions that arise during this meditation, the positive or negative narratives you tell yourself during this meditation, the fact that many others may be experiencing similar thoughts, feelings and emotions as you may experience during this meditation, how you might feel with having increased awareness and when you can apply this increased awareness in your day to day life. Notice the energy in the mind and body.

As you come into this practice, you may notice the energy of your day resting in the mind, in the body. The mind may be active, the body may feel worked up, or you might notice a bit of lingering anxiety. Now I want you to imagine a shaken snowglobe with all that energy swirling around. And as you rest, the little snowflakes fall gently to the ground.

Think of yourself as a snow globe and every snowflake as a thought. In this way, watch as each and every snowflake falls to the ground. Do not force yourself to calm down. Rather, but it happens slowly and organically, bringing your attention to the breath and the body. Choosing one spot where the breath is felt easily, maybe the center of the chest, the abdomen, the shoulders or the nostrils Observe the physical sensations of the body, breathing.

Observe the breath for a few moments and bring the mind back when it wanders. Sticking with the snow globe visualization and as thoughts begin to rise up, observe as they slowly settle back down. And now opening your awareness to include your thoughts and your general mental state instead of returning to the breath when the mind wanders, notice what the mind is doing.

You may notice yourself planning, fantasizing, figuring out or replaying past experiences. Whatever you observe the mind doing, let it be when you recognize a thought. What happens? Try not to encourage the thought, but don't push it away either. Allow it to be. Allow it to go on its own. See if you can watch the passing of the thought as it follows its natural trajectory and leaves the mind returning to the breath and patiently waiting until another thought arises and noticing it, watching that thought and coming back to the breath again.

Continue with the mindfulness of the breath and the thoughts noticing when you're lost in thought or when the mind wanders for some time if self judgment arises. Notice that just as you would any other thought, you can always return to the breath for a few moments to ground yourself back into the practice and now allow yourself to come back to your breath.

You in the air, passed through your nostrils on the inhale and on the exhale, expelling the air evenly and naturally. And as we come to a close, take one more long, slow or even inhale at the bottom of your exhale, open your eyes, take inventory of the sensations of your body, bring awareness to your surroundings. Welcome back. So what was that experience like for you?

What came up during this practice? Where did you feel this practice in your body? What thoughts or emotions bubbled up for you? You may feel like writing down what you experienced and what you're currently experiencing following this mindfulness practice. So my suggestion will be to grab yourself a notebook and a pen and put your experiences with this practice into words.

If you prefer typing it, go for it. Maybe start a little Google doc or a word doc and use it to document your mindfulness practice from time to time. And when you're finished doing that, you can return to this episode. And while you're doing that, we'll take a break. Thank you for listening to The Mindful Midlife Crisis. Thank you for listening to The Mindful Midlife Crisis.

New episodes come out every Wednesday to help you get over the midweek hump. If you'd like to contact me or if you have suggestions about what you'd like to hear on the show, visit and click Contact us while you're there. Don't forget to sign up for the newsletter to get free weekly meditations as well as free resources from our reflect learn Grow program.

You can also click on the show notes for links to the articles and resources we referenced throughout the show. If you want to check out my worldly adventures, follow me on Instagram @mindful_midlife_crisis. My hope is that my trials, tribulations and successes will inspire you to take intentional action to live a more purpose-filled life.

And while you're at it, remember to show yourself some love every now and then, too. Thanks again. And now back to the show. Welcome back to The Mindful Midlife Crisis. How are you feeling now that you've processed that meditation? Do you feel like cultivating a regular mindfulness practice is something that might benefit you moving forward? Well, if so, go to and click on the banner at the top to get more information about joining our mindful midlife community.

We welcome people of all ages and backgrounds. If you have questions, please feel free to contact me. You're welcome to join at any time. Just know that regularly attending will get you better results in the long run. And remember this mindfulness is about sitting in awareness with openness, curiosity, compassion, and nonjudgmental. So if you suddenly became aware that you're not where you want to be in life, congratulations, You are practicing mindfulness.

My job is to help guide you through that process so you can reflect, learn and grow. Now, sometimes the challenges life throws our way requires a little more support. And even though I practice mindfulness on a daily basis and I can help you cultivated mindfulness practice of your own. I also like processing some of these big life changes that come up during my mindfulness practice with my better health therapist, Lacey.

Now, Betterhelp is not a sponsor of the show yet, but I am more than okay with giving them a little bit of free advertising because I'm a huge advocate of therapy, clearly. And even if you go back and listen to episode three, you'll hear all about how the combination of therapy and mindfulness not only changed my life, but most likely saved it as well.

So if you're looking for more affordable mental services, you can get a free week of better help by going to the show notes and clicking on the referral link. I wish I would have started using this service over a year ago when I first embarked on my travels and life transition. Because when you're doing something like this alone, it can feel isolating and overwhelming.

So it's nice to have a community of support to help you process everything you've got going on so you can follow through on those life-changing daily habits that will help you jumpstart your life. And remember, progress is not linear. Our growth looks more like the stock market. Some days we're up. Somedays we're down and we may not reap the benefits for a while.

But if we play the long game and are consistent, disciplined and patient, you'll see that the stock market always bounces back and so can you. If this episode inspired you to invest in yourself in a new way, please do me a favor and subscribe to the show wherever you get your podcasts. I would also greatly appreciate it if you would share this episode with the people in your life who may find some value in it.

Remember, the purpose of the show is to help you navigate the complexities and possibilities of life's second half, and I hope this free and useful information provides some insight that will help you reflect, learn and grow so you can jumpstart your life. So with that, this is Billy. Thank you for listening to The Mindful Midlife Crisis. May you feel happy, healthy and loved.

Take care, friends.