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Daily Archives: February 7, 2017

Upside Down Expat

A new life view

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Sunglasses on wooden desk, focused on lens city view

Sometimes I squint my eyes and try to see the place I now reside as I did for the first time. Everything so shiny and new; the lens I was then looking through yet to be marked with strife from the ups and downs of life. As when we start over somewhere new, we immediately adopt a new life view. In the beginning, it’s thrilling. Everything we do is filled with exciting possibility.

But eventually, the exhilaration of the early days fades. Life returns to normal, problems don’t go away. In fact without our families by our side, problems can be magnified. Suddenly the incredible place that changed our lives becomes nothing but the backdrop to the way we feel inside.

Yet we ourselves cast the shade on a life that has just as much potential to be as magical as it was in the early days. Here are some unhealthy habits to stop blocking sunny days from view;

#1 Stop resisting reality

Painful emotions (for expats; homesickness, loneliness and indecision) left unchecked can cause us to resist our reality. We may develop a mindset of ‘poor me’. Or ruminate over how things ought to be; having family nearby, more support or closer ties. The way out is to fully embrace our new reality, accepting that a level of uncomfortableness is a new part of life that is in other ways more carefree. When we stop fighting, resisting or attaching meaning to what we’re feeling and just let the feelings be; we set ourselves free.

#2 Stop pondering the past

We can often long for the comfort of the past, frequently questioning whether we should go back. But with our lens of life forever changed; home will never be the same. Instead, make a pact to pack any regrets and longings a case and put it away, only packing new items; future plans, goals and experiences, in a new bag each and every day.

#3 Stop being scared

To take a chance on a different life, away from everything we ever knew, is a brave thing to do. But chances are, while life may be more amazing in many ways, we often don’t count on the uncomfortable collateral moving away can, in the long-term, create. Maybe things haven’t panned out how we planned. Perhaps we feel trapped, frozen in fear or undecided on what to do. Yet we have already done something not many have the guts to do. That strength and bravery is proof of the ability to once again, if we choose to, create a great life once again all anew.

#4 Stop giving power away

Letting others’ actions define how we feel about ourselves is a fast track to low self-esteem and unhappiness. The things others do is always a reflection of the lens they themselves are looking through. This is especially true when we move somewhere new. We have far fewer strong connections to rely on than we used to. We feel rejected and let down more regularly. Yet learning to support, love and be kind to ourselves, regardless of how others behave empowers us to be brave. We subsequently choose close ties more wisely, only extending energy to those genuinely and mutually supportive of our lives.

#5 Stop trying to decide

Long-term indecision can leave an expats’ mind spinning.  Yet when our minds are in overdrive, we become crippled with an inability to decide. In this situation it makes no sense to uproot our lives. Instead we ought to get out of our minds, fully embrace our current life and let our intuition, that gentle, quiet voice, be our guide. In my experience, the right path to take then becomes as clear as the emerald blue skies on an Australian summers day.

Often, we believe that changing what we see on the outside holds the key to a happier life. While for a time that may be true, when the novelty wears off, the promises we project onto somewhere (something or someone) new, rarely come to light in the long-term unless we change our internal view. After all, even the brightest emerald skies and glistening opal oceans soon lose their sparkle if we ourselves are feeling deeply blue.

Long-lasting happiness is a state of mind that no matter our location or situation, we ultimately have to decide. As the most beautiful view of life starts from the inside.

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