Guest-Writer: Nicky Hammond, Expat Life Coach at NickyHammond.com.
The feeling of disorientation experienced by someone when they are suddenly subjected to an unfamiliar culture,
wayof life, or set of attitudes.
Culture is a complex concept that affects all of us. But for those of us global nomads who move from one country of origin across the world to a new country, our culture can influence how we
The way we view culture and ourselves can add to our homesickness, our feelings of isolation and to the
Whatever culture you identify with, the real reason you feel homesick, isolated or frustrated, is because of what you are thinking: “They did it better back home”, “I’m different from everyone else” and “If they were from my culture then they would understand me!”
What I want to offer, is that these thoughts are totally optional.
I want to teach you a mind-blowing concept… That everything in the world around us (the fact that you live somewhere new, the fact that people here are different from where you originally came from, that your family may live halfway across the world…) all of these circumstances are completely neutral until you have a thought about them.
How do I know that those circumstances are neutral?
By how different people can react to them!
Some people are going to be thinking “hell yes” to their new move abroad; whilst other people are going to lament the move, the differences and the fact that their family lives so far away. This neutrality is amazing news! Now you can choose what you are making those circumstances mean to YOU.
It means that the cultural beliefs you grew up with don’t HAVE to be the way you see the world or how you operate. We get to CHOOSE where we focus our mind. Those cultural beliefs feel deeply
I want to give you an example. I’m Australian. There is a concept in our culture called the Tall Poppy Syndrome. It basically refers to the culture where Australians cut down people who are seen as being too successful and prominent. We “cut tall poppies down to size”. We don’t like people to “big-note” themselves either. That means don’t blow your own trumpet, don’t do too well and don’t be too smart. The result is, we not only cut other people down to size but also ourselves. It means that I’m inclined to think to myself “stay small”, “be humble”, “don’t make yourself look too successful”. I’m a life coach. So this thought is terrible! So I’ve just decided to change it. I practice new thoughts like: “If I’m successful I get to help more people in the world”… Everything about my culture told me to act this way and now I have made the conscious decision to change this particular attitude to better my situation.
So how can this help homesick expats?
If you take a look at
Whatever culture you identify with, the real reason you feel homesick is
If you think about the concept that everything around us is neutral, you can simply decide where to focus
I don’t believe in affirmations, because if we try and make our mind think thoughts we don’t truly believe, our brain will find all the reasons why we don’t believe that thought. So don’t practice “I love living here” unless you really believe it. Try something neutral to start with “I live in (insert name of city)”. You can work your way up from there: “Living in (insert name of city) is helping me learn and grow”, “(insert name of city) has provided new opportunities for me”, “I like living in (insert name of city)” and then finally you might truly believe “I love living in (insert name of city).”
What about dealing with Isolation?
Isolation can be exacerbated by living in a place that has cultural beliefs and norms that conflict with what you are used to. Isolation comes from feeling alone and from thoughts like “I don’t belong here”, “I don’t fit in” or “These people don’t get me”. These thoughts will limit your ability to acclimatise to the new environment. When you feel isolation you retreat and hide, which further reinforces isolation.
If you are thinking the thought “I don’t fit in here”, then you have an expectation that you should fit in. Just notice this. When we think “should” we make ourselves feel terrible. Instead of thinking that you “should” be like everyone else, what if you believed that you are fine as you are. The truth is, you might be different but you have the power to make that mean whatever you wanted. It can mean “I don’t fit in” or it could mean “I have a lot to offer others because I’m different”, “people might like me because I am different”, “my difference contributes to the vibrancy and diversity of this city”. I truly believe all of those things. I worked for years in the multicultural sector celebrating diversity. And the other truth is that you may not actually be that different at all. After all, every single one of us is HUMAN.
So go ahead and decide how you want to think about your cultural identity and the experiences that you are having in your current homeland. You can choose to embrace the differences, celebrate your uniqueness and be curious about the culture around you.
Thank you to my awesome Guest-Writer, Nicky Hammond!
Nicky is a life-coach to expat mums who have relocated to Australia. She is a mum herself of two energetic young boys and has lived and worked in 5 different countries around the world. Her coaching helps her clients simply feel better, build confidence and rediscover purpose and joy in their life.