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How to Stop Self-Sabotaging and Embrace Your Expat Life: 7 Tips from a Life Coach

Homesickness, loss, culture shock and misdirection are a normal part of living a globally mobile life. Every expat feels confused, frustrated, lonely, stuck or unsure from time to time. Often, this feeling is not really about wanting to pack our bags and go home, it’s more about losing sight of ourselves. When so many things around us change, we change too. It’s easy to get lost in the process of building an expat life.

The good news is that the skills you need to get through the ups and downs are completely within your grasp!

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Are you ready to get off the rollercoaster of expat doubt, to stop self-sabotaging and to learn the skills you need to fully embrace your new expat life?

Start with these 7 Tips from Life Coach, Jodi Harris, World Tree Coaching:

1.  Stop referring to your non-expat life as “real life.” This is your real life.


Sure, expat life may be different from the life you were living before. It may sometimes feel like a dream (or a nightmare), but it is indeed you that’s slurping those noodles, catching those flights, mispronouncing those words and hunting for a job that keeps you overseas. Denying that this is your real life keeps you from taking your expat adventure seriously and fully engaging in your experience.


2.  Practice getting comfortable with uncertainty.


Uncertainty can feel daunting, but it’s actually a surprisingly wonderful gift of living between worlds. When we learn to embrace uncertainty – to get comfortable with what it feels like to “not know” – we can then more clearly discern when to seek out answers, when to get creative and find new solutions to challenges we face and when to simply let the cards fall where they may.


3.  Get curious.


The moment you start feeling like you know all the answers is the moment you shut yourself off from the growth, learning and insight available when you live outside your comfort zone. If you feel bored or as if you’ve seen it all – that’s your cue to ask new questions, take a new route or learn a whole new skill.


4.  Practice stillness.


For a lot of us, our desire to live outside our home cultures comes from a deep need to move. And yet, movement, without focus can leave us feeling drained and directionless. So, find a way to practice being still. Create rituals, like morning coffee without your device, daily meditation, a nice long walk or a run. Moments like this, that still the mind and allow the mental dust to settle, can provide the opportunity to gain clarity and a new perspective.



5.  Admit you might need some people.


If you’re trying to drag yourself alone through a difficult experience, this one’s for you. Whether it’s a best friend or a therapist, a family member or a social media contact – we thrive from connecting with others. The answers that move you may ultimately come from doing your own inner work, but a trusted confidant can help you get there faster and with greater awareness.


6.  Learn the language of your emotions.


Learning to turn towards what we’re experiencing – to examine our emotions, to name them, to understand their textures and nuances – is critical to maintaining a sense of balance for people who wander from place to place. Whether you express how you’re feeling through journaling, letters or in the company of good friends, getting real about what you’re feeling is critical to learning to move through the ups and downs of expat life.


7.  Do your work.


I’m going to say that again – do your work! This is the most important way in which we can learn to stop self-sabotaging and fully embrace the expat experience. Make a habit of examining what’s working and not working in your life. What responsibility do you have for the things that have gone well and for the things that haven’t worked out? Which relationships are thriving and which ones are suffering? Why might that be? What habits are holding you back and which ones are moving you exactly where you want to go? What events from your past keep getting in your way? How do you learn to put them to rest? This and other questions are the keys to learning to fully connect with where we are now.



All of these practices help us grow into ourselves through what is always a life-changing experience. They help us avoid mental and emotional stagnation and view things differently. They bring us back to what’s here in the moment when our minds have the tendency to go somewhere else.

And, ultimately, that’s what it’s all about – being here right now, so that when we pack our bags again tomorrow, it’s as the best version of ourselves.


Thank you to the wonderful author of this post:

Jodi Harris – World Tree Coaching, LLC

Jodi is a mother of three, wife, certified coach, mindfulness teacher, Personal Leadership facilitator, and writer. She has 15 years of experience working with individuals living outside of their home cultures and prior to moving overseas practised as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. She’s originally from Austin, Texas and has lived in Spain, Northern Ireland, the Dominican Republic, Madagascar and Japan (her current home). Jodi’s personal values are centred in freedom, creativity, fun, friendship and family. She loves working with people who share these values or are dedicated to bringing more of these values into their lives.
Read more about her story here.


As a thankyou for reading this post, grab an exclusive FREE downloadable copy of one of Jodi’s guided journaling activities from The Expat Activity Book! 
CLICK HERE to explore your understanding of ‘Priorities’ and continue your personal expat growth.

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