As many expats are transitioning from summer break back to their host countries, I thought this would be a good time to talk about some ways you can really rock these expat transitions. This of course will be most relevant to families and others affiliated with international schools, but as expats are frequently transitioning in some way or other, it may hold relevancy for other expats as well.
Secret Ingredient #1: Leave the past behind.
If you’re coming back to your host country after having been either home or on vacation for the summer, there can be a tendency to romanticize the past couple of months. The summer can seem like a golden time, particularly if you’re not crazy about where you now live. But romanticizing the past can often lead to depression in the present because the reality can never hold up to a golden memory. Expat transitions can be easier if you let go of the past.
When you become aware that your mind is dwelling on thoughts of the past, try simply to note “thought” or “past”, and bring your mind back to the present and the task at hand.
Secret Ingredient # 2: Don’t jump to the future.
Likewise, you may tend to put your emotional energy into imagining a more glorious future, perhaps in another place. The problem with this is that you’re taking your energy away from making the present somewhere you want to be. And you know the saying, when God wants a good laugh he looks at our plans.
Secret Ingredient # 3: Stay in the present.
This leads us to staying in the present. What’s so good about the present, you might ask. Well, for one thing it’s where we are; the only place we actually exist in real time. The past and present exist only in our minds. If you want to make changes in your life, you can only change in the present. Making positive changes in your present life may lead to a more positive future, but the truth is we never know what will happen in the future.
I suggest checking in with yourself to see if there’s something you’re wanting in the present that’s not there. Then make small changes in your behavior to get you closer to your goal. You might try thinking about one small thing you can do this week, to bring more of what you want into your life.
You might also try meditating on your breath for 10 minutes a day to help you stay in the present. You can focus on your nostrils or belly, watching the movement of your inhalations and exhalations. You might try counting each complete breath, which is an inhale and an exhale. When you get to ten, go back to one and begin again. Every time you wander off in thought, (which everyone does) just bring your attention back to your body and your breath. It’s deceptively simple, but it works.
You can also get a free copy of my Ebook, Top 10 Tips for Daily Mindfulness on my website, which has some ways you can integrate being in the present into your daily life.
Meditation masters have been teaching these 3 secret ingredients to meditators for eons. I think they apply equally well to expats who may experience some stress around transitions.