Many years ago I read a story which has stayed with me a long time. A man was travelling home on a train with his young children. The children were boisterous, loud and people around them were getting annoyed by their behaviour. Their father did nothing, and just sat there, ignoring the growing mayhem and the other passengers became more and more agitated and annoyed. When one of his neighbours finally asked them to keep down the noise, the father apologised, saying ‘I’m very sorry, we’ve just come from the hospital where their mother has just died. I don’t really know what to do’. In a moment, their neighbours attitude and comportment went from being one of irritation and anger to compassion and understanding. This story helped me begin to understand the deep power of perspective as a route to changing our experience of life and our happiness.
But we’ve all done it. Life starts getting to us, things, people, situations, get on our nerves and grow to the point of bursting, sometimes into anger or grief, but basically we’re stuck in a paradigm of our own creation because our mind gets overly-focused on Things That Are Not Working. On a minor mission, we carry our perspective (they are ignorant, it’s impossible to get anything done, no-one can be trusted, it’s too hard etc) hell-bent like a badge, a shield or a heavy load, defending it and allowing it to exhaust us. When we exhaust ourselves, the idea of making any kind of change is neigh-on impossible. It just seems all too much at times. I’m sure you have met, ahem, ‘those kind of expats’. They choose to come and live in a country and then simply can’t seem to do anything but moan and criticise it, which is a desperate shame. Maybe that’s you?
Probably the worst part of losing a supportive perspective is that we just feel so dis-empowered, because we do not feel like we are living in choice, which is often at the heart of our sense of well-being and happiness. It can even feel a little like living in prison, which is exactly what some people feel like living abroad.
The thing is that whilst we can’t change the weather, the language, the culture or whatever else is draining our inner resources, we can choose how we approach them and how we react to them. It is possible and not only that, I think that a conscious choosing of a new perspective is utterly vital to getting unstuck. It allows creativity, a sense of freedom and action to flow, and we all know how good that feels. When we experience ourselves in choice, all manner of energies and magic starts to be created and it can be as fast as turning on the light switch.
Consider this. When you go out into your new neighbourhood or new country today, what are the perspectives you are carrying with you? How do these perspectives affect your experience of this country and your current life? What works and what doesn’t? What do you want to change?
Join me next week when I look at step 4 in the ‘From Struggle To Success Expat Plan’ series – ‘Acknowledgement’.
NEW! Keep an eye out for my ‘Kickass Expat’ interview series where I meet with people around the world who have upped and changed their lives beyond measure. See what hits and misses they have had building lives abroad and get cool tips and pointers for success. Hit the ‘Follow This Blog’ button on the right hand column to get these posts delivered direct to your inbox.
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Take care, have fun, grow and flourish, wherever you are!
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