How do I find meaning? What matters to others, my family, or myself? These questions often come up as adjustment turns to deeper self-reflection, and such questions are normal. Resources including Best Practices and Coaching Videos are readily available for clients.
How Do I Matter?
This is a good question, one related to the GCA Report factors of external support and spiritual support. Measures of quality of life and mental outlook help you decipher your inner strength. Reviewing this score may provide a helpful start to revive any and all spiritual resources in ways that you consider helpful. Areas of interest may include how you experience meaning and purpose during transitions, the internal harmony of conflicting thoughts and actions, and how a strong internal view might help you adjust to a new culture.
- Ask what helps you have a positive outlook and apply that quality
- Some people in your situation like talking with people who display a very positive outlook. Ask how they found inner strength
- Others like meditation, prayer, reading scripture or inspirational materials or listening to uplifting music
How Do I Stay Connected With My Family?
Each of us wants to stay close to family, and distance often leaves a big gap, feeling almost insurmountable. The GCA Report topic of family support is good to review at this point since it reveals the extent you believe family members are currently, or will, offer help. This help can be emotional or task related as you anticipate or experience host culture challenges. Family support is also measured by your expected quantity and quality of communication. You may expect more or less than what is provided or what you think is needed.
- Ask any family member who is particularly concerned, “what scares you about this experience?” We have learned that introducing a metaphor change for relocation works to reassure reluctant family members who will remain back home. Examples include Far away replaced by Only a 10-hour plane trip, or I’m scared for you replaced with This is a great adventure for discovery, etc.
- Another practice is to plan an I feel lonely kit, or what you might call a Daily home communication or One day at a time kit. In these kits, place special objects, messages, or favorite memories in a box or in an agreed upon place to be opened when a person feels especially lonely.
- Disclosure with your loved ones usually involves openness about daily activities and what you each expect. Keeping big secrets usually does not help in the long run. Practice active listening skills (that is, repeat back what is being said, paraphrase), share fears and concerns, ask others their feelings, and avoid blaming or labeling others for how you feel.
- It is a good practice to engage communication intimacy (eye contact, gentleness, “love languages” which means doing or saying what your loved one really appreciates and feels is familiar to them). People back home may say or write odd things that really don’t encourage you, but they usually mean well. So, offering patience and grace to them and reframing whatever they say as they mean well and are trying to offer encouragement is a good way to help you capitalize on this important source of external strength.
- Be positive, engage in humor, and seek confidence in healthy ways.