Energised Client Camilla Dempster has written a follow up guest blog for us about what being an Expat has taught her…..
One thing undoubtedly exits between all expats, something that lingers unspoken. Fear. There is a palpable fear to living in a new country, and though it is more acute in the first months, even year of expat life, it never completely evaporates as time goes on. It simply changes.
As I mentioned in my previous blog for Kim and EP [click here] I have worked with Kim for a long time. And during this first fear filled year of expat life was when I truly began to unpack mental baggage with Kim’s expertise and evolve. The thing about living in a new country is this – it redefines what a comfort zone is. And as I’m sure you know if you work with Kim, or are thinking about it, getting out of your comfort zone is imperative to growth.
It’s hard to deny that the act of living in another country, in another language, fundamentally changes you. Different parts of your personality sort of float to the top, and you take on qualities, mannerisms, words and opinions that define the people around you. And there’s nothing wrong with that – it’s actually part of the reason to leave in the first place. To evolve, to force a change and transition.
So, in hopes of sharing with you what you may find if you’re thinking of relocating, or if you’re staying put and would like an insight. Or even if you’ve left already and are in any stages of transition. This is what expat life has taught me:
- There is power in authenticity and exploration of self.
Most people only take action when they expect a reward, and they don’t enjoy that action. Immersion in expat life creates space from the day to day things and habits from the origin country. As an example, coming from the UK where shops are open within limited hours, closing at 5pm. Then finding in the Middle East that the majority open after 10am and remain open until and even past midnight opens up space. And that awareness of space.
I remember clearly my first supermarket shop when I was stocking my cupboards. Simply the act of being in a new supermarket forces a reevaluation of needs and which brands/products to buy. I was stumped – I didn’t know where anything was located and all the tags were written in Arabic. This shop took me almost two hours. The beauty is that I was able to really dig deeper into what I really wanted and needed. And I found what I thought previously was essential was no longer.
This small example is showing how space and new environments allow for exploration and refining beliefs. Beliefs that are intrinsically motivating. Doing your best and taking action because you love it , not because you’re expecting a reward or via habit. And this is massively possible when you’re in a new place. With presence, awareness and space.
- Be impeccable with your word.
The word is the most powerful tool you have as a human; it is the tool of magic.
This has two sides – your words can create the most beautiful dream, or your word can destroy everything around you.
The impeccability with your word in all circumstances builds trust in those around you. As an expat this trust is more crucial – with communities at origin but also in the current place. Being up front with intentions builds trust, rapport and ultimately connection. Being a part of something bigger than ourselves.
You can measure the impeccability of your word by your level or self-love. How much space you create for yourself and how you treat yourself. How you feel about yourself is directly proportionate to the quality and integrity of your word.
- Other People’s words do NOT define you
My first job in Kuwait was setting up and running a women’s only gym in the city. It was exciting and showed me the value of how we communicate. And how different cultures communicate both with body language and through speech.
Mostly it showed that again words are powerful magic.
During the marketing phase of the gym we relied only on word of mouth and social media. Now for clarification I’m a UK size 10/12 depending on where I shop. Photos were taken of me and posted frequently online.
Many comments were made that I was too ‘fat’ to be a head coach. Now if you know my story this is something that, before working with Kim, was a touchy subject. I now hold my worth to my identity, values and beliefs – not a number on a scale or how much weight I’ve lost.
Now, when I saw these comments I had a choice. A decision as to whether I’d internalize them and feel unworthy of my position. Or to understand that this is the culture in the Middle East and that it is also a lack of education that a trainer/gym manager needs to look a certain way to be able to produce great results.
If someone gives you an opinion and says, “hey, you look so fat”, don’t take it personally, because the truth is that this person is dealing with his or her own feelings, beliefs, and opinions. That person tried to send poison to you and if you take it personally, then you take that poison and it becomes yours.
In reality these words that were spoken to me were a consequence of culture, language barrier and someone else’s beliefs. Don’t hold on to other people’s poison and realise that you are the best version of you.
- Space = Being your Best (even in at your worst)
Under any circumstance, always do your best, no more and no less. But keep in mind that your best is never going to be the same from one moment to the next. Nor one country to the next.
Everything is alive and changing all the time, so your best will sometimes be high quality, and other times it will not be as good. When you wake up refreshed and energized in the morning, your best will be better than when you are tired at night. Your best will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick, or sober as opposed to drunk. Your best will depend on whether you are feeling wonderful and happy, or upset, angry or jealous.
Space is something that, as I’ve mentioned before, comes with a new environment. And gives you so much – but most of all it gives you the capability to be your best. To act with creativity, compassion and courage and make decisions based on your authentic self.
- Create rituals.
When you create a strong habit to self-care and be kind to yourself these are rituals. Call them habits, call them points on your to-do list call them what you like. But do them.
Even things such as taking a shower can be a ritual of self care. By taking that action past the ordinary and to presence you can tell your body, mind and soul how much you love it. Feel the water on your body and give it what it needs.
Those rituals keep your grounded, safe in your environment and provide a spring board for growth. Rituals are created/fulfilled with space.
You can choose to believe in anything, and that includes believing in yourself.
When you live abroad, you realize that, no matter where you are, you will always be an ex-pat. There will always be a part of you that is far away from its home and is lying dormant until it can breathe and live in full color back in the country where it belongs. To live in a new place is a beautiful, thrilling thing, and it can show you that you can be whoever you want — on your own terms. It can give you the gift of freedom, of new beginnings, of curiosity and excitement. But to start over, to get on that plane, doesn’t come without a price. You cannot be in two places at once, and from now on, you will always know that you are your best version of you.
If you would like to step out of your comfort zone, have adventures or do something amazing this year it would be a pleasure to help, email email@example.com or go to www.energisedperformance.com/adventure-and-charity
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