How to Make Your Big Move a Healthy One
I have a good friend who recently relocated from Toronto to Texas with her family. We talked before she left about some of the implications involved in a big geographic transition. As a person who made a pretty big move from my culture, family and friends myself, I had originally called her to give her some moving away advice, however, as with all good conversations, I too walked away with some new thoughts for myself and I reflected on my own transitions and the over six years I have been living in the Caribbean Islands.
You don't need to speak negatively about your current life to justify change:
While on the phone my friend said she was really challenged not to dwell on aspects that were difficult in her current life in order to get behind her and her family's choice to move. How often do we do that? It seems an understandable way to process and deal with the pain of leaving something known and loved. Rejecting it so it hurts less. A healthier transition would be to face the loss and challenges of the choice to take ownership of the decision. “We want to try something new”, “we have always wanted to live abroad”, or “this is financially beneficial” replaces the “I don't do winters”, “I always hated this house” or “Great, we no longer have to deal with the family issues”. The power of choosing based on what you want and not what you don't want is a stronger position that will help you as you make the move. Keep positive.
You are still you:
As a therapist, I see in my clients abroad who are looking to escape their lives or circumstances truly experience Jon Kabat-Zinn's adage, “Wherever you go, there you are”. All the great aspects of you will embrace the adventure, your extroverted self might excel at meeting new people who may have also landed in the same spot from all walks of life, or your introverted self will find peace on the deserted beach. However, you will also bring all your challenges. Your marriage doesn't suddenly get fixed due to a new scenery, you won't change personalities and be laid back surfer girl if you love planning and control (waves come when waves come), and life doles out challenges globally and routinely, just like home.
Be in the Moment, this one right here!:
Henry David Thoreau wrote, “You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment. Fools stand on their island of opportunities and look toward another land. There is no other land; there is no other life but this.” We must not wait to live. So often I see people putting so much hope in a new location or new community and they miss out on the richness of the present. Live today wherever you are! Live mindfully and fully whether you are in your new location, dreaming of life in a faraway land, packing up to make a big change, living in the familiar, or while you are navigating an in between time and you aren't sure where to go. Enjoy and be present in the moment you are in. Take big breaths, notice the amazing things in your environment, love the people around you and be mindful.
Be positive about your choice. Know that all the parts of you will find highs and lows in a new location, and that is okay, and that is life. Lastly, be grateful for whatever you have going on wherever you are knowing it is okay to make a big change.