3 Ways You Hold Yourself Back from a Happier Re-entry After Being Abroad (Reverse Culture Shock)

Just today someone told me that they now feel “more positive and excited about the whole re-entry after being abroad process!” I love hearing that! But…sometimes we make things harder than they need to be (been there, done that!!).

3 Ways You Hold Yourself Back from a Happier Re-entry

#1 – You Get Stuck in Commiserating Mode.

There’s nothing wrong with a little venting. It’s a relief when you find someone who truly gets what you’re going through, especially when it seems like nobody around you understands! You feel seen, heard, and validated. That’s important in re-entry and when dealing with reverse culture shock.

The problem? Once you start commiserating, it can be difficult to stop.

The more you focus on what’s wrong with everyone and everything at home, the less likely you are to see career, relationship, travel, and other life opportunities…and the more likely you are to dislike where you are and what you’re doing.

The more negative you are, the less likely others will want to be around you. The more you feel distance between you and others in your life, the worse you feel.

It’s a downward spiral that won’t get you anywhere.

For a happier re-entry, try this instead:

Develop good re-entry coping skills that help you focus on finding solutions rather than being a victim of commiserating. The stronger your re-entry coping skills, the less you’ll need or want to commiserate. You’ll be more focused on finding solutions, making progress, and living the global life you crave.

#2 – You Catastrophize.

I’ll never fit in here. I’ll never be as happy as I was abroad. My friends and family will never understand me. Nobody will ever value my experiences abroad. The only place I can ever feel happy again is anywhere but here. 

Have you ever said any of these things? When feeling frustrated in re-entry, it’s easy to assume the worst possible outcome. Unfortunately, doing so just leads to more frustration and pain.

For a happier re-entry, try this instead:

Catastrophizing in re-entry often stems from deeply held feelings that we can’t quite articulate. When you find yourself focusing on the worst possible outcome, try to identify how you’re feeling (spoiler alert: it’s probably fear). Once you know how you feel, you can look at your assumptions with a clearer head and determine the best course of action.

#3 – You Avoid Re-entry.

Browsing flights night after night. Accepting the first opportunity to go abroad again, even if it’s not the right fit. Staying overly busy. Netflix.

There are many ways, big and small, to avoid the more uncomfortable aspects of re-entry.

For years my #1 coping strategy was to simply up and leave whenever I felt re-entry closing in. It worked for quite a while, but avoiding re-entry isn’t an effective long-term strategy!

As I discovered a few years ago, unresolved re-entry will catch up with you sooner or later. (Fortunately, it’s never to late to make re-entry a positive experience!)

For a happier re-entry, try this instead:

Identify your “global life ingredients,” which are the 3-5 things that give you the most joy, meaning, and satisfaction, no matter where in the world you are. Instead of avoiding re-entry after being abroad, focus on creating a global life that includes what (and who) is most important to you, no matter where in the world you live.

Remember, you’re not alone in this, and it IS possible to have a happier re-entry after being abroad! Head over to Facebook and join other global adventurers in our Re-Entry Relaunchers Unite! Facebook group for more support and inspiration!