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The power of remembering your why when moving abroad

An invitation to remember the reasons for moving abroad and to explore whether your why may have changed over the years.

If you are curious and want to learn more, I recorded an episode on my podcast, We are here, too, and I have included a detailed blog post below exploring the reasons why we moved abroad in the first place. 

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The importance of remembering our why when living abroad

First things first: what does “remember our why” actually mean?

It hasn’t always been a phrase I would personally use, but I heard it a few times here and there, and it got me curious. 

Remember our why means staying connected to our motives, purpose and desires. It is an invitation to reflect on whether the reasons we had then are still valid and current. 

When living abroad, remember our why becomes a phrase that necessitates reconsidering the big question: “why am I living abroad?”

Some moved because of love, because they wanted a more fulfilling life (better quality of life, better housing, better work-life balance, better employment) or for a sense of adventure. Others moved in less favourable circumstances, fleeing persecution, war or environmental disasters. The why can then vary from moment to moment. 

The reasons that brought me to move abroad when I was 20 were well different from those I had in my late twenties or where I am now when considering making a change in my life. 

Read more: Exploring the emotional toll of moving abroad: what does it look like?

Remembering our why is about self-awareness

The act of remembering our why is a moment in time when we connect with our deepest needs and motivations. It’s a marker that shows us whether our needs have changed.

When we live abroad, there may be a lot of noise that clouds our why: job and house hunting, everyday routine, dealing with relationships with people in both the home and host country and navigating not one but two systems to get all of that paperwork in check (how many of you had to renew their passport when living abroad?). 

Tapping into that self-awareness may then feel like a complicated and tiring chore. We may also get lost in the process, and one morning we may wake up not knowing why we left in the first place.

Cultivating self-awareness is then a way to reconnect to our why when living abroad. It will allow us to stay connected to our needs, notice when things shift, and act more closely to how we feel. 

Remembering our why through self-awareness encourages us to stay more focused and committed no matter the challenges and setbacks and avoid getting sidetracked by distractions or competing priorities.

creating an intention helps us escape the habit of imprisoning ourselves in that past, moving forth and creating change in the future that awaits us – Dr. Joe Dispenza

A journey through self-awareness to remember our why when abroad

Self-awareness comes in different forms and shapes. It’s the ability to recognise and understand how we feel, behave and think from a distance. 

We are aware through our body and mind

When we are self-aware through our body, we notice what creates tension and can learn how to ease it. We learn how our body moves in space, we learn what place it occupies, and how political it is. 

Additionally, self-awareness through our body plays a role in emotional processing and social interactions, responding to cues from people’s body language and facial expressions. When we live abroad, these cues may be different and unfamiliar, leaving us unsure how to interpret and respond (potentially causing stress). 

Remember our why when abroad through self-awareness is a journey of introspection and observation. Sometimes, it would feel like wandering in the dark and needing to know where the exit is. Others, we would feel very connected to our why and fuelled by it to keep going. 

Counselling is a way to deepen self-awareness: work with me

How do I reconnect to my why when living abroad?

Finding our “why” can be a deeply personal and introspective process. After all, we are trying to get in touch with a part of us that does not always get a chance to be seen and heard.

Reconnecting to our why when abroad can come from a journey into self-awareness while:

  • Reflect on and identify our core values (what made you move abroad in the first place?)
  • Consider your passion in order to identify what you want to focus on and invest your energy in (what are you passionate about right now? How does it differ from when you first moved abroad?)
  • Explore your strengths so you find the areas of your life where you can make the biggest impact and find the most satisfaction (what steps can you make to your life abroad to feel closer to your why? Or to explore new why?)
  • Experiment: Remember that finding your “why” is an ongoing process, and it may take time and experimentation to find the right path for you. What worked then may not suit you anymore, and maybe it’s time to move on. Experiment in a way that allows you to find what else is there for you and how you can pursue it. 

Conclusions

Remembering our “why” when abroad involves reconnecting with the underlying purpose or motivation that brought us to live and then stay in a new country.

With our why, we may find it easier to find meaning in our life when external expectations and pressures make our day-to-day hard. 

When we have a clear sense of our “why,” we are more likely to make choices aligned with our values and priorities, whether the ones that led us to a life abroad or new ones. 

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