Moving to Switzerland can often feel like a step into the unknown, and many struggle to adapt and integrate into their new home despite their best efforts. As Gillian Walter, from Inside-Out Coaching explains, moving to a new country and facing change doesn’t have to change who you are as a person.
The last time everything changed for me, I was pregnant and leaving everything behind to start a new life in a new country. The language was incomprehensible, the customs weird and the driving terrifying. After I arrived, it felt like every cell in my own body seemed to change.
Despite best efforts, change can take its toll
I made the change to be with my travelling husband and was initially excited and positive. I put all my time and effort into learning the language, moulding myself into a new, more “local” identity and trying my best to fit in. I was determined to make the most of it, but to say I quickly felt lost and alone is an understatement.
I believed I was doing the right thing and needed to try harder, but it didn’t work. I started to resent the country, the people, the language and even my husband for putting me in an impossible environment. The change was just too great.
Make the very best of change by following ABC
If you are facing change, please learn from my mistakes, concentrate on the three points below, leap past potential pain and make the very best of your change right from the start.
I’ve learned that successful change cannot be found in the “doing” alone. It must begin with how you present yourself and how you are “being”. Once I learnt how to focus on myself and how I was being, the doing part followed without effort.
Once you can stand back and accept that it is what it is – not condone or change yourself to fit in – you can let go of trying to change yourself and others and start leaning into the strengths and resources that can only be found in you and your authentic way of being.
Learning how to accept what is, is one of the most powerful steps.
My dad first called me out for trying to become someone else in order to fit in. At the time, I was bemoaning the impossibility of fitting in, all the things I’d tried to no avail and basically, how awful the Swiss were for not playing by English rules. This was 10 years into my expat struggle, I had two small children and was exhausted and resentful.
My dad asked me why? Why try and be someone I wasn’t, to fit in with people I didn’t understand?
As soon as I remembered and reconnected with who I was, accepted that being myself was just fine and came back to being my most authentic self, I started effortlessly growing a huge supportive tribe around me, bigger than I ever had back in England. Happiness and balance returned quicker than I could have believed.
Knowing how to stay balanced means staying resourced and in control. A balanced mind sees and embraces opportunities. To me, balance means:
If you notice that you are out of balance and beat yourself up about it, acceptance and any balance you may have had can disappear, the ease and flow of being centred and detached evaporate and the old, well-meaning but exhausting defence mechanisms fly into place.
Staying compassionately curious and thinking, “How interesting! What might be going on here? What learning is there for me here? What do I believe about this – and how could I possibly be wrong? What might I be missing and how could I better understand?” removes assumptions and judgement and offers a surefire way to stay balanced and connect easier with others.
Curiosity is about viewing change with compassionate fascination and finding innovative ways forward.
Curiosity combined with compassion is a killer combo to help learn from any situation and come out the other side stronger, wiser and more connected to the people around you.
Change is an opportunity to become more balanced and grounded
These core elements of acceptance, balance and curiosity worked 20 years ago but took me SO long to internalise. Now, I help clients to step back, understand and work with their personal change for what it is: an amazing opportunity to learn, grow and become more authentic, more balanced and more grounded.
If you are facing change, don’t wait and don’t overwhelm yourself with hard work and resentment. Get in touch with Inside-Out Coaching to make the most of change’s gifts, opportunities and learning