Settling In and your 6 Human Needs
Expatsradio.com speaks to Jacinta Noonan about being an expat and how to deal with the problems. This article was written by Jacinta to give commonsense advice on the move.
‘I cried solidly for the first three months when I moved to Texas,” said my sister the other day. “I sent so many letters in those initial months that my first friend was the lady behind the counter at the post office.”
Moving to a new country is a wonderful experience, but it can also be a roller-coaster of emotions as well. According to Anthony Robbins, personal development guru, we have six needs which must be acknowledged. These are: 1. Certainty, 2.Uncertainty/Variety, 3. Significance, 4.Love/connection, 5. Growth, and 6. Contribution. Moving to another country can put these needs out of balance.
In your new country a lot of the certainty that you previously took for granted has gone. Everything is different, from the language, the social norms, the physical environment and of course the food. Because of our need for certainty, this constant barrage of newness can become overwhelming and eat away at our confidence. I remember my first year in Holland trying to find a language school until it hit me: looking up ‘L’ in the phone book was not going to help. (I needed ‘T’ for talen), or the stress of going into a bank and not knowing which counter I needed. All the tasks I normally did without thinking suddenly became a challenge.
Once you recognize this need you can consciously start to build some certainty into your life.
When I was moving a lot I carried with me two photos, my Buddha, an ornament and a purple doily. No matter where I was, I always woke up to the sight of something familiar. This made me feel secure and certain. The other way to have certainty is to start some new routines. My sister did this when she went to the same post office, same trip every day until she felt more settled.
Uncertainty or Variety
We humans are funny critters. As well as needing Certainty, we also need Uncertainty otherwise we run the risk of becoming bored. Living in a new country has plenty of Uncertainty and Variety so I don’t need to go any further. Although for those of you who left full-time employment, being at home all day every day can cause its own problems. If you start feeling that the days are becoming too similar and you cannot tell when one week ends and another begins, may I encourage you to look for a new activity to engage in. This will bring a bit of variety to your week.
The next human need is Significance. At ‘home’ we were not only a wife and mother, but we were also someone’s friend, daughter, sister. Quite possibly you had a job or did volunteer work which gave you a sense of being Significant. When you move to a new country, you don’t know anyone, no-one knows you and you can lose your sense of being significant. Perhaps your role as home-maker takes on too much significance and you start to lose perspective. Think of activities which would make you feel significant again. For me, I needed to work so I started teaching English. This made me feel part of something and of course I got to meet a lot of new friends.
Love and Connection
We also have a need to be loved and feel connected. Those who love us are miles away. No-one here knows who you are, you feel like you don’t belong anywhere. A way of nourishing your need to be connected is to get involved in a club and make a conscious effort to meet new people. Holland has a fantastic expat community with numerous clubs one can join. I met one of my closest friends at a yoga class. Two other beautiful friends came into my life via the Open
University. Set yourself the goal to find out about what’s available and then go and make connections. You will meet new friends, you will start to feel a sense of being significant and the regular monthly meetings will give you a sense of certainty.
Living in another country is, without a doubt, a growing experience. Almost daily you are required to draw on different aspects of yourself which you may not have realized were there. I have amazed myself with what I have dared to do in Holland. Don’t focus on the difficulties of being in your host country, rather notice how you are expanding and growing as a person. Before you go to bed each night spend a moment to write down five wonderful things you accomplished that day.
We all need to make a contribution to the society in which we live. Take a moment each day to reflect on the many ways in which you contribute. Some of us need to do this in a big way, such as helping a cause, while others just need to feel that they contribute positively to their immediate family. How you are as a person in your relationship with others is contribution enough.
So, if you are feeling a bit low or out of sorts, look at the list of human needs and ask yourself which one is not being honoured. When you identify which it is, make a list of things you could undertake to honor that need. And finally, choose one thing on your list and go Do IT!