An effective way for expats to learn how to live life to the fullest is through acceptance and commitment therapy principles.
It’s easy for anyone to feel lost and alone in this big, sometimes scary world. For expats, a new foreign country can feel like a world in and of itself. It can be challenging to believe that they can live life to the fullest in their life abroad when feelings of loneliness or anxiety take over.
The expat challenges struggle to find purpose and meaning in new surroundings can leave one feeling isolated and homesick. Not to mention being uprooted from one home and thrust into a new one, often without knowing anyone, can be nerve-racking.
Daily cultural or language differences and obstacles can begin to feel like insurmountable barriers that get in the way of accomplishing things we want to do in this lifetime.
For expats who find themselves struggling with the various challenges of life abroad or general feelings of anxiety or unfulfillment, it’s important to remember that there is no one right way to live life.
However, one of the most effective ways of learning to live life to the fullest is through acceptance and commitment therapy principles (ACT).
ACT is a mindfulness-based psychotherapy that helps people connect with their values and live more fully in line with them.
The basic principles of ACT are acceptance, commitment, and change.
First off, what is acceptance through the lens of ACT, and how might it be applied to pursue a fulfilling expat life?
To live a fulfilling life abroad as an expat, it’s crucial to accept the current situation you find yourself in. Many expats encounter issues ranging from the absence of a partner to unmet expectations that make them want to give up.
While it’s incredibly challenging to face these situations and the feelings that arise with them, remember that acceptance does not mean resignation. Instead, it acknowledges what is happening in the present moment without judgment.
This might be difficult at first for expats seeking to change their circumstances or “fix” things that aren’t ideal. It’s important to remember that acceptance is a process, and it’s something that can be worked on and improved over time.
The second acceptance and commitment therapy principles.
Once an expat has accepted their current situation, they can commit themselves to do whatever is necessary to make the most of that situation, to overcome expat challenges.
It means making new friends, learning the language better, or finding ways to connect with the local culture. It might also indicate committing to taking care of their mental and emotional well-being by seeking professional help if needed.
Overall, living in line with one’s values makes the commitment principle more straightforward. All expats should grant themselves the time and patience to connect to their values, such as embracing change and allowing new experiences to shape who they are as an individual.
Though it’s important to first accept and commit to what is happening in one’s life, this doesn’t mean that things will stay the same forever. Change is an inevitable part of life, and it’s something that we should embrace rather than resist.
The acceptance and commitment therapy principles of acceptance, commitment, and change are essential for living a fulfilling expat life. When we can learn to accept and commit to our current situation while also embracing change, we are on our way to living a life that is full of meaning and purpose.
Only by accepting the present moment for what it is can we connect with our innermost values and start living more in line with them. Only by committing ourselves can we push through any obstacle standing in our way. And only by embracing change can we allow new and beautiful experiences to enter our lives.
Above all, life is a process, which means applying these principles and making intentional changes takes practice. Many expats find it helpful to reach out to an online psychologist or expat psychologist who can more effectively guide them through acceptance and commitment therapy principles and support them along their journey of living their lives to the fullest.
Do you want to know more about on how to overcome Limiting Beliefs of life abroad? Check my Workshop here
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By your side,
Gabriela Encina is an online psychologist specialized in expat women and supports them with the guidance and tools they need to feel confident, make the best decisions for their lives, build and maintain meaningful relationships and prioritize their well-being.
Her approach is practical, solution-oriented and focused on the present.
Gabriela offers counseling to expat women in Spanish, English and German.