I never thought I was going to be an entrepreneur, or even an expat entrepreneur. But the fact is that being an expat opens up opportunities especially the ones to follow your passions and dreams.
I always worked with companies, with NGOs and I never put myself in the situation or in the crossroad of having a business. But life happens and although I had a plan A to C, it didn’t work out. I entered being an expat business owner.
Becoming an Expat Entrepreneur
I had to make a choice, should I continue my passion, my dream job, what is counseling and coaching, or should I do something else? I decided with a lot of fear, a lot of questions and doubts. I felt a lot of emotions.
These emotions can tell us a lot as an expat entrepreneur and in business nothing can work if your mindset is not in the right place.
I have the tools, I have the knowledge and the experience but I had to face the fact that I couldn’t make it in what I was doing. I was in this fear and frustration because I had a plan and it didn’t work. I was so angry and so frustrated that I couldn’t see more than that.
I needed help, I was stuck in rumination. I needed someone to hold my hand and to show me the best way to approach the situation. So I got the help I needed from a psychologist, and she helped me to what I do now as well, to embrace all the challenging emotions that I was feeling to hear them.
Because that’s the thing, if we hear what is going on with our emotions, all of it, we can actually find out what is going on in your, in our minds and how to deal with them.
All emotions have the same purpose, they provide information about ourselves and our lives.
What’s important if you are an expat entrepreneur, is that you address the thoughts attached to the emotions that are holding you back.
I heard this frustration. What this frustration was telling me was I was frustrated because my plans didn’t work.
So I figured that out because I concentrated on my thoughts and not my emotion, not the frustration. Okay. And then I could manage to, to actually know what was going on and address it.
That differentiation between your emotions and your thoughts is very important to your understanding. First of all, identify those emotions so that you can then as well try to reflect or get help to do so to understand them. What are you feeling? And what thoughts are triggering these emotions?
As expat entrepreneurs our work requires putting ourselves out there so a lot of our personal sides come out in our expat business.
5 Emotions to be aware of as an Expat Entrepreneur
We’ve already established the need to identify our emotions as the first step to understanding them and the thoughts that accompany them.
I’ve been asked before, what do I see people experiencing as negative emotions, especially expats and even more expats who are trying to build their own expat business?
There are 5 kinds of difficult emotions we should be aware of:
Shame – Because you’re putting yourself out there and when it doesn’t work, because usually at the beginning it doesn’t work, or at least it doesn’t work as you want it to work.
Frustration – When things aren’t going the way we expect. Or that they aren’t moving quick enough for us. Frustration is most of the time about feeling injustice or feeling that something is not going the way that you want it to.
Envy – Making comparisons. Why is she or he so successful? He does or she does the same as I do, and I’m not getting clients or not getting visibility.
Fear – For example, am I ashamed that I’m not having the success that I have to, or that I want to have? Or am I’m not worthy of success or money?
Loneliness – When you are working as expat entrepreneurs, as a solo entrepreneur, we can be very lonely. That added to the fact that you are in another country, that your family and friends, longtime friends are away. That can be difficult too.
If we put this into the context of separating our emotions with thoughts. Using the example in fear, it’s not only fear per se, it’s also all the surrounding planets around fear. Again, that’s your thoughts not your feelings.
4 things to do when you’re struggling with these emotions
Acknowledge that you’re feeling whatever you’re feeling first.
Don’t punish yourself for feeling what you’re feeling because that exacerbates the emotion and the negative state of mind.
Involves mindset and approaching the emotion, identifying what is causing the emotion and addressing it to move forward. It’s important to have a pause and understand ‘what is really blocking me right now?’
That doesn’t necessarily mean you have immediate success or forget the emotion.
Sometimes it’s necessary to face the not so great sides of ourselves in order to get out of this toughness, this hamster wheel. It’s important to reach out for help ideally from a professional business coach or an expat psychologist.
However, even talking about these things with someone who has experienced it can make a really big change in the way that you approach the emotions, the mindset.
I believe that in business nothing can work if your mindset is not in the right place.
Identifying emotions is actually very simple, but we have to take the time to do it and also to be willing to do it. These emotions can be what is blocking us to go further as an expat entrepreneur.
The mindset is why am I feeling this? Who or what is provoking this feeling? What need do I need to fulfill in order to move forward?
You can change your thought about the emotion, but if you don’t hear it, you will never know what is causing it.
Talking to an expat psychologist can help you identify these emotions and the cause of them so that you can move forward with the right tools and support.
Find out more about my methods and approach here.
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,
If you are an expat woman who wants to live a joyful, successful and fulfilled international life, Gabriela is the Licensed Psychologist and Mentor you need.
She helps you reclaim your self-confidence back and design your expat life in your own terms. Gabriela has more than 20 years of professional experience, speaks 3 languages (sometimes in one sentence, like you!) and has supported more than 350 expats overcome anxiety and burnout, build meaningful relationships and enjoy their international lives, wherever they are, wherever they are heading.
Gabriela offers counseling to expat women in Spanish, English and German.