Coping with Change

by | May 14, 2017 | Change, Expat, Self Help | 0 comments

Chatting to another ‘serial expat’ the other day about the many postings we have had in the last fourteen years I realised I could find something positive about all the countries we have lived in.

Some people, however, find themselves in a position where they have to move, whether it is back ‘home’ or to a country they really didn’t plan on, and this can become a stressful and negative experience.

When living in Hong Kong, with a husband commuting weekly to South Korea the decision was made that we would move to Seoul. I loved Hong Kong, and the description my husband had given me of a grey concrete city which was to be our new home didn’t inspire me to be positive: I didn’t know anyone there; I couldn’t speak the language; we were happy in Hong Kong; was it even safe??? Looking back, I can see I was guilty of so many negative thought patterns in my initial assessment of the move to Korea (which incidentally ended up as a fantastic place to live). These are just two of them:


Fortune Telling

Although my children still believe Mummy can see the future, I know I can’t. Nobody can predict what can happen, who you will meet, what experiences you will have. However, thinking that you won’t know anyone, that no-one will understand you, that the language will prove impossible, that you will never find somewhere as nice to live as you have now will shut your mind to what else could happen: you might meet the best friend you have ever had, the language may prove to be easier than you thought, the school may have a gem of a teacher who inspires your kids and although the new house may not be as large or as beautiful, it may have more character or better storage. You just don’t know.You really can’t see the future.

Loving the life in Hong Kong I was jumping to the worst possible conclusion, that I would hate Korea. I had no evidence to base that on and the actual truth was so different but my mind was closed to that possibility at first. Korea wasn’t Hong Kong so it was a disaster in my mind.



Disqualifyng the Positives

This thinking pattern occurs when you twist positives into negatives, so moving into a larger house means you focus on the increased housework you will have to do, rather than the increased space or extra guest room; instead of focussing on the benefits to your child of a smaller school, you fret about the reduced numbers of people you can make friends with and its potential as a social goldfish bowl, rather than delighting on the extra attention your child may receive. Instead of treating it like a new adventure, you see the move as an isolating experience, taking you from everything you know.

The move to Korea meant my husband would actually be home all week, not just the weekends, but initially that barely registered in my mind, I was so concentrated on the negatives.


Luckily, with my then newly acquired coaching qualification in my pocket, I turned the coaching towards myself and opened my mind to the positive potential of the move. I remembered the excitement of the planning time before our move to Hong Kong and tried to reinject this positivity into the new move.

On the first day at the new school at drop off time, I met the lady who became the best friend I had ever made, she introduced me to some other newbies and we started exploring the city together. I learned to ski, I learned Korean and by the end I was introducing others to the joys of a wonderful country with some of the spiciest food I had ever tasted.

By the time my husband turned to me and said, “It looks like we might be moving to the Middle East” I had fallen head over heels in love with Korea and, for a moment all those negatives thoughts started to push into my mind again, I mean, was it safe??? But then I took a deep breath, shook them off and pulled out my laptop, googling how far Petra, my namesake city, was from wherever it was that we were moving to.

It was another new adventure.

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