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I Almost Left My Silent Retreat. Here's What Helped Me Stay
Expat Life

The Secrets to my Smooth Repatriation Process

Before I began working with international clients, I, like many people living abroad, wasn’t fully aware of the challenges that…

post by Melissa

Before I began working with international clients, I, like many people living abroad, wasn’t fully aware of the challenges that come with moving back to your home country. It wasn’t until I started supporting clients who were going through the difficult process of repatriation themselves that I began to fully understand the challenges that come with moving home after living abroad.

In most situations, my client’s struggles with re-entry are compounded by the fact that they think that what is happening to them isn’t normal. If they had been able to navigate life in another country, often in another language, why was moving back to a familiar place so difficult? Just shifting their mindset to see returning home as an equally complex change provides a sense of relief for many.

So, when my expat friends began asking me how I was feeling about my own upcoming move home, I took the opportunity to introduce them to the concept of “reverse culture shock.” I explained that repatriation is an incredibly challenging process for many people, and for some, it can take up to 18 months to fully adjust to life back at home.

When these same friends have checked in with me to see how I’m doing now that I’m 6 weeks into my own repatriation journey, they’ve been surprised to learn that I’m really enjoying life here and the transition has been fairly smooth.

After hearing so many difficult stories of repatriation, I too have been surprised that my own experience has been relatively easy. I’ve been tempted to sum it up as just saying I’m lucky, but I suspected that wasn’t the full story. So, I took some time to reflect on what aspects of my own repatriation process have helped make it more manageable. Here’s what I found:

As I mentioned above, the process of repatriation can take up to 18 months, so it’s quite possible that I’ll have more to report as the months go on. However, I now feel confident that my own repatriation process will continue to be relatively smooth. And that’s because I see that woven into all of my observations above is the fact that the tools of mindfulness and self-compassion have been essential in supporting me throughout my journey of returning home.

Not only have these practices helped me to create a portable sense of home inside of myself, but they’ve helped me to practice acceptance. I knew from my experience with my clients that people struggle more when they don’t accept that repatriation is tough, but I didn’t realize how powerful it would be to go into repatriation with an attitude of acceptance. Now I can see that accepting the reality that going home could be hard is precisely what’s has made it manageable. As mindfulness teacher Jon Kabat-Zinn says,

“You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn how to surf.”

My own repatriation process actually hasn’t been completely smooth, but acceptance has left me with that sensation because it’s helped me to surf the waves that come with moving home.

If you’re preparing for your own repatriation journey, or any other sort of life transition, and would like some support with navigating this process, I offer a free 15-minute consultation for potential clients to see if I would be a good fit for them as a coach. You can schedule this consultation HERE.

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