Madrid, 4 pm

After a morning with interviews prior to expatriation processes and writing the corresponding corporate reports and recommendations, my afternoon begins again on the Sinews-online platform. I have a follow-up session with an employee of a multinational in the Oil & Gas sector.

These follow-up sessions that large companies make available to their employees are intended to help them with the emotional management of expatriation processes, their adaptation to a new life, and the prevention of problems or assistance. Today it is Mr. H who is waiting for me connected to the other side of the screen and the Indian Ocean!

Mr. H is already in his new destination, he has been in it for more than three months, he is in an Asian country and despite the fact that at the beginning his adaptation was simple, in recent weeks it has been complicated and his mood has suffered.

Mr. H has established good social relations and meets his family at the destination, they have also adapted without major problems, but his discomfort comes from another route, actually two different paths:

1) On the one hand, the tasks you perform are not exactly what you thought you would be assigned and, although you like them and see them as an opportunity for growth, they consume much more time than you expected.

2) On the other hand, before moving he had some expectations: travelling to nearby places, different family activities, learning the country's language ... and due to the process of adaptation and tiredness, he does not have time or energy to carry out all these activities.

All this generates in Mr H the feeling of "not taking full advantage of the experience" and of feeling disappointed with himself.

After years of working with expatriates, this problem is familiar to me, sometimes, very positive and enthusiastic people create high expectations and it is not that they are not met, but that they are not met at the exact time we want. Mr. H and I reflect on the need to be patient with yourself and to be consistent with the moment you are living. The image you created of what the experience would be like is probably not wrong, but it may not be realistic for the first few months. In this way we try to work to be kind to ourselves and consistent with the situation we are living in, assuming that other stages of adaptation will come in which your dreams will be more viable.

On many occasions, we need to normalize the discomfort. Understanding that all emotions have a function (for example exhaustion is our signal that we must rest and recover energy and stress alerts us that there are new stimuli and we must be vigilant to learn how they behave and thus be able to react). When we are able to understand what is happening to us and accept it, we can begin to make it easier for ourselves, be compassionate with ourselves and allow ourselves to live what we have to live.

Thus, after reviewing the functions of emotions together and sharing with him some strategies for managing discomfort, we end up laughing at the "pressure to do, do, smile and smile" that we often impose on ourselves and begin to think together about other ways to enjoy of current learning and set realistic goals for activities to do with his family. Instead of continually being concerned with “getting the most out of it and having to enjoy it” we can simply feel the experience day by day.

As I said at the beginning of my diary, the most globalized and diverse world of work we find ourselves in is an exciting challenge and a wonderful source to foster learning and commitment.

As in any challenge we need to incorporate the tools to face it in our luggage, here I share some of those who work in our services to companies in expatriation processes, we hope they are as useful as they have been for us:

1. Consciousness, the first and main. the knowledge of the difficulties that we will encounter due to the characteristics of the destination but also due to our personal characteristics.

2. The ability to create meaning in each task we do and experience we live, why is this important to you? What impact does it have on your personal growth? What impact does it have on the lives of others and on society?

3. The preservation of our habits and our identity, since only by being better with ourselves will we have a clearer and more open mind to understand, empathize, and adapt to differences.

4. Normalization and management of difficult emotions such as frustration or uncertainty

5. The amplification of our personal strengths, both innate and those created in previous experiences.

If we travel with a suitcase ready with resources to enjoy and others to handle the difficulties, without a doubt our experience will be easier and more exciting.

Leticia Martínez Prado
Division of Psychology, Psychotherapy and Coaching
Leticia Martínez Prado
Psychologist and Coach
Adults and couples
Languages: English and Spanish
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