Expats Facing an Easily Triggered World Need Positive Self-Talk More than Ever

Positive people are vastly different from others that thrive on negativity and hate. Haters can always rationalize their hurt by singling out people, especially those who grew up from a different culture, or by simply stating that their own mindset is more aware of the ugly things in this world. Positive self-talk is needed in this most easily triggered world we live in now.

In an age where skin color can easily trigger someone’s prejudice, for instance, the world needs more positive self-talk. As they say, “Don’t say anything to yourself that you wouldn’t say to anyone else.”

Quoting its senior global mobility counselor Orsi Sogor, Plus Relocation recently shared her thoughts on positive self-talk for expats, especially before a relocation transpires.

If moving to the United States is intimidating, for example, she advises the importance of talking about one’s resilience as a key attribute that enables all of us to deal with the ever-changing world. “Consider relocating to a new country and starting a new role; embarking on such a new adventure will surely test your resilience,” she said.

Global mobility teams need to make their talents understand also that our brains process a lot of information in a short period of time, and this can get overwhelming at times. The least one can do is assure their recruits how vital it is to keep a resilient mindset even before their move.

“The new environment, new responsibilities, as well as settling all affairs before you leave will increase the degree of subconscious chatter that will either work for or against you,” she said.

All of us have an ongoing internal conversation with ourselves, which influences our mental state. Self-talk is important because it impacts how we feel about ourselves. Before preparing to head off on an international assignment or start a new life in a new country, ask yourself:

  • Are you aware of the continuous chatter in the back of your mind?
  • Is it helping you or hindering you?
  • How are you influencing or impacting your own expat experience?

And to remind your talents why they accepted the opportunity in the first place, tell them to stop repeating to themselves  “What have I got myself into?”; instead, they should say with confidence, “This is a great learning opportunity that will help me grow both personally and professionally.”

Yes, one encounters unusual things in one’s destination beyond our control, but it’s important to be patient. Spend energy and mental power in learning about differences rather than worrying about them. Yes, the feeling of inadequacy affects all of us, but especially so when one needs to make a good impression with new colleagues and new community. If you catch yourself belittling yourself in the back of your head, turn it into positive self-talk.

In Psychology Today Gregory Jantz said, “Positive self-talk seeks to bring the positive out of the negative to help you do better, go further, or just keep moving forward. The practice of positive self-talk is often the process that allows you to discover the obscured optimism, hope, and joy in any given situation.”

Sometimes, of course, it’s hard to avoid negative thoughts if they’re coming from family members, especially if they are much older and wiser. Too often, Jantz said, the pattern of self-talk we’ve developed is negative. “We remember the negative things we were told as children by our parents, siblings, or teachers.

“We remember the negative reactions from other children that diminished how we felt about ourselves.  Throughout the years, these messages have played over and over in our minds, fueling our feelings of anger, fear, guilt, and hopelessness. “

Jantz recommends the following exercise: “Write down some of the negative messages inside your mind that undermine your ability to overcome your depression. Be specific, whenever possible, and include anyone you remember who contributed to that message.

“Now, take a moment to intentionally counteract those negative messages with positive truths in your life.  Don’t give up if you don’t find them quickly. For every negative message there is a positive truth that will override the weight of despair. These truths always exist; keep looking until you find them.

“You may have a negative message that replays in your head every time you make a mistake. As a child you have been told, “You’ll never amount to anything” or “You can’t do anything right.

“When you make a mistake—and you will because we all do—you can choose to overwrite that message with a positive one, such as ‘I choose to accept and grow from my mistake’ or ‘As I learn from my mistakes, I am becoming a better person.’”

During this exercise, Jantz said mistakes become opportunities to replace negative views of who you are with positive options for personal enhancement.

Be aware that positive self-talk is not self-deception, stressed Jantz. It is not mentally looking at circumstances with eyes that see only what you want to see. Rather, positive self-talk is about recognizing the truth, in situations and to the person facing us in the mirror.

“To expect perfection in yourself or anyone else is unrealistic. To expect no difficulties in life, whether through your own actions or sheer circumstances, is also unrealistic,” he said.

Continuous self-talk that transforms a discouraged assignee into a more empowered one will have collective benefits as well. All that positivity can be channeled into productivity, focus, and professional commitment — all of which the global mobility manager will need if they and their company are going to make strides in the global market.