As an expat psychotherapist and coach who have been working with expats for the past 9 years, I’ve noticed that some highly extraverted expats report becoming less extraverted and more introverted, at least during their time abroad.
This is for a variety of reasons, the most obvious being the language barrier. If you can’t communicate with the people in your environment, it makes it much more difficult to be social! And when it becomes too difficult to be social, turning inward can be a positive choice.
Another outcome, and one that many expats turn to is the so-called “expat bubble.” You don’t have to encounter difficulties with communication and cultural differences if you stay with other expats. Of course, the down side to this is that it greatly limits your experience of being abroad.
Another reason for turning inward is the lack of family and close friends nearby, at least in the beginning of your time abroad. I always suggest that an antidote to this is to find something you feel passionate about, that involves other people. There’s nothing like a shared passion to ignite a new friendship.
Also, for many women expats who are following their husband’s careers, there can be a loss of identity if they’re no longer working. Some women tend to feel less valued when not working, which leads to not wanting to interact with others.
If this is the case, I suggest that you really examine your true value in terms of who you are as a being, and see if not working is truly what defines you in a larger sense, or if this is just some old outworn belief.
The upside of becoming less extroverted is a greater reliance on yourself, slowing down, and becoming more mindful of what is truly important to you. When you make decisions from this place of being connected to yourself, they’re almost always in your best interest.
I would just interject one note of caution: that if you find yourself turning inward, it isn’t being done out of fear or depression. If you’re feeling fearful or depressed, it’s important to address these issues first. Be honest with yourself about what is really going on is a first step, then talk about your feelings with someone you trust.
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