The first time Harry Skyped his daughter in Italy he thought that her move to Milan was the best thing that could have happened to her. Her new job seemed fantastic, the people sounded friendly, and the culture breathed la dolce vita. As time passed, he wasn’t so sure anymore. It seemed Milan had betrayed his daughter. Her job wasn’t living up to expectations, the people had become rude and insensitive, and the glamour of Italian culture had worn off. Had she made a mistake in taking that job and moving to Italy?
Change, such as moving countries for a new job, requires a period of transition. Out with the old and in with the new. Transition psychology looks at the deeper psycho-social factors that may impede the natural transition processes and the ways in which individuals will respond to change. Hopson and Adams mapped the phases and features of a transition cycle. They note that there is a time lapse of approximately eight months from the onset of a life-changing event to reconstruction and recovery. Many people believe that they should “hit the ground running” when it comes to moving countries, and therefore underestimate the dramatic, and often draining, process of relocating their lives. During the eight-month period after a life-changing event such as moving, any initial novelty and excitement wears off. In its place people begin to experience a range of emotions such as disbelief, numbness, uncertainty, crisis, testing, exploring and may even quit or give up (whether it be their jobs, relationships, or even concepts about one’s old or new culture). It’s one of the reasons why people often feel the need to reject the country and culture they came from in order to move forward.
Kübler-Ross stated in her book On Death and Dying (1963) that individuals undergoing change are likely to experience various emotions (shock, disbelief, anger, blame, letting go, learning, adapting, and eventual commitment) as they struggle to come to terms with the loss of the known. Leaving one’s familiar work and home environments definitely counts as loss. Therefore, the emotional process should be treated with the same respect as other types of loss.
While trying to comfort his crying, doubtful daughter, Harry reached the conclusion that change takes time. Instead of trying to fight the loss that inevitably marks the beginning of an adventure, his daughter needed to let the dust settle. Only then would they be able to see clearly whether it really was a mistake to move…or not.
This article has been kindly sponsored by Goldfish Consulting