When I decided to experiment immigration, I unknowingly signed up to experience the most intense feeling of loneliness ever!
I landed in this enormous North American country, where distances are ten times greater than in my small Italy, where the weather could definitely be a challenge on its own, where people seemed so different from me and from each other. I made this move with my spouse, my best friend, and even so, I can still truthfully say that I have never felt as alone as when I started my life here!
I did not have my immediate family with me, but an entire football team of uncles and cousins were here to give their support and care, and even so, I still managed to feel very lonely!
My intention is not to depress you, but to calm you down: what you are feeling or what you are about to feel is perfectly normal, and it is simply a charge of emotional energy that overpowers immigrants while moving to a foreign country. I can describe it as a pressure that makes your breathing difficult, a pressure so strong that it chokes the communication cable between you and other human beings around you.
To many of us newcomers, everything seems to be so different: the language, the mannerisms, the physical aspects… Everything that we perceive with our five senses seems so unfamiliar that it triggers fear, and so finally our defensive mechanism takes over and we stop connecting with others! We feel so lonely…
Those individuals that change their country and are able to connect with their new fellow citizens without a struggle are rare cases. They have a special personality that allows them to effortlessly overcome differences and communication challenges; they have the ability to communicate with their heart, allowing their five senses to perceive and experience the beauty of merging with a new reality, embracing the differences of others and sharing their own.
If you´re not one of these special cases, don’t be hard on yourself. Let’s understand how we can overcome this through some tips – it is definitely an inside job.
Sometime in the year 2000, while anxiously waiting for my permanent resident´s card, just prior to leaving Italy, I remember visualizing myself as being mentally ready to embrace and melt into the Canadian multi-cultural reality. I was excited about it! While the excitement was real, I discovered later that the feeling of being ready wasn’t!
Your mind and mine work substantially the same way. You could be a reader from Melbourne, Shanghai or Rio de Janeiro, but I guarantee you that the way we process information is the same, and it is based on what is stored in our hard drive: our subconscious mind.
What we understand and express consciously doesn’t dictate how we behave or the image of ourselves that we project, and consequently the way others perceive us; it is the belief system in our subconscious mind that dictates how we behave!.
“Our thoughts [and behavior] are mainly controlled by our subconscious, which is largely formed before the age of 6, and you cannot change the subconscious mind by just thinking about it.” – Bruce Lipton
Dr. Bruce Lipton´s statement leads us to deduce that the major part of our personality is formed by our environment [culture] in the first 6 years of our life, and firmly reinforced through the following years of living in the same environment.
I believe, after reading on this topic from different authors, and from my personal experience working with immigrants, that our culture has built anywhere from 60-80% of the belief systems in our subconscious; the rest has been inherited from previous generations through genes.
No wonder this feeling of loneliness is common to most immigrants! Changing cultures threatens our acquired belief systems and our personal views about ourselves.
No wonder most of us don’t feel at ease when trying to be part of a new community, and so prefer to close ourselves off in a safety zone – this new environment challenges who we think we are! We feel like we are losing our identity…
Why do so few of us have no problem of loneliness and easily connect with the new culture?
Those who succeed at this are able to detach their identity from their environment, their culture. They are aware of their culture, they respect it, preserve it and promote it, but they know that their culture is not them! They know that there is a difference between the collective group and themselves individually. This view of the environment, and thus of their culture, allows them to effortlessly embrace and enjoy a new one!
If you are like me, this automatic embracing of new surroundings will not happen easily, so it is necessary to consciously work on your self.
Now you know that the immigrant’s loneliness is perfectly normal, and that if we let the new environment challenge the beliefs implanted by our old environment, we will feel less lonely and we will unleash the Power of Immigration.
Now… I know you would like to know how to work on yourself, how to adapt yourself to your new surroundings and the new beliefs that come with them. Well, for now, just keep looking for this type of information and the “how” will unfold naturally.
If there is one thing that you should start practicing now, it would be, “Stop judging the cultural and religious beliefs of others: instead, become curious and ask people about these things, showing genuine interest. What you will gain in personal growth will be priceless.”
Yours truly, Frank.