Sarah's Story: Culture Shock
Before travelling to the Marshall Islands, Sarah felt unprepared for her journey. The first months living abroad were the hardest of her life. She was overwhelmed by the heat, the poverty, and her living conditions. She also felt constantly "exposed," missing the anonymity on the street that she enjoyed in America. Over time, she came to stop wanting to change things that she could not and to recognize and appreciate the relationships that became to be an essential part of her experience there.
To be mindful is to be fully engaged in the present moment. It involves intention, acceptance, non-judgment and gentle curiosity.
Mindful Attention fosters self-awareness, regulation and flexibility. Mindfulness means being fully present in the moment, with a curious, non-judgmental stance. There are many ways to practice mindfulness, this video provides a brief guide..
Get into a comfortable but alert position, begin to focus on your body and notice your breathing. Notice how effortlessly your lungs expand and empty themselves of air.
Now, bring your attention to your senses, particularly your sight and describe five things you can see around you. Try to avoid labeling or judging these things, but simply describe them in shapes, colors and distance.
Now notice four things you can hear, again not labeling or judging, or but describing. Continue to describe three things you can touch or feel; perhaps its your body in a chair, your hair or temperature of the room. Now think of two things you can smell, and finally one thing you can taste.
Reflection focuses on taking the big picture into account. To be reflective is to have a balanced perspective of the past and present, as well as thinking about opportunities for future change.
Reflection fosters optimism, flexibility and connectedness. Reflection allows for balanced thinking and the possibility to problem solve.
Holding in mind the thoughts and feelings that you may be struggling with; reflect upon both the positive and negative aspects of an event as well as the impact of your internal experiences of this event to help you gain perspective. What can learn from this experience?
- What is in my control and what is not?
- Is it helpful for me to be thinking the thoughts I am thinking?
- Is there any other way to see this situation?
- What would I say to friend in the same position?
What am I wanting to change? What are all my possible options? Is this a current problem, or a potential problem?
Can I implement any of these strategies and evaluate their effectiveness?
Values are guiding principles that each person has to choose for themselves. Values-based action requires an awareness of personal values as well as an intention to commit to those values, despite difficulties.
Values-based action fosters flexibility, awareness, regulation, connection and optimism. Instead of reacting to our own thoughts and feelings; it can be used with the other skills to help us respond in a way that is in accordance with our values.
When we take time to reflect, understand and defuse from distressing experience; we realize that we have a choice to how we can respond in accordance with our values. Your values are not goals to be attained, but guiding principles that help us ground our present experiences in chosen behaviors. It requires reflection and mindfulness.
What do want this experience to stand for, what do you want to stand for? How are my emotions telling me to react, what are my gut instincts? What's getting in the way?
Am I willing to experience discomfort in service of my values? Can I defuse from these enough to choose to react in a values consistent way? How does I choose this way of responding? How can this choice change the trajectory?