Loneliness is a symptom of life – whether you are a Third Culture Kid or not. The fact of the matter is, we humans have been able to survive as a species because of our ability to listen to our emotions. It is only in the last hundred-or-so years that we have categorised some emotions as good and others as bad. Negative feelings have a place in our lives just as much as positive feelings, yet we see it as shameful to experience negative feelings and try to ignore them all together. When negative emotions become too painful to bare, we try to regulate our feelings by using control strategies, such as excessive eating, binge watching TV, drinking copious amounts of alcohol, amongst other things. Unfortunately, as outlined in the teachings of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, these control strategies, though having positive immediate effects, cause the negative emotions to grow over the long term.
Feelings of loneliness in Third Culture Kids tend to arise as the TCK transitions into adulthood and in the years there after. In their return to their passport culture, they may realise that they do not have much in common with the people there and the same feelings may arise in their constant search for a new country to settle down in. They are constantly reminded that they deviate from the local culture and their lack of roots makes it hard for them to make any significant contacts that can bring them into the culture in a natural way. Their willingness to relocate in hopes of maintaining their only relatable identity (the foreigner, the Third Culture Kid) makes this even more difficult. This leads to, at times, sudden and intense feelings of loneliness even in instances when the Third Culture Kid is surrounded by colleagues and friends.
According to the practices of expansionism within Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, we should encourage ourselves to visualise the feeling of loneliness within our body, where it manifests itself within our physical being, its size and how it looks and, through intense concentration on the feeling itself, embrace it and let it sit within us just as any other emotion. It is through this acceptance of the negative feeling that we learn how to regulate its impact. The feeling may arise within us from time-to-time, but our relationship to it has changed. We are no longer a slave to it, or running away from it, we are confronting it and taking care of it.
What We Do!
Cross Culture Therapy offers 1-on-1 online therapy sessions. Although our therapy services are specifically tailored to Third Culture Kids (people who have grown up in a culture different to their parent’s passport culture) and Cross Culture Kids, we welcome all people who seek our help. Our sessions are conducted via Skype for a duration of 50-minutes and can be purchased in packs of 1-session, 5-sessions or 10-sessions. If you are interested in purchasing a session, click on the Book A Session tab on our menu or click here.
The Basics of Using Cognitive Behavioural Therapy to Treat #ThirdCultureKids— Cross Culture Therapy (@crossculturethe) September 7, 2018
In this article, we explain how #CBT can be used in treatment for #TCKs. Examples are provided. pic.twitter.com/Nl52egjui2