Dealing With Reverse Culture Shock.

Reverse culture shock is very often is the experience waiting for many of us upon return from a trip. It could be felt very acute especially after a long journey. If you were traveling solo using travel as therapy, the return might even present an exasperated version of reverse culture shock. It could be felt as anxiety and feelings of disorientation, uncertainty, confusion. It could be felt when you have to operate within a different and unknown culture as if entering a foreign country.

Without being prepared or having a basis to understand the mechanism (causes and conditions) that gives rise to reverse culture shock, you could suffer mentally and emotionally. Without clear awareness of inevitability of changes occurring on each side of relationships within your universe, it is difficult to come home after travel without experiencing some difficulties or discouragements.

Combine these with a false need for external recognition and attempt to locate source of self-esteem in the outer reflection, will manifest sense of lack, unsatisfactoriness, and some of these:

  • Feelings of helplessness and withdrawal

  • Irritability

  • Nostalgic longing for the past adventures and friends met on the trip

  • Physiological stress reactions

  • Thoughts of meaninglessness and suicide

  • Boredom

  • Excessive sleep

Reverse culture shock could be experienced with various intensity depending on causes and conditions of departure .

You may come back to your relatives and friends suddenly realizing that their goals and aspirations not quite aligned with yours anymore. You may begin to feel like an outsider to a conversation about who married who and who has bought what. 

To them, a personal adventure of self-discovery with multiple layers of experience (for you) may appear just like another image — a pretty surface. But for you that situation could be loaded with profound meaning and energy of transformation.

If you have expectations for the people you left upon departure to be just as excited and glad for the trip as you are, — those expectations are doomed to fail. It is just another condition for reverse culture shock. It is as if you left a costume party, went on a long and demanding trip during which you lost your mask. Then you came back expecting to see familiar reflection, but you are shocked to see yourself more as you are. To those at the party your transformation could present a challenge of possibility to be without a mask as well. Not everyone will be glad to see your free face. 

Your dedication to purpose of your life and meaning could be interpreted as "selfish" or immature perhaps, but it holds the value. Expecting a recognition of it from those who recognize value exclusively expressed in accumulation of possessions and security will leave you feel short of measurement and isolated. You may begin to stick out. It is just another ingredient of reverse culture shock.

Remind yourself that you took on therapeutic travel with intentions to 
become an individual. You challenged your habits and stepped out of the comfort zone, you moved into unknown and came back with expanded perspective on life, your own and others. For us even as passive participants travel tends to open our minds and introduce us to new people, lifestyles and a ways of being. 

People who stayed behind may remain the same as you left them. They might have changed too, but either way due to that your relationships will change. While on a solo trip you might have broadened your global awareness and amended political views as a result.

Part of a reverse culture shock is that you might be perceived as weird from the point of how you were "remembered". Don't take it personally, instead understand that they just as you — they want to be happy and don't want to suffer. They might not have as much courage, dedication or clarity for exploration of human experience, but it doesn't mean they wouldn't want to.

Inherent Causes Of Reverse Culture Shock In Travel Therapy.

You don't need to go about and inflict your perspective on other people, instead be grateful that you expanded your awareness and have an inspiration for authentic life. Remember that you travelled for soul's purpose and not for superiority of ego.

If you spend time investigating the nature of seeming antagonism and friction of reversed culture shock, you might recognize that it is not so much physical as it is mental. If there some habits on a physical plane, like driving on the different side of the road, you'll adapt rather quickly. Mentally however you would have to apply effort and pay attention to your thought process.

  • Notice your projections. Become aware of how your mind obscures what is in front of you with comparison of it to your standards, your values and experiences. Even if your values are highly realized and standards are well developed, remember that they are conditions of your mind. And if you insist on comparing what is in front of you to "how it would be better" you obscuring reality and loosing a lot of energy, thus suffering. Even if you feel so much above it.
  • Be here now. It is much became cliche due to overuse, but the truth of having an experience versus conceptualizing what is happening remains. Attempt to notice how you are categorizing and labeling what is happening around you. See how your mind is working to find an appropriate category to what someone is expressing toward you. Notice your reactions based in dualistic opposition. Have an intention to see it just as it is without choosing a side.
  • Apply mental vigilance. Be clear that as your journey freed you from some habits and limiting patterns, the group (family, friends, society) that you are a part of, doesn't see those. Moreover the group will unconsciously broadcast resistance to your individuality and even sabotage your progress. Do not fight it, just be vigilant.

"Man's mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimentions". Oliver Wendell Holmes.

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