I wait at a red light, eager to drive through Paris. The light turns green but before I can accelerate, the man behind me honks. I realize cars from the other direction are blocking the way. I can’t move. More people honk. My mind races, taken over by an ugly strain of accusations directed at my host country.
On the surface, it sounds ridiculous and small-minded. How can a car ride affect me so deeply? How can I ascribe negative characteristics to a whole nation simply because I’m frustrated with their traffic etiquette?
This is Blueprint
What’s happening underneath my reaction is more complicated: my blueprint is conflicting with my new reality.
Tony Robbins, celebrated life coach and self-help author, suggests that personal blueprints govern how we react to our self, to others and to the world around us.
According to Robbins, we hold a deeply ingrained set of beliefs about how the world around us “should” be. These beliefs form a significant part of our blueprint and influence our actions, emotions and choices.
Beliefs are influenced by culture. For example, some cultures allow others to exit an elevator exit before they enter. When they encounter a different etiquette, powerful negative emotions are stirred up because their blueprint has been violated.
When reality aligns with our blueprint, we feel good. But when it conflicts, it can cause sadness, anger, frustration – even depression. And unfortunately, such feelings don't easily subside or change because they're linked to long-held beliefs and a lifetime of cultural expectations.
Change Reality or Change Your Blueprint?
Virtually all expats will experiences their blueprint conflicting with reality. To be content in your host country, you have a choice: change the situation or change your blueprint.
As expats, we can’t usually change our realities. I could never influence a nation’s traffic etiquette. But we can adjust our blueprints and take control of our own happiness.
Karlijn De Broeck