• Jen Knight

How to Manage the Annoying Aspects of Expat Life

Updated: Mar 20, 2019


We have ALL felt annoyed at some point living abroad.


Years ago as a new expat in Shanghai, I was initially annoyed by a many things like not being able to communicate, getting overcharged, people spitting on the metro, pollution, etc.


I finally had enough and realized I didn’t want to be annoyed by all this stuff anymore…but could I just decide not to be annoyed? Was there a different feeling that would serve me better?


Is It Real


The first thing I did was try and figure out - is my annoyance real? For it to be “real” the thing causing me to feel annoyed would have to be objective - something that everyone in the world could agree was annoying.


But it became clear that all of the things that annoyed me were subjective, which meant it wasn’t the actual circumstances that were annoying, but it was my thoughts about them that caused me to feel annoyed.


If you look at it scientifically, once we have any thought, our brains actually look for more evidence to prove the thought. This makes your brain focus on it more and more, increasing your annoyance.


This might seem...annoying. But the cool thing about it is that if our brains can be trained to seek evidence that we are annoyed, they can also be trained to believe the same thing is not annoying at all.


Exciting, chaotic Shanghai - the city I called home for 4 years!

Training Your Brain


Here are a few tips to try out when you are feeling annoyed:


1. Ask yourself - What is great about this?


With people on the metro, I asked around and found out that people cough and spit and snot to clear out any disease and blockages that might cause disruption to their bodies. There isn’t as much teaching about the spread of diseases as there could be, so really all the people spitting were just doing the best they could with the knowledge and customs they had.


2. Ask yourself - How is this serving me?


I believe everything happens for a reason and that there is a lesson in even the smallest occurrence. In the above example I was able to generate the feeling of compassion for people spitting because I thought they were doing their best.


3. Tell your brain to look for more evidence of this


I started to train my brain to think the thought, “everyone is doing the best they can.” This thought has served me tremendously and my brain has found a lot of evidence over the past couple years to support it.

It is actually a lot of fun to practice this. Every time I catch myself getting annoyed by something, I ask, "How is this awesome?"


Working with me can help!


To learn more about how you can harness the power of your brain to get the results you want in your life, book a free discovery session with me. We will work together to get clear about what you really want, determine what is holding you back, and identify powerful actions you can take to create your best life abroad. Book here: https://calendly.com/jenknight/free-session


About me

Hi, I'm Jen! I am a US expat currently living in Thailand with my wonderful husband.


I always strive to learn, grow, and be the best version of myself, and I'm so grateful I get to spend my days working with amazing expat women like you:


Women who are smart and want to reach their goals, but need help overcoming stress, overwhelm, and other obstacles so they can create their best lives abroad.

©2020 by Jen Knight