The potential danger of either becoming so stuck in one’s own cultural conditioning that its nearly impossible to function effectively in a new cultural environment is always there. However, so is the danger of assimilating so strongly into the new cultural (or what is called “going local”) that you loose touch with your own personal roots.
Both of these states are equally undesirable.
Being stuck in your own cultural conditioning stops you from growing and expanding your horizon, while at the same time making it impossible for you to adapt to the new cultural environment. Assimilating completely to the new cultural environment not only causes you to loose touch with your own identity, but it also means that you are ignoring the wisdom that is inherent within the culture of your country of origin.
Research has shown that it is possible to “prime” individuals to think and act according to one of the cultures which they have internalized. What this means is that bicultural people are capable of switching between the two different behavioural patterns based on the situation they face.
How comfortable do you feel with yourself right now when it comes to your cultural identity?
I believe that this is a question that we should ask ourselves on a regular basis. As I said earlier, it is easy for us to shift into either direction too far and too long.
Cultural equilibrium is a state of balance between the different cultures we have internalized. When we are in that state we might still switch between the two different cultural patterns depending on our situation, but we never completely ignore either of the two.
There are many factors of our lifestyle design that factor into this state of equilibrium as well. For instance, it means that we should always keep a balance between having social contacts with people from our own cultural background, as well as having social contacts with people from our host culture and/or international expatriates. Another factor that goes into this is to what groups of people we feel accountable to. We should always ensure that we have people from both our host culture and culture of origin to which we feel a sense of accountability and belonging.
In order to find out more about your own state of cultural equilibrium, you can ask yourself the following questions:
- Have I been ignoring my roots for a longer period of time now?
- Have I been so stuck in my own cultural conditioning that I feel disconnected with my host culture?
- Do I feel comfortable with my current state of balance?
- Do I feel a sense of confidence in my new cultural environment?
- Is it necessary for me to either reconnect with my roots or to get more in touch with my host culture?
Are you in a state of equilibrium right now? If not, then feel free to share your experience with us. Perhaps we can support you in overcoming this situation. Were there times when you were feeling in an unbalanced state? How did this feel to you? What steps did you take to overcome this unbalanced state? If you feel like it, let us know in the comments below!