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How Moving Away From Family Can Make You Stronger


Father and son hugging at home

Whether you’re starting a great new job, buying your dream home in a new place, or relocating to be closer to someone you love, moving away from family is an important time of transition. It’s normal to feel all the feelings (including guilt), but this is a big step that can make you stronger and take your life in a whole new direction. There are a few things to keep in mind as you take this major step in your life – and they’ll help you recognize the potential positives the move can have.

Know That It’s Okay to Move Away From Family

Moving is a big life decision, and it’s totally normal to second-guess your choices. Still, there is nothing wrong with making the choice to move away from your family. All major decisions involve weighing a bunch of different factors and choosing the one that’s right for this moment.

When you’re in the grocery store deciding on a box of cereal to buy, you need to think about your budget, what you like to eat, who else might be eating it, and whether the cereal is healthy. It’s not that different when you’re deciding where to live; being close (or far away) from family is only one of the factors in your decision. The right choice is the one that’s best for you in as many ways as possible.

Allow Yourself to Feel How You Feel About the Move

Even if you’ve weighed the pros and cons about moving away from family and are fairly certain about your choice, it’s still normal to have a bunch of feelings about the move. It’s perfectly legitimate to feel relief, excitement, sadness, and any other feeling you have. These feelings are okay, but they don’t have to define your choices.

When you’re moving away from family, guilt, anxiety, and feelings of selfishness can take center stage. If you can, think for a minute about where the guilt is coming from. Is it from other people? If it is, ask them to sit down with you and talk about the decision. Tell them why you’re choosing to move away. If the guilt is coming from inside, the process isn’t that different. Acknowledge the feeling and remind yourself why you’re making the choice you are making.

Understand the Value of Personal Agency

Moving away from family, while sometimes painful, can also be a huge boost to your sense of personal agency. You are steering your life, whether you’re moving away for love, a new job, adventure, or any other reason. You are choosing, and you have the power.

Having this sense of agency is important for feeling in control of your life and being resilient when things don’t go as planned. If you see yourself make choices and handle the consequences of those successfully, you can become much more confident. This move is exactly the kind of choice that can build that sense of agency.

Recognize That Physical and Emotional Closeness Are Different

If you’ve lived near your parents or other family members for a long time, it’s normal to feel that physical closeness is necessary for emotional closeness. The truth is, though, that there are lots of ways to be close. Living near someone is only one of those ways.

Happy mother and kid girl waving hands making video call

Keeping your family together doesn’t have to mean keeping them physically connected. You can build your emotional connection with good conversations on the phone, video chats, real letters, and quality time on visits home. Many of the aspects of a strong family, such as good communication, supporting one another emotionally, and showing respect, can be done even at a physical distance.

Use Gratitude to Overcome Anxiety About Moving Away

If you’re feeling anxious about your move, it may help to focus on what you’re thankful for. Gratitude can help keep anxiety in check. It’s also a great practice to help you stay positive during times of emotional stress.

Think about what you like when it comes to your new location or home, what you love about your family and the relationship you have with them, and the ways you can already see the move as a positive force. It may help to keep a gratitude journal during this time of transition, but you can also just make a conscious practice of noticing and being thankful for what you have.

Build a New Routine in a New Place

If your routine has always involved your parents and siblings (or other family members), it can be difficult to know how to cope with moving away from family when your day-to-day life is different. The key is building a new routine that fits your new home.

Think about what you want your day, week, and month to look like. Do you want to go to the gym or join a community group? What about work or school? Once you’ve established what you want for your new life, create a routine that fits it. This will bring you comfort and help you build a strong foundation in this new place.

Keep Your Family Relationships Strong Across the Miles

Maintaining your family relationships across a distance can be an intentional choice, just like moving may have been. Think about specific things you can do to keep your relationships strong. Knowing how to deal with moving away from family when you’re worried about maintaining connections can start with thinking about ways you can keep those relationships strong – even from a distance.

Some great activities include having a movie night where everyone watches the same movie at the same time, setting up a once-a-week dinner video call where you chat while eating dinner together, or playing a word game together each day. Sharing how you feel and what you’ve been doing lately is important too.

Recognize the Ways You’ve Grown

Transitions aren’t always easy, and it’s normal to feel emotionally conflicted about your choice to move. Remember, though, that the challenges you face in the weeks and months around the move aren’t something you’ll deal with forever. There are many of benefits of moving away that can be positive and powerful. Moving away from family can make you stronger in lots of ways, including becoming more resilient, having close family relationships you prioritize, and practicing gratitude regularly. Give yourself a pat on the back for the ways you’re growing during this time of change.

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