Wanderlust has always exerted a strong pull on people’s imaginations, as we can easily see by looking at the various ancient migrations of people throughout human history. And nowadays, people are using travel for something more meaningful; to transform within, to find yourself.
In recent times, this spirit of wanderlust has risen up again, strongly, and has swept much of the world. Today, travel memoirs are some of the best selling books out there, cheap holiday deals get lapped up in seconds, and there are virtually no empty seats on any airplanes, heading in any direction.
People travel for all kinds of reasons. For adventure. For the sake of having experiences that will later become good stories. To gain knowledge and find a different perspective on the world. To try good food.
One of the main reasons why people travel, however, is to find themselves and to transform their lives for the better, whether their journeys take them to Tampines, to Tokyo, or like medieval European pilgrims, to Rome.
For your travels to transform you, though, you’ve got to approach them with a certain awareness and a certain mindset. Here are some things you should do if self-transformation is what you’re looking for when you explore the world.
Take a journal with you
When we travel overseas in pursuit of some transformative experience, it may be that we’re really travelling within at the same time. We put ourselves up against experiences that force us to think about our situations and experiences in a new way, in order to really get to the bottom of things.
Introspection has to be a part of any lasting form of self-transformation, and one of the best tools to use when seeking to have a conversation with yourself and get to the bottom of your thoughts, goals, and motivations, is a journal.
Take a journal with you on your travels, and use it to work things out. Write down meaningful experiences that you’ve had each day. Write down the thoughts or feelings that have been plaguing you recently. Record your goals, or dreams for the future. Record the actual dreams you’ve had at night.
It helps to have some framework to structure your journaling, such as the Bullet Journal Method. But writing things down can be a transformative experience, in and of itself.
Don’t just try to distract or detach yourself from your emotions — figure out what they’re trying to tell you, instead
Sometimes, people think that they’re travelling to try and discover themselves, but they’re actually travelling to try and escape from themselves.
If you find yourself ignoring and denying negative, painful emotions that frequently surface in you at unwelcome times, and frequently try to overpower or push them aside through constant partying, adrenaline junkie sports, or seeking out constant novelty in the form of new places and things — you’re likely not dealing with your underlying issues.
At the same time, if you’re carrying some unresolved traumas or pain with you, attending a spiritual retreat might just be your attempt at distancing yourself from your emotions, rather than an earnest and effective way of dealing with your issues.
To overcome your demons, improve, and grow, you can’t just separate yourself from your emotions. Instead, you’ve got to establish a line of communication with your deeper feelings, and learn to live stress-free and figure out what they’re trying to tell you, instead.
But don’t dwell on them. Become a witness, an observer of your emotions and thoughts, and you’ll become in control, rather than these controlling and overpowering your inner self.
Carrying this mindset with you on your travels means fostering a sense of self-awareness and having open and frank discussions with yourself. It means using your travels as a setting, and a motivation, for working out your troubles and finding a way to heal. It doesn’t mean just staying so busy and stimulated to avoid pain with things that may harm you more than help you.
Try and work out what it is in the outside world that resonates within you, and see if there’s something there to investigate
There’s an old idea in psychology that was quite strongly developed by the Swiss psychologist Carl Jung back in the day. He says that when you have a strong emotional reaction to something in the outside world, it’s often because that thing serves as a mirror for something within you.
How we react to situations says a lot about who we are. So if, for example, you become incredibly angry and upset when you see someone behaving in a way that you don’t like. Part of your anger may be due to the fact that you sense that same negative spark somewhere with yourself, and hate it.
When travelling, try and work out what it is in the outside world that resonates with you, and see if there’s anything there to investigate. There may not be, but it might also be the case that things that excite or upset you can teach you lessons about yourself.
With all this in mind, your next trip can be an exceptionally transformational experience. In fact, you don’t have to wait to travel; you can start using these concepts right away in your daily life and see where it takes you!