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Emigrating from South Africa – making peace with your decision

By September 2, 2015October 6th, 2023Financial emigration

Emigrating from South Africa – making peace with your decision

September 2, 2015

When you talk to South African emigrants or any person who has relocated or completed the arduous task of formal emigration – you are often struck by an overwhelming sense of sadness.

More often than not, emigrants feel they’d been chased from their homeland by extenuating circumstances beyond their control. Some feared for their lives – having suffered as victims of crime or violence. Others have lost their jobs or livelihood. Still more felt that there simply was no more space for them in their country – given the perceived political instability and moral decay.

Yes, if you have emigrated, or are planning to convert your retirement annuity to cash, chances are you’ve been subject to a barrage of push factors that drove you to skip the country.

Justifying your move

Sure, the pull of a new place is a definite lure for immigrants; there may be financial opportunities, better schools, a nice climate, free healthcare and low crime. But none of this will have mattered had you felt safe, secure and financially taken care of in your own country. And then, of course, as soon as you drop anchor on these new shores, you find yourself constantly having to justify your decision; people back home question your move, foreigners ask about your reasons, you are being second-guessed by each and all.

Or are you?

The thing is, we are most often our own worst critics. And it’s when we’re most vulnerable that we tend to see the curiosity or gentle concern of others as bludgeoning criticism.

The key to your new life = breaking free from victimisation

“Self-pity is easily the most destructive of the non-pharmaceutical narcotics; it is addictive, gives momentary pleasure and separates the victim from reality.”

John W. Gordner

So, here’s the deal – you may have had a raw deal, you may even be a legitimate victim of a crime, retrenchment or a corrupt system, but if you don’t break free of the negative emotions behind your big move, you will never fully enjoy your decision to emigrate from South Africa. Psychologists believe there’s a reason why we keep ourselves in a victim mentality. In fact, it actually benefits us in some ways to be a victim. But, like any other adversity in life – it’s good to know what we’re up against. Once we know why we’re doing something, it makes it easier to change our paradigms.

The benefits of a victim mentality

  • Validation: Being a victim makes others concerned for us and builds camaraderie with friends and acquaintances as we share our stories and hardships.
  • Eliminating risk: When you feel like a victim you tend not to take action, or when you do – you act like the action was done to you instead of decided by you. This eliminates the risk of rejection or failure, since you feel like you have no influence over events transpiring.
  • Eliminates responsibility: As with risk, victimisation removes the burden of responsibility from your life. By not taking personal responsibility for decisions and actions, you are essentially simplifying the decision-making process. In fact, hasn’t it already been decided for you?
  • You feel right: And what’s better than feeling right? But there’s more to it than simply feeling right – these feelings also make us feel good. It releases chemicals that are pleasurable. Which is why most of us can’t quit an argument.
  • It eliminates guilt and regret: Because, despite what you tell yourself – there’s always this niggling feeling of guilt and regret at the choices you’ve made. If you’re a victim, however, then of course these weren’t your choices.

You want to enjoy your life though, don’t you? You want to look back on your past and reminisce with glee – not fill your grandchildren’s bedtime stories with sad snippets of regret. No sir! You are proud of your choices, and you know what – you’ve made the right decisions. This is where you’re meant to be.

So here’s how you move on

1. Be okay with not being a victim: Although being a victim makes you feel good – you should understand that it’s okay to not be one. People won’t blame you if you don’t rationalise your move with a bunch of depressing reasons. And it shows character too!

2. Take responsibility for your life: After you’ve chosen not to be a victim, things can start happening in your life. You can choose to fuel your relationships and ambitions. Do things simply because you want to and not because you have no choice. It’s a marvellous way to live and, hey – you’ve already moved to another country, so your adventure is a happening right now!

3. Be grateful: You may have lost some relationships, you may have given up a lovely sunset over the South African bushveld, but you know what – without a doubt someone else has it worse than you. So be grateful for what you have. For the new home and new country that’s embraced you with open arms.

4. Shed the baggage: Although South Africans have had it tough – we are also a forgiving nation. We have learned to take a step back, take a deep breath and turn the other cheek. And forgiveness is so liberating – whether you need to forgive a lover, family member, boss or entire country – just do it!

5. Pay it forward: If you constantly focus on what’s wrong, and live inside your mind you won’t get anywhere. Instead – look around you. Bless others with the miracles and gifts that have undoubtedly filled your journey to the wonderful place you are today. Give to the world, and you’ll probably receive even more. Adding value to the world gives us a sense of worth.

6. Be easy on yourself: Moving to another country is seriously badass – don’t ever deny the guts it took to make this move. Also don’t be ignorant of failures and hardships, allow yourself some mourning, or the opportunity to change your mind, or the chance to feel disappointed. Thing is, it doesn’t matter where you are in the world, life will always throw something at you – this isn’t because you’ve done something wrong, or because life has it in for you; it simply is. Take a breather, take a walk around the block, and just live a little.

Financial migration solutions

There are hundreds of thousands of South Africans who are dealing with the aftermath of temporary offshore relocation or formal emigration. At we specialise in financial migration solutions for our clients – but we can’t deny the emotional and mental strain we see every day. Essentially – we want to see our clients prosper and find the peace of mind they’ve been waiting for, for so long. This means supporting you on your road to financial prosperity as well as emotional prosperity.

Need some financial advice? Talk to a consultant about it. And we strongly advise discussing your feelings, choices and concerns with your family, friends and colleagues. Of course you can feel free to discuss it with us as well, but we’re not sure people who work with numbers are the best go-to people for this kind of advice.

Remember; this your new life now, take the bull by the horns and be proud of where you are! No one else has the same story as you.

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