Defining Moments 

8 September 2021

Defining moments are highly emotional events that formatively transform us. They impact us due to the meaning we give to the event, not the event itself. Because of their vivid and stark detail, they get stored in our long-term memory.  The new meaning dictates the new story, the new belief, and the new way of being, which significantly affects the trajectory of our life on a level that we can’t fully comprehend without the right tools.


We choose to imbue the event with either a positive or negative meaning; this can be a bitter pill to swallow. Defining moments stay with us and these events dictate many of our choices in our everyday lives, which ultimately dictate our thoughts, feelings, and behaviour. 


Perhaps you have heard the story about the twin boys and their alcoholic father. One son became an alcoholic himself, while the other never touched a drop. When asked about their life choices, the alcoholic son said, “What choice do I have? My father is an alcoholic.” 


The son who never touched a drop said, “How could I? Look what it did to my father.” These two boys grew up in the same household with the same father but had very different life outcomes because of the meanings they gave to the events of their childhood.


Anecdotally, finding defining moments in one’s life is either very easy or very difficult, with little in the middle. For those who find it difficult, one of the main challenges is asking them to critically reflect on their childhoods, and inevitably, their parents. Most people who have strong, healthy, and emotionally connected relationships with their parents, as I do, find it uncomfortable to criticise their parents, knowing that they were likely doing the best they could with what they had at the time. And I am no different. 

As a life coach, when there is an unresourceful defining moment in a client’s life, I first assess what the limiting belief is such as, “It’s my fault.” I then uncover the negative emotions attached, be it guilt, shame, or sadness. Together, we decide if it is serving them, often it is not; then we can safely explore if it’s appropriate to go back to that defining moment so that we can reconfigure their meaning of the event to something that will serve them well in the future. 


Working with my clients, I reprogram their subconscious so that they can feel good enough, just as they are, regardless of winning or not. Counterintuitively, this increases their capacity to win.  Instead of coming from a fear-based place, my clients, many of whom are already very successful, can begin to operate from a place of unconditional love instead of the old fear of not being good enough. This allows them to achieve and maintain consistently great results as now there’s a clear demarcation that they are worthy, irrespective of their performance.


The defining moment isn’t what ultimately shapes our lives, but rather, it’s the meaning we give to the event. If we associate a negative meaning to an event, it will most likely impact our future poorly, but if we associate a resourceful meaning to the given event, it has the potential to shape our future positively.

What now? 

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