Defining moments

How did you become the person you are now? How did you get to where you are now? What were the moments that seemed in an instant to change everything for you?

“Our lives are a series of defining moments, strung together by passing time. Surrender fully to this moment, because it is not the moment itself that defines us, but how we choose to live in it.”–Jill Pendley

Looking back over our lives can be a very helpful and enlightening way of beginning the counselling process; recalling the moments that seem to sit at the roots of our core beliefs and ways of thinking.

Photo by Anne Hornyak:

To give you an example, a few years ago I went on a working holiday onboard a tall ship sailing in the Mediterranean. At the end of the week’s voyage, overwhelmed by the experience of the ship and the people I’d sailed with, I burst into tears on deck and knew that I had to change my life dramatically – I couldn’t go back to my life as it had been.

Of course, this ‘defining moment’ didn’t come out of the blue; various things had led to it over the preceding months and years. But the outcome was that I changed my career, moved to a different part of the country, and settled down with my future husband. The experience onboard had made me question many of my assumptions about what I was doing with my life; my eyes were suddenly opened to new possibilities.

If you were to draw a map or a time-line of your life, what would be the moments where you change direction or jump from one path to another? What are the experiences – and who are the people – that have imprinted themselves on your life and caused you to choose change?

I certainly knew in that instant onboard the ship that this was a defining moment, a moment that signalled that big changes were coming. But I wonder if we always recognise the moments when they arrive, or whether quite often it’s only in hindsight?

Defining moments change us and perhaps also they can make changes tangible that were previously only possibilities up to that point. Like me on the ship – I’d known for some time that things had to change, but that was the moment when it crystallised into action.

I think defining moments help to tune us into our inner selves and our relationships with other people and the world around us. I think we should recognise and value our defining moments as they have helped to make us who we are.


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