Capturing Your Defining Moments

“There is no one defining moment that kills you or makes you. It’s never over.”

– Actor Sinbad (David Adkins)

In every person’s life, there are moments where you feel completely alive. And, there are other vital experiences that make us feel scared, alone or unworthy; they are often the moments that challenge us and force us to define who we are and what we will do to thrive.

I encourage clients to recall your life’s most meaningful defining moments, then discern which values would have helped you in those moments (or which values DID help you, if that were the case). Which values did you respect and elevate in those moments or which ones did you smother or set aside for some reason? Within these memories you will find the qualities of a life lived fully from the inside out.

(For your list, forego normal milestones, such as a graduation, wedding or the birth of a child. While these are also life-changing, search for unexpected impacts where you lost or gained resilience.)

This type of discovery is like mining for gold. I have found the examination of my defining moments to be extremely powerful and well worth whatever heavy lifting it took to bring forth the riches.

When I look at my own list, I discovered a series of experiences where I felt I let others down or questioned my identity:

  • Forgetting my lines in a performance at a school pageant due to stage fright and making my classmate cry in embarrassment;
  • Being asked by a high school classmate if it was hard “being you” due to my well-known surname;
  • Getting chastised by my mother for giving a welcoming kiss to a male guest;
  • Having my role played down on my business cards at the family business to avoid the hint of nepotism;
  • Facing my father’s wrath at a family meeting when he called me ungrateful for all he had provided for me;
  • Discovering at a training exercise how inadequate I felt due to all these experiences, then shedding that identity.

All these deeply emotional moments led me to believe that I was not enough, but looking at my full life, I learned that I am so much stronger and better than that. I am really proud of my accomplishments and my family. I am enough.

When I look back on these experiences, I learned that the words and feelings expressed reflected the outlook and culture of the other people involved. I had allowed myself to read other intentions into their actions.

How I responded taught me valuable lessons that I carry with me today. Those lessons carry far more weight than the guilt, shame and confusion I experienced at the time. By making that choice, I am grateful for every one of them.

On the occasions when I stop to reflect on my lifetime of defining moments and the relationships (both happy and sad) that have brought me to this extraordinary place of love and light, I am overcome with gratitude for all of it. You can also find the same peace once you go through this process.

It can be gut-wrenching and easy to look away once you start. To get through it, it helps to have a coach to make sure you go deeply enough to truly draw wisdom from the experience.

What defines you? Let’s book a call and talk about how you can learn from your defining moments in life.

1 Comment

  1. Richard Lewine on April 12, 2023 at 12:39 pm

    Hi Danielle,

    Acknowledging those experiences of failure and poor judgement leads to recollection those moments of success and joy. Yin and Yang. It has taken me most of my life to reach the security of self-worth. Because of this growth, both my personal and professoinal lives have flourished.

    See you soon.


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