Life Defining Moments . . .Had One Lately?

What is a life defining moment anyway. Have you ever had one? Would you know if you had? How would you know? What happened? My understanding is that everyone is likely to be confronted with a life defining moment. For some people they will experience several life defining moments. OK-but why are they important? These are the events that we recognize have the power to shape the course of our lives. These are the events that happen to us or around us that cause us to pause and with sober thought decide how we are about to change our world. So many people miss the significance of important events that happen to them. For example an event could be marked by the death of a loved one or the birth of a child. It could come from something we heard, something or someone we saw. These Life Defining Moments can promote our view of our future or at least what the future could provide us if we took the chance to pursue it. Life Defining Moments are just that–they are things that happen that can generate a decision that will impact our lives for the remainder of our days. It’s like getting to a crossroad where there is a chance to go left or right. You have to choose one direction. This decision to go left or right is the LDM. Either choice will impact the quality of your life for the reminder of your days and often times we don’t have the luxury of time to decide–the decisions are often immediate. The importance can be immeasurable and folks need to understand that what happens next could be the difference between having a life of adventure, excitement and fulfilment or a life of sameness, safety (no risk) and missed opportunities to make a difference in others lives. There is no way to prepare for this happening nor is it something we can wait for. When an LDM (Life Defining Moment) happens it suggests you can change your life course but to do so means risk and leaving your comfort zone.

In this article I am speaking about the positive side of LDM’s. There are many realizations that come with recognizing a LDM. We recognize that, maybe for the first time, we see we really don’t have to have or need the permission or the ‘OK’ of others to manage our lives. That in itself can be a LDM–it’s called freedom and it can belong to anyone who wants it. The tricky thing about LDM’s is that they often provide us with the impetus–the opportunity to make changes that could alter how we live our lives forever but not always the means to make the move(s) happen. We have to do our part to make it happen. The other point to be made is that there are always risks involved or attached to recognizing and acting upon an LDM. I read somewhere recently that “anything worth doing will likely terrify you.” That’s how you know it’s something you need to consider when you are thinking about making changes. We can always recognize a time or a moment in our lives that separates itself from any and all experiences we’ve had. We can always decide to do nothing with it or about it but such opportunities are usually a one time chance. It’s not like waiting for a train at the station believing ‘oh well, I’ll just catch the next one’.

For me, my LDM’s have usually happened involving other people. As I have said often in these articles–I am not one to believe in coincidence. I truly believe that other people come into our lives for one of three reasons:

  1. because he/she has something of importance to tell me
  2. because I have something of importance to share with someone else
  3. because we both have things to teach each other and we are destined to be friends for quite a while These are often identified as Life Defining Moments.

We can’t alter or dismiss our Life Defining Moments–they remain ours to do with as we please but they are what defines us a human beings.

Anyways, that’s how I see it. All the best, Jim

Comments and feedback are welcome. Please send this along to friends and family. Makes for a great dinner time conversation:)

You can connect with me at: jimcloughley.com  OR  jim.lifechoice@gmail.com


We Have To Stop Doing This To Our Kids And Others.

A Lost Child

‘Our kids will live what they see and hear’–Jim

Recently I had an epiphany–a sudden flash of insight that struck me right in the heart. I immediately knew that this was one of those life changing events that come only so often. I also realized that I do this and I have to stop. I don’t do it consciously and I don’t do it to be mean or to hurt anyone. However, the outcomes certainly can, and often are, the same.

What I am referring to is the act of ‘labelling’. We label music, literature, other people, our own kids, our partners, medical assessments and diagnosis, movies, fashion, personal appearances, different preferences, odd behaviour and the list goes on. We have an almost insatiable need to label things so that we can then place them in a slot so that we can then deal with them as we have for so often. In this case it is by using labels such as as silly, stupid, ugly, awful, useless, dumb, freakish, terrible, disgusting, poor, not up to standards, lazy and again the list could continue on for a bit. As parents or citizens or neighbours we need to keep in mind that once something or someone has been labelled that label sticks for a long time-sometimes for ever.

Adults, if we don’t like current clothing styles will often find a derogatory comment to make about them like they are ‘slutty’ looking; make reference to a hair style that makes you look like a moron or stupid; to music that sounds like two cats wailing at each other; to movies which aren’t like they used to be. In my time that’s when movies were really good and not like this crap; to literature that has no soul and is all the same; to what’s with all the tattoos or the body piercings. You look like a walking junk yard. These and similar responses are likely about the parents/adults comfort zone and their inability to accept or understand that things have changed. Parents most often see their kids as an extension of themselves when in public. If the kids are messing up that falls on the parents. However, and perhaps with good intentions, their remarks are mostly damaging, demeaning not very constructive. They end up creating a real sense of doubt and acceptance in our kids regarding their attempt to be accepted into the world they live in. With no sense of acceptance or connectedness a growing sense of detachment, loneliness and isolation develops. With no place to belong a deepening sense of depression often follows. Some times this can lead to suicide, erratic behaviour, sexually acting out, destructive behaviour, violence, gang membership and a great deal of the time the kid becomes a bully. He has a need to inflict his will and his anger and confusion on others. He/she may also want to feel in control over others to show they have power too.

I encourage you to think about some of the following:
–Most labels serve to marginalize, limit or disparage someone or something. It may not be your goal but it is often the outcome of labelling?
–Any type of mental health label is like a life sentence that follows you around. It shows up on doctors reports, school records and insurance forms for example. To say,”He has mental health issues” can mark him/her as unemployable and in many cases makes it difficult to enjoy a ‘normal’ educational experience. Let behaviour be the guide to determine the level someone can function at. It’s like water seeking it’s own level. If you are labelled as exceptional or gifted the expectations made of you are often times unfair and disproportionate and extremely difficult to live up to.
–Why do we feel the need to label ourselves or others according to religious beliefs? It’s really no ones business. Personally I don’t need or want to be known as an Atheist, a Catholic, a Muslim, a Protestant, or a Republican, a Democrat, a Liberal or a Conservative for that matter. Unfortunately, when these labels are exposed, we make them into a ‘my dad can beat up your dad’ thing. How childish is that. Friendships and relationships often succeed or fail based on these labels. I’d rather be seen as a decent human being who tried to make this a better place to live. Label me that if you must label me at all. We are supposed to be the adults. We run into trouble when we try to force others to see things as we see them and they don’t agree with us. Can’t we simply agree to disagree and move on.

So when we become frustrated and emotionally charged when dealing with our kids and the changes that they make, sometimes daily, think about the comments and the labels we attach to our response(s) to them and to their behaviour. When we call him/her a ‘dumb-ass’ or a ‘punk’; when we make reference to them being lazy, stupid or ridiculous looking; when we get critical of some of the choices they make around music, that their drawers are actually hanging where their socks are meant to be, the fact that they can’t figure out which is the front or the back of a hat they just put on think about the damage you might just be doing by not taking another tact. There is a difference between inviting them into your world to present an alternative life view and demanding or insisting on accepting yours as the only alternative. Your motivation may not be at fault but the use of ‘labels’ will stick to them for the rest of their lives.

Anyways, that’s how I see it–Jim

As always comments are welcomed and please pass this along to others–thanks

jim.lifechoice@gmail.com

www.jamescloughley.com

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