I believe we all have certain moments or events in our life that help define how we behave in the future. Dictionary.com defines a “Defining Moment” (DM) as “an occurrence that typifies or determines all related events that follow.” I’ve been thinking about one of my DMs lately, as I’ve noticed a few times that I’ve forgotten one of the things it taught me about myself…
Just over a year and a half ago, I completely lost the hearing in my right ear. It doesn’t sound like a big deal – I mean, I still had my left ear, right? But it had a significant impact on how I view situations and react to adversity. I blogged about the experience and how it affected me here. At the time that it happened, I had a job that I enjoyed, I was being recognized for the work I was doing, and anticipating a promotion in the very near future. For the first couple of days after I lost my hearing, while I was going through vertigo and dizziness (and perhaps a little depression), I thought that my career was over, that I would never achieve what I hoped for and that I would rather stay home alone than attempt to have a conversation with anyone. I couldn’t see how I could go back to presenting to groups and meeting with leaders all day, because focusing on hearing them was so difficult and frustrating.
After a two-day pity-party, my DM kicked in. I started seeing the humour and the positive side of my situation. I blogged about some of them here. What I realized right away was that that was a lot more fun than moping! From that point on, I have always tried to see the positives in any situation. I have realized that things work out in the long run – not always the way you expected them to, but they do work out. I didn’t get a promotion as soon as expected, but I can’t say it was because of what happened. I did form more concrete relationships with some very great leaders who were helpful and understanding through my situation.
I truly believe that having a positive outlook on the experience helped me physically to get my balance back (my doctor was amazed at how quickly I regained this), and emotionally/mentally to get back to work (and life), and to move on much more quickly than I might otherwise have.
Some of the other things that this “defining moment” has helped me change:
- Although my career was going strong and was a great positive in my life, I was also working long hours, neglecting my dog, friends and family and sleeping very little. While there are times that I still get wrapped up in a project at work, now I prioritize life. I work around my life, rather than the other way around.
- I started blogging. I started initially because I needed an outlet, was tired of answering so many questions about my hearing loss, and found that writing about it helped to soothe me and I could direct people to my blog when they asked about how it had affected me.
- I sleep better. I don’t know if it’s because I’m exhausted at the end of the day, if it’s the meditation app on my iPad, or if it’s truly because I can roll onto my hearing ear to block out background noise that might otherwise wake me. But regardless, I get more hours of sleep than I used to.
- I’m able to relax. This may sound strange but it was really difficult for me in the past. A few hours with myself with nothing to do was like torture. Now, I can sit and read for a full day without the guilt that I used to feel. I can meditate and think and just be. Of course, these times are few and far between, but certainly not next to impossible the way they used to be!
Once in a while, I sense myself slipping into a moment of “glass half empty” perspective (usually when my tinnitus is loud or very high-pitched), or working too hard and not taking time for myself. I force myself to remember this defining moment and think positively, relax, and enjoy what life brings me.
What are your defining moments, and how have they helped you change how you live your life?