Without really knowing it, I was searching — for meaning, for something — but it wasn’t until I dropped a 225-pound weight on my leg during a weightlifting competition that I realized what I’d been searching for.
When my leg was crushed by the weight, it wasn’t physical pain or fear that made a lasting impact; it was the sensation that this was a moment of change that I could use. I had a choice: I could choose to retreat and hide away, or I could make the moment an empowering one.
We often fail to recognize the impact of our life-changing moments — we’re too busy, we’re distracted, or we’ve got five business meetings today. But the danger of not recognizing these moments or failing to act on them is that we miss out. We miss out on the opportunities they present and the deeper meaning we can gain from them. We miss out on allowing them to mold and shape our lives to be more fulfilling and purpose-driven.
I’m not recommending dropping heavy things on yourself to find the meaning of life. But when your moment arrives, whatever shape it takes, you need to be ready to seize the opportunities it brings. You must honor it, process it, and allow it to shape your next step forward.
Your moment could appear in many guises. It could be the birth of your child, the devastating loss of a loved one, or a mammoth failure in your career. These moments, good or bad, have one thing in common: You get to create their meaning.
Here are seven steps you can follow to face the next big moment of change that turns up in your life and empower yourself to give it new meaning.
How to Turn Your “Why Me” Into a Defining Moment…
1. Stop (and be present in the moment)
Step one is the hardest. But if you can do it, you will be able to unlock the possibilities of your life-changing moment much more easily and powerfully. When you’re facing your life-changing moment, don’t turn away — and don’t react immediately. Just stop and look at the moment in front of you.
Yes, sometimes that’s going to be a bit like trying to stop your knee from jerking when the doctor taps it, but accepting that this moment will happen — whether you like it or not, whether you’re ready or not — is the first step toward having the power to redefine it yourself.
2. Act, rather than react
When you experience a moment of change, it’s natural to react as if the power of the event is beyond your control and you must bend and break according to the external forces in play. But with every passing moment, especially those huge ones that will come to define you, you have the power to choose how to act. When you see your moment approach, ask yourself, “What do I want to create from this?”
3. Put your ego away
There can be an element of shame or pride when you encounter a life-changing moment, but ditching your ego is the only way you will be able to see clearly enough to recognize its possibility. Put it in a box for a little while. Allow yourself to be as vulnerable and scared as you need to be to take the next bold step forward.
4. Find a place to go
When you’re standing amidst the flurry of emotions that a life-changing moment can bring, it might feel natural to hide away. But finding a place that isn’t your bedroom or your sofa can help you view the moment from a different perspective and turn it into something powerful. Find a community with whom you want to share your moment. Make this group your new hideaway.
Meditation is a powerful tool for becoming present, viewing your life-changing moment in a more peaceful light, and creating something new from it. You don’t have to be spiritual to meditate, and it doesn’t cost anything. You just need a quiet place and a willingness to try it.
Moments of loss or change tend to feel deeply personal. We have been trained throughout the course of our lives to seek solitude and protect our life-changing moments. “This is my moment,” we say. “Nobody else understands.” But keeping something so important and empowering to yourself not only does a disservice to you, but it also keeps others from learning and gaining from your experience. You have the opportunity, and the responsibility, to share your life-changing moments and spread their positive impact as far as it will go.
7. Create new meaning
You have the power to take your life-changing event and give it new meaning. View it from different perspectives — from above, through someone else’s eyes, from a distance as a moment in a sea of moments that make up your life so far. Create meaning for yourself that empowers and moves you forward. It’s your choice to make, after all; don’t limit yourself.
Now, close your eyes.
View the scene again with your new meaning in mind.
It looks better, doesn’t it?
Featured photo by jeronimo sanz