If you’ve had painful experiences with your mother…
If you’ve been let down, neglected, judged, criticized, humiliated or abused…
If deep down, all of your life, you’ve known that something was wrong with your relationship with your mom…
Know that now you are an adult, and your unloving or rejecting mother has already taken enough from you.
Isn’t it time that you start running the show of your own internal and external life?
That means getting committed to your own healing. If you’re down for making that commitment to yourself, then keep reading.
This is part 2 of my two-part series on the Mother Wound. If you haven’t watched part 1, “What is the Mother Wound?”, please go here to watch that first, so you can understand what it is and how it could be affecting your life and your relationships.
This week, I’m sharing 7 steps you can take to start to heal from the emotional and psychological injuries of the mother wound.
I’ve had so many women write to me about this, suffering from the mother wound indicates that there is or has been, psychological, verbal, and/or physical manipulation, neglect or abuse by a mother or primary caregiver.
It can be a bitter pill to swallow, especially in a society that puts “the mother” up on a pedestal of adoration. This aggrandizement of the mother role enculturates us to think of our mothers as if they are or should be perfect humans. The reality is that we’re all just people. Your mother was just a person with all of her own childhood experiences that shaped who she became.
This is in no way to excuse any kind of dysfunction, neglect or abuse, but I’ve found that sometimes it can be difficult for us to admit what actually happened because we feel like we need to protect the “ideal” of our mother…even from ourselves. If in childhood we didn’t get what we needed, instead of blaming our mother (who you needed to rely on for survival), you might have internalized these emotions…even thinking it was your fault.
I’ve put together 7 steps (with strategies, exercises, and even a ritual) to help you begin to release the guilt, shame or pain that comes with having a mother wound, so you can start to heal.
Step One: Admit the Truth
Your experience is real and that your disappointment is valid.
The first thing you must do is admit that your pain is real and that what happened is true. It can feel difficult to face the reality of your mother being a far cry from “perfect”, but you must admit that that’s what you’re dealing with because how can you possibly change anything that you’re in denial of? The first part of healing is admitting to yourself that this is what is true. Stop making yourself wrong.
Step Two: Question the Perfect Mother Archetype
In many cultures around the world, there’s this ideal vision of a mother who is all-loving, all-giving. This “perfect” mother is self-sacrificing, only living for those around them. That idealized concept isn’t real. To move towards healing, you might have to let go of that perfection standard, and accept the humanness, the messiness of your mother and motherhood in general.
I’m not saying that this makes it all okay, especially if you had a narcissistic or abusive mother, but I am saying that acceptance and understanding are steps on your healing path. If you can move into accepting you mother’s human messiness and into the reality that mothers are just people, and we’re all flawed to one degree or another, this can help you release some of the pain you may still be carrying.
Step Three: Mourn The Dream of “The Perfect Mother”
What kind of mother did you wish you had? Did you ever have a friend who had a mom who was kind and loving and you wished she were yours? Maybe you still have a mental list of all the things you hoped your mom would be or of all the happy, positive mother/daughter experiences you never got to have.
There are so many aspects of having an unloving or difficult mother that profoundly impact us as children, and that child within keeps hoping for the desired outcome. It is in your best interest now to give up the fantasy that your mother will change.
Only when we move into acceptance of what was and what is, can we then mourn the dream of what we wished we had. To grieve what we hoped for, to accept it’s never going to happen, to process it and move on.
If you know my work, you might know that I am a big fan of ritual practices. The reason being that rituals can be incredibly healing. When we take physical action with focused intention, we’re moving something energetically, and that is the goal here.
I want to encourage you to think about what you can do in the present to release the guilt and shame that often accompanies the mother wound. I’ve included a simple ritual practice for you in the cheatsheet, and you can download it here now.
Step Four: Raise Your Awareness Around Your Repeating Realities
If you are the child of an unloving mother, you might have deeply internalized the thought that you are unlovable. This could be operating in your unconscious, or what I call “the basement” of your mind. Part of this process is cleaning out the basement, and one of the ways to do this is to take an inventory of ourselves.
What I have seen with many of the women I work with is that they recreate unhealthy relationships with friends where they are always seeking their approval, or are drawn to a romantic relationship or even work dynamics with people that are incredibly critical or similar to their mother.
I call this “a repeating reality”. That is, you are unknowingly creating a reality in the present that mirrors your past reality. In these cases, it might be because you are still seeking that maternal love or approval that you didn’t get as a child.
Raising your awareness of these “repeating realities” will help you to understand what unconscious material might be driving you…and keeping you stuck in unsatisfying relationships.
I have a tool that I call “The 3 Q’s” to help you gain clarity about what relationships you might be repeating. I’ve included them in your little cheat sheet, so be sure to download it here now.
Step Five: Self-Mothering and Self-Love
The next step is to become a good mother to yourself. If you have internalized your mother’s punitive language or mean treatment of you, you may have a very harsh internal critic. Isn’t it time to evict that voice from your head?
Becoming a good mother to yourself means treating yourself with the same compassion that you would a child that you adore. It can be incredibly healing to mother yourself in this way and absolutely can help disrupt the pattern of dysfunction – especially if you have your own children. Understanding what happened in your own childhood will empower you to protect your children and not allow your mother to treat them the same way she treated you.
Step Six: Find a Good and Kind Mentor
This can truly be a corrective emotional experience. Seek out women and women’s work that is loving and kind. Be drawn to other women who you think are amazing, who are verbally affectionate with you and who are supportive. Look for that in your life and follow those people whose work in the world lifts you up. Know that I see you and I know that right at this moment, there is nothing wrong with you and you did not deserve to be unloved or rejected. You are lovable just as you are, right now. You do deserve to be loved by yourself and by others.
It’s time that you take a hold of this and stop doing this to yourself, whether it’s holding onto shame or guilt from the past or if your mother is still alive, staying in that same dysfunctional “dance” or having weak boundaries with her. It’s time for that to stop. It’s on you, and you can do this. Mothering yourself is a beautiful step towards your healing.
Step Seven: Get Into Therapy
If you suffer deeply from a mother wound, get yourself into therapy and be open and honest with your mental health care professional. You can say and ask for what need and what you’re looking for, for example:
“I have a mother wound and I am looking for a different experience with someone who is open and caring, positive and verbal.”
I want to empower you to use your voice and discernment to find a therapeutic relationship that you can trust, because when it comes to childhood wounds like this, sometimes we can be unconsciously drawn to doctors or people who treat us badly (I know, it sucks, but they are out there) and predators like this can sense a familiarity in someone who’s been victimized.
I want you to know that you can heal and that you deserve the love that you are seeking. You can get it in friendships, you can give it to yourself, but this healing process all starts with admitting that this is what you experienced.
I hope that this added value to your life. You know that I am cheering you on like a wild maniac because I know that you can do this. Healing the mother wound can change your entire life and all of your relationships for the better. And I want that so much for you.
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You guys are it for me, as you know. Thank you for watching, for listening, for reading, and for sharing. I hope you have an amazing week diving deep into your healing!