• Leanne, The Barefoot Medium

Healing the Mother Wound

Mothers play such an important role in all of our lives, they welcome us into the most sacred space there is - their womb (although there are many types of mother-child relationships, including adoptive ones) - they nurture us, mold and shape us emotionally through their connection and interactions with us. Given that our sense of self is often built by the kind of relationship we have with our Mother, who is normally our primary carer, it is important to understand what people refer to as the “mother wound” and the impact it can have on how we relate to others in the world.

So, what exactly is the Mother Wound? The Mother Wound is a learned behaviour and internalised coping mechanism which is passed subconsciously, subtly from mother to daughter (or son), often from generation to generation down the ancestral line. These patterns may have been passed down to your mother by previous generations who were told by society they were not allowed to shine, they were required to remain small and in order to be successful, they needed to be masculine about it. As your mother, grandmother and female ancestors tried to explore and understand their power and move through the various challenges society and life presented them, they may have experienced pain, grief, frustration, disappointment, judgement, rejection and shame (to name a few). This may have resulted in a lack of adequate mothering in your early years as they internalised or repressed their emotions and were not emotionally attuned, available or present with you, even if they were there physically - this is what is described as the Mother Wound.

If you are experiencing the Mother Wound, this can manifest in many ways in the physical world, including:

  • Not feeling good enough and comparing yourself to or competing with others

  • Consistent sense there is something wrong with you, resulting in feelings of shame

  • Feeling you must remain quiet, not draw attention to yourself or stand out so you keep yourself small in order to be loved

  • Wanting more than you currently have in life and feeling persistently guilty about desiring more or unworthy of asking for and receiving what you want

  • Inability to be your authentic and true self as you don’t want to rock-the-boat or for others to feel threatened or less than

  • Repeatedly taking care of other peoples physical or emotional needs, wants and desires by stepping into care-taker or rescuer mode

  • Not able to acknowledge, express or manage your emotions or provide empathy to yourself or others

  • Being highly sensitive to criticism, overly rigid and dominating or controlling

  • Willing to tolerate poor treatment or behaviour from others and unable to maintain healthy boundaries in relationships

  • Unable to process trauma suffered as a result of emotional or physical abuse and unable to offer love and nurturing to others

  • Experience anxiety and/or depression and use food, alcohol, drugs, sex or other things to soothe your emotions

Your Mother Wound may be very different from someone else's, however, it can have a significant impact on the types of relationships you attract into your life as an adult as well as the patterns of behaviour you engage in within your relationships. For example, toxic unhealthy relationships often have behaviours, whether from one or both parties or only one person, that are emotionally and sometimes physically damaging including being narcissistic, very critical, judgemental, controlling and focused on external factors (education, your appearance etc), lacking in emotional engagement and disconnected, distant and tense. They are also often filled with thoughts, words and actions that come from a place of fear such as arguing, starting fights, tantrums, screaming, insulting, name calling, humiliating, excluding, ignoring, alienating, controlling, manipulating, crying, blaming and shaming, pointing, huffing and puffing, gossiping, lying or hiding the truth, cheating, betrayal or putting on a mask or false persona. While, healthy loving relationships contribute to your self-esteem and emotional energy, bring people closer together and allow them to connect, share and love each other whether through having deep conversations, sharing information and insights, hugs, kisses, physical touch, making love, having fun, exploring and taking adventures, spending time together, working on projects, sharing resources and offering help and support plus much more.

Given the mother wound can have a significant impact on how you relate to others in the world and the kinds of relationships you allow yourself to engage in, it is important to be willing to consciously step into doing the work required to transform, shift and heal. You can start doing this by following the six (6) steps below:

  1. Acknowledge the emotions and pain which may be present from having experienced an emotional absent mother or feeling unloved, ignored, criticised, blamed, shamed, ridiculed or even victimised, writing in a journal can help with this

  2. Accept what was and/or is in terms of your relationship with your mother and understand that her lack of adequate mothering or emotional unavailability was not your fault - she did the best she could based on what she had learnt from her own mother and from her life experiences

  3. Allow yourself to grieve the absence of your mother, relationship as you wanted it to be - letting go of the less-than-ideal image you may be holding onto - or what you never received as a child as this creates the emotional space needed to help you move towards compassion and forgiveness

  4. Attention needs to be given to acknowledging, understanding and expressing your emotions such as anger, resentment, hurt, sadness etc by giving yourself permission to stop and feel what you are feeling, identifying what the feeling is

  5. Ask yourself each morning what it is that you need and be willing to give it to yourself or to ask for what you need, as this will help you to learn how to parent yourself and give yourself all the things you feel you never received as a child

  6. Add a self-love routine or ritual into your day, whether it is going for a morning walk, going out for coffee, lunch or dinner with a friend, pampering yourself or spending time with the people who make you feel good about yourself

Mothering is hard work and sometimes mothers get things wrong. If you are a mother yourself or play some kind of mother role, you already know how challenging and difficult it can be. It is important to find a balance between acknowledging any negative feelings which may come up and recognising the opportunity and choice you have in each and every moment to embrace compassion and forgiveness for self and your mother and all the females in your ancestral line before her. Reach out for help and support with this if needed! When you consciously choose to heal the Mother Wound, you also create safe places for other women to open their hearts and express any pain or hurt they may be experiencing, to shine their light and become the person they are meant or want to be in the world, to be their authentic selves and to receive the love, support and nurturing they need.


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