A mother’s love is said to be the most powerful and fierce force in the world. Each of us started this life within our mother’s womb and when we first arrived in this world relied on them to satisfy our basic needs for air, food, water, shelter, clothing as well as our need for security, love, nurturing, attention and acceptance.There is no doubt that there is something sacred and special about the mother-child relationship as it has a powerful and significant impact on a child’s future, specifically in areas associated with love, family and connection. As young children we generally form beliefs, images and ideas about what relationships in the real world look like based on out connection to our mother, so this relationship can and does have a significant impact on our lives. So essentially the relationship with your mother sets the stage for all your relationships as it is the perfect environment to develop and practice relationship building skills that form and shape every other relationship in your life.
This relationship can and does vary significantly from one child to another, with some having a very close relationship where they are like best friends, talking each day or seeing each other every week, while others live in different states or countries, talking and seeing each other irregularly or others not connected or communicating at all. When your relationship with your mother is good, you feel confident, loved, accepted and that it is safe to turn to her if you are scared and need encouragement, support and nurturing. But when the relationship is poor, you may feel unloved, unsupported, damaging your confidence and self-esteem, leaving you with a deep sense of emptiness, shame and perhaps guilt which reinforces a cycle of pain and disappointment. Whether your relationship with your mother is great, terrible, or somewhere in between, you may find that you need to work through or heal different issues related to your connection with your mother in order to develop intimacy in all of your relationships.
So how do you know if it is time to recognise, understand, sort through, heal and ultimately begin to manage any problematic and painful mother-child interactions, which may be affecting you in different ways? If the following signs are present, look at some form of healing in your relationship with your mother:
Choices and decisions in your life are or criticised, seen as ‘wrong’ or not trusted
Feeling inadequate, insignificant or unappreciated in some way no matter what you say or do
Basic needs for survival, safety and love are unmet, ignored or unheard
Disconnection, withdrawal or withholding of affection and attention
Spending time together is tiring, exhausting and unfulfilling
Become the ‘rock’, carer, helper or ‘mother’ to your own mother and/or siblings
Feeling abandoned, unseen or rejected
Actively being belittled, criticised and put-down resulting in a lack of confidence and self-respect
Think and feel like you never receive what you want or need in life
Disagreeing, saying no or putting your own needs first results in ‘guilt-trip’ or feelings of not being good enough
Worry you will end up old and alone with no one to take care of and love you
Fear of ‘becoming like your mother’
Feeling like you are not able to be yourself, don’t fit in or like the ‘black sheep’ in the family
Attempts to fix the relationship result in withdrawal, perpetuating or reinforcing of patterns and behaviours
Smothering and manipulation carefully used to control and micro-manage their involvement in your life
Blame and shame used to ‘win’ or get their own way as their needs are seen as more important than yours
Intently focused on or living their life through your achievements to satisfy unfulfilled parts of their lives
Feeing like you never knew what to expect - unbearably present, smiling and fussing one day, horribly critical, dismissive or inexplicably absent the next - which creates instability, uncertainty and unreliability
Incapable of empathy, compassion or to let go of the past
Feelings of angry, hurt and betrayal
For those of you who have struggled with low self-esteem, dating and relationship problems, as well as feelings of worthlessness and depression related to the mother-child connection, there are a number of fantastic strategies you can use to address this.
Get clear on who you are and how you feel: It is important that you take the time to reflect on who you are, what is important to you as well as your true feelings about your relationship without any outside influences or trying to get others on your team. You might want to write your thoughts down in a letter or imagine having a conversation where you can express your thoughts as a way to help you get clear.
Allow compassion into your heart: Often hurtful behaviours or disconnection has nothing to do with you rather it is from your mother's own life experiences, so it is important to have compassion for the journey she has walked as this will allow you to begin the healing process.
Take a journey of discovery and understanding: Find out about your mother’s life, her experiences and the relationship she had with her own mother. You may find that the issues you are experiencing are generational and the result of an un-healed relationship with her own mother.
Recognize your mother’s gifts and limitations: It is important to understand that each of us has strengths and weaknesses, so take some time to look at and evaluate your mother's so that you can consider her worth as a person and begin finding meaningful connections with her (where appropriate).
Establish your ground-rules: If you feel change in the dynamics of your relationship is needed, put clear guidelines, boundaries and ground-rules in place to help you hold a solid sense of and love for yourself first and foremost. If you feel that your relationship with your mother is too damaging, toxic or difficult to attempt to resolve or heal, then there may be a need to simply cut the ties and start enjoying healthy relationships in other areas of your life.
Surround yourself with positive people: Find people, whether it is family, friends or colleagues who encourage, support, uplift, accept and love you without condition or obligation who you can open up to about your feelings as a part of the healing process.
Move into a space of forgiveness: Be willing to embrace forgiveness (for self and others) as a way of letting go of any pain, hurt and unforgiveness you may feel so that you are able to move forward (with or without a relationship with your mother). This does not necessarily mean that you condone behaviours as acceptable, it is simply about having empathy for them, knowing that at some point their own needs, feelings, thoughts and desires were not satisfied and it is not personal.
There is no doubt that being a mother is an extremely difficult job, especially if you have little knowledge, support or if you haven't had enough emotional care yourself. Once you know who you are and how you feel, you can learn to be more empathetic, listen better, consider your mother's strengths, communicate more directly about any issues, and allow yourself to set ground-rules based on self-love, you can begin to break down any resistance to and healing issues in the way of having a good relationship with your mom.
If you feel you need help and support with healing the mother-child relationship or want to develop skills to establish and maintain good relationships in your life, then book in for a reading or mentoring sessions with me today.
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