The journey to break a generational cycle isn’t easy, yet it is necessary and rewarding. If you have been following my blogs and articles, then you are surely no stranger to this topic. I talk a lot about identifying how the Mother Wound manifests in certain relationships– such as with a lover, friend, or the inner self– although we have yet to address how to move through the world as a mother.
After dealing with our own absent, attacking, or overbearing mother, we are sure to deal with some aftermath. Knowing oneself will be the biggest tool in preventing the continuation of that mothering model.
Were you left to deal with your pain alone, leaving you to feel unseen and unimportant? My dear, you had an absent mother. Were you often called ‘too much,’ ‘not enough,’ or just constantly criticized? Your mother is of the attacking type. Are you easily confused, have trouble knowing yourself, and believe others’ needs come first? This is an overbearing mother wound, resulting from a blurring of boundaries and having been engulfed by someone else’s needs.
Identifying your type is only the first step.
Raising Children and the Mother Wound
First, it is wise to know IF you have a mother wound and if so, how it is expressed. Were you smothered? Are you smothering? Were you ignored? Are you indifferent? Were you attacked? Do you avoid confrontation at all costs?
The Mother Wounds take many shapes and sizes, and some are easier to catch than others.
Many women in my private practice come to me so they will not repeat what has been done to them. They fear they will give their daughters low self-esteem, and self-doubt, or that they will hate their mother (my client) for not doing the right things for them. Unfortunately, this is an example of the mother wound attacking the client, causing her to struggle to see how her child feels safe enough to have difficult feelings as well as expressing them.
This is something my client was not allowed to do.
If we are cognizant enough to realize that our behavior towards our children will impact ours and their internal world, that is the first step towards not repeating what was most likely passed down, consciously or unconsciously, as though it is “normal.”
There is something particularly unnerving about opening your mouth to say something and hearing your mother’s voice come out. It’s a shiver down your spine saying “Oh my God, I sound just like my mother.”
What do you find important in parenting? How do you plan to be different?
It could include letting your child explore their interests without making comments such as “Are you sure?” “do it like this instead,” or “You’re doing amazing.”
These are minor instances that can distract a child while they are learning, inadvertently leading them to search for approval or direction instead of trusting their instincts.
Or it could be as major as “You cannot make a career out of art,” “There will always be stronger singers than you,” or “That’s not how the other ballerinas look.”
These comments affect young minds in obvious, deeply painful ways, hindering self-esteem and self-confidence.
Often, speaking to our children how we wish we could have been spoken to when we were young can be healing for our own inner child as well.
Consciously, as someone who knows themselves, we are able to stop the continuation of the inner critic and become the person we needed when we were young.
The Science and Magic Involved in Healing
Science has given us the gift of proving that cell memory is real which helps to justify the idea that struggles, stress, and fear can be passed down through families. When you think about it, a woman is born with all of the eggs her ovaries will ever release. Meaning you were an egg inside your infant mother, inside of your pregnant grandmother.
Women know that if a pregnant mother is stressed, her baby will be negatively impacted. So it only makes sense that you, the grandchild, the child, and the egg, will also be impacted. It’s the chain of DNA.
So when we are mindful, meditate, go to therapy, create, express, and release, we are actively changing our DNA. We are re-wiring our brains, changing the energy in our bodies. This is a gift not only to ourselves but to our children as we re-write our DNA.
You ask, an hour a week changes my brain? Well, it’s certainly a start.
The study of epigenetics has been shifting what we’ve known about human development. How? Simply put, epigenetics finds that our behaviors and environment can affect and change the way our genes work. Epigenetic changes are reversible and do not change your DNA sequence, however, they can change how your body reads a DNA sequence.
Meaning, what we were born with is not who we have to be, and this can be positive or negative. We humans are quite plastic and malleable, which is a very important thing to know. As children, we have NO control over our environment, as adults we have more, and with awareness and support, we can change how we feel and who we are on the inside.
Please don’t confuse my words with quick fixes. The first step is awareness. It always helps to begin to notice patterns, in yourself and in others. Notice how you feel before and after an encounter. Notice the choices you make; how do they make you feel? Are you getting what you need? Are your relationships reciprocal?
Think about a little boy or girl who absolutely loved to sing but was always scolded for making too much noise, and making a fool of his or herself. They are told they’ll never be famous anyway and to do their chores and be helpful around the house. That child– depending if there is another significant adult who believes and supports that child’s singing thus countering their critical environment and affecting their self-belief – will begin to believe their voice is not important, nor are their dreams.
How does this relate to a Mother Wound or Mother Wounding? If you have been silenced, misunderstood, criticized, hurt, or abused and made to feel that it is normal, chances are you will treat yourself in a critical and disrespectful manner. Whether you treat others that way or not, you are carrying the epigenetics, the belief at the cellular level, and passing it on to the next generation.
As a parent, you have the opportunity to bring awareness of what happened to you and by changing your approach towards your child, you are changing your epigenetics. This builds new neural networks in your brain, creating longer and stronger internal shifts to be expressed in your environment and with others.
Whether you have children or not, using this “energetic” perspective towards others, within yourself, and in your relationships makes the world and your relationships a much more authentic and pleasant place to be.
It always helps to have a trusted, objective friend, coach, or therapist to support you in your life journey. The road to healing is not easy, as I’ve said before. But it sure is exciting, magical, terrifying, and rewarding. It is a gift you can give to yourself as well as your children, as they are bound to inherit their internal voices from us.
To take the leap to identify how we interact with others as well as take power in it, is the kind of strength that goes above and beyond. We are not asking for Superwomen. We only need women to care enough about themselves and others so there is more authenticity, accountability, and awareness so we may create a new method of thinking that is both satisfying and secure. One where we support ourselves and each other in the very important and meaningful role of motherhood.
I cannot say enough how far you’ve come just by reading my blogs. Thank you for being there for yourself, as I’m sure those around you will. Even if it isn’t quite a conscious thought.
Devin R. Burrill & Pamela A. Silver, Making Cellular Memories (2010).
Anna Lardone, Marianna Liparoti, Pierpaolo Sorrentino, Rosaria Rucco, et al., Mindfulness Meditation Is Related to Long-Lasting Changes in Hippocampal Functional Topology during Resting State: A Magnetoencephalography Study. (2018).