Mothering Yourself into Mastery: The Sovereign Feminine and Your Inner Wealth

Rolf Armstrong

Consistently mothering yourself eventually allows you to release the need to be small or play small in life.

When we mother the child within ourselves, we are cultivating an inner environment of safety and unconditional love that we did not experience in our childhoods. This heals the frozen energy of early trauma and brings our inner child into the present moment where her purity, innocence, vitality and creativity can be brought into our daily lives.

With commitment and consistency, we eventually cross a border where our inner child feels safe enough to sense her inherent abundance that comes from Being itself. There dawns within you full permission to be ALL that you are.

In doing so we can experience that sense of inner wealth and abundance; our bigness and fullness of BEING. 

Waldemar Strempler

Over time we develop a stable baseline of increased inner safety, which leads to an abiding and sacred sense of overflowing. There emerges a felt sense of the infinite love, support and space to be who you are. This extends to a feeling of infinite love and support from the universe and from life itself. We begin to see that our very essence is abundance.

The world teaches us to make the outer world primary and the inner world secondary. But the opposite is true; the inner must be primary for us to step into our mastery. Mastery means living from the luminous core within, committing to loving ourselves unconditionally, being transparent to lesser energies and sustaining a high vibration. A time arrives when we will not accept anything less than this.

Fernand Khnopff

How do we embody the sovereign feminine?

To step into our mastery, we must be increasingly sovereign over ourselves and our own energy. This means fiercely protecting your inner child and thus, allowing your inner life to be your priority. Your sovereignty is what allows you to fully flower and emerge into your full potential. Everything flows from this commitment. What society sees as selfish (self-care) is actually an act of great service. Over time, a powerful self-reinforcing cycle gains momentum from your increased self-respect, integrity and alignment between your inner values and your outer life.

We mother ourselves into mastery.

Many women find themselves vacillating between patterns of deprivation and binging. The message of deprivation is “If I’m my real, big self, I’ll be rejected. I must stay small.” And the message of binging is “I can’t help that I am big! I need soothing from the pain of denying who I am.” The inner mother is the “middle way” and as we consistently soothe ourselves through our fears and do the necessary grieving, we stop needing to vacillate between deprivation and binging in terms of food, spending or other substances/activities.

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Recently I was in London and visited Westminster Abbey. During my visit, I saw an image of the Madonna and Child which struck me with its simplicity and power.The image conveyed a deeper meaning to me than ever before. I saw Mary as a symbol of the Sovereign Feminine in men and women who courageously nurtures the inner child, thereby transforming the “illegitimate child” within us into the “light of the world.” The thought appeared in my mind: “This is what gives birth to worlds.”  The integration of the healed inner child and the conscious, wise adult self culminates as a new way of Being, a bridge of form and matter, the new earth itself. (See the image below: The Holy Mother and Divine Child are situated between two candles; symbolizing the ‘middle way’ in between the polarities.)

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We embody the Goddess when we mother the traumatized child within ourselves.

As we mother ourselves, a great sense of peace and freedom pervades and we increasingly release the need for others to change in order to feel “OK.” We can increasingly let others be who they are and release attachment to being seen accurately by them. This becomes possible when we’ve reached a certain point when we can accurately see and appreciate ourselves enough to let go. We do this by mothering our traumatized inner children into the safety of the present moment.

We re-parent ourselves in real-time–by feeling the pain of the past trauma AND any pain of a current situation….by mothering ourselves on both levels simultaneously. 

Sarah Jarrett

It is a point of great power to live with awareness of many levels at the same time; to be aware as the adult in present time and as the inner child, and also as the formless, divine presence that we are at the deepest level. Living this way, we operate from a high vibration and positively affect our environment.

The best use of an imperfect childhood is to use your family’s shortcomings to birth your greatness. Your greatness is simply being more of who you TRULY are at your core. This is the deeper gift available in the pain of our abuse. This is the true resurrection.

When we discover the light in our deepest pain, we become capable of seeing it everywhere and in everything. Unity consciousness and existential belonging become a felt reality. 

Being the sovereign feminine is being both tender and fierce.

Joyce %22The Bronze Bombshell%22 Bryant, NYC, 1954 by Philippe Halsman.

Allow yourself to be large.  Allow yourself to take up space. 

Over time, we reach a point where our inner child feels safe enough to start to let go of the early beliefs that tell us we must be small in order to be loved. And in doing so, we are increasingly able to experience increased levels of vitality, wonder, creativity, joy, bliss, excitement, comfort and the ability to receive more good things in your life.

The inner bond allows you to emotionally separate from the toxic messages of “less-than” and “stay small” that women receive from the wider culture. 

  • The need for other people to understand us in order to feel OK
  • The need to change or modify others to feel loved by them
  • Tolerating poor treatment from others and blaming ourselves
  • Feeling guilty for our true desires and feelings

Forgiveness is the felt realization that their behavior was never about you. 

Akseli Gallen-Kallela

By healing the mother wound and mothering ourselves, it’s possible to genuinely forgive our mothers (and other people) for how they may have pressured you to stay small.  What makes genuine forgiveness possible is that you begin to realize on a very deep, somatic level that that their inability to see you had nothing whatsoever to do with you. This is not just on the conceptual level, but deep in your bones it becomes very obvious that their hurtful behavior was just a reflection of their own fears and wounds, which were never your responsibility to fix. A massive weight is lifted with this realization.

When you realize that your bigness is part of your gifts and part of your power, you are free to claim it and live it fully!

Your “largeness” is not a liability; it is your inner wealth. It’s yours to claim!

Valeria Kotsareva

Some affirmations:

  • I now love and accept my bigness
  • I lovingly accept my big energy and intensity
  • I lovingly accept my big ability to love
  • I lovingly accept my big dreams and desires
  • I lovingly accept my big ability to feel deeply
  • I lovingly accept my big commitment to truth and authenticity.
  • I lovingly accept who I am right now.

Accept that your “bigness” is not a rejection of others, nor is it being superior to others.

Your bigness is simply claiming what you already are, owning it with joy and bringing it into the world. 

Anahata Katkin 2

The message in the mother wound is that if you claim your bigness, that you’re depriving or abandoning your mother. This belief is a symptom of enmeshment between mothers and daughters that is so deep in our culture we’re often unaware of it. Stepping out of this enmeshment is what allows you to claim your power without guilt or apology. You can feel your right as an individual to live your life on your own terms and know deep within, that your happiness is not depriving others in any way. This is honoring your true nature as abundance. 

Accept that any defensive attempts of others to “knock you down to size” are reflections of how small they feel in their own life. (You can feel compassion for them and let it go.) Accept that how others feel in your presence is none of your business. This realization is real when you can feel the visceral relief in your body. It’s a huge shift that liberates you on many levels.

Your “bigness” does not mean that others are “small.” And their inability to understand that is not your responsibility. Give yourself permission to stop explaining and apologizing for being your Full Self. 

Jane DesRosier

Wow, what freedom! You don’t need to take that onl! And you don’t need to disparage others for not seeing you accurately. It’s simply where they are at. You can allow them to be as they are and rest in your center with integrity and an open heart.

There’s a diamond that’s always been in your pocket. Claim it now. It’s possible to live your bigness with joy and gratitude! The more your treasure and cherish yourself, living fully from your inner light, the more it gives others permission to do the same. What a gift!

Mother yourself until you can feel the exuberant energy of pure joy that emerges in your daily life when your inner child feels safe enough within you to bring her sense of PLAY into your daily life! 

“I now allow myself to be all that I am and all that I am meant to be.”

Tamara Natalie Madden 2

Allow yourself to embody the full breadth and scope of all that you are:

  • To give big
  • To receive big
  • To love big
  • To be loved big
  • To achieve big
  • To live big
  • To serve big

As you claim your inner wealth and overflowing bounty of being, you will likely experience it’s natural byproduct: increased opportunities, loving relationships, outer wealth and success.

What does it mean to be your full, overflowing self in your daily life?

Salvador Dali

Examples:

  • Giving yourself space to be who you are and loving yourself in this moment
  • Knowing that the universe is ultimately friendly no matter the present, external conditions
  • Not allowing your inner space to be cluttered with negativity, struggle or scarcity
  • Coming from a high level in everything you do. Maintaining a high vibration.
  • Remembering that Being is primary. Make coming from that pure place of Being a priority in your daily life.
  • Comforting and nurturing yourself (and your inner child) whenever you need it. Not putting it off. Keeping yourself feeling loved and supported always.
  • Valuing yourself and valuing those you serve in your work. Offering huge value to others.
  • Having impeccable boundaries that support you in being your Highest Self.
  • Having fun and a bringing a sense of play into your work!
  • Communicating with clarity and integrity.
  • Taking care of your body.
  • Ask for support when you need it and delegate when possible.
  • Surrendering all doubts and concerns and trusting that all is well.

Please leave a comment below: What are some ways you are embodying more of the fullness of who you are? What have been your challenges and breakthroughs with this?

Does this article resonate with you? Click here to sign up for a free 30-minute session with Bethany. 

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I help women to heal the mother wound and become the women they’re meant to be. Here’s how we can work together: (Click the links to learn more!)

I love to share empowering information with you. Thank you for reading!! :-)

(art credits in order of appearance: Rolf Armstrong, Waldemar Strempler, Fernand Klnopff, Keith Mallett, Our Lady of Pew at Westminster Abbey, Sarah Jarrett, Actress Joyce Bryant photographed by Phillippe Halsman in 1954, Akseli Gallen- Kallela, Valeria Kotsareva, Anahata Katkin, Jane Desrosler, Tamara Natalie Madden, Salvador Dali)

© Bethany Webster 2014

The Healing the Mother Wound “Holiday Toolkit”

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The holiday season can be a challenging time as we re-enter the family system for a brief time during family events and gatherings. Because we have so much shared history with our family members, old patterns have much more momentum in their presence than with other people. Thus, holiday gatherings can require a higher degree presence so as not to get pulled into old, unconscious patterns.

Approaching the holidays mindfully is a gift to yourself. You can set you up to have an empowering experience, not something that brings you down. 

Family gatherings around the holidays offer incredible opportunities because they are a barometer of our growth; we can see how much we have grown AND where we still have more work to do. It’s also a reminder of the things that are within our power to change and those things that we just have to let go.

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As the holidays approach I hear from many women feeling anxious on how to navigate contact with their mothers with whom they have a challenging relationship. The question usually revolves around how much contact to have. It usually boils down to “How much contact do I need to have, while avoiding unnecessary conflict, but while also remaining true to myself?” This is an important question that requires some reflection.

Tips on navigating the holidays with the mother wound: 

  • Don’t expect yourself to be perfect. Expect uncomfortable moments.
  • Approach it with the spirit of experimentation and curiosity. Don’t take it too seriously.
  • Commit to loving yourself no matter what happens.

Holidays as Opportunities for Integration

During the holiday gatherings we can observe ourselves with a sense of curiosity as we behave more authentically and in alignment with our truth around our families. It can be very healing and profound to feel our own commitment to ourselves around some degree of dysfunctional family dynamics. And it may also stimulate grief around family members who may be avoiding their own healing or with whom we have had an impasse. All of it is a cauldron of immense growth!

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We may see family members that have triggered us in the past or still in the present. I encourage you to not see triggers not as failures, but as major opportunities for healing.

An emotional trigger is not a signal of how un-healed you are. A trigger is a signal that you are ready for a new level of healing. 

If you feel an emotional trigger with your mother or another family member, it means that the wound is ready to be healed on a deeper level. It offers the chance to heal in a powerful way, both on the level of the past (the old wound that was stimulated) AND on the level of the present (the current situation).

Would you like support and some tools on how to navigate the holidays and family dynamics?

I am offering a Free Teleseminar on Wednesday, November 19th at 1 pm EST entitled “The Healing the Mother Wound Holiday Toolkit.

Here is what we’ll be covering in this free call: 

  • The main reason why the holidays can stimulate major stress between mothers and daughters
  • The two key things you need to navigate the holidays if you have a challenging relationship with your mother
  • A step-by-step process to ensure you stay centered at family gatherings
  • The critical role of inner and outer support in making the holidays enjoyable
  • A key question to help you navigate sticky family situations with ease

When you register for this Teleseminar, you’ll receive an immediate download of a free guide “15 Mindsets to Manage the Mother Wound Over the Holidays.” 

One lucky listener will be randomly selected to receive FREE, lifetime-access to my comprehensive Online Course on Healing the Mother Wound ($497 value)

I invite you to join us for this Teleseminar! I look forward to being with you on the call.

Make this an empowering and bright holiday for yourself!  Register today! 

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Are you interested in private coaching with Bethany? Bethany offers a limited number of Free, 30-minute coaching sessions each month.  Click here to sign up!

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Embrace Accountability for Meaningful Change

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When it comes to childhood wounds, the sobering truth is that love is not enough. Love for our children is not enough to prevent us from unconsciously wounding them. And love for our parents is not enough to make our childhood wounds go away.

“My mother tried her best.” I hear this from many women suffering from the mother wound. The reason their pain continues to persist is because this is only HALF of the picture. It is not sufficient to heal from childhood wounds. Until we address the other half we remain stuck.

The full picture is “My mother tried her best AND I suffered as a child.” I see some unconsciously trying to bypass this second part. But it is precisely this second half that allows one to mourn, heal and ultimately move on and thrive as the woman you’re meant to be.

Experts are now saying that emotional presence is what children need from caregivers above and beyond everything else. In generations past, however, it was thought that food, shelter and clothing was sufficient for children to develop successfully. Emotional presence and attunement were actually considered secondary.

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It’s nearly impossible to be emotionally present to our children if we have not sufficiently healed our own inner child. In other words, we can be attuned and empathic to our own children to the degree that we have empathized with what we went through ourselves as children. The better we can care for our inner child, the better we can care for our outer child.

There is no blame. Ultimately, both parents and children are victims in a patriarchal society. Both are victims of the mandate of silence; silence about our feelings and about our true experiences. However, it is only accountability that will bring greater awareness to the plight of children in our society and thus affect change for future generations. The only people that can be held accountable are the adults. The accountability that is needed is that adults heal their inner children. That is the only hope for future generations. Otherwise, we’ll continue to look at the problems of the world without truly seeing them for what they are: symptoms of the unhealed, disowned pain that that lies within us.

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All children are innocent. The child within us is innocent and our children are innocent. It can be heart-wrenching to see how we’ve harmed our children and how we’ve been harmed as children. But this willingness to SEE the painful truth of how we have been harmed is what heals. This willingness to be aware, this willingness to endure the pain of this awareness is KEY.

Accountability is essential for our healing. It has three parts:

  1. Take into account the ways you suffered as a child
  2. Hold accountable those who were the responsible adults in the situation
  3. Be accountable yourself for your own healing and resultant actions

I see a major turning point happen when women begin to come into a place of accountability, which is the second half of the picture. When we come to a place of accountability our healing takes on a powerful momentum.

Below is the process in more detail:

  • Account for the truth of exactly what you went through as a child and empathize with your inner child. Be sad and angry on her behalf. (In this way you become the enlightened witness that she needed in the past.)
  • See how those painful experiences have impacted your life as a child and how you’ve had to compensate for them as an adult.
  • Take into account that as a child, you had no power over the situation. The responsible people at the time were the adults. Whatever happened to you as a child was not your fault.
  • Finally be able to fully grieve, feel the reality of your own incorruptible goodness and step into personal power.

Ken Orvidas

The most powerful form of accountability is within yourself to yourself, about the facts of what you went through. It’s most important for you to see that as a child you were powerless to change the painful situations in your family and the only people who were able to affect change were the adults in the situation, usually your parents.  Whatever happened to you as a child was not your fault. This is the liberating insight that allows you to shed the shame and redeem the child within you. But it has to be a felt insight, not just on an intellectual level. You must feel it in your body. This is precisely what re-connects you to the REAL within you; your real instincts, your real feelings, your real observations.

It was not your fault. This simple and profound insight takes our power back from the wound and puts our center of gravity back into ourselves. It is the antidote to the unconscious belief that acceptance by one’s family is contingent upon your willingness to accept their pain and shame as your own.

Elizabeth Catlett,

To a child, painful feelings seem to have the power to kill. They have a threatening power so they must be suppressed. As children, we have to split in two in order to NOT feel so that we can survive. As adults, we can heal the split by giving ourselves the experience of feeling the feelings fully and realizing that the painful feelings do NOT have the power to kill us. We can discover that we are more powerful and spacious than any painful feeling. We can discover that the painful feeling does not mean we are “bad.” In fact, we see that feeling the truth of our pain is part of our goodness, our realness and our truth.

The spiritual opportunity here is to see that we are not the pain itself, but the eternal, loving presence that is alongside and untouched throughout the pain.

It’s a personal choice to hold your parents accountable by actually speaking to them directly. It can be very transformative and healing but timing is critical and to be considered carefully. In some situations, it’s a wise choice to NOT confront directly. What is primary is that you, in your heart, have put down the burden of blaming yourself for the pain you experienced as a child. The ability of your mother/parents to see or understand you is secondary and not necessary to you moving forward.

Megan Mcisaac

In a patriarchal system, loyalty to parents is demonstrated by not being aware of how they’ve harmed us (intentionally or unintentionally). In other words, loyalty to parents is demonstrated by not questioning their power. This keeps us in perpetual childhood and society under a veil of silent shame and unconscious blindness to the causes of the atrocities we see around us. In the patriarchal paradigm, parents are considered to be responsible for the upbringing of children, but not accountable. In patriarchal cultures, parental accountability is seen as a threat to the power status of parents.

Holly Irwin

“Patriarchy’s chief institution is the family.” ~Kate Millett

What allows the wound to get passed down with ceaseless momentum? No accountability. In patriarchy, generally speaking, parents are assumed innocent and children are assumed to be guilty. Ultimately both are victims of the mandate: “Thou Shalt Not Be Aware.” (See book by Alice Miller)

No matter how much we may try, we cannot escape the formative power our early childhood experiences had on shaping who we become. There are countless ways to avoid this fact, including escape into spirituality and intellectual pursuits. But the body does not forget, no matter how much we convince ourselves that we’re “over it” or “there is no need to dwell on the past.” If we continue to avoid accounting for our childhood wounds, we risk living our lives indefinitely in some form of illness or addiction. Our bodies will never give up showing us the truth no matter how long we try to escape from it.

We cannot heal from the wounds we refuse to acknowledge.

There is a high cost of not accounting for childhood wounds. Due to it’s developmental cognitive limitations, an abused child cannot help but see itself as the as the cause of it’s own wounding. This lack of awareness and lack of accountability prevents the necessary grieving that is only possible after honest reflection on the sobering facts of childhood experiences that caused pain. Without this grieving, the unhealed child will continue to live in the adult body, projecting it’s pain on others and reenacting the painful situations over and over, while blaming itself.

Weronika Izdebska

Why do we fear accountability? 

Many fear accounting for what they’ve been through because they see it as equivalent to blaming our parents; they see them as one and the same. This erroneous conflation is a symptom of the dysfunctional enmeshment that patriarchy has fostered. We must un-couple the two. This belief permits abuse to run rampant through generations. As more and more adults grieve their childhood wounds fully, the more our society will no longer see accountability as a threat to the power status of the parent. Instead, parents (who have done the necessary grieving for their own childhood wounding) will see their accountability as a source of honor and pride as parents.

Accountability brings the greater awareness that creates meaningful change

More people need to grieve fully and come full circle to the child within. As more and more individuals do this, the attitude toward the child in society will shift.

Olga Volkova Tuponogova

We have the potential to really see and mourn the tragedy of how our unconscious, unhealed pain can cause us to blindly harm others without knowing it. We can finally see clearly how we have been harmed by the unhealed pain of others and how our unhealed pain has caused us to harm others. Seen together, this recognition is the birth of compassion, forgiveness and meaningful change. This recognition is the product of grieving our own pain sufficiently to see that the behavior of others really has nothing much to do with us. How others treat us is the culmination of their own inner state. This creates a spaciousness where we no longer feel compelled to respond with reactivity or hostility to others who act out of pain. However, until we grieve our own personal childhood wounds, we will take the behavior of others personally because this is the limited perspective of an unhealed child who cannot help but see itself as the cause of events. Until we grieve sufficiently, we will be compelled to repeat the pain.

Mourning childhood wounds fully is a powerful act of maturity that opens the way for a new world.

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Why is accountability necessary?

When we’ve grieved enough we can come full circle—to see the whole truth: “She tried her best AND I suffered.” BOTH are true and the second part is no longer felt as threatening. This gives way for a new life that is truly your own; a life in which you do not fear loss of love if you own your power. And a life in which being a separate individual is not viewed as an assault on your mother (or parents).

Grieving is impossible without accounting for the truth of what we’ve been through. And grieving is precisely what re-connects us to our deeper selves.

Healing the Inner Split

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When we do this accounting, we validate the inner child who was forced to suppress her feelings, see herself with suspicion, deny her instincts and reject her core. This splitting is what helped it survive the unbearable truth and yet this split is at the heart of all wounds, especially the mother wound. When we do this accounting we become ‘real’ again.

The truth was unbearable and we had to suppress it as children. But we must find that truth as adults in order to truly live.

We must legitimize what patriarchy has forced us to pathologize in ourselves.

The answer to personal and societal change is in empathizing with the abused child within each of us. 

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In order for women to stand fully revealed in their power, we need to create a world where a child does not have to choose between her personal power and the love of her mother.

The highest act of accountability is mothering ourselves. In doing so, we cease asking others to mother us. We stop asking our children, partners and friends to give us what they cannot. The compulsion to unconsciously re-enact the pain gradually dissolves. There’s no way to effectively mother ourselves without first empathizing with the truth of what we’ve been through. In order to do this, we have to connect with our inner child, listen to her, allow her to grieve and bring her joy and indestructible goodness into everything we do.

Romualdas Rakauskas

© Bethany Webster 2014

Related article: “The Most Insidious Forms of Patriarchy Are Passed Through the Mother” _____________________________________________________________________________

Thank you for reading! I invite you to comment below: How has accountability (or lack thereof) impacted your healing journey?

Does this article resonate with you? Would you like to receive a free, 30-minute coaching session with Bethany? Click here to sign up. 

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(Art credits in order of appearance: first three items artists unknown, Ken Orvidas, Elizabeth Catlett, Megan McIsaac, next 2 unknown, Holly Irwin, Weronica Izdebeska, Olga Volkova Tuponogova, unknown, George Frederic Watts, unknown, Romuldas Rakauskas)

When Loyalty to Our Mothers means Loyalty to Our Oppression: How to Break Free

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All children are loyal to their mothers. They need her to survive.The more stressed a mother is, the less she can be emotionally present for her child. To the degree to which your own mother’s well-being was compromised, you may have had to develop coping strategies to adapt to your mother’s stress. These strategies may still be unconsciously operating in us even as adults, causing pain and frustration. As a coping mechanism, children may develop some form of what I call “the impossible dream,” the belief that if only you sufficiently demonstrate your loyalty to your mother through absorbing her beliefs or pain as your own, then she will one day see you fully and love you the way you wanted her to. This is a child’s perspective yet it has enormous enduring power because of it’s early origins in our development. At a certain point, we have to realize that these strategies did not cause mother to change. They did not work.

Toshiyuki Enoki

A major shift can happen when we see that it’s safe to let go of loyalty to the patterns that we thought would grant us the mothering we needed:

  • Staying small
  • Feeling self-hatred
  • Being fearful and hypervigilant
  • Believing in scarcity
  • Depriving yourself in some way
  • Playing the victim
  • Solving other people’s problems
  • Suppressing your true feelings and responses

These patterns may have been taught to you to some degree by your mother overtly OR you may have learned them through simply observing her behavior. They were likely passed down to her through her own mother and/or her own cultural conditioning. Because we live in a patriarchal society that tells us women are “less than” we all have these beliefs to some degree. (They can be even more damaging if our mother was unhealthy or mentally unstable.) They may be very hard to let go of because on some level, letting go of them feels like letting go of “mother” –and for our unconscious and inner child this can feel like death. For example, if your mother was very fearful, you may have unconsciously taken on her fearful beliefs as a way to feel close to her. Letting go of a fearful approach to life may feel scary as though you are letting go of your actual mother herself. Another example is letting go of self-blame. If you were taught to blame yourself and were rewarded for that, letting go of self-blame may feel like you are betraying your mother because it is what she taught you to do and when she rewarded you with her love when you did so.

Bernini

Because these patterns were associated with being mothered, the patterns themselves begin to unconsciously represent a mothering presence. These patterns may have afforded us temporary approval, validation or acceptance in moments. But now as adult women, they only serve to keep us down. Because they were formed so early in our development, these beliefs and patterns tend to be quite unconscious and can endure for years before we see their origin. The most important thing is to see how these strategies or patterns of behavior did NOT bring us what we most wanted— our mother to show up for us in the ways we needed her to. As we mourn that loss, we can free ourselves to live and act in new ways.

Lea Bradovich

There are 3 parts to letting go of these persistent patterns: 1) Genuinely thank the patterns for the ways they have served you.   Examples:

  • Being a striver to get mother’s love may have helped you to achieve a lot in the world.
  • Being an emotional caretaker may have helped you to be skilled at tuning into people’s feelings.
  • Being controlling or rigid may have helped you to get a lot done.

2)  See that what you’re unconsciously trying to achieve through the pattern is impossible.  Perhaps the most powerful part of this process is seeing how no matter how loyal you were to those patterns, they could never bring you the mother you truly wanted and needed. The reason why is because whatever was going on in your family when you were a child was never truly about you. (But that is the only way that children can interpret forms of abandonment or abuse; that it’s about THEMSELVES.) When in reality, it’s really about whatever happened to be going on with the parents which the child had absolutely no control over. The truth is that no matter how good you were as a little girl (no matter how smart, pretty, talented, well-behaved you were, etc.) it never would have changed the family situation in the ways you needed it to change to get what you needed. That’s because the only people who had power in the situation were the adults whose decisions and choices impacted you as child. Whatever was going on in your family environment as a child was not your fault and you had no power to change it.

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Accepting how powerless you were as a child is a major step to freedom. Your parents’ inability to give you what you needed had nothing to do with you. Fully letting this in requires grieving and getting support. The real letting go is in the grieving, which makes space for new ways of being in the world that truly nurture and fulfill you. 3) Identify new, positive beliefs or patterns to replace the old, negative ones. Then commit to taking action on those new beliefs.  Examples:

  • It’s safe to step through fear and believe in myself (Action step: Soothing yourself through fears as you take a new risk and start a project that requires you to be visible to others.)
  • I give myself permission to honor my needs and speak my truth (Action step: Speaking out on your own behalf in a situation in which your boundaries are not being respected.)
  • I honor my truth even when those around me disagree (Action step: Doing something that you know is true for you even when others reject you for it.)

'Chasca”, 2013. Tom Bagshaw

The action step gives you a new experience which gives your subconscious a powerful message that is IS safe to act counter to what you learned as a child. In other words, not acting in accordance with the patterns will not cause rejection, humiliation or abandonment the way they could in childhood. In a way, it’s as though you’re bringing your inner child into the present moment, where she CAN experience being supported for who she is, because YOU as your adult self are there for her in the ways your mother could not be. This creates deeper integration within yourself and more detachment and distance from damaging patterns that were unconsciously adopted in childhood. The key here is consistency. Consistent, small steps lead to bigger transformations over time.

  Eostre by AngiandSilas

It’s important to see how the strategies did not work. 

Examples:

  • Being really quiet did not cause people to approve of me
  • Solving the family problems did not create lasting peace or protect me from rejection
  • Being mother’s pet and always agreeing with her did not lead her to see me for who I was as a separate person
  • Absorbing mother’s fearful beliefs did not cause me to feel safe
  • Staying small and silent did not lead to mother’s approval and validation of me
  • Focusing on mother and her problems did not cause her to listen or support me

When we see how these strategies did not work, we can then let go of the unconscious hold they have on us. Usually there is some mourning to do. Letting go of these patterns is on some level letting go of the illusion of the mother we thought they could bring us.

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When we can really see that ‘the good mother is not coming’ we can give ourselves permission to choose new ways of being and acting in the world that actually bring us fulfillment and joy. Our lives begin to automatically shift around this realization. Rejection of these negative patterns is NOT a personal rejection of your mother Moving beyond these early patterns is about YOU choosing to heal and create new, healthier ways of living and being in the world. Your mother will view the shift in you as a personal betrayal to the degree that she is closely identified with these patterns in herself. Her response to your divergence from these patterns is a statement of where she is at within herself; it’s not about you. You may see how futile and unhealthy these patterns are in your own life but your mother may not; she may still see them as valid ways of acting in the world.  Her opinions do not have to dictate your reality. Let her have her own experience without rushing in to explain or emotionally care-take her; this is a form of respect for her and for yourself.

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For generations, wounded mothers have been unconsciously asking their daughters to compensate them for what patriarchal society and their families would not give them: a sense of purpose, control and personal validation. Daughters cannot provide this. It cannot be given, it can only be found within the mother herself; by committing to her own healing and transformation. Breaking this toxic cycle is done by refusing to comply with the unspoken message from a wounded mother: “Do not abandon me by becoming fully yourself.” Woman, you have a right to your own life. Letting your mother have her own experience and healing process is not cruel (as patriarchy would tell us); it is healthy and necessary.

Your full empowerment is impossible in an environment of dysfunctional enmeshment with your mother.  

Refusing to carry your mother’s pain as your own is how the cycle of mother/daughter pain transforms.  A healthy emotional separation is what is needed to bring about a new paradigm of harmony and trust between mothers and daughters. You are not causing your mother pain by refusing to carry her burden, you are ceasing to sacrifice yourself to perpetuate her illusions, and in doing so you are actually correcting an imbalance that has plagued your female lineage for generations.The pain she feels is her own and has been under the surface all along. Your refusal to emotionally caretake your mother will offer her the opportunity to take responsibility for herself. Her personality may not like it but you are actually serving her on a much deeper level. Your commitment to your own empowerment actually serves your mother as it opens the way for her to own her power, if she chooses. Mothers who are still steeped in patriarchal beliefs will not be able to see this as the gift that it is. The most important thing is that you know it. This is part of a major shift that happens when your integrity becomes more important than your mother’s opinion of you; you show up powerfully and model a new way of being for others.

Alphonse Mucha 1

Questions for Reflection:   1. Identify one negative, self-deprecating pattern you adopted as a child as a coping mechanism that is also active in you now? 2. What was the original situation that caused you to adopt that negative pattern or belief about yourself? 3. What emotional processing needs to happen for you to truly let go of those patterns? What needs to be faced? What needs to be acknowledged or mourned? 4. What kind of support do you need to process this? What are some ways that you can provide yourself with nurturing and comfort as you emotionally process this? © Bethany Webster 2014 ________________________________________________________________________ Thank you for reading! Please leave a comment below. Have you felt your loyalty to your mother connected to how fully you show up in the world? 

I invite you to  Sign up here for a free, 30 minute “Healing the Mother Wound Coaching Session” with me. I’d love to connect with you! 

Ways to work with Bethany on healing the mother wound: 

Click here to Sign up for my newsletter!  (Art credits in order of appearance: unknown, Toshiyuki Enoki, Gian Lorenzo Bernini, Lea Bradovich, unknown, Tom Bagshaw, Angiandsilas, unknown, Corina Zone, Alphonse Mucha)

The Holy Simplicity of Sitting with Our Pain

James Christensen

Sitting with our pain is such a simple act and yet it can be one of the hardest things to do.

Feeling our pain and not rushing in to fix it, numb it, avoid it, or cover it up takes enormous courage. This is where surrender comes in. We reach a point in our healing where we’ve read all the books, consulted all the gurus or tried all the fancy techniques and all that is left is the last thing we want to do: Feel our painful feelings. Ironically, sitting with our pain is precisely what will eventually bring us all the things we were looking for through avoiding it.

A major key to healing emotional wounding is the willingness to endure discomfort for the sake of transformation. This willingness is essential to truly coming out the other side of childhood wounds.

Elizabeth Peyton 1

Discomfort can come in many forms: 

  • Being misunderstood by family members
  • Sitting with your own pain and just feeling it and allowing it to be there
  • Going through a period of anger or grief without knowing when the uncomfortable feelings will end
  • Having low energy or a feeling of being lost and unsure
  • Allowing yourself to be vulnerable and receive support from others
  • Distance from people who you used to be close to

Our culture promotes the idea of immediate gratification and instant results. It takes enormous courage and strength to stick with the unglamorous process of healing that has a timeline of its own. In addition to the cultural component, there is also the survival instincts within us that tell us to fight or take fight when we feel threatened. That is why having support in the healing process is essential.

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To an unhealed inner child, the only way it knows how to soothe itself is to act in accordance with the patterns that were imprinted by the family of origin, but usually those are precisely the patterns that are causing the pain. This keeps us trapped in a loop. The answer is to cultivate the skill of mothering and soothing our inner child while we make new choices that better reflect our true desires and needs. This inner bond is what helps us to effectively separate from family and cultural patterns that cause suffering.

For most of us, growing up involved a series of self-betrayals in which we had no choice but to create an inner split in order to survive. The split usually involves some form of numbing our feelings and rejecting ourselves in order to be accepted by our families. Healing involves the recovery of our ability to fully our feelings and thus, to feel and express the truth of who we are without shame.

Caitlin Shearer

While we are surrounded with messages to avoid our pain, both externally in the culture and internally through early coping mechanisms, it is through being present with our own pain and allowing our feelings to flow that healing really happens.

Truth is found outside our comfort zone. Outside the comfort zone is the space in which we separate from dysfunctional patterns that have been ingrained in us by our culture and families. 

There are two main phases of learning to endure discomfort for the sake of transformation. Each phase may overlap at times, but generally we move from resistance to surrender.

Patricia DeLeon Alfonso

1) RESISTANCE

Here we usually have a great deal of aversion and avoidance of looking at the painful feelings we experience. We may seek various ways to numb out or repress the truth of what we are feeling. Resistance can take the forms of self-sabotage, forgetfulness, overwhelm and addictions. Sometimes resistance can be helpful as an inner boundary of slowing things down until we are ready to fully see something.  And sometimes it can be avoidance of what we know we must face. It takes careful self- examination to see which form of resistance is operating. We may experience some resistance at each new level of healing, but as we grow, we can better recognize resistance and more easily move through it.

2) SURRENDER

Most of us surrender simply because the pain of resistance becomes too great. We eventually cross a threshold where we’ve learned to trust that embracing pain rather than running from it is what provides relief.  We fully taste the joy and freedom that come from being in contact with the REAL within oneself. There is nothing like having moved through the pain and into the joy of feeling ONE within yourself. The peace of inner alignment: feeling and expressing your authentic feelings without the need to defend them.

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There dawns a harmony between your personal imperfections and your irreplaceable part in the greater perfection of life. 

Eventually the longing and hunger for living your truth overshadows all other desires, including the desire to be free of pain. It is seen that this hunger for truth is trustworthy and will lead you to what you need in each moment. And  sometimes what you need is to embrace is yet another level of inner pain. The moments of relief and bliss that open up through having embraced your pain makes it all worth it. Over and over we learn that the act of embracing and being present with our pain is what connects us with the larger truth of who we are.

I think that one of the reasons why the crucifixion is such a powerful, pervasive symbol in the western world is because it symbolizes precisely what can be profoundly difficult: the willingness to accept and be present with our painful feelings.

Daria Petrilli

A new inner space is created where you have permission to live from the REAL. 

As we do the inner work, eventually a conviction arises; a quickening, a hunger and fierce commitment to living one’s truth. A desire develops to live from each moment from within the fire of your original self. Each moment begins to represent a new, fresh opportunity to live from simple, open, awareness of what is.

We see that awareness itself is an embrace. 

We start on the painful periphery and as we become increasingly skilled in enduring discomfort and the uncertainty of the unknown, there lies the potential to merge with the holy presence that lives at the center of our pain and realize that is the truth of who we are.

Alphonse Maria Mucha

Many of us have a feeling of homesickness deep within. A nameless longing and aching grief. Many of us experienced this as children in relation to our mothers, a feeling of being groundless and adrift. Embracing the homesick feeling within the mother wound leads us to eventually come to a place where we realize that we can never be truly abandoned. This becomes possible by becoming a loving inner mother to our inner child as we embrace her deepest despair.

In that despair is a door; a door to our source, the unified consciousness in which we are one with all.

In this way, our pain is a messenger. A messenger telling us it’s time to come home; to the primordial home within, which is the realization of our true identity as consciousness, the knowing that we are spirit and can never be truly harmed or abandoned because we are one with all. I recall moments in my own healing process  when I would process layers of grief within the mother wound; the sense of worthlessness and wanting to die.  And in that  willingness to simply feel the full scope of that incredible despair and grief, I knew that this was the bottom. There was no pain deeper than that. That pain was the ground. And by standing on that ground and being present with my deepest pain, I was free.

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Feeling our pain frees us from it. 

By sitting with our pain, we begin to recognize that the pain we have felt is not the truth of who we really are. We begin to see that the open, loving presence that we embody as we embrace our own pain is who we are, our true identity underneath all our other identities.

The culmination of living as a “self” is to live as the “no-self”;  the vast, loving space that lovingly witnesses our pain and embraces it completely. This is what a healthy mother does for her child.  Author Rupert Spira has said that awareness is like the space in a room, it unconditionally accepts what happens in it. Likewise, in order to develop optimally, a child needs a mother who is unconditionally present and accepting of her. However, mothers are human beings with flaws who make mistakes. All of us receive some degree of wounding from our mothers.

Through that primary, holy wound, we are called to become that loving mother to ourselves…and to all life. 

As we embody the unconditional love of the inner mother, we become re-connected to life itself. We become re-connected to the birth-less and death-less center that is constantly born and dies in countless forms. This is the evolutionary step that lies within the pain of the mother wound.

Van der. Weyden's Painting

As women, we grow up believing that a holy power lies outside of ourselves and in the healing process, we start to realize that what we most desire, that which is most holy, eternal and pure is inside of us and has always been there. In fact, it is us. Not just in one or some of us, but it lives equally in all of us, in all of life.

Because we are all connected, each time you lovingly embrace your own pain, you activate the power of oneness in all. 

Rodica Toth Poiata

© Bethany Webster 2014

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Thank you for reading! Please leave a comment below. What has been your biggest challenge around embracing painful feelings? 

I invite you to  Sign up here for a free “Healing the Mother Wound Coaching Session” with me. I’d love to connect with you. 

Work with Bethany on healing the mother wound: 

The UK tour starts in London on Sept. 28th!

Sign up here to receive my newsletter and receive a free download of my e-book “Transforming the Inner Mother.”

(Art credits in order of appearance: James Christensen, Elizabeth Peyton, unknown, Caitlin Shearer, Patricia Deleon Alfonso, unknown, Darla Petrilli, Alphonse Maria Mucha, Phoebe Anna Traquair, unknown, Rodica Toth Polata)

3 Reasons Why It’s Crucial for Women to Heal the Mother Wound

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Because the relationship with our mothers is primary and foundational, unresolved pain related to her can have a profound affect on several areas of our lives, including our core sense of who we are. Our mothers were imperfect human beings with flaws who inevitably left us with some degree of wounding. The level of wounding depends on many factors including how severely our mother was wounded herself.

Due to how we develop, the only way a child can interpret moments of maternal abandonment or rejection is to form the belief: “There’s something wrong with me.” If we do not heal the mother wound we risk living our lives indefinitely with this belief operating at our core, affecting everything that we do.

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Reason #1:

The belief at the core of the mother wound is “There’s something wrong with me.”  This unconscious belief can limit you in so many ways:

  • Blocks your ability to have true intimacy.
  • Causes you to live under the painful mask of the false self: arranging your life around not rocking the boat, staying small in order to be non-threatening to others, needing external approval to feel OK
  • Living frozen with fear of failure while still deeply longing to live as your authentic self and bring your gifts to the world.
  • Cause you to unconsciously fear that making more money, being more visible, powerful and successful will cause rejection from or conflict with your mother. (To the un-healed child within, this is just too scary.)
  • Will hold you back from new opportunities and creating your dreams due to guilt or a sense that you don’t deserve it.
  • Overriding guilt that you don’t deserve to be happy, successful and fulfilled if your mother is unhappy, lonely or unwell.

When this belief is released, every area of your life is transformed because on a deep level you know that you are good, valuable, safe, and that life is inherently trustworthy. It’s difficult to put into words just how profound a shift this is. It happens not all at once, but in incremental stages. Slowly and steadily, with each level of grief, of insight and transformation, more and more of your life force is returned to you and available for what calls to you from your soul. Life takes on a new dimension. Because you can see your purity, goodness and innocence, your sight becomes liberated at a deep level, allowing you to perceive truth and goodness in ways that were previously impossible.

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Reason #2:

At the deepest level, the mother wound is a wound with Life itself.

The mother wound serves as a veil between you and life. In the earliest days of our lives, our experience of our mothers was synonymous with life itself. To an infant, mother is food, mother is air, mother is world, mother is self. Our very experience of ourselves and of the world was filtered through the body and psyche of this person that was our mother. As you heal the mother wound, the veil between you and life slowly dissolves. This allows you to feel your very core as goodness; to know in your bones that you belong, to feel your unity with life, with all beings. Ultimately, it allows you to feel an unshakeable love in your heart that becomes a stable background of your life.

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Reason #3: 

No matter how much other personal growth or spiritual work you do, none of it will be long-lasting or truly effective until you address the mother wound.

Until you get to the root of the causes of your inner suffering, which are the foundational patterns that were put in place in the earliest days in your life, and mourn the situations that caused you to internalize them, the personal growth work you do can only go so deep, at a superficial level at best. As a “spiritual bypass-er” in my early twenties, I spent many years avoiding the mother wound because it just seemed too big, too painful and too overwhelming. But over time it became clear that the surface issues in my life all pointed back to a common core, which was the pain related to my mother and the beliefs about myself that originated from that relationship. All signs pointed there to that existential, primordial wound. Surprisingly, I came to realize that everything I was looking for through other things was found there, in the last place I wanted to look. The mother wound was not the dark abyss I thought it would be. Eventually, the darkness gave way to light, to a realization that no other experience could give me. It is now a fountain of wisdom that nourishes my soul and propels my evolution. This is possible for all of us.

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All pain is an opportunity to enter into the heart of life and discover the truth of your divine nature. The mother wound is a particularly potent access point to the deeper truth that will liberate you to live as an awakened being.

 It is your birthright to know your oneness with all life and the goodness at your core.

Healing the mother wound opens up the potential for this to be your experiential reality, not just an abstract concept or idea.

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I invite you to attend my upcoming FREE Teleseminar TOMORROW, Tuesday, August 26th at 1 pm EST called “The Importance of Healing the Mother Wound.”

Click here to register for this free call! 

When you sign up you receive a free copy of my new e-Book entitled “Turning Mother Blame Upside Down: How Healing the Mother Wound Can Transform Your Life and Liberate Women Collectively.” 

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Thank you for reading! I look forward to connecting with you tomorrow on the call!

 

Work with Bethany on healing the mother wound: 

Private Coaching: http://www.b-webster.com/coaching/

Online Course: http://www.b-webster.com/online-course

Live Workshops: http://womboflight.com/events

Sign up here for a free “Healing the Mother Wound Coaching Session” with Bethany

(Art credits: All images in this post are by Georgia O’Keefe)

© Bethany Webster 2014

The Most Insidious Forms of Patriarchy Pass Through the Mother

Patriarchy is the social organization of a culture in which men hold more power than women. There is a common misconception that men are the only problem of patriarchy. Many continue to believe that only men perpetuate patriarchal thinking. However, women also perpetuate patriarchal attitudes.

Maria Pace-Wynters

Most of us learn patriarchal thinking in our families and it is usually taught unconsciously by mothers. This can be particularly damaging for daughters and their ability to flourish as empowered women because a mother’s treatment of her daughter gets internalized as her own sense of self. The patriarchal messages daughters receive from their mothers are more insidious and damaging than any of the cultural messages combined. Why? Because they come from the one person the daughter must bond with in order to survive.

The mother wound is a product of patriarchy. On a personal level, it is the mother’s projection of her own unhealed wounds on the daughter. And on the collective level, it’s the dysfunctional coping mechanisms that have resulted from generations of female oppression. Patriarchy distorts dynamics between mothers and daughters that leave both disempowered. 

The patriarchal thread that runs through all dysfunctional dynamics between mothers and daughters is the demand for obedience in exchange for love.

Julie Massy

The dynamics between mothers and daughters that cause pain all have one similarity. It doesn’t matter whether a mother is neglectful on one end of the spectrum or invasive on the other end; the same patriarchal message is conveyed, which is that compliance is required in order to be accepted. One could say that that is the core message of patriarchy to both men AND women: You will not be loved unless you obey. This message permeates us from all facets of society: education, religions, governments and media.

We have to highlight the ways women perpetuate and sustain patriarchal culture.”

~Bell Hooks

In order to be fully empowered, actualized and fulfilled, we as women must be disloyal to the patriarch in our mothers and consequently, the patriarch within ourselves.

The impacts of a mother’s patriarchal beliefs are especially devastating to a daughter’s personal development and individuation process. Daughters are more likely than sons to see their mothers as victims of their own un-lived dreams, of lack of opportunity or having been devalued by men. Because of the daughter’s sympathy for mother’s plight, she is more likely to absorb her mother’s pain as her own, creating a toxic enmeshment that directly prevents her ability to flourish in her own life. The more unconscious and severe the mother’s own unhealed wounds are, the more threatened she will feel by her daughter’s separateness and individuality. Thus, the mother/daughter bond may be forged in an environment of pain that keeps both stuck.

Elizabeth Peyton

The more spacious and loving a woman is towards herself, the more she can offer that to her daughter. A mother cannot give her daughter the support, love, guidance, and empowerment that she herself does not have. If a woman does not have that healthy model of self-love in her mother, she has to seek those models elsewhere. 

The patriarchal bind is that women are told that they should be successful but not too successful; sexy but not too sexy; strong but not too strong, etc. Mothers may unintentionally perpetuate this out of an unconscious need to avoid getting triggered by her daughter. If her daughter remains disempowered, small, and always a bit doubtful of herself, then the mother eliminates the possibility that her daughter will trigger the unacknowledged pain within herself that she’d rather ignore.

Swim or Swim, original painting on wood. by Lauren Gray

For an unconscious, deeply wounded mother, a disempowered daughter is the perfect antidote to her misery because she allows the mother to maintain an illusion of personal power without having to do the hard work of self-growth and healing. If the daughter is empowered, flourishing, happy and fulfilled, the wounded mother would more likely be faced with the task of confronting her unhealed pain.

A mother may outwardly display a façade of calm and pleasantness but underneath there may lurk a sense of emotional impoverishment that expresses itself primarily in relation to her daughter who may carry the projection of her disowned wounds. Some common dynamics are the “Queen” mother whose rigid, dominating message is “Don’t displease me!” or the “Waif” mother whose helpless, victim message is “Don’t abandon me!”

Lucien Freud

The unspoken message to the daughter is: “Your empowerment is unacceptable.”  The daughter’s empowerment is unacceptable because it reminds the mother of her un-grieved losses or unexpressed rage that the mother was told not to feel from the patriarchy in her family and culture.

A mother may experience her daughter’s empowerment as a betrayal, a personal rejection or a slight. Her unconscious message to the daughter may be “I obeyed the patriarchal mandate to stay small and non-threatening. You have to obey as well! Get back in line!”

An empowered daughter is a stimulus for the unhealed parts of the mother to come forward and be healed within herself. A wounded mother may confuse the pain she feels in her daughter’s presence to be her daughter’s fault and responsibility, not seeing that the pain was there all along and belongs solely to her–the mother. In this way, the daughter is actually giving her mother a gift. Her own light reveals her mother’s shadow and the next step in her healing. If the mother is healthy and open, she can see the gift. But if the mother is unconscious, deeply wounded and stuck, she will probably see it as a reason to lash out at the daughter (covertly or overtly).

Source- varietas

Examples of patriarchal power plays from mothers:

  • Daughter is used as her emotional dumping ground
  • Mother is neglectful but uses daughter as narcissistic tool to bring her attention
  • Mother has no use for you if you don’t conform to her views. “Her way or the highway.”
  • Manipulative tactics: cold withdrawal, overt hostility or bullying, unpredictable, competition, jealousy, triangulating daughter against other family members (Note: All these dynamics could be played out with a son as well. And they could also be features of mental illness in the mother.)

You’ll notice that all of the above dynamics have to do with one thing: gaining power and control. The mother who has given her power away will seek it out in other ways. This is true of all of us. When we give our power away, it creates a vacuum and we are compelled to fill it somehow, usually through processing it or projecting it. For a mother, the easiest target of projection is her daughter. It creates a vampiric quality to the relationship: the daughter stays weak and the mother feels strong. However, it benefits neither mother nor daughter.

The Keyhole Erwin Olaf

The only thing this dynamic serves is the mother’s “pain body.” The female pain body gets preserved and passed to the next generation in the form of the mother wound.

Patriarchy prevents a major human function from happening, which is to feel the truth of all of our feelings. To some degree, both men and women (boys and girls) are shamed away from our feelings, whether through violence, abuse or neglect, whether in our families or in the culture at large. The shame is due to the patriarchal belief that feelings are inherently weak and must be suppressed.

The task is for each of us to metabolize and process our own pain fully. As we do this, owning our wounds, feeling our pain and grieving to completion, the energy of the wound transforms into wisdom, love and power. For mothers and daughters, this means there needs to be a healthy, emotional distance in which both can engage fully with their healing process. Mothers and daughters need healthy emotional distance where each can experience her own personal power and freedom. Both need support and resources to successfully navigate their journey.

Brian Kershisnik

Patriarchy is about power at all costs. One way that power has been gathered is through rigid ideas of what is right and what is wrong. But in truth, there is no absolute right or wrong, just a multitude of preferences and consequences. By increasingly dissolving the charge of polarizing concepts such as right/ wrong and good/bad, infinite possibilities begin to open up and individuals can make choices that are truly authentic and right for them, without fear and shame.

All around us we are seeing patriarchal institutions fail and crumble from within: religions, governments, media, etc. The family is also a patriarchal institution and families will increasingly feel the pressure to shift and accommodate a new consciousness that is emerging. In the dominator mode of patriarchy, a dysfunctional family is threatened by the individuality of its members. In this way, patriarchal mothers may be threatened by their daughter’s individuality and may unconsciously sabotage it. As a new form of the family emerges, I sense that families will be more flexible, inclusive and welcoming of individuality. Perhaps the very definition of “family” will change and expand. People who call themselves family may not do so by blood but by soulful connections that mutually nourish their journey to discover and live their authentic truth. This cultural shift starts at the level of individuals who choose to do the work of healing and recovery.

Ana Grigolia

In older generations, there was a belief in escape; a belief that we can pretend something painful doesn’t exist and it will simply go away. There was a belief that there would be a payoff for pretending. Many are discovering that payoff never comes. Subsequent generations of parents would say “I don’t want to screw up my kids the way I was screwed up by my parents” and think that was enough to prevent that from happening. Just knowing that you don’t want to pass along generational pain is not enough. It takes many, many years of focused inner work to stop cycles of inter-generational pain. And yet nothing is more important or fulfilling than this journey. We can support each other to have the courage, support and the tools to make it to the other side.

For women, the journey of healing the mother wound is precisely what frees their daughters from this painful legacy. 

Meghan Howland

To be whole, empowered women, we have to be disloyal to the patriarch in our mothers. We have to say no. We have to hand back the pain our mothers have asked us to carry for them so that they can uphold their own journey of healing. We must refuse to give up our power to feed the pain body of our mothers, which ultimately, is a great gift to them and to the world. It’s time for us to honor ourselves. It’s time for women to heal the mother wound.  We have to do the hard and holy thing which is to focus on our own healing so that we can finally experience ourselves as whole and model this new level of wholeness for our daughters and the women of the future.

 

Bethany Webster 2014

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Questions for Moms to reflect on to honor themselves AND clear the way for their daughters:

  • What did I need from my own mother that I did not get? In what ways may I be unconsciously projecting these needs onto my daughter or other people?
  • Am I getting the mothering and nurturing I need in my daily life? If not, how can I get those needs met? (friends, experiences, tools, professional support)
  • Am I neglecting my daughter’s emotional needs? Do her emotional needs make me uncomfortable? If so, which ones? What do they bring up for me?
  • Am I asking my daughter to mother me in any way? If so, what are some ways I can get the support I need so that I don’t put this burden on my daughter?
  • Do I feel any rage or resentment about being a mom? If so, what are some safe and healthy ways I can process and work through that?
  • Do I feel at all jealous or threatened by my daughter? If so, why? How does this manifest in my daily interactions with my daughter? How can I find a safe, healthy way to process that?
  • What limitations did I have to accept about myself as a young girl my daughter’s age? How did that impact my life? How can I support my daughter in not accepting those same limitations.
  • How can I demonstrate to my daughter that I value myself?
  • What comes up for me when I reflect on my daughter having more opportunities than I did?
  • In what ways might I be passing along that belief in limitations? How might I turn that around?

 

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Thank you for reading! Please leave a comment below: How have patriarchal views impacted you and your relationship with the women in your family? 

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I invite you to explore my work with women on healing the mother wound: 

 

 

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(Art credits in order of appearance in this blog post: Maria Pace-Wynters, Julie Massey, Elizabeth Peyton, Lucien Freud, Laura Gray, unknown/source: Varietas, Erwin Olaf, Brian Kershisnik, Ana Grigolia, Meghan Howland)