We are often a reflection of our mothers. In our experience, the relationship with our mother or mother figure is the foundation of our relationship with ourselves, therefore affecting all of our relationships.
It’s important to recognize where our mothers have come from in their lives. What they learned from their experiences had an impact on us as their child. As we mature (or don’t), the story we made up about our mothers and ourselves has a big impact on who we are, what we love, and how we relate to others and ourselves.
We create our stories about ourselves and our place in the world out of what we learned, what we have experienced, and what decisions and choices we made based on those things. As we grow and mature, we may begin to view our relationship with our mothers differently. As we grow older together, we have an opportunity to reexamine our relationship with our mothers and to change our stories.
If you’ve always been seeking approval from your mother, that can drive your behavior with her (regardless of your age now).
Betty tells us
I’m like my mother in that I’m shy and it takes alot to open up to others who I don’t know. So my mother’s approval was especially important growing up. When I didn’t have her approval it really affected me – I always had the feeling “I’m not good enough. I’m not worthy.” The main thing I could do to get her approval was to get good grades in school. That became my focus. My siblings were athletic and popular, and I was smart. And, I had a different father and a different last name than everyone else in my family. This was a time before divorce was common, so that made me different from my peers in so many ways.
What I know now is that I have a lot more empathy with my mother and step-father; they did the best they could. It serves no purpose to be stuck relating to my mother as I did as a young girl when I need to know and relate to my mother as an adult and accept her as the woman she is – flawed and loving. It’s up to me to make whatever changes in myself that I need to be happy and to be the person I want to be. It makes me sad that it’s taken me so long to come to this place of understanding.
I learned complaining as a way of communicating. When we put ourselves down we are complaining to ourselves about ourselves! I never looked at complaining in this way – like it’s a way of being! Is this a learned behavior from my childhood? I have to know who I am and accept where I am right now, then I can begin working on change. Now I’m at a place where I can love myself, take care of myself, and be kind to myself.”
For some of us, culture is also a big factor in what we learn and believe about ourselves, who we are and who we can be. Are we worthy or deserving of taking care of ourselves or having opportunities that our mothers or parents didn’t have?
In some cultures, as a woman you may think, ‘I can’t be better than my Mother was because she is an elder – and I am not honoring her and being respectful.” This may be our unconscious belief that is driving us to not accept attention, praise, or to feel worthy.
Yonghee shares with us that
Traditionally in my culture, males are more important than females–they have more value in the eyes of the parents. The oldest male takes care of the parents. Females are not valuable except to be given away to be married.
In fact, being born as a female in my family didn’t even count as being their child. I was visible but not seen. My mother frequently expressed displeasure with me, no matter what I did or said, even if I was acting exactly in the way she suggested. This made me feel like I wasn’t even worthy enough to be alive.
Although my childhood was extremely difficult, I made choices as I grew older to believe a different story about myself and be who I need to be in the world. Learning from my mother’s example, I realized how much power I have in helping others to feel good about themselves, and I choose to build others up rather than make them feel small.
Today I accept my mother and love her as she is and I know that my mother and I are just women together. I am grateful that she gave me life. Now that I am an adult, I see my mother as an amazing person who shows her affection in ways I can now recognize. She is compassionate with others and is a woman of service–things I did not see as a child.
I believe the way I grew up is the reason why I love teaching yoga because I treat everyone with compassion and empathy. I invite my yoga students to open their hearts, listen to their inner self, and honor themselves. In the practice of being present, there is a release of suffering and a possibility of bliss and enlightenment. I see everyone is perfect just as they are, nothing to change or fix unless they decide to even though I never heard these words from my mother.”
These are stories from only two women. These two women were able to look at their relationships with their mothers and make a different choice about how to be now as they create a new story for their future. We recognize that everyone has different experiences and different stories.
What is your relationship with your Mother?