Improve Your Relationship With Your Mother
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Some mothers are everything we hoped they would be - loving, kind, understanding and accepting. Most mothers are not! When our Moms don't match up to our expectations, it can be very disappointing, and no one can hurt us more deeply than her, even when we are a fully grown adult. Most of the time, she has no intention of hurting us, but we can be very sensitive to what our Moms say and do, and can take her words and actions very personally.
Most Moms are wonderful in so many ways.
They are much less likely to disappear out of their child's life than a father. They nurture, care for and support us the best they can, for the most part, and are the first person their child runs to when hurt or upset. Though certainly not true of all mothers, the ideal mother is usually seen as nurturing, caring and kind.
The ideal mother would accept all our flaws, understand us completely and be encouraging and supportive. But the reality is, very few mothers live up to this ideal. It is often only women with high levels of self-development and awareness that can offer these things to their child. Most struggle. This is not because they don't want to be a good mother - the vast majority of them try their absolute best and worry constantly about how well they are doing. It is because they haven't worked through their own emotional issues, and so unwittingly pass these onto us through their behavior.
At times our relationships can be strained with our mothers because of this. We might remember particular times that we really needed her support, but she couldn't offer it. We may recall feeling abandoned, alone and misunderstood, and whether those memories are recent, or from our very early years, they still hurt. We can find it very difficult to forgive her, because she didn't do what a mother 'is supposed' to do. Feeling she has reneged on her duty to our detriment can be very disappointing. Or, we might have a hard time admitting that our mother has hurt us. Building up an idealized image of her can also be very damaging, because it causes us to devalue ourselves when we legitimize her failures at our expense.
These feelings can have a rippling effect on other areas in our lives, causing breakdowns in our other relationships, damage to our self-esteem and destructive behavior patterns, as well as the direct effect on our relationship with our Mom.
So, how can we move on from these painful feelings?
Somehow, we have to separate our ideal image of what we think a mother 'should' be, with the reality of who our mother really is. This can be very difficult. Our need for unconditional love and acceptance causes us to hang on to the hope that our mother can offer this to us, even if she has never done so.
But for the sake of our personal growth, we may have to give up on this idea. Our expectations of our mother are often so sky-high that they do not leave room for her to be human. Instead of holding her up to an idealized figure, we can try to understand her for who she is as an individual. Focusing on who she truly is rather than what she can offer us is the first step toward healing ourselves. The realization that our Mom is a flawed human, just like us, with insecurities, worries, joys and goals that are unrelated to us, will help us build understanding.
Letting go of our ideas about what a mother should be also requires us to take a spiritual view with regard to our personal growth. Although we have realized that our mother is not able to give us what we need emotionally, those emotional needs are still there. We shouldn't minimize those needs by pretending they don't exist. Every person craves acceptance, love and support. So, if our mother can't give us this, who can?
We shouldn't expect anyone else to offer us the love of an ideal mother. This would require them putting all their needs to the side to focus on ours. This is no one's duty once we reach adulthood, which is based on equal relationships where compromise is needed from both sides. Instead, we have to look for this love from elsewhere.
Depending on how you perceive God, the spiritual realm, religion and psychology, you might perceive this differently. Some would say they get the unconditional love they need through God, some would say through the spiritual world, or some would say through a Higher Power. Some learn to offer themselves unconditional love. The common theme, though, is that this love and acceptance does not depend on anyone else other than us. If we are always waiting for others to love and accept us, we put our happiness in their hands. To claim back our fulfillment for ourselves, we have to find this love independent of anyone else except ourselves and the divine.
Once we find this love, we can stop seeking it from our mothers, who, despite their best intentions, may not be able to offer it in the way we need. This frees us up to heal resentment and build up understanding with her, and open a whole new chapter of healthy relationships.
- Iman Mohiki