Healing the Mother Wound

The key to unlocking true and lasting compassion

Shantam Nityama
January 30, 2016

The symbiotic relationship between a mother and her daughter informs how the girl goes on to relate to herself as she grows into womanhood. In the child’s formative years all of the mother’s beliefs systems and behavioural patterns are unconsciously passed onto the young girl – including how the mother nurtures herself, how she relates to her body, her self-image and how she relates to men, money, health and life – everything!

Artist: Mara Friedmand

The daughter watches the mother to learn about how to be a woman and around seven years of age, the daughter takes all this information and internalises it. As the young girl grows up she will automatically imbibe her mother without realising it. This happens even if she is in rebellion or if she in no way wants to emulate her mother. This will continue throughout the girl’s life unless she begins to do her spiritual work and addresses her inner work.

For mature women, ‘inner work’ involves replacing the mother that we have internalised with what you could call a ‘Divine Mother’ that can attend to our needs in the way that our birth mother may have neglected to or been unable to do. The Divine Mother is an aspect of your ‘higher self’ that is a source of unconditional love and support. 

In the process of healing the wound with your mother, it’s necessary to appreciate everything that your mother inherited from her mother. For example, there may have been various forms of abuse or other trauma along the ancestral line. There may have been different values, ideas and beliefs handed down from womb-to-womb and generation-to-generation.

So it is important to look at what previous generations have struggled with and have compassion for both your mother and for yourself. Today’s women have come from a generation of women who, for the most part, have had no voice. In their day, if there was an issue, the attitude was, ‘don’t talk about it and it will go away’. This, compounded with shame and social conditioning, has made it difficult for women to heal because issues where just suppressed. 

But you can make the choice for the patterns of past lineages to stop with you.

The difference between ‘letting people go’ and ‘freeing them up’
Many women I work with want to heal their mother wound, but struggle to let their mother ‘go’. That’s because there is a difference between “letting people go” and “freeing them up”.

When you become a fully-grown woman, you’re no longer a child that needs a mother. You no longer need to look to her to take care of you. And you’re no longer looking to her to fix what ever happen in your childhood. You let her off the hook.

Your task now is to free your mother up from having to be your mother any more. This in no way requires you letting her go, this just requires you communicating and thanking her for bringing you to the place in your life where you can now take full responsibility for yourself.

It also requires you being able to communicate with her about how you can now be a support to her so that she can grow and evolve further. You free her up to the larger context. She becomes just another beautiful human being that you know.

Now you can befriend her – if she is open to the friendship. But you can’t force it on her. If you communicate with her and she is open to it, you can now become her friend. And as friends, she can talk with you about the things she had difficulty with in her life and never talked about. Imagine her feelings of isolation and how well she did under that pressure – then you can have so much more compassion for her. That also immediately opens up the space for you to have much more compassion for yourself.

Approaching your mother wound this way is like handling a whole lot of business all at once – and it’s a beautiful thing.

When you find you are still trying to please and appease your mother
You might find yourself a bit shocked to realise that you are still trying to please and appease your mother. In those situations it is never really the mother that you are trying to please and appease, it is the conditioning of the society coming through the mother – that is a different story.

The mother’ gets internally programmed in a particular kind of way and she will attempt to pass it onto you. Let’s say that programming never ever really ‘fit’ her, and it definitely in no way ‘fits’ you. But now here you are struggling with how to never hurt by going against the conditioning that she never really wanted herself. Like you, she was forced into it, pushed into it and cajoled into it. But with you it stops. This is the moment when you look your mother right in the eye and say:

“You know there are so many things in life that we fail to challenge and question. We just blindly accept them and I no longer want to do that in my life. And I in no way want to support you in doing that to yourself, as you may have done in your past.”   

“You know there are so many things in life that we fail to challenge and question. We just blindly accept them and I no longer want to do that in my life. And I in no way want to support you in doing that to yourself, as you may have done in your past.” 

 

It’s all about learning to articulate in such a way that it’s in alignment with how things should function––how life really truly works––and we were never educated in that way. There were no instructions. So it’s quite a challenge to take on learning how to articulate these things in such a beautiful way that it practically opens the other person’s heart just in you communicating it to them in this way. It’s an approach to communicating that leaves the person feeling deeply touched, deeply seen and accepted by what you’re saying and the way you’re saying it. And then it opens the door for you to walk side by side and mutually support one and other. For example, you could say to your mother:

“I would love our relationship with one another to be one where we are both expanding and evolving into our awareness of our true potential. I want to lovingly support you in having enough courage to venture out beyond your previous limitations and I ask for your loving support as I attempt to expand even further, making even greater room for the both of us.”

 

Facing the challenge of no longer being needed as a mother
As mothers, many women are challenged by reframing the mother-daughter relationship dynamic when they are no longer needed as ‘mother’. It’s always very enlightening when we find ourselves sitting in a seat that we once judged. And we judge it with the assumption that we would never do what they did. You might have said, “I would never treat my child like such and such …”, without ever having been in the mother seat. You may have never tried on her shoes, never have felt the challenge of wrestling with your own conditioning and attempting to figure how to be with your child in order to refrain from putting that conditioning on them. And at the same time, you might think, “How do I just completely let the child grow up like a weed?”

The child wants a certain amount of boundaries because it feels unsafe without that. But how to give boundaries without being controlling – that’s the dance. How to be supportive and allow yourself to inform them and then leave room for them to make their own intelligent decisions? So as a parent your role just to present different options and then asking them, “In using your intelligence, which one of these would you choose for yourself?”

So then your helping them to begin to rely upon their own internal decision-making process to reach a conclusion about how they want to run their life – and it is their life! Remember, it in no way belongs to us. As parents, we are having our opportunity to have our life in whatever way we chose or just fall into, whatever the case may be. By just supporting these young ones to develop the type of intelligence they can use to really make healthy decisions based upon who they are in their own unique design. That is the best gift you can ever give a child! To support who they are, rather than attempting to mold them into some pre-determined idea that was forced upon you.

This article is an extract of Nityama’s discourse during A Tantric Life’s Winter Womb Retreat in Byron Bay NSW Australia, June 2015.  He will be giving a discourse at A Tantric Life’s Spring Equinox Retreat in the UK and is available for one-on-one sessions via Skype. 

© Shantam Nityama, 2015. All rights reserved.