Menu Close

What is the Mother Wound?

What is the Mother Wound?

A few weeks ago I started a series titled #HealYourStuff, looking at different childhood traumas. You can find the first part of this four-part series here. I then moved onto talking about the father wound and this week, yes you guessed it, it’s time to look at the Mother wound.

The mother wound can be a hard one to spot at times because mothers, unlike fathers, are usually physically present. The mother wound is can be caused by the mother who doesn’t offer her child any emotional recognition, this mother can also be highly critical and self-absorbed. These traits in a mother scar a child because the first thing children do is blame themselves for not being lovable enough.

And when we don’t feel lovable or enough, we make up that we need to strive more so our mothers can see and appreciate all our accomplishments and MAYBE the love with flow freely. But this doesn’t happen. Mothers who inflict this kind of pain are dealing with their mother wound, therefore they cannot give you want they don’t have. It is a hard pill to swallow but necessary to begin your healing journey.

Who Represents the Mother Wound in My Life?

I like bringing topics back home, to my own experiences to help the person reading this understand that ‘you are not alone!’

My mother wound comes in two servings, my grandmother and my mother. My grandmother has been living in pain ever since I can remember I can’t point out a single moment in all three decades I have been alive where I’ve seen her laugh out loud. She has always been critical. Nothing is ever good enough for her. And she is tight-lipped when it comes to wishing other people well.

Growing up in this environment made it hard for me to explore my needs and figure out who I am because I always had to strive to meet the standard she has set.

My mother got her dose of grandmother’s hard “love” or lack of love and it made her seek approval for so long, I believe she lost sight of who she is if she even ever got the chance to investigate who that is. Her need for approval meant, people-pleasing is what she mirrored to me. I grew up believing the only thing you need in this life is to be liked by others. And to achieve it you have to be nice to people and often abandon yourself and your feelings.

My mother, did everything not to turn out like her mother. We are loved close to being smothered. But you can’t run away from what you do not heal, and so there are bouts, at times sustained over a while, of unfair criticism, which are then fixed with gifts. Gifts sound amazing but, as I got older, I realised it was another form of teaching me to stuff my feelings and keep it moving.

What is sad about the mother wound is most mothers are doing the best they know-how and can only offer what they got from their mothers. Unless a mother consciously works on her wounds the chances of passing those same wounds onto her children are guaranteed.

Do you have a mother wound?

Our mother wounds may not look the same. Some of us may not even realize that some of the thoughts we have about ourselves and the way we react to situations are rooted in the mother wound.

Here is a list to help figure out if you may be suffering from the mother wound, this list doesn’t represent every person nor will it have all the traits that point to the mother wound, but it is a start:

  • Do you self-sabotage? This happens when deep-down you don’t believe you have what it takes. This feeling can stem from ignored childhood achievements or the expectation to do better
  • Do you find that you people-please? People-pleasing stems from not believing we are good enough and that the only way to be enough is to earn it.
  • Do you get into romantic relationships and friendships with people who are emotionally unavailable and spend your time doing all you can to get them to notice you? Emotionally unavailable mothers teach that you don’t deserve attention. To get a dose of attention you need to perform and abandon your feelings.
  • What is your self-talk? Do you find that you are critical of yourself? Do you find it hard to be kind to yourself? Critical or negative self-talk stems from being criticized as a child. It creates feelings of reaching for perfection but falling short because no one is perfect and it was unfair to be raised to believe you could be
  • You find it hard to self-soothe? Regulating our feelings is a learned skill and one that must start when we are young. When you miss out on this stage or aren’t given the tools to self-soothe life becomes difficult and emotional situations overwhelm you to the point of creating anxiety.

Spend time thinking about where you fall in the list above often it is under all the tabs above. Once you have recognised which statement resonates with you the most jot down three things you think you can do to start to transform these beliefs. It is important to be angry or sad or even hurt by not being loved the way you needed to be, allow yourself to feel. And then remember you are no longer the little child and you have agency as mentioned in the other articles, whether the harm was caused intentionally or not, is no longer the concern. The concern is to heal and take responsibility for the people we are working to become.

Wrapping Up

Next week will be the last part of the four-part series. I will discuss ways you can start to heal childhood wounds.

The goal is to collectively heal and heal the world we live in to make it better for the ones who will come after us. I hope you always dare to look at all your stuff and the strength to dig deep and #HealYourStuff.

Blog post by MANDISA AVUTIA (