A Mother’s Wound: How Our Relationship With Mother Shapes Our Lives

A mother’s wound is an unconscious pain and shame that is passed on from mother to child. Our mothers have the greatest impact on our coping mechanisms, core beliefs, and self-worth. Their unresolved hurt becomes ours.

A mother’s wound affects us in different ways:

  • Critical Narrative (inner voice of the wounded mother)
  • Body shaming (the way our moms talk about our bodies, we feel the same way about our bodies)
  • Chronic comparison (seeing how you compare to others often leads to self-shame)
  • Inability to trust or feel close to other women
  • Distrust of romantic partners, feelings of fear of abandonment cause us to push people away or avoid certain relationships altogether
  • The belief that we are only worthy or valid if we are playing the role of a caregiver, a achiever, and a peacemaker
  • Procrastination and self-sabotage, as means of maintaining a small or acceptable level of the role we feel we must take on

Both boys and girls can experience their mother’s heartbreak, but most daughters usually carry their mother’s wounds. In patriarchal societies, mothers can more easily pass on their own wounds to their daughters. Women whose prejudicial beliefs make women second-class citizens are more likely to pass these beliefs on to their daughters, either consciously or unconsciously.

Maternal injury is not a specific diagnosis.

We know that the trust a mother instills in childhood positively affects not only a child’s present but also their future relationships. On the other hand, a child with a mother’s trauma will most likely continue this type of relationship with their own child. These negative feelings can lead to-

  • Low self-respect
  • Lack of emotional awareness
  • Inability to self-soothe
  • Feeling that warm and nurturing relationships are not within your reach

It would be convenient and easy if we could blame all our mistakes and failures on our mother. But it is not true. And that’s because we’re all gifted with choices. We can choose to take steps to heal our own mother’s heartbreak and to make sure we don’t leave this hurt to our children. It’s been a challenging journey, but it’s the beginning of empowerment.

How to start healing mom?

  • Become aware of how often you seek your mother’s approval and validation
  • Allow yourself to see your mother as a human being, not as a sublime mother. A person with unresolved wounds and pain.
  • Practice healthy boundaries
  • Practice and prioritize self-care: Many of our mothers don’t know how to meet their own needs, which means we need to start learning how to meet our own needs
  • Start talking to yourself like the wise and loving mother you desire (especially important when you’re feeling scared, agitated, or defensive)
  • Write a list of the qualities and traits that make you unique or that you like yourself
  • Put it on the mirror in your room or bathroom and read it to yourself every morning
  • Write a letter to your inner child, admitting how much you wish you were loved, heard, and seen by her.
  • Connect with people who make you feel like the real you
  • Know that you can love your mother and also have conflicting feelings, private thoughts about her sadness around past experiences caused by her. This is not betrayal.


Sana Rubiyana, Counseling Psychologist, Fortis Hospital, Richmond Road, Bengaluru

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