Sunday, May 8, 2011

Ask Parvati 11: Be A Mother To Yourself

Be A Mother To Yourself

Mother's Day, May 08, 2011

Dear Parvati,
Every year when Mother’s Day comes around, I feel conflicted. My own mother died ten years ago. She was emotionally distant and judgmental and no matter what I did, it never seemed to be enough for her to really love and accept me unconditionally. In addition, I have not yet become a mother myself. I feel sad about this, but I am also afraid that if I do have children, I might repeat the pattern of my childhood and pass on my wounds to them. How can I find a place of love and acceptance, and move on with my life?


Wounds. We all have them, whether we hurt because we lose the love we thought we had or we are hurt black and blue from a bad physical accident. When we were children, we instinctively called for our mother to help us up after we took a spill, or to soothe our aching hearts. Our mother was to come and wrap us up with that perfect embrace, whisper the perfect words that were to help us find our way back to wholeness. Or so we hoped.

Whether or not you feel you had the perfect childhood or one with more complexity, as we mature, we eventually come to realize that we must learn to love and nurture ourselves, the way our mothers would or could have done, so that we may experience total health and well being. Whether or not we learned the ability to love, care and soothe from our mother or from a mother-like figure in our lives, at some point we must awaken the universal mother within our own hearts. She will carry us through our entire life, long after our biological mother is gone.


No matter what age you may be or how much or how little inner work you may have done, a wounded inner child may remain untouched, hidden away, asking for love in some way. Despite our parents’ best effort, a common thread among many seems to be that some part of us, at some level, no matter how big or how small, visible or not, did not receive the love we needed as a child. That part of our psyche becomes frozen in time, "wanting mummy" or "wanting daddy" in some way, seeking the love it needed and still needs, until we thaw our inner walls and become still enough to listen to its call.

When the wounded child is in the driver’s seat of our lives, consciously or unconsciously we push that which is good for us away because we have lost the willingness to receive, believing fundamentally that the love we need does not exist. We create situations in our lives that prove our feelings of wounding. We may sabotage a great relationship, or sell out in our job or demean ourselves to make an opportunity happen because we deep down feel that love is not possible for us.

But there are no accidents. All that is happening is a reflection of our thoughts, beliefs and soul patterning from our previous births. Our wounds are not our parents’ responsibility any more than they are our boss's, our lover's or our environment's. We come to this life with a soul need to learn. We attract and create situations in our life that will best provide us the lessons, based on our perceptive abilities and beliefs.

All that is, at one level, no matter how ugly, painful and cruel, is within a field of balance and perfection that provides us with exactly what we need to evolve. Are we willing to truly see, open and learn? All healing happens when we are open, ready and willing to see ourselves as we are, and meet this moment as it is. Until that time, we continue to suffer.


When our wounded child is left untouched, uncared for by our own compassionate attention, we experience suffering. Because we have closed ourselves off to the possibility of the love we need, we tend to live in a defensive state. We can become overly attached to painful emotions as a means to feel angry at the world, sit by watching life go by, feeling hard done by. Feeling a victim to life is a common trap for those who feel they have not received the love they need and at some level have given up on the possibility that they will find what they need.

As with any wound, nature kicks in to protect that which is vulnerable until it is healed. When the wound is healed, the protective guarding comes off, new skin is revealed and growth continues. The process of letting go of our defensiveness, reactivity and victimization (which can run the full range of emotions from hopelessness to rage to grief) can be scary. Just as we need to show up at the doctor to remove a cast on a broken leg, we need to show up for ourselves to let our guard down. But first, we need to admit that we have a guard up at all, and that can be the toughest part for many when habits are deep, even addictive. There is subtle power we can feed on when we feel like a victim, which can be hard to release.

Used to making our way through life on a fraction of our true potential, we can be like invalids hobbling about on a broken leg, trying to convince ourselves that we are ok. We feed the wounds with temporary pacifiers like money, sex, drugs, entertainment and foods in an attempt to fill a void we don't want to see. Sometimes it takes our broken leg turning gangrenous for us to bring ourselves to understand that we are in need of healing. Finally, the wounded child has our full attention.

In order to heal, we must look within to get to know aspects of ourselves we have left behind. The wounded child gets locked away in the recesses of our being until we open that door. Perhaps a pressing force such as an accident or heartbreak brings us face to face with that door, but only a deeply gentle touch can turn the door handle for us to feel safe enough to walk in.

The depths of the wounds can seem immense, even infinite, as though the emotions we fear we may encounter would never cease. But if there is a constant in life, it is that life is ever changing. Nothing lasts forever, including those scary places within. All things pass. In that, we can take comfort as we move with care and gentleness towards our tender bits. These wounds likely came about from feeling judged, blamed, hurt and unloved in some way. So pushing at these places will only increase the wound.


It is only when we learn to let go, open and meet life as it is do we begin to learn to accept ourselves as we are - beautiful bits, warts and all. When we learn to rest in self-love, we reach the tender place within our own heart that cradles the wounded child within. When we touch that - oh so raw – place, we begin to touch a well of infinite love, more than we ever imagined. When we begin to rest in self-love, we begin to open to life -- and the very fabric of life is unconditional love. We tap into the perfect, unconditional motherly love that the planet gives us in each moment. She, as a living being, loves and sustains us. And she is loved unconditionally herself and exists within a larger mother, the creative force of the universe of which we all are a part. As we tap into self-love, we open to the love from the planet and the universe that is reflected in all beings.

Healing occurs when we align with the powerful yet profoundly compassionate force of nature, our deeper mother. And that mother exists in our heart and soul, whether you are a man or woman. It takes that unconditionally loving presence directed towards ourselves for us to ultimately feel the love, healing and freedom we need. Think of the wounded place within as a frightened doe in a wild forest. Would it not take sincere gentleness, true relaxation and deep love to approach this skittish animal? The wounded child within is as fragile and powerful as that doe.

As you move towards wholeness, I ask that you do so with tremendous gentleness, the kind of care, attention and affection that a mother would have for her infant. We are all children in the arms of the divine. If we can remember more often to give ourselves that self-kindness, that self-compassion, that self-love, our world would be a sweeter place and our lives will unfold with greater ease and less resistance.

We all fall. We all have wounds. Be the mother to yourself that gently picks you up, washes off the scraps on your knees, shares encouraging words and sends you on your way. She is always with you. She will never let you down. Invite her into your life today and give thanks for the abundance of love that is within and all around. We are, after all, so very blessed to be alive. That in itself is an expression of the universal mother’s love for you.


1) Find a quiet place and give yourself permission to feel. Just as a loving mother would, ideally, fully accept all your joys and wounds without reserve, meet whatever arises in you, to the best of your ability, without judgment. Think of yourself welcoming your whole self with open arms. Take time to do this every day and notice how much more energy, freedom and joy naturally arises. Ask yourself the question, sincerely with an open heart directed towards yourself: "How do you feel? How come? What can I do to better love and support you?" Listen and receive the information with warmth and gratitude. Breathe it in. Yes.

2) Take a box of wax crayons and some paper (newsprint is fine) and find a quiet, uninterrupted place. Let yourself scribble, doodle, do whatever you want without judging. Have fun letting your inner child play. If you choose, and only if you choose, you may wish to put away the doodles to look at another day. If you do decide to look at the drawings, do so not from a vantage point of artistic merit, but with the non-judging perspective of a loving mother whose only job is to see things exactly as they are. Just notice what is there, the colours, the shapes, the mood, the expression. How do the images make you feel? What is being communicated in them? Quietly see if any thoughts, emotions or images come to mind. Breathe in and welcome any information that arises.

3) Get a blank piece of paper and pencil and find a quiet place to go within. Pick up the pencil in your non-dominant hand, that is, the one you do not usually use to write. Then ask your inner child if it has anything to say. Start to write without editing, even if the text is scribbly and hard to read. Allow that child to have a voice. See what comes up, without judging. Be willing to see it, as it is. Breathe deeply and embrace whatever arises, as a loving mother would. Welcome the voice of your inner child into your heart.

4) Find a quiet and relaxed place, either sitting on a chair or comfortably lying down. Inhale, breathe in so that you feel you receive all the love that already exists right now, everywhere. Feel yourself receiving love into your lungs, into your heart, into your body, into your being. Exhale, and let go into that love, feeling that you are letting go into a very present, physical embrace. So inhale love, nourishment, support. Exhale, and relax into the love.

Wishing you much love,


  1. What goes around comes around. This item and the healing the wounded inner child exercises remind me of some stuff I did at Kripalu circa 1993 with a teacher who passed away from breast cancer. Her spiritual name was Dayashakti (daya = compassion). I still miss her.

  2. Beautiful, tender post about something we can all stand to master more: the art of true compassion, which begins with the self, and with being real about the wounds we carry and how they affect our outlook. I feel much more whole, grounded and able to carry on in my spiritual evolution and be really present for others now that I have taken a look at some of the old wounds and I'm willing to admit that I carry anxiety and self-loathing, than I ever did when I insisted to myself and others that everything was just peachy fine.

  3. Interesting. Getting to love oneself is to get to be with everything we may have, not easy, not easy but it should be worth it, because if I do not listen to myself then who will do? Also, if I do not take care of myself who will do.I understood that our self worth is directly dependent on how much love we have for ourselves. It seems obvious but love has been so absent in most of lives that it requires to learn, to remember how to love again, accepting everything as it is, no judgement and full support.


  4. Beautiful blog. Thank you for this post and to the person asking the question. You talk about 'wanting mummy' or 'wanting daddy' and I have noticed that when I am in that state I look for love outside of myself, projecting mummies and daddies onto others. I am only beginning to learn to love and accept the wounded child within. This blog deeply resonated with me and, again, I want to thank you for your wise, compassionate words.