While scrolling through all the heartfelt and even heartbreaking messages on Mother’s Day, I started thinking about how the idea of motherhood goes so deep for so many of us.
I’m reminded of a series of workshops I did in my early 30s. At the time, I was a new mother with an infant daughter. In the workshops, I remember feeling shocked by how all ages of participants (even some in their 70s) were still working through issues with their mothers, many of whom were no longer living.
I asked my therapist, “Why are they still focused on their mothers at this point?” And she looked at me and said, “Many take those issues with them all the way to the grave.”
She led me to see how we all want to be mothered, regardless of our age. So, what about turning things around and deciding to focus more on mothering ourselves?
Many people on this planet either don’t have a mother, or the mother they have isn’t exactly meeting their needs. So, why can’t we take the lead and learn to mother ourselves in the way we need?
Mothering yourself means mothering your inner child:
So who are we mothering exactly? Yes, it’s our inner child.
For me, the feelings of my inner child are hard to miss. When I experience deep and profound sadness or longing, and I know it’s coming from my inner child. She feels things very deeply and brings them to my attention.
As adults, we are the only ones who can adequately mother our inner child.
Here are some ways you can begin to mother yourself today:
1. Include your inner child during your meditations.
I’m not sure what prompted me to do this, but I started trying this recently, and it’s been surprisingly comforting.
Right now I’m working through a series of Deepak Chopra’s meditations, and during a recent one, I envisioned my inner child sitting with me. This particular meditation was about feeling inner security. While silently repeating the mantra, I felt comforted that my inner child was there with me. I felt she was connecting with the meditation, too.
2. Mother yourself by maintaining safe and healthy boundaries.
If you’re lucky, you were provided safe boundaries as a child. If not, you may have found yourself in situations that weren’t emotionally safe.
Mothering yourself demands that you impose healthy boundaries. These may include removing yourself from situations that aren’t healthy or continually finding ways to protect your energy.
Only you can keep yourself and your inner child safe.
And having clear boundaries can help build a sense of self-trust that’s critical as you navigate day-to-day life.
3. Mother yourself by taking exquisite care of yourself.
Mothering a small child requires setting a schedule, and ensuring she has everything she needs (healthy food, sleep, exercise, etc.).
But what happens when our child grows up and goes off to college? They are on their own.
Only you can mother yourself by taking care of yourself! That includes all the essentials but also scheduling time for fun, too! (more on that later :-)
4. Mother yourself by allowing yourself to feel whatever is coming up.
Deep and sometimes overwhelming emotions are stirring in your inner child, and they need to be felt and expressed.
“Go back and take care of yourself. Your body needs you, your perceptions need you, your feeling needs you. The wounded child in you needs you. Your suffering needs you to acknowledge it.” – Thich Nhat Hanh, Reconciliation: Healing the Inner Child
Mothering yourself includes providing the space to allow yourself to feel whatever you are feeling. You can find a way to meet and accept yourself exactly where you are, all emotions included.
You may be able to listen to and hear exactly what your inner child needs, whether it’s a good cry, a cozy day afternoon wrapped in a blanket, or a walk through nature. Or, you may need to seek the help of a counselor to work with your child together.
5. Write your inner child a love letter.
Studies have shown that there is a strong connection between handwriting and a deeper connection to our psyche.
After hearing of your inner child’s struggles, consider sitting down and writing her a letter. Address it to her directly and speak to her as if she’s the age you have in your mind.
You may be able to connect deeply with your inner child by doing this.
6. Mothering yourself mean making time for play!
Seeing things through a child’s eyes is incredible. Everything seems brand new!
Taking time to explore, play, and see the world in that unique way may bring endless joy and happiness into your day. As you head out to do something fun, imagine bringing your inner child with you.
“When you climb a beautiful mountain, invite your child within to climb with you. When you contemplate the sunset, invite her to enjoy it with you.” – Thich Nhat Hanh, Reconciliation: Healing the Inner Child
Every mother does her very best, but only you can be the mother you genuinely need. You know yourself best and hold the key to providing the love, security, and total acceptance your inner child needs.
Build these practices into your days and see if you notice a new sense of contentment. Say to your child, “You are safe and loved, and I’m going to care for you forever and ever.”
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